"The magical subterranean world of Postojna" Top 5 Page for this destination Postojna by CatherineReichardt
Postojna Travel Guide: 140 reviews and 419 photos
Of all the places that I visited in my first trip to Slovenia, the one I recall being most impressed by was the Postojna Caves. So, unsurprisingly it was a non-negotiable 'must see' when I returned 25 years later with my family.
I started my career as a geologist, "sometime after the end of the Cretaceous", as I used to tell my students during my stint as a university lecturer (which I undertook as a 'career break' from the Big Bad World of mining when my kids were young). However, I didn't realise until I first visited Slovenia as my 'reward' for finishing my degree that the Postojna region is the type location for karst. In layman's terms, it means that the area is internationally recognised as the typical example of a limestone landscape that has been shaped by the dissolving influence of water. In this case, water has slowly dissolved the limestone to create extensive underground cavern systems.
The sheer scale of the underground caverns at Postojna is staggering - 21km of linked cave system has been identified to date and more extensions to the system are continually being discovered. Like most caves that are open to the public, you only get to experience a tiny fraction of what has been identified, but even that is overwhelming. Despite feeling devoid of life, more than 80 species of animal live in the cave system. The largest and most famous cave animal found at Postojna is Proteus anguinus - known to its friends as the olm. This is a translucent salamander which is often referred to as the "human fish" for reasons that I can't really fathom, since it bears no resemblance to a person.
Postojna had changed a lot since my last visit - and, in virtually all aspects, for the better. The tourist infrastructure is more extensive and better thought out, although I was pleased that the somewhat rickety train that transports tourists underground to the point where the tour starts was still as I remembered it.
It would be easy to think that Postojna is all about caves. But the happy truth of the matter is that the caves are only one aspect of a gorgeous area that offers something for just about everyone. Slovenia - like New Zealand - is one of those fortunate countries that seems to be blessed with more than its fair share of stunning landscapes, and the principal risk of visiting is that you get blase about the constant procession of beautiful views!
The rolling landscape around Postojna is gorgeous - we visited in summer when it was lush and verdant, but it was also exquisite when I first visited in autumn, and I suspect that winter and spring also offer their own distinctive charms. It is a lovely part of the world to explore either by car, or - even better if you have the time - by bike or on foot, and the farmstay options in the area are a lovely alternative to hotels.
There are lots of other things for tourists to do in the area, including the Lippizzaner breeding stud at Lipica, which is only a few kilometres out of Postojna. Enchanting Ljubljana is only an hour or so's drive away, and it is also possible to drive to the coast as a day trip. I can't say that I am wildly enthusiastic about the Slovenian coast (although towns like Piran are nice), but it's a pleasant thing to do on a hot day. It also offers you the chance to stop off en route to visit the gobsmackingly gorgeous church at Hrastovlje, with its exquisite frescoes, including the fable Danse Macabre ('Dance of Death'), which is almost worth visiting Slovenia for all by itself! The imposing Soca Valley is also accessible as a day trip, but it's a long - albeit scenic - drive, and given the choice, I would rather recommend approaching it from its northern end via the Vrsic pass just outside Kransjka Gora.
- Pros:Quite wonderful in every aspect!
- Cons:Miniscule bath towels are apparently the norm in Slovenian accommodation!
- In a nutshell:Much more than just caves - but it has to be said that the caves are stupendous!
Despite feeling devoid of life, more than 80 species of animal live in the Postojna Cave system. Your piece of trivia... more travel advice
In planning our trip to Slovenia, I was intrigued by mention of a 'disappearing lake' (Lake Cerknica) in the Postojna... more travel advice
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