Looking for a fun day trip from Ljubljana to the Slovenian countryside? Consider visiting Postojna Cave and Predjama Castle! The two Slovenia attractions are just about 6 miles apart from each other, so together they make for an easy day trip from the Slovenian capital.
One of the best aspects of visiting Slovenia is that it is small, yet exceptionally beautiful. And its capital is centrally located, making it a wonderful base for exploring every corner of the country. So after you’ve done all the best things to do in Ljubljana, set out to explore Slovenia on day trips!
A combination visit to Postojna Cave and Predjama Castle is one of the best day trips from Ljubljana you can do! Postojna Cave is one of Slovenia’s top attractions, and Predjama Castle the largest cave castle in the world.
HOW TO DAY TRIP TO POSTOJNA CAVE AND PREDJAMA CASTLE
Postojna Cave and Predjama Castle are set in the midst of the Slovenian Karst country. Together with the Škocjan Caves, they are the best known destinations to explore when you drive through the Karst.
So what is the Karst? A plateau located in southwestern Slovenia (and extending into Italy), the Karst landscape is mainly porous limestone. As a result, the Slovenian Karst contains thousands of cave systems! Rivers and lakes and streams disappear and appear as if by magic. It’s a fascinating region to explore.
You can easily day trip to Postojna Cave and Predjama Castle from Ljubljana, but also just as easily from Koper on the Slovenian coast. We actually did a private tour-transfer that started in Ljubljana and ended in Piran, with stops at several places along the route during the day.
Getting to Postojna Cave from Ljubljana
The distance between Ljubljana and the Postojna Cave Park is about 33 miles via the A1 highway. In normal traffic, the drive should take about 40 minutes. There is a large parking lot at the park, with paid parking.
Take the bus
The bus drops you at the Postojna Cave parking lot, very close to the entrance to the cave. The journey takes around one hour. There are multiple departures each day in both directions. Make sure you take the bus that stops at the cave and not the town of Postojna, or be prepared to walk about a mile from the town bus stop to the Postonja Cave entrance.
Take the train
Although the bus is definitely more convenient, you can also take a train from Ljubljana to the town of Postojna, a little over a mile away. The train journey takes about one hour. The walk to the cave entrance from the station takes about 25 minutes, or you can take a taxi if one is available.
DO A Guided Tour
For a hassle-free trip to both places, book a small group guided tour. With a good guide, you’ll learn a lot about Slovenia on the journey to and from your destinations, and you can choose either a morning or an afternoon departure.
Getting to Postojna Cave from Koper
From Koper to the Postojna Cave parking lot is about 37 miles via the A1 highway. In normal traffic, the drive should take about 45 minutes.
If you plan to be based in Piran, the drive to Postojna Caves is about 46 miles, and should take you just under an hour.
Take the bus
You can take a bus from Koper to Postojna Cave. The bus drops you at the Postojna Cave parking lot. The journey takes around one hour. There are multiple departures each day in both directions.
You can take the bus from Piran to Postonja as well, but there are fewer departures, and the journey takes about one hour and 45 minutes.
Take the train
You can also take a train from Koper to the town of Postojna. The train journey takes about one hour and 30 minutes. The walk to the cave entrance from the station takes about 25 minutes, or you can take a taxi.
DO A Guided Tour
This 5-hour tour takes you from Koper to visit both Postojna and Predjama. 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 Postojna Cave to Predjama Castle
If you arrived by car, drive to Predjama Castle, about 6 miles away. There is a parking lot near the castle entrance. Parking is free.
If you arrived at Postojna Cave by public transport, and you have a combination ticket that includes the castle as well, then you can use the free shuttle in the summer (in July and August, generally).
At other times, you can ask the ticket office at Postojna Cave about a taxi to the castle and back. Arrange for a package price including having the driver wait for you for about the one hour you will spend touring the castle.
Visiting Postojna Cave
Slovenia has more than 13,000 caves, with more being discovered every day. And Postojna Cave is one of the two most visited cave systems in the country, the other being Škocjan Caves.
With magnificent stalactite and stalagmite formations and the famous baby dragons that inhabit this cave, Postojna Cave is a fun and exciting attraction. The entire cave system extends for about 15 miles, but only about 3 miles are covered in the general tour.
