We’ve been to Slovenia before. We’ve wandered around its capital, rowed through the turquoise waters of Lake Bled. We knew just how enchanting this country could be.
But what we didn’t know is that we’d missed 2 of the most enchanting sites of all: Postojna Cave and Predjama Castle. Since we couldn’t miss out on either one, we planned our 2nd trip to Slovenia.
Ljubljana and Lake Bled: Check! It was now time for caves and castles…
A Day (and night!) at Postojna Cave and Predjama Castle
Birthday Journey to Slovenia.
We started planning our Slovenia trip x2 because my little sister was coming to visit. It also happened to be her birthday too!
But with rain in the forecast in Salzburg, we knew we had to venture somewhere else. Where the sun is shining and the skies are blue. And with sun in Slovenia’s forecast, it didn’t take us long to decide: Postojna Cave and Predjama Castle would be the ultimate birthday destination.
So we packed our bags and headed straight for the caves, castles and sunshine!
Quick Stop at Lake Bled.
Lake Bled is on the way to Postojna Cave. Of course, passing this paradise without stopping would be the worst travel (and life) decision of all time. Plus, my sister and her friend had NEVER been. It was a no-brainer – we had to share this magical place with them.
As soon as we got there, they were of course blown away by the surroundings at Lake Bled. It feels like you’ve entered a fairytale storybook!
We only had a few hours to spend here, so began right away with an awesome lunch and Bled Cake for dessert.Then, we admired the views at the dock, souvenir shopped and jumped back in the car. We still had an hour drive to our next destination. PHEW!
If you’ve never been to Lake Bled, plan to devote at least an entire day here (an overnight with 2 days would be best!). There’s a lot to see. To learn more about our favorite spots at Lake Bled, Read our Slovenia post: 48 Hours Discovering the Best of Ljubljana and Lake Bled
Arriving to Postojna
The town of Postojna, Slovenia is built up around the cave entrance, or Postojna Cave Park. There are shops and restaurants scattered everywhere, beautiful streams, bridges and pathways. Not to mention you’re surrounded by green hills in all directions. As a bonus, most of the restaurants are grills, so the smell of tasty grilled food fills the air (not so bad!) The entire park kind of feels like a resort.
Hotel Jama, the newest hotel in Postojna (2016), sits right at the center of ALL the action. That’s where we’d be staying for the night! (Hotel Jama played an important role in this birthday extravaganza – we’ll tell you about later!)
If you’re staying at Hotel Jama, you get a 10% discount on your cave tour tickets. Make sure you stop at the hotel first to get your discount before you purchase tickets.
Postojna Cave Tickets
Right when we arrived, we went to the ticket office to book our tours.
There are a few options for tours, depending on how long you have in Postojna. After checking out our options, we chose the Postojna Cave and Predjama combo ticket for 31 euros. There are also other packages that we would’ve definitely taken advantage of, if we had more time. But no matter what, the castle and cave were a MUST!
The Postojna Tour is timed, and the Predjama Castle tour is self-guided. We planned to see the caves first, since Predjama Castle is open later. It’s better to take our time instead of rushing to see the castle before our cave tour. Definitely a good decision!
That good decision allowed us to stop for a drink at one of the grill restaurants on the water. We sipped Radlers and blueberry brandy, using the time to relax and enjoy the scenery before our underground tour began…
Postojna Cave (with a CAVE TRAIN RIDE!)
Just as we were finishing our drinks, it was tour time! We headed straight to the entrance and were greeted by a…train?!
The entire cave is 12 miles, and the first 4 miles are explored on a train ride. I’ve never ridden a train inside a cave before. It was like being at an amusement park that happens to be in an underground natural wonderland – (AWESOME!)
Postojna Cave is one of the most diverse caves of its kind, and that was clear from the moment our train ride began. We rode through passageways and arches. Cathedral rooms with formations of all shapes, sizes and colors. Stalactites and stalagmites growing in all directions.
And when the train stopped, jaws instantly dropped. It felt like we were in a totally different world. It just keeps going and going. Every corner is another magnificent formation. Some draping, some shooting up to the ceiling. Some were completely white and others orange. It’s truly awe-inspiring and beautiful to see in person.
