Visiting Škocjan Caves and Lipica Stud Farm on a day trip is one of the most fun things to do in Slovenia. Škocjan Caves is one of Slovenia’s foremost attractions and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and a visit to the cave system should definitely feature in your Slovenia itinerary.
The Lipica Stud Farm, just 8 miles away, is the oldest European breeding farm for the famous lipizzaner horses. So it’s easy to combine a tour of Škocjan Caves with a visit to the historic stud farm.
Ljubljana, the charming Slovenian capital, is perfectly positioned to be a base for exploring different parts of Slovenia. So, after you’ve spent time making a dent in the variety of things to do in Ljubljana, seize the opportunity to experience one of Slovenia’s most famous cave systems!
How to Day Trip to Škocjan Caves and Lipica Stud Farm
Located in southwestern Slovenia, near the small town of Divaca, Škocjan Caves is the largest underground cavern so far discovered in the country. There are over 10,000 discovered caves in Slovenia, mainly in the Karst plateau.
You can visit several of the Slovenian Karst caves, including the popular Postojna Cave not too far away. But for an awe-inspiring experience of the wild power and beauty of nature, head to Škocjan Caves.
So what exactly is the Karst? A limestone plateau that stretches from the Vipava Valley in the east to Trieste (in Italy) in the west, the Karst is known for the porosity of its landscapes. With disappearing and reappearing rivers, streams, ponds, and lakes, the region is fascinating if you love the curiosities of nature.
While you can easily do a day trip from Ljubljana to Škocjan Caves and Lipica Stud Farm, you can also just as easily do the day trip from Piran or Koper on the Slovenian coast, or even from Trieste. We made a day of our transfer from Ljubljana to Piran, stopping at several sights en route.
Getting to Škocjan Caves from Ljubljana
The distance between Ljubljana and the Park Skocjanske Jame is about 48 miles via the A1 highway. In normal traffic, the drive should take about 50 minutes. There is a large parking lot at the park, with free parking.
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Take the train
If you wish to travel independently using public transport, you can take a train from Ljubljana to the town of Divača, a little less than 2 miles away. The train journey takes about one hour and 30 minutes, and trains run everyday in both directions.
The walk to the cave entrance from the station takes about 35 minutes, or you can take a taxi if one is available. In season, the park may operate a shuttle between the train station and the caves: e-mail the park ahead of your visit to confirm if you plan to use the shuttle.
DO A Guided Tour
For a hassle-free trip to both places if you do not wish to drive, book a private guided tour. The full day tour includes, along with a visit to the Skocjan Caves and Lipica Stud Farm, a stop at the medieval city of Štanjel, famous for a garden designed by Slovene architect Fabiani.
Or choose this highly-rated full day tour that includes the Skocjan Caves, Lipica Stud Farm, and Piran on the Slovenian coast. It’s a long day, about 11 to 12 hours, but you see and do a lot!
Getting to Škocjan Caves from Koper
From Koper to the Skocjan Caves parking lot is about 21.5 miles via the A1 highway. In normal traffic, the drive should take about 30 minutes.
If you plan to be based in Piran, the drive to Škocjan Caves is about 31 miles, and should take you just under 45 minutes.
Take the train
To visit Skocjan Caves from Koper by public transport, you can take a train from Koper to the town of Divača. The train journey takes about 40 minutes. Trains run in both directions everyday.
The walk to the cave entrance from the station, about 2 miles, takes about 35 minutes, or you can take a taxi. In season, the park may operate a shuttle between the train station and the caves: e-mail the park ahead of your visit to confirm if you plan to use the shuttle.
DO A Guided Tour
This 6-hour tour takes you from Koper to visit both Skocjan Caves and Lipica. If you happen to be on a cruise with a port stop at Koper, this tour would be perfect, but it’s also a great option if you are based on the Slovenian coast, in Koper, Piran, or Portorož.
Getting from Skocjan Caves to Lipica Stud Farm
If you arrived by car, drive to Lipica Stud Farm, about 8 miles away. There is free parking available at the farm.
