Škocjan Cave vs Postojna Cave: Which One Should You Visit?

Trying to decide whether to visit Postojna or Škocjan Caves in Slovenia? In this post I’m giving the full breakdown and my recommendation

A large cavern in Postojna Cave is filled with hundreds of stalagmites.
A lighted path follows a cliff through a huge cavern with a rushing river in the bottom of the gorge.

Just outside of Slovenia’s capital city of Ljubljana, and not far from nearby popular Lake Bled, are three extraordinary attractions: the beautiful Postojna Caves, the romantic Predjama Castle, and the jaw-dropping Škocjan Caves.

The famous Postojna Caves are a remarkable underground labyrinth formed over millions of years. Board a unique underground train and venture deep into the heart of this subterranean wonderland, where stunning stalactites and stalagmites will delight and surprise you.

Just a short distance away lies the enigmatic Predjama Castle, an architectural marvel perched dramatically on the side of a cliff. While Predjama Castle does have some cave elements, it isn’t a cave in the same way that Postojna or Škocjan are. However, a visit to Postojna Cave almost always includes a visit to Predjama Castle, and it does have its own cave system, so we’re including it in our discussion this post.

Finally, the Škocjan Caves, a UNESCO World Heritage site, awaits you, as you wander through a mystical world of underground canyons.

Many people visiting Slovenia have limited time, and thus need to decide which cave: Škocjan cave or Postojna cave, they are going to visit. Since we have visited both the caves and the castle, I have lots of thoughts to share to help you decide!

Postojna Cave vs Škocjan Cave: Which One Should You Visit

To start the analysis, I’m giving a brief description of both caves, and the castle. Then, I’ll do some comparisons and analysis at the end, and finally give you my top recommendation!

Part 1: Descriptions of the Cave Tours

What It’s Like to Visit Postojna Cave

A massive cave cavern in the Postojina cave with stalagmites and stalactites covering the cavern.

The entire Postojna cave system is 25 km long. It is the longest cave system in Slovenia and the longest in Europe that is open to the public. Of course, you’ll only be walking through a small part of it.

When you visit Postojna Caves, you are going on a guided cave tour, meaning that you will be walking along a path with a tour guide, who stops at intervals to share interesting information about what you are seeing.

The tour starts with a train ride that takes you 3.5 km (about 2 miles) deep into the cave. The “train” almost reminded me of the seats you get into on a roller coaster – you’re completely open to the air. You’ll pass through large rooms and small, narrow tunnels on this train ride.

A yellow cart on metal tracks with takes people through the cavern filled stalagmites and stalactites.
A yellow cart goes on tracks through a rock cavern with a extravagant glass chandelier

On your tour, you’ll pass through beautiful grand caverns filled with really fun features – stalactites and stalagmites of all shapes and sizes on various levels throughout the room.

A large cavern with a large rock overhang goes over a rock and metal path throughout the stalagmites and stalactites.

You’ll also see cave formations such as spaghetti (very small, thin stalactites on the ceiling), and curtains (which are stalactites that look like a sheet). The cave formations are come in a variety of colors: white, brown, black, red, and orange .

A cavern ceiling is covered with very small stalactites and sheets of combined stalactites.
There are lots of sheets of stalactites on a cave rock walls.

The most famous formation is this pair of pillars. They are right next to each other, but distinctly different, because the water that dripped down to each structure actually came from two very different regions on the surface, but then flowed almost into each other on their way down.

A lit path through a cavern shows rock pillars with horizontal and vertical pillars carved into the pillars.

The path you are following through the cave winds up and down, on and under bridges, even crossing under previous rooms. When we were there, the floor was fairly wet – rain on the surface actually works its way very quickly down into the cave chambers beneath. Conversely, if there hasn’t been rain, some of the pools of water on the sides of the path might be completely dried up.

A cement path wind through the cavern of Postojna Cave with stalactites coming out of the ceiling

The Postojna Cave was created from an underground river that carved out the series of caverns. Today, the river has gone deeper underground, but the caverns remain. However, at the very end of the tour you’ll be able in a spot to see the cave river, which actually flows all the way to the Black Sea.