The tour takes about an hour and a half, from the 1st train ride to the last.
Of course, we learned all about the stalactites and stalagmites, and how 1cm takes 100 YEARS to form! (WHAT!) The inside is massive and even has LEVELS! We even walked up mountains that were formed inside the cave! Aside from the mere size of Postojna Cave, I felt like I could stare at every crazy formation for an hour – easily. Each was so intricate and colorful.
Letting your imagination run wild here couldn’t be easier (and more fun!)
Oh yeah, and then they had spaghetti hanging from the ceiling:
After our tour came to an end, we met the…
Dragons of Postojna
Okay, maybe they aren’t fire breathing dragons, but they’re pretty close to real deal. Plus, they live in a cave, so – close enough!
Proteus (the human fish) can be found in Postojna Cave. It’s a rare species that’s completely blind and lives in this subterranean world. They grow up to 30 inches and live up to 100 YEARS – just like humans!
At the end of the tour, you can see and learn about these real life dragons.
Be careful with your pictures. No flash allowed! The dragons cannot be exposed to light in any way, shape or form, since they live completely in the dark.
Since we couldn’t take pictures, here’s a more accessible Proteus, to give you an idea of what they look like:
We watched these animals move around for a while (it was so fascinating) and did a little gift shopping before taking the last train back to the outside world.
Postjna Cave was such a cool experience, but now it was time to take on site #2 of the day: Predjama Castle.
Predjama Castle: A Castle and a Cave – All in One!
We’ve been to lots of castles throughout Europe (castles are our favorite), but Predjama Castle… THIS castle wins the most unique, creative and architecturally impressive Castle Award. It’s also listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest cave castle in the world.
To get there from Postojna Cave, you have to drive about 15 minutes or you can use a shuttle service they provide that takes you from the cave to the castle and back – for FREE!
The moment we saw Predjama Castle, we were at a loss for words. First of all, the castle is built into the mouth of a CAVE! (Cave + Castle = one in the same.) Second of all, when it was built, every part of the castle was built using the cave’s structure. The natural formations were turned into water systems, tunnels, stairs, hallways, etc.
The castle tour is self-guided with an audio guide, which allows you to take your time and admire every bit of the architecture – at your own pace.
The audio guide was informative, easy to follow and goes through the entire history of the castle. Parts of the inside was really rustic looking, with hallways and rooms alternating between cave walls and more lavish spaces. There are views at all levels of the castle, looking out to the Slovenian countryside. We even rang the wishing bell, said to make your deepest wish come true.
The tour takes about 45 minutes, depending your pace.
It really feels like you’ve stepped back in time. Endless green hills, older buildings and a medieval church surround the castle. Nothing’s really changed, so you can imagine exactly what life was like in its prime.
A 2nd Cave Castle?
But guess what?! The coolness factor didn’t end here. There’s a second interior castle built inside Predjama Castle that’s even deeper into the cave (AKA not visible to the outside world.)
This offered complete protection from any intruders. Since they would retreat to the cave, they were completely unreachable. But the genius didn’t end there! The builders also used the cave structure to design a water filtration system for the interior castle. So they never ran out of water either!
We wandered around inside for a while, pretending it was our new cave castle home and imagining how we’d make it our own. It had definite potential!
After castle #2 inside Predjama, our tour came to an end. We snapped some group selfies and headed straight for the souvenir shop. This was by far one of the coolest experiences we’ve had in a castle, so a souvenir to remember it was a requirement.
When we left the castle and our day of adventure ended, we realized how hungry we actually were. It was time to check into our hotel and eat a giant and delicious birthday meal to celebrate my sister.
Originally, we had a room reserved at Postojna Cave Rooms, which is in the town of Postojna. But when we pulled up, we were instantly greeted at our car by a very nice bellman. He asked for our name and told us, for my sister’s birthday celebration, they were upgrading us to their newest property – Hotel Jama, just down the street.
When I made our reservation, I sent a message about my sister’s birthday. They took that information and went out of their way to make sure her day was special. They even upgraded us and gave us rooms with balconies and an AMAZING view!
When a hotel goes out of their way and provides customer service that’s above and beyond, it stays so much about the way they run their business. We were treated like true VIPs and my sister felt like the special birthday girl that she was. THAT’s a hotel that deserves to be mentioned and applauded.