If you don’t have a car, you can take a taxi. There aren’t any convenient public transport options to get from Skocjan Caves to Lipica Stud Farm. Or opt for a guided tour that takes you to both places.
Visiting Škocjan Caves, SLOVENIa
One of only three cave systems in the world to be designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Škocjan Caves are among Slovenia’s top tourist attractions. Most visitors to the Slovenian Karst region, which is home to several thousand discovered caves, opt to visit Škocjan Caves or the Postojna Cave, or both.
Created by the Reka River, the Škocjan Caves feature stunning limestone formations in enormous subterranean chambers. Tourists have been visiting the caves to witness the amazing phenomena of nature since the early part of the 19th century, and today the caves continue to be an exciting destination to add to your itinerary for Slovenia.
The Reka River plunges into a gorge at Škocjan and into the Dead Lake at the end of the cave, where it disappears underground, It emerges again as the Timavo River in nearby Italy before flowing into the Bay of Trieste.
What to expect on the Škocjan Caves tour
On the core underground tour of the Škocjan Caves, you walk through two enormous subterranean caverns. The first cave you visit, the Silent Cave, features a number of stalactites and stalagmites and other unique limestone formations.
The limestone formations, created by dripping water, grow at agonizingly slow rates. So the larger columns, substantial in size, may be hundreds of thousands of years old. Don’t miss the largest stalagmites in the Great Hall at the end of the Silent Cave: the Giants and the Pipe Organ!
In the Silent Cave, your guide will impart a wealth of information about the history of the caves and the geology, flora, and fauna in the caves. Your guide may even point out some bat guano as you walk!
The second cave is called the Murmuring Cave, and it is an intensely exciting place to explore. The cave should really be called the Thundering Cave, because the Reka River is so deafeningly loud as it races through the cavern that your guide will warn you that no commentary will be offered in this cave.
In the Murmuring Cave, at one point you cross the Cerkvenik Bridge high up in the cave, from where you can look down at the river more than 150 feet below, frothing and roaring along the cave.
After your tour of the second cave, you emerge out into the Velika Dolina through a natural opening in the hillside. This is the only area where photography is allowed.
From here, you can take the elevator back to the visitor center, a short walk from the opening. The path to the elevator is beautiful. Along the way, you can see a waterfall, lush greenery, and beautiful wildflowers in season.
Or you can take a longer, more arduous path back to the visitor center, past some caves and up a lot of steps. And finally, you can continue with the second part of the tour (if you opt for it), where you follow the Reka River underground. We only did the core tour and then took the elevator back.
Next to the visitor enter, there is a small museum, where you can view exhibits that describe the history and exploration of the caves. We popped in for a quick visit to view the photographs and read the informative posters.
Things to know before you visit Škocjan Caves
Škocjan Caves Tours
You can only visit Škocjan Caves as part of an official guided tour. Three tours suitable for most visitors are offered, and while the core Underground Canyon Tour is a must-do, you can add on more tours if you have the time and the interest.
The Underground Canyon tour lasts for two hours. It starts at the visitor center, from where you walk down in a group to the main man-made entrance in the Globočak Valley. Commentary is offered in multiple languages, including Slovenian, Italian, and English.
Each group is split into sub-groups, depending on the language you choose, and each sub-group enters the cave system at intervals of about 10 minutes. Our group was split into Slovenian and English, and we had to wait on the Slovenian group, which entered first.
Stay close to the guide, so you can follow the commentary. Our guide did not use a microphone, but she did try to speak loudly and clearly.
Tour group numbers tend to swell during the day, especially in season, so try and join the first tour of the day if you can, for a smaller group and a more enjoyable experience.
The tour called Following the Reka River Underground tour follows the course of the river for about 1.2 miles, and you can do this tour independently or with a guide. You will enter the cave through a natural opening carved by the river below the village of Škocjan. This tour is offered between April and October and takes about 90 minutes.