One of the things that Postojna is famous for is the cave dragons – albino “salamanders” that live solely in the water of the cave. Toward the end of the tour, you’ll be able to observe 5-6 of these dragons that live in an aquarium. I don’t have any pictures for you, since any kind of photo is expressively forbidden of the dragons (it disrupts them).

There is also a unique underground zoo showcasing animals that live in the caves. This is an optional add-on when you purchase your main ticket, or you can buy tickets directly at the zoo. Since you get to see the cave dragons during the cave tour, I think this add-on is unnecessary, unless you LOVE seeing animals.

Helpful Info

Tours are offered in several languages and last about 1.5 hours. 

You can buy tickets online, which I would highly recommend you do. Plan to arrive about 30 minutes before your time slot, so that you have time to find parking, walk up and over to the entrance point, and get checked in.

The cave is about 10° C (50 ° F), so it’s fairly chilly – you definitely want a jacket. 

What It’s Like to Visit Predjama Castle

The Predjama Castle sits on the side of a rock cave.

Predjama Castle is located just 10 km (6 miles) away from Postojna Cave, and almost everyone who visits buys the combo ticket for both the cave + castle.

This extremely cool castle is built right into the side of a cliff, and includes a cave behind the castle structure. The castle design melds and fuses with the cliff walls, and you can regularly see the stone face as you walk through.

The back of the castle that backs up to the side of the cliff, with a bridgethat enters the cave behind.

An audioguide is included with your entrance fee and is fascinating – it tells you the fascinating story of the occupants and the function of each space as you walk through.

The “main character” that is highlighted in the audioguide as a main occupant of the castle was a man named Ezra, who essentially was a bandit and gained control of the castle for many years.

He actually withstood a siege for over 4 years because of how strong the castle fortification was and the secret passages through the cave system that allowed for resupply.

A room inside the castle that has lots of medieval paintings and armor such as helmets and axes.

As you walk through, you’ll see all sorts of interesting features like water closets that hang over the wall, fireplaces that used holes in the cave for the chimney, torture dungeons, 1.5 meter thick walls, and lots of spots with beautiful views over the valley.

A stone staircase from the cave going to the stone castle that connects to it by bridge.

You can also cross a drawbridge from the castle to the cave behind it and visit the secret dwelling area in the cliff caves, used as a last resort defense. From here, there is actually a secret tunnel up to the top of cliff that the castle used for supply, and fresh water sources to avoid any poison the opposing army may have put in the stream.

Inside and out, this was just an extremely interesting and cool place to visit.

Helpful Info

You can buy combo tickets for the Postojna Cave + Predjama Castle, which is highly recommended if you are planning to do both. In July and August, there is a shuttle that runs between the two sites, but every other month you need to drive yourself. There is paid parking at each location.

It takes about an hour to tour the castle. Note that there are some really narrow stone staircases you’ll have to climb.

There is also a cave tour of the cave located underneath Predjama Castle. These tours generally are at 11am on Mon-Fri, and 11am, 1pm ,and 4pm on Saturday, with extra offerings during July/August (but double check current times before you go).

Finally, there is a couple of cafes just outside of Predjama Castle that serve traditional Slovenian food.

What It’s Like to Visit Škocjan Cave

Škocjan Caves are similar to Postojna in that you are on a guided tour with a guide, and you’re walking on a paved path through the cave. The guide will stop at various intervals to share interesting facts and stories with the group.

To start the adventure at Škocjan, you’ll walk about 10 minutes through the countryside from the ticket booths down to the cave entrance. Then, you’ll enter the caves, walking through a few tunnels before entering into some larger cave chambers.

The cave is large, but there really aren’t all that many stalactites and stalagmites in the cave. I mean, there are some, but just not that many, and certainly nowhere near as many as you’ll see in Postojna Cave.

After about 15 minutes in Škocjan I was already thinking about how I would totally recommend Postojan over Škocjan, hands down.

But then we got to the gorge, and… wow, it was absolutely incredible. You walk down a little winding path from the regular cave chambers and end up in a massive, absolutely enormous cavern that is 150 meters (450 feet) tall.

A lit cavern and rock wall that illuminates the cavern and small stream that runs through the cavern.