After a delightful experience with Gregor at the front desk, we went up to our rooms and were so impressed. Hotel Jama was only 2 months old (2016), so everything was brand new, stylish and comfortable. We had balconies facing the hills of Slovenia and were able to enjoy the beautiful clear night sky.
Time for dinner
The original hotel we booked, Postojna Cave Rooms, has a restaurant with great ratings on TripAdvisor. But both hotels are owned by the same company and both restaurants have identical menus, which was perfect. We happily went downstairs to the brand new (and very stylish) restaurant, instead of heading back out. Ready for ALL the food!
The restaurant in Hotel Jama is funky and rustic looking. It serves all sorts of creative and delicious dish, all of which sounded delicious and fancy (with reasonable prices to match!) Obviously we got a bottle of Champagne, to toast to the birthday girl.
For apps we ordered truffle risotto and crab-stuffed ravioli.
And for our main course, I had cod with polenta, Erin and my sister had pan-fried duck and my sister’s friend ordered beef filet.
Everything was incredible! Not one complaint whatsoever. Only expressions of happiness and satisfaction. And our waiter, Danyel, couldn’t have been more customer-focused and accommodating. He’s that old school server that does everything properly and with so much flair. In just a few short hours, he became our new best friend.
For dessert we ordered the raspberry tart and homemade cake with homemade ice cream. They brought the cake out with candles that we secretly gave them for my sister. We ALL sang Happy Birthday – in both English and in Slovenian together.
It was such an enjoyable dinner in every way. And my sis couldn’t be happier (WIN!!)
To top it off, the total bill was only 128 euros, which is SO reasonable for a multi-course meal for 4 people AND champagne! Worth every penny.
And (of course) breakfast…
After a GREAT and very comfortable sleep, we woke up the next morning to continue on our journey. We were heading to Rovinj Croatia for the next 3 days, and wanted to get an early start on our drive. But first, we needed to fuel up at breakfast!
For 7 euros, you can feast on the breakfast buffet at Hotel Jama. They have TONS of great food options and even freshly cooked eggs, which is a great find in Europe! We said goodbye to our new friends, loaded up the car and were on our way. What an experience it was!
Bottom line: when you come to Postojna Cave, stay at Hotel Jama. This is not even a sponsored post. We just felt the need to sing their praises because they deserve the recognition!
‘Surviving’ tips for Postojna Cave and Predjama Castle
1. Wear warm clothes.
Inside the cave, it’s cool year-round. Bring a sweatshirt or jacket if you’re visiting in the summer.
2. Don’t rush!
The cave tour takes about an hour and a half and Predjama Castle takes about 45 minutes (without stopping for millions of pictures). Allow time for enjoying the town and other sites available too.
3. Make a night of it.
Stay overnight so you can really take in your surroundings without rushing. We had about half the day to enjoy Postojna, and I would have loved to be there for longer if we could. The scenery is relaxing, so a stroll into the town would have been perfect. Or taking on the other caves and sites that we missed:
Vivarium, where you can observe some rare cave species.
MORE caves to see – Cave under Predjama Castle, Otok Cave, Pivka Cave and Black Cave.
And great walking paths where you can appreciate nature at Postojna Cave Park.
4. Don’t forget about your discount
…if you’re staying at Hotel Jama. 10% off can go a long way!
The Perfect Combination of Adventure, Sites and Relaxation
We had high expectations for Postojna Cave and Predjama Castle. When we visited Ljubljana during our first trip to Slovenia, the locals kept telling us we HAD to see THE Cave. I’m so happy we trusted them!
Even with all the hype, we never expected our experience to be THIS amazing. There was adventure, discovery, the most unique castle, delicious food and true hospitality.
And now that we’ve seen most of Slovenia’s major sites. I think we’ve come to one conclusion:
It’s not just one city or one site. It’s Slovenia.
A country filled with adventure, natural wonders, castles, unmatchable scenery and sincere, kind-hearted people. I guess it’s just the Slovenian way, and we are SO happy to have discovered it…
Have you visited any destination in Slovenia that’s completely surpassed your (high!) expectations?