One of Slovenia’s three UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the Škocjan Caves made a second great day trip from Ljubljana. Located in the Karst Plateau, it was easy to book a bus from the main train station and then take a free shuttle bus to the actual caves. Located around the caves are the villages of Škocjan, Betanja, and Matavun along with a nature trail. These are good to explore if, as we did, you arrive a good hour before the tour time (there is no option to explore the cave system on your own in the winter).
The two-hour guided tour begins 600m from the ticket office to the entrance in the Globočak Valley. Here they split our large group into two: one for English and one for Slovene. No photos were allowed inside the caves.
After walking through a 116m-long tunnel built in 1933, you come to Silent Cave, a dry branch filled with stalactites and stalagmites, many of which make shapes such as a bear. There are three sections here, ending with the Great Hall, 120m wide and 30m high.
As you enter the Murmuring Cave, you begin to hear the sound of the Reka River as it travels underground. To get over the river and into the next section, you are able to cross the Cerkevnik Bridge which hangs nearly 50m above the riverbed providing great views. Along with the natural formations, we could also see the natural remnants of previous tour paths and where floods had occurred leaving tree branches above our heads.
The final section, Schmidl Hall, emerges into the Velika Dolina (Big Valley) where you walk past Tominč Cave. After leaving the caves you take a short walk around the river going upwards. The tour ends at a funicular lift that takes you close to the ticket center.
As we had a good hour before we could catch our bus back to Ljubljana, we decided to walk around one of the small villages we had seen from the nature trail.
After getting to see a little of the village, we headed back to town on the shuttle bus and bought a ticket back to Ljubljana where we explored the city in the evening and got dinner.