The path is cut into the side of the cliffs, with a roaring river tumbling beneath you. You’ll weave your way along the side of the cavern, with just incredible soaring views down the dimly lit chamber. You’ll cross a tall bridge over a deep precipice, and get a sweet head-on view of the bridge before crossing.

A long bridge goes from two sides of the sheer rock cliffs. There are people on the bridge looking at the large drop .

On the other side of the cave, you can see the remains of the old path through the cave, with precarious, skinny stone steps.

We were getting MAJOR Lord of the Rings vibes in this part of the Škocjan cave – particularly the Mines of Moria and Bridge of Khazadun from the Fellowship of the Ring. It seriously was epic.

The lit path along the rock side winds back and forth throughout the spacious and sheer cavern.

The biggest bummer about this cave is that no pictures or videos of any kind are allowed anywhere inside the cave. Womp womp. However, we were towards the back of the pack (away from the guide) and couldn’t resist sneaking a few pictures (as were all the people around us).

Yes yes, I know, against the rules, and I’m generally a strict rule-follower, but it’s a ridiculous rule and I feel no shame about it. Only one of the pictures from the inside of Skocjan in this post is ours, the other two are from stock photo sites, so clearly we weren’t the only ones who have ever snuck pictures.

A path takes people throughout the large cave opening to the forest and trees.

At the end of the cave tour, you exit through a large cave opening, where the guided part of the tour ends. From here, you have 3 self-guided options for getting back to the ticket booth. You can either do the direct 0.3 km path out, which heads to the right, or do the longer 0.6 km or 2 km long route, which both go to the left.

A woman stand on a pathway looking over a rock overhang and rock ceiling.

We chose to do the 0.6 km route, and I would strongly recommend you do this as well (or go all out on the 2km walk). Both longer routes take you into the ravine and to another cave waterfall, which is very beautiful and one of the best waterfalls in Slovenia.

After you see the waterfall, you have the option to continue on the longer route to explore another small cave system, or you can exit by climbing a long sequence of stairs to get out of the gorge and back up to the rim, where you started.

All told, you’ll walk about 1 km (0.6 miles) from the parking lot to the cave entrance, 3km (1.8 miles) through the cave, and then another 0.3 to 2 km (0.2 miles – 1.2 miles) back to the entrance, depending on which option you choose.

A fast rushing river comes out of the rocks and into a pool surrounded by rocks and trees.
Water crashes out of the ricks into a rushing white water river with a small rock canyon.

Part 2: Postojna vs Škocjan – The Analysis

Pros to Visiting Postojna Cave

  • Get to visit a classic cave system, with incredible stalactites, stalagmites, and other cave formations
  • Get to see the cave dragons, one of the more unique animals in the world
  • The initial train ride through the cave is actually pretty cool
  • It’s closer to Ljubljana – less transit time from the capital
  • You can easily visit the nearby Predjama Castle
  • You can take pictures of the cave

Pros to Visiting Škocjan Caves

  • A UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • It feels less “developed” and a little more natural than Postojna
  • The cavern experience was incredible and just insanely cool, and very unique for a cave tour
  • The end of the cave tour gives visitors a chance to walk back to the entrance by themselves, seeing more beautiful scenery in relative solitude and without a guide
  • It’s closer to Piran, a beautiful coastal city

So, if you only have time for one cave, which one do I recommend?

Overall, I do think both caves were really exciting and fun to visit. We visited Postojna first and Škocjan second, and so during the first part of the cave tour in Škocjan (where you’re just walking through a regular cave, but without very many cool cave formations), I thought oh for sure, Postojna is going to be the one I recommend.

However, the second part of the Škocjan cave – the part in the massive cavern – absolutely blew us away. We loved walking along the tiny path high up against the cliff, and seeing the water rush below us.

Postojna was amazing and I do definitely recommend it, but Škocjan was just so unique and epic for a cave tour. Because of this uniqueness and adventure factor, if you only have time for one, I personally would recommend doing the Škocjan cave tour.

However, you know where your own preferences lie, so hopefully we were able to describe the caves and lay out the differences in a way that you can make the best decision for yourself!