The Education Trail is a loop around Velika Dolina and Mala Dolina, through the villages of Betajna, Škocjan, and Matavun. It starts at the visitor center and you can do it on your own or as a guided experience.
Škocjan Caves is not stroller or walker friendly. Over the course of the two-hour tour, you traverse about 500 steps in flights both short and long. Sections of the walk are fairly steep as well. Also, if you have agoraphobia, you may have problems at the highest parts of the walk.
Photography in the cave
Photos are not permitted anywhere in the underground canyon other than at the natural entrance where you emerge after the tour. The photos of the actual caverns in this article are licensed professional photos.
Temperature IN THE CAVE
The cave tends to be cool even on hot days, since it’s underground. The temperature inside is about 50 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s also damp, so it feels colder than it is.
Carry a light sweater or jacket so you can put it on if you feel cold, and wear comfortable shoes with a good grip. For my cave visit, I wore long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, and a light waterproof jacket, along with good walking shoes.
Food and drink
The restaurant at the visitor center, Restavracija Ambrožič, is a great option for lunch (or a snack and a drink) in the park. Not gourmet fare by any means, but perfectly acceptable options conveniently available.
You can also eat in nearby Divača. Osterija Na Planinci offers traditional Slovenian and Italian cuisine, with soups, pastas, and grilled meats. For pizzas, try Picerija Etna: quality ingredients and lots of options. They have many vegetarian dishes on the menu!
The park is open everyday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. for tours. Between June and September, tours start at 10 a.m. and are offered hourly. There are varying schedules for the remainder of the year as well as for the other tours, and you can look up the timetables on the official park website.
Entrance Fees and Tickets
You can buy Skocjan Caves tickets in person at the visitor center at the park. Arrive about 20-30 minutes earlier if you want a confirmed slot on the first tour of the day: lines can get long in season.
For current prices, visit the park website. At the time of writing, adult tickets for the Underground Canyon tour run 20 Euros per ticket in July and August, 18 Euros per ticket from march to June and September-October, and 16 Euros per ticket for the remaining months. Children are admitted at a 50 percent discount.
You can buy a combination ticket for the Underground Canyon tour and the Following the Reka River Underground tour at a discount to buying the two tours individually.
Škocjan Caves or Postojna Cave?
If you have the time, I would suggest visiting both! They are totally different experiences, and each is special in its own way. If you have a car, you can do both caves, plus Predjama Castle, and even the Lipica Stud Farm, in one day, assuming you start early.
But if you wish to limit your cave experience in Slovenia to just one, your choice will depend on a number of factors:
Postojna is more touristy, for sure. Even though the caverns are beautiful, the train and the lighting make you feel like you are in a tourist attraction. The Škocjan Caves tour, on the other hand, feels more like an exploration of a natural wonder in all its raw wild beauty.
Photography is not permitted in the Škocjan Caves, except as you are exiting. So if it’s important to you to have photos or videos of your visit, choose Postojna Cave.
If you have mobility issues, or you plan to visit with young children, Postojna is definitely easier to visit. The walk inside Postonja is less than a mile. Wheelchairs and strollers are permitted inside. At Škocjan Caves, you walk the entire way, and there are uphill portions and 500+ steps over the course of the journey.
Visiting the Lipica Stud Farm
The oldest European stud farm continuously breeding Lipizzan horses, the Lipica Stud Farm is a beautiful place to visit. In 1996, the farm was designated a national cultural monument by the government of Slovenia.
Established in 1578 under the Habsburgs, the farm brought in mares and stallions from Spain. Over time, stables, a chapel, and a riding school were built.
In ensuing times, the farm experienced a variety of troubles, from earthquakes to wars, and the horses were temporarily moved to other locations and brought back to Lipica many times.
The Lipizzan horse is considered Slovenia’s national animal. Adult Lipizzans are generally grayish white in color, but interestingly, foals are born almost black.
