When we’re asked our favorite destinations, it’s always tough to answer. The beaches of Cyprus, the turquoise and cobalt architecture of Santorini, the glamour of Paris…there’s something amazing everywhere. That being said, we seem to continually go back to Slovenia. Although more Americans are seeking out Slovenia and Croatia these days, I feel like that area is still extremely underappreciated. From Ljubljana (the capital) to Lake Bled (castle in the middle of the lake) to the karst topography of Postojna, Slovenia is one of the friendliest, most diverse, and English-friendly places in Europe.
During our last month in Italy, we decided to head back to Slovenia to visit Postojna Cave and Predjama Castle. On a whim, we booked the Cave/Castle/Hotel family package on the official Postojna Complex site. For about $300, the package gave us one night in the completely renovated Hotel Jama with breakfast, reserved tickets to Postojna Cave, tickets to the EXPO Karst family museum on the grounds, and a visit to Predjama Castle.
Driving in Slovenia is very easy. Signs are either easily understandable in Slovene or they’re offered in both Slovene and English. For those planning a family vacation, I wouldn’t hesitate to fly in, rent a car, and motor off to any part of the country. After just 2-1/2 hours in the car, we arrived at the Postojna Cava complex. Parking at the bottom of the hill, we walked up the gentle slope to the hotel and enjoyed the views that you see from my Instagram photos above. We were too early for check-in, so we dropped our bags and went back out to grab lunch at one of the many restaurants located along the walk. Our cave tickets were booked for 11:00 the next day, which gave us time to visit the EXPO museum and drive out to Predjama Castle.
I have to admit that Predjama Castle was probably my favorite. I mean, it’s just so grand and unlike anything else in the world. We enjoyed touring the castle itself with the headsets provided (it was actually everything I *wish* Bran Castle in Romania had been). Moving from the external castle into the original cave castle was really cool. Much of the staircase into the original castle is too rickety to navigate but, as you can see from the photo above, you get a really good feel for it just climbing a few flights.
Post-tour, we ducked into the on-site restaurant for a glass of local wine (ice cream for the underage members of our family) and just admired the view for an hour or so. We also appreciated the market just up the street. Tastings aren’t possible but they sell a huge assortment of locally-made cheeses, wines, and arts and crafts from Slovenian artists.
Arriving back on the Postojna complex, we checked into Hotel Jama. The hotel was closed for many years after it fell into disrepair. As you can see, it has been renovated magnificently. Apparently, the goal was to incorporate the feel of the cave and topography into the design. The colors are all neutrals with pops of emerald and cobalt and large windows to let the light and views inside.
The on-site restaurant was also one of the best parts of the trip. Traveling with a toddler can be tough. Harper was exhausted by the time dinner rolled around. The restaurant’s menu was fabulous, featuring all locally-sourced meats, vegetables, and wines. Harper, on the other hand, was not having it. The waiter (who explained that he had a toddler at home and totally understood) worked with the chef (another angel in disguise) to make a toasted cheese and prosciutto sandwich with a side of fries, none of which was actually on the menu. Harper was happy, we were happy, and we hope the 50% tip made our waiter happy. He earned every penny of it.
Our scheduled trip into the cave started at 11:00 a.m. the next morning. After a great breakfast, we dressed warmly and headed to the cave’s mouth where we were led by language groups to the train. Postojna cave is the largest in Slovenia and one of the largest in the world, so the trip begins with a 2-mile trip by red tram. Harper has been a bit testy when visiting caves in Europe but this one worked for her. She was excited to ride the train and only got a little fussy toward the end. The views were spectacular and the length was just right.
Minus driving time, we spent about 24 hours in the Postojna Cave area and I feel like that was just right. We did accomplish everything we set out to do and nothing felt wasted or too rushed. Slovenia is typically a very inexpensive country, making our Euro/Dollar go further. Even with the higher-than-usual tip at dinner, we spent around the equivalent of $120 for a wonderful meal with wine. Would I fly to Europe just to see Postojna? No, but I would make the trip in a heartbeat if/when visiting Northern Italy, Slovenia, or Croatia. Have you been? I would love to hear your thoughts.