People have been visiting Postojna for over 200 years. The railway opened in 1872, the first ever cave railway in the world. Electricity was introduced in the 1880s, and a Murano chandelier was added to the Dance Hall a few years later.
What to Expect on the Postojna Cave tour
The underground world at Postojna Cave is fascinating. The Karst landscape includes vast caverns and narrow passageways, beautiful limestone formations, the sound of dripping water, and the underground Pivka River.
On the tour, you’ll see Brilliant, a white limestone stalagmite that is more than 16 feet tall, and the Skyscraper, the oldest known stalagmite along the tour route. If you visit the Vivarium, you can see the baby dragons of Postojna: the Proteus anguinus, olms with pale pink snake-like forms and no eyes.
Things to Know Before You Visit Postojna Cave
Postojna Cave tours
You can only visit the cave as part of an official guided tour. The tour starts with a train ride, followed by a walk of about 0.9 mile, after which you’ll board the train again to return to the start point. There are no steps, but you do encounter some changes in elevation.
The tour lasts for about 90 minutes, and commentary is offered in English, Slovenian, Italian, and German. Your tour guide will impart lots of information about the cave system and point out features of special interest, so stay close to the guide. You can also opt for an audio guide, available in multiple languages.
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.
Postojna Cave is wheelchair accessible and you can also wheel strollers along the path.
Photography in the cave
You can take photos or shoot videos inside Postojna Cave, as long as you do not use flash or bring a tripod. You can’t record the tour guide commentary though.
Photos I took with my phone turned out largely not usable. Make sure you take a camera or phone that works well in low light conditions. Upon my return home from our trip, I bought a Canon G7 X Mark II. It’s not inexpensive, but it takes excellent photos in low light!
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.
Bring 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
You have lots of options for lunch (or a snack and a drink) in or near the park. For burgers and craft beers, head to Magdalena Food & Fun, located inside Hotel Jama. For local cuisine, try Restaurant Proteus, just down the road from the park entrance. Briljant is a casual eatery inside Hotel Jama, and serves pizzas and other lunch dishes. It’s self-serve, and you can show up without a reservation.
Where to stay
Planning to spend the night? Hotel Jama is located right in the Postojna Cave Park. Some rooms feature balconies with views of the park.
Postonja Cave is open every day. Between May and September, tours start at 9 a.m.; in the remaining months, they start at 10 a.m. Hourly tours are offered between May and October. When booking your tour slot, confirm that the commentary is available in the language of your choice on that tour.
ENTRANCE feeS and tickets
Visit the official website of the Postojna Cave Park to buy tickets in advance. While you can buy tickets at the ticket office at the park, you may want to buy them a day or two in advance if you plan to visit in high season, to avoid the inevitable long lines.
A combination ticket is available for Postojna Cave and Predjama Castle, and will save you a few bucks if you plan to visit both. In July and August, the combination ticket also includes a free shuttle between Postojna Park and Predjama Castle. The Vivarium and the Expo Cave Karst, the exhibition hall, have separate entrance fees.
Postojna Cave or Škocjan Caves?
If you have the time, visit both! They are completely different experiences, and each is fun 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, if you start early.
But if you prefer to limit your cave experience in Slovenia to just one, your choice will depend on a number of factors:
Postojna is definitely more touristy, and heavily promoted. Even though the caverns are gorgeous, you still feel like you are in a tourist attraction, with the train and the lighting. The Škocjan Caves tour feels more like an exploration of a natural wonder, with no distractions. The Škocjan Caves are a UNESCO World Heritage site.
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, pick Postojna Cave.
Postojna Cave is the better option if you have mobility issues, or you plan to visit with young children. The walk inside Postonja is less than a mile, and all on a flat surface. Wheelchairs and strollers can be accommodated. At Škocjan Caves, you walk everywhere, and there are uphill portions and 500+ steps in bits and pieces. So you have to be moderately fit to do the tour and keep pace with the group.
Visiting Predjama Castle
Slovenia has lots of lovely castles: you’ll find a cute hilltop castle in Bled and a hilltop castle in Ljubljana. But Predjama Castle is unique! It’s built right into the mountain face. In fact, at 155 feet high, Predjama Castle is the largest cave castle in the world!
