"The magical subterranean world of Postojna" Top 5 Page for this destination Postojna by CatherineReichardt

Postojna Travel Guide: 140 reviews and 430 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 and Cons
  • 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!
  • Last visit to Postojna: Jul 2009
  • Intro Updated Aug 23, 2011
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Reviews (6)

Comments (5)

  • GentleSpirit's Profile Photo
    Oct 20, 2013 at 7:29 AM

    I enjoyed reading the geologist explanations, you put it really well and made it easy to understand.
    this looks like an amazing place. You did touch on it, but are there really opportunities to go off and explore while you are in the caves or are you under the watchful eye the whole time?

  • Basaic's Profile Photo
    Oct 15, 2013 at 11:55 AM

    A great page on a fascinating location!

    • Basaic's Profile Photo
      Oct 15, 2013 at 12:05 PM

      I really enjoyed Ljubljana (the only place in Slovenia I have really seen) and found it to be a beautiful city with nice people.

    • CatherineReichardt's Profile Photo
      Oct 15, 2013 at 12:14 PM

      I agree: Ljubljana is one of the very few cities that I could imagine living. Knowing a little about your interests, I would think that you'd find the Soca valley along the western border of the country fascinating for its stunning scenery and tragic WWI history. It was the setting for the Isonzo Front, and Kobarid (which has a brilliant history devoted to this particularly futile squandering of human life) was one of the locations for 'A Farewell to Arms' (Hemingway served here as a stretcher bearer).

  • olja1234's Profile Photo
    Jun 5, 2011 at 12:36 AM

    I enyod reading this page of yours. Very well done. Greetings from Ljubljana.

  • Apr 5, 2011 at 1:07 AM

    some years back my little bro did a school project on the olm. of all animals in the world, he chose the olm. it was very hard findin info and fotos about the olm back in those days. mom made him give up, and do the tiger instead. ha! nice postojna page!

  • Roadquill's Profile Photo
    Nov 11, 2010 at 11:12 PM

    Hi Cathy, Interesting town you found with the caves. I am just starting to push towards some of the old eastern bloc countries. Thanks for visiting. Nice work so far on VT. Karl

CatherineReichardt

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