Visit to Skocjan Caves, the UNESCO World Heritage
The Škocjan Caves are one of the most beautiful wonders in Slovenia and have their place on the Unesco World heritage list. Visit them and see for yourself.
Skocjan Caves, as a unique karstic natural phenomenon, are of great importance for the World Natural Heritage, so they were included in the UNESCO list in 1986. The jewel of the Slovene karst landscape has always inspired man with a mighty canyon, at the end of which the Reka River disappears into the underground beneath a rock wall, where the journey into the mysterious cave world begins.
The Skocjan Caves Regional Park is spread over a large area of the Karst world near the small town of Divača and is a kind of an open-air museum where the main attractions include a fascinating web of caves with underground karstic phenomenon.
The park is also known for its numerous archeological finds, museum collections of the karstic underworld, rich cultural heritage, as well as diverse wildlife. The rich cultural heritage in the Skocjan Caves Regional Park is also reflected in the many ethnological, historical and artistic monuments and many stone-age archeological sites.
In Skocjan Caves are many hiking trails and cycling tracks through the Reka River basin in the protected park area. These paths will also lead you to typical karst settlements with a rich history, such as Matavun, Škocjan, and Betajna hamlet.
The Skocjan Caves hold a special place among all eleven thousand caves in Slovenia, as they are noted for their great underground halls and ravines. The main feature of Skocjan Caves is the biggest underground canyon in the world. On a guided tour, you will walk on the remarkable natural stone bridges that lie between the wall above the area where the river disappears below the surface and the steep walls of the Mala doline.
At a deep chasm, you will enter the underground from where you will continue the tour past beautiful dripstones of different forms, past organs and other cave formations designed by karst limestone. In the cave halls, you will also see beautiful waterfalls.
Before the excursion starts, your guide will group you according to the language spoken. Guides speak all the world’s languages, such as English, German, Italian, Slovenian and other. In a group of 25 people, you will then walk to the Skocjan Caves entrance, that is only a few hundred meters away, or ten minutes’ walk along the forest path. Inside the cave, the guide will make five stops, giving you all the information about a particular attraction.
The paved path is well illuminated with fences in certain areas. The trail also has many stairs, that can be wet and slippery, so don’t forget to put on hiking boots or compact trainers. There is a constant temperature of 12 degrees Celsius below the surface, so it is advisable to bring a jacket or sweater with you as well.
Taking photos with a camera or cell phone is not permitted since the flashgun has many negative effects on the cave formations and the animals that live below the surface. They are very sensitive to unnatural light. Also, for safety measures, dogs can’t go on a tour with you.
The most visited Skocjan Caves tour runs through the great underground canyon. The guided tour starts in the Globočak collapse doline from where the path will lead you through an artificial passage into the Silent Cave and the fossil passage, where there is a big hall with different dripstone formations such as stalagmites, stalactites, and columns. There is also a unique dripstone, that looks like a large organ and a 15-meter tall stalagmite, named The Giant.
The path then opens towards the majestic underground canyon, on the outskirts of which is also a Svetinova Hall. You will cross the canyon on the Cerkvenik stone bridge, above the riverbed. Through Tominc Cave with a mighty waterfall under the bridge, you will climb to the Velika doline, where the two-hour tour ends.
Prices for a tour through the underground canyon vary by month of the year. From June to September, a free visit to the museum collections and the Velika doline is included in the entrance fee.
Skocjan Caves underground canyon tours are available every day throughout the year, with three guided tours available in the winter months from November to March, at 10:00, 13:00 and 15:00. Tours at 15:00 o’clock are open only on holidays and on Sundays.
The schedules for the other months of the year:
Following the Reka River to the underground tour is another exciting tour where you will discover the mysterious world of Skocjan Caves. You can go on a tour on your own or with a guide.
In one day, you can go on both tours in Skocjan Caves, including the tour through the underground canyon. If you purchase tickets for both tours in a package, you will get discounts, as it is better than buying each ticket separately.
