One of Gordana’s good friends told me that if I’m going to visit Slovenia, I have to take a day trip from Ljubljana to Postojna – more specifically Postojna Caves. Typically speaking I’m a huge fan of caves particularly on hot humid days, that natural air-conditioning is always welcome.
Believe it or not, I actually slept in a cave hotel when I visited Cappadocia, Turkey. That and the breathtaking balloon ride was incredible – oh wait, it’s also where I got food poisoning too!
Ummm yeah, let’s move on from here…
Gordana’s friends also told me about this incredible creature called The Human Fish or The Baby Dragons. Apparently, it only lives in these parts and specifically in this cave.
I do like novelty things – well, almost as much as big shiny things.
The History of Postojna, Cave
- The area is known to have been populated since the Palaeolithic era due to the discovery of a cave settlement near the town of Postojna called Betal Rock Shelter
- It was under Italian rule between 1918 and 1943 and was part of the province of Trieste as Postumia.
The Perfect Day Trip From Ljubljana To Postojna
But, How Do You Get To Postojna
From the highway, Postojna is accessible via the exit Postojna (41): from the direction of Ljubljana – Koper and (A1); from the direction Sežana – Italy.
The railway station Postojna is about 1 km from the town center. The arrival by train is possible from the directions of Ljubljana (and Austria), Ilirska Bistrica (and Croatia), Divača, Koper and Sežana (and Italy).
I came by bus as the main bus station is located near the town center. Bus connections link Postojna to bigger Slovenian towns and neighbouring municipalities.
The small airport of Postojna (local people mostly call it the airport of Rakitnik) is located around 3 km southwest from Postojna but you most likely need to go through Ljubljana’s airport.
This hotel is located in the heart of the Postojna Cave Park and the Predjama Castle. it’s the most popular hotel in the area.
This 4-star hotel offers 24 double rooms and 3 suites with a terrace, at the very top of the building that has a unique view of the city and the surrounding hills.
Hotel Proteus was recently refurbished and has a bright and comfortable atmosphere with a 360 degrees Park view.
Štorja Pod Stopnicami
Bistro Štorja serves business lunches with an a la carte menu. In the morning grab a coffee or tea and in the evening, enjoy a glass of wine or a piece of cake.
Postojna Cave | Postojnska Jama
Postojna Cave is roughly a 24km long karst cave system here in southwestern Slovenia created by the Pivka River and one of the top tourist spots in the country. Not only does the cave have brilliant and beautiful cave formations it is also home to the “baby dragons” – more on that later in the post.
The cave tour I took, which included a really cool rollercoaster-style train ride through the cave and a walk along an easy footpath as well as a tour of the nearby Predjama Castle. The took about 5 hours/half a day and each Postojna Cave tour comes with a tour guide, who provides commentary, history and facts in Slovenian, Italian, English or German.
Visitors can also use audio guides that are available in about 17 languages and all tours are suitable for everyone – families with young children and visitors with mobility impairments. Postojna Cave is open daily, including public holidays.
The temperature inside the cave is constant throughout the year (10 °C), so warm clothing and sports footwear are recommended.
- That underground train I was talking about earlier is a 3.7-km-long journey deep into the cave on the world’s only double-track cave railway.
- There are gorgeous Murano-glass chandeliers hanging from the ceiling of Postojna Cave’s Dance Hall
- The Postojna Cave Concert Hall is one of the worlds most exciting destinations for musicians and lovers of music. The underground space was renovated by Studio Stratum and now features a transparent retail area, an exhibition hall, and the world’s first post office in a cave.
- As I just mentioned the cave has the world’s only underground post office. It was opened in 1899 and cateres only to cave visitors and the guests at special events. Since Slovenia was at one time part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the post office was Austrian.