How to Fit The Caves Into Your Itinerary with a Rental Car

We were roadtripping around Slovenia, so we took our rental car and were able to leave Ljubljana, visit Postojna Cave, Predjama Castle, and Škocjan Cave, plus have a few hours in Piran in the evening.

It should be noted that we visited during summer when the light lasted late into the evening, and it was definitely a very full day, but it was totally doable and I’m SO glad we were able to hit everything.

Here’s our itinerary for the cave + castle day:

  • 8am: Leave Ljubljana (definitely no later than 8am), and drive the 40 minutes to Postojna Cave
  • 9am: Get on the first cave tour of the day in Postojna
  • 11am: Visit Predjama Castle
  • 12pm: Grab some lunch nearby, then drive the 30 minutes to Skocjan Caves
  • 2pm: Skocjan Cave Tour
  • 3:30-4pm: Get back to your car and head to Piran (40 minutes), or go back to Ljubljana, or on to wherever your next destination is.
  • 5pm: Explore Piran

This itinerary worked perfectly for us – we were able to make it to all 3 attractions with enough time to spare, although we did have to get going early in the morning. We also had to keep lunch to a shorter break (I think we only ended up with 30 minutes, but it was enough to grab a bite).

If you haven’t made a rental car reservation yet, you need to do that ASAP! Prices can go way up as you get closer to your travel dates. I highly recommend (and personally use) DiscoverCars.com – I find that they give me great options at good prices.

👉Check rates and availability on DiscoverCars.com here

How to Fit The Caves Into Your Itinerary with a Guided Tour

If you’re not planning on renting a car in Slovenia, you can still easily visit Postojna or Škocjan caves, as there are many options for day tours from Ljubljana going out to the caves.

Unfortunately, *almost* no tours offer a visit to all 3 sites on the same day, but you can definitely choose from one or the other for a half or full day excursion. (And there is one tour that you could customize to meet your needs, noted below). Here are the tours I’d recommend:

Small Group Tour from Ljubljana to Postojna and Predjama:

This 8-person tour is led by a knowledgeable and engaging Slovenian local who shares stories and information about the country as you drive between locations. You don’t have to wait in line, and all entrance fees are included in the price, making it a really good value.

👉Check prices and availability here

Small Group Tour from Ljubljana to Škocjan + Piran

This 8-person tour from Ljubljana takes you out on a full-day adventure to visit Škocjan caves, includes a stop at the Socerb Castle, and then goes all the way to the coast to enjoy a blissful afternoon by the sea in Piran. Note that admission fees are not included in the tour price.

👉Check prices and availability here

Private, Customizable Tour to Skocjan Cave (With Option to Add on Other Stops)

This private tour is the best option if you want to visit all 3 sites in one day. The tour officially only includes Škocjan caves, but for a small extra fee you can add on stops to Predjama Castle, Postojna Cave, or even Piran if you’d rather. This is a great way to experience the best of Slovenia’s caves exactly the way that you want.

👉Check prices and availability here

Other Fun Things to Do During Your Slovenia Trip

While most people just visit Slovenia for Ljubljana, Lake Bled, and then possibly the caves or Piran, there is SO much more to Slovenia – it’s truly one of my favorite European countries and a total hidden gem.

If you love hiking and nature, then Slovenia will absolutely be your happy place. We loved hiking in the mountains to Lake Krn, and visiting the myriad waterfalls throughout Slovenia. Some of our favorite waterfalls include the Boka Waterfall, the Kozjak Waterfall, and the Koseska Korita waterfall loop.

One of Europe’s most beautiful rivers is the Soca River, which is a gorgeous turquoise color. You definitely need to go white water rafting on the Soca, visit the Great Soca Gorge, and hike to the Source of the Soca.

And if you’re visiting Slovenia during December, don’t miss the Ljubljana Christmas Market and the Lake Bled Christmas Market!

Postojna or Škocjan Caves – The Wrap Up

Slovenia has some truly incredible cave systems, and Škocjan Caves, Postojna Caves, and Predjama Castle all offer something different, beautiful, awe-inspiring, and unique. Really, you can’t go wrong with any of them – but if I had to choose, I would put Škocjan in my top spot!

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