Predjama Castle looks like it’s straight out of a fairy tale. What’s more, the castle comes with a fascinating history that’s even better than a fairy tale!
The History of Predjama Castle
Originally built in the 13th century in the Gothic style, the castle’s location high in the cliff face was chosen to make access virtually impossible.
In the 15th century, the castle became the refuge of Erasmus (or Erazem) of Lueg. Erasmus was a knight and lord of the castle, but he is best known for his exploits as a robber baron.
After killing the commander of the imperial army, Erasmus holed up at Predjama. From the safety of his cave castle, he launched attacks on surrounding Habsburg estates and towns.
Of course the emperor issued orders for his capture, and the castle was besieged. Erasmus held out for a long time, but according to local lore, was eventually betrayed by one of his own. He was killed by a cannon while sitting on the toilet. An ignoble end, if the story is true!
The castle was rebuilt in the Renaissance style in the 16th century. It passed into the hands of various wealthy families until it was turned into state property and a museum by the Yugoslav government.
What to expect on the Predjama Castle tour
First, be prepared to be charmed by the exterior of the castle. It is incredibly photogenic! And complete with a drawbridge at the entrance. Before you go in, take in the beautiful views of the valley below.
You can tour the interior of Predjama Castle on your own. I suggest you get the audio guide, so you know a little bit about what you’re seeing. It is available in 17 different languages. The audio tour lasts about one hour.
The rooms are well preserved and the castle is not very large, so it makes for a comfortable tour. You’ll see some artifacts from medieval times, armor and weaponry, but the most interesting aspect is the intelligent integration of the natural and man-made for a fabulous unified structure
You can admire the ingenious system for collecting water for use during a siege, and the drainage carved into the rock to keep passageways clear. The system of tunnels behind the castle allowed residents to sneak in and out of the castle for provisions even when the castle itself was surrounded.
If you visit between May and September, you can also elect to tour the cave under the castle. It’s closed for visits in the winter because it is used as a hibernation place by a colony of bats.
Things to Know Before You Visit Predjama Castle
PREDJAMA CASTLE AND CAVE TOURS
The castle tends to get congested during the day in high season. When touring, be prepared for short waits at tight spots.
There is no electricity in the cave under the castle. If you do the cave tour, you’ll be given helmets with lamps so that you can see. You may encounter bats in the cave in any season.
There are narrow passageways and lots of stairs, so you cannot visit with wheelchairs or strollers. The stairs are steep, so they might be difficult for very young children or persons with mobility issues.
The castle opens at 9 a.m. between May and September. In July and August, it closes at 7 p.m., and in May, June, and September, at 6 p.m. During the remaining months, the castle opens at 10 a.m. In April and October, it closes at 5 p.m., and in November, December, January, February, and March, at 4 p.m.
Entrance Fees and Tickets
Visit the official website of the Postojna Cave Park to buy tickets for the castle in advance. You can also buy tickets at the park ticket office. Tickets for the castle cave tour are only available at the park ticket office.
A combination ticket for Postojna Cave and Predjama Castle will save you some money if you plan to visit both. In July and August, the combination ticket also includes a free shuttle between Postojna Park and Predjama Castle, which is very convenient, because there is not a lot of parking at the castle.
So there you have it: my guide to visiting Postojna Cave and Predjama Castle on a day trip to the Slovenian Karst! There are 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 that might help you put your own trip together!
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MORE INFORMATION FOR YOUR TRIP TO SLOVENIA
Lake Bled: The Best Things to Do in Lake Bled!
Vintgar Gorge: Walking the Trail at Vintgar Gorge
Lake Bohinj: The Best Things to Do in Lake Bohinj in the Summer
Piran: The Top 10 Things to Do in Piran
Bucket List: The 25 Most Exciting Things to Do in Slovenia
OTHER FUN DESTINATIONS IN EUROPE
Spain: How to Spend 3 Perfect Days in Granada
Italy: Visiting the Borghese Gallery in Rome
Norway: The Best Things to Do in Stavanger
Sweden: Stockholm’s Stunning Subway Art
Poland: A Self-Guided Walking Tour of Gdansk Old Town
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