What to expect on a tour of the Lipica Stud Farm
You can drive through the farm for free, but a paid admission allows you to experience the horses up close. As you drive to the parking lot, you may come upon the mares feeding in a field on the property like we did.
Park on the side of the road to watch the graceful creatures and to take photos. If you visit in the spring or early summer, you’ll find lots of wildflowers in the fields and along the sides of the road.
Most of the mares we saw at Lipica Stud Farm were white or almost white, but we saw a few that were still gray. Born dark, Lipizzan horses gradually lighten as they grow older, until they are close to white.
Once you park by the Hotel Maestoso on the property, you can walk up to the fence surrounding the stables, where you might catch sight of mares with their dark foals. With paid admission, you can get closer to the mares at the stables.
With paid admission, you can visit the historic structures at the farm, including the chapel, the Karst House, and the historic center and Manor. Visit Velbanca, the oldest stable, where you might see the famous Lipizzan stallions.
Things to know before you visit the Lipica Stud Farm
While you can tour the stud farm on your own, a guided tour will enable you to learn a lot about the history of the farm, the Lipizzan breed, and farm activities.
Guided tours last just under an hour, with commentary in Slovenian and English, and, with prior notice, in Italian, German, or French.
You can drive through the farm, and roads and walking paths are generally wide and level. So the Lipica Stud Farm is, for the most part, suitable for families with children in strollers or persons with mobility devices.
Food and Drink
The Maestoso Hotel restaurant is a great place to eat. Serving local Karst cuisine with fresh local ingredients, the restaurant also offers a selection of local wines.
From the local Jota stew made with potato, sauerkraut and sausage, to prosciutto, Karst steak, and local cheeses, you have lots of options here.
Where to stay
If you want to stay overnight in the Karst region, the Hotel Maestoso, on the property, is the perfect place to enjoy the scenery and the horses. The hotel offers free parking and wi-fi, and features a golf course as well. Rooms feature contemporary furnishings, comfortable beds, and views of the countryside.
Read reviews on Tripadvisor
The farm is open to visitors from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. every day of the week other than Mondays. Guided tours are offered hourly, starting at 10 a.m., between April and October. The schedule varies during the remaining months. Visit the official stud farm website for current timetables.
Entrance Fees and Tickets
For current admission fees for the Lipica stud farm, and to buy tickets in advance, visit the farm website. At the time of writing, adult admission costs 16 Euros between April and October, and 13,90 Euros in the remaining months. Children get discounted admission, and family tickets are available.
Special equestrian experiences and carriage rides are offered at the farm, at additional prices.
So there you have it: my guide to visiting Škocjan Caves and Lipica Stud Farm on a day trip to the Slovenian Karst! On a visit to the Slovenian Karst, you can also visit Postojna Cave and Predjama Castle.
In fact, you can visit all four major sights in the Karst in one day if you have a car and start early in the day. Or you can combine a visit to Škocjan Caves with Predjama Castle, if those are the two sights that are most appealing to you.
There are many other great day trips from Ljubljana to consider while you are in the Slovenian capital, from beautiful Lake Bled and serene Lake Bohinj to pretty Piran on the Slovenian coast and the epic drive through Vrsic Pass.
If you are planning a trip to Slovenia, I do hope you add this day trip to your Slovenia itinerary! And check out all my other articles in my Slovenia destination guide for ideas to help you plan your own trip to this beautiful country.
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More Information for Your Slovenia Trip:
Lake Bohinj: The Best Things to Do at Lake Bohinj in the Summer
Piran: What to Do in Piran on Your First Visit
Predjama Castle: Visiting Predjama Castle on a Day Trip
Lake Bled: The Best Things to Do in Lake Bled
Vintgar Gorge: Why You Should Visit Vintgar Gorge
Postojna Cave: A Day Trip to Postojna Cave and Predjama Castle
Skofja Loka: A Day Trip to Skofja Loka From Ljubljana
Ljubljana: What to See and Do in Ljubljana
Vršič Pass: An Epic Drive through the Vrsic Pass
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