The path begins under the rocky walls, at the top of which lies the hamlet of Škocjan. In this part, there is an entrance to Skocjan Caves, where the Reka River still flows on the surface. The first part of the trail runs just above the river, and when you arrive at the Mala doline and the natural stone bridge, the river in high waterfalls drop into a small lake. Through the magnificent Rudolf and Muller Hall, you will climb to the Tominc Cave, from where you will continue along the Tommasini bridge to the Velika collapse doline that leads to the surface.
Tours for the following the Reka River to the underground are not available from November to March. For the other months of the year, the schedule applies:
From June to October, the entrance fee includes a free visit to the museum collections and a sightseeing tour in the Velika collapse doline. Prices are the same in all months of the year. For adults, the ticket price is 12,50 EUR and for children, it is 6,50 EUR.
You can go on a circuit educational trail around the Skocjan Caves throughout the year as the path runs over and around the Velika and Mala collapse dolines. At the Information Center or in the gift shop you can purchase the Škocjan education trail guidebook, that will help you to learn about the karst features of the park and discover the secrets of its attractions.
On a footpath, you will see many sightseeing spots with signs that will direct you along the way. On the other hand, you can also take a guided tour that is intended for larger groups, who book a tour at least 10 days in advance.
The circuit educational trail in Skocjan Caves is nearly two kilometers long, that will take you around 50 minutes. An easily accessible pathway through the forest is also suitable for children and the elderly. The tour in Skocjan Caves takes you around the Velika and Mala collapse dolines. From the top, you will have breathtaking views of the deep karst abyss, steep walls, surrounding hills and of the Reka River that runs in the valley.
You will hike past idyllic karst villages such as Betajna, Škocjan, and Matavun. On the educational trail, you can stop by in J’kopin barn and Jurjev barn in Škocjan village. Here you will see a rich ethnological collection about the history of exploring the Skocjan Caves system. From the barn on, the path will lead you through the typical karstic landscape, all the way back to the Information Center.
Skocjan Caves tours are not adjusted for disabled people and people on wheelchairs, as the underground has a specific terrain. Construction intervention in nature would not be in line with the protection of natural heritage. Also, the tours are not accessible for parents with children in prams, since the tour in the cave also includes walking on five hundred stairs.
Invalids in a wheelchair, on the other hand, have a reserved spot in the parking lot, and there is wheelchair access to a restaurant, a gift shop and a museum below the information center. The path to the museum leads to the elevator that takes you downstairs to the collection and exhibition about Skocjan Caves. The museum collections are adjusted to the height of the wheelchairs.
In the nearby room, you can watch videos about the Skocjan Caves origins, history, and its natural heritage. The park management found a solution with the help of a smart technology since people in a wheelchair cannot go on a tour. Virtual glasses provide a realistic insight into the cave and give the feeling of being there and moving along the paths in the underworld.
The following infrastructure is located in the Skocjan Caves Information Center area:
The following traditional events take place every year in the park:
Skocjan Caves are 35 kilometers away from Koper and 80 kilometers from Ljubljana. If you drive there by car, then follow the instructions below:
From the Primorska highway, take the exit for Divača and then drive one kilometer on the local road to the first main intersection, where you turn left towards the village of Škocjan. After one kilometer, you will see a sign that denotes the Matavun village. Turn left at this sign and drive a few hundred meters ahead to the park and the information center. On the left, you will see a big free parking lot where parking spaces are marked for cars and buses.
In Koper and Ljubljana, you can decide whether to take the train or the bus ride according to their timetables, since the train and bus stations are in the same location. The bus and the train will take you to Divača town, where is also your last stop. From here, you can decide whether to continue your journey to the Skocjan Caves on foot or by bus.
The bus ride from Divača bus station to the information center is free of charge. You will just have to give a bus or a train ticket to the driver. You can also go on an easy hiking trip to the park. From the station, you need to follow the marked footpath that is leading through Dolnje Ležeče village to the Skocjan Caves. The trail is about three kilometers long, that will take you around 40 minutes. You can also rent a bicycle at the train station.
Vir: Park Škocjanske jame, avtor fotografij: Borut Lozej
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