Postojna Cave Dragon
AKA Postojna Cave Human Fish
The Olm (Proteus Anguinus)
The olm is the largest among the cave-dwelling animals at a length of 25 to 30 centimetres and the only vertebrate in Europe strictly bound to cave habitats. It has adapted to life in the dark and feeds on crustaceans, worms, snails and other aquatic invertebrates.
It has a lifespan of up to one hundred years and can go without food for several years.
I guess going on without food is similar to a vegan diet.
In 2016, one of the olms laid eggs and when they hatched they managed to capture the attention of people all around the world.
The Olms can be found towards the ending of the cave and in the Vivarium which is located in the Passage of New Signatures – fifty metres from the entrance to Postojna Cave.
The Vivarium consists of two parts. The scientific and research part and the exhibition part. The Vivarium opens half an hour before the first Postojna Cave tour and closes half an hour after the last tour.
As I mentioned before the cave tour I took includes Predjama castle. The castle is few kilometres away from Postojna Cave. The castle has been perched in the middle of a 123-metre-high cliff for more than 800 years.
I’ve seen quite a few castles in my travels but nothing quite like this!
The Cave under Predjama Castle
The Cave under Predjama Castle is the home of a colony of bats, however, what’s impressive is the seamless mix of both natural and man-made elements.
According to the Guinness World Records, this is the largest cave castle in the world and ranks as one of the top ten most fascinating. It is also very romantic – if you’re into that sorta thing.
Places to Eat
Although the restaurants’ terrace overlooks the main square what makes it great are its house specialties, which include venison goulash and steak with Teran (red wine) sauce.
Magdalena Food & Fun
Located beside the Info Centre of the Postojna cave park, Magdalena Food & Fun serves high-quality food like gourmet burgers, fresh salads, rich desserts, foreign and local craft beers, and a relaxing atmosphere.
Modrijan Homestead consists of the Lower Mill, a residential building and a sawmill. On the ground floor of the residential house, visitors are served homemade snacks, fresh home-baked bread, delicious dry-cured ham, cheese and wine, while children (including me) can try various homemade cakes and pastries.
Other Caves TO Visit On A Day Trip From Ljubljana TO Postojna
Pivka and Black Caves
Pivka and Black Caves are the last two caves along the subterranean river Pivka before it disappears completely and is no longer visible to human eyes, and then reappears in the Planina Cave. The caves are accessed through a collapse doline (sinkhole).
The Pivka Cave entrance is located five kilometres from Postojna Cave. It can be reached by descending 317 steps to a depth of 65 metres and about five kilometres long. Two of the cave’s five kilometres can be visited on a cave tour and the trail leads visitors along the river Pivka towards the Black Cave.
The Black Cave used to be known as a separate, unconnected cave, but explorers discovered it was connected to the cave system of Postojna Cave. The 3.3-kilometre-long cave has large halls and horizontal passages, as well as dark speleothems, which gave the cave its name.
A tour of the Pivka and Black Caves takes an hour and a half, and no special equipment is required. Regular guided cave tours are available twice daily in July and August. The entrance is from the campsite at Pivka Cave. Tickets can be purchased at the Postojna Cave Park ticket office or at the reception of the Pivka Cave campsite.
The Otok Cave is a dry, horizontal cave connected to other parts of Postojna Cave. The Otok Cave was one of the main filming locations of the legendary film about the Indian chief Winnetou, based on a novel by Karl May. The Otok Cave is about 1.5 km from Postojna Cave and tours are available from May to October, on Tuesdays and Saturdays. The tourist section of the cave is 600 metres long and takes about 45 minutes following an easy footpath. You should note that tours are available by prior arrangement, and at least three participants are required.
For most of my time here in Slovenia it has been raining. So to end up inside a damp cave was no real departure from the current weather situation.
The first cave I ever visited was the one inside Medvednica mountain. It was cool – literally and figuratively but nothing compared to Postojna, Cave. I’m always amazed at what this planet is capable of creating but my only advice is to dress warm it can get a bit chilly.