If you visit the Slovak Paradise, you can not miss one of the most interesting sights in the area, the Dobšiná Ice Cave. The magnificent ice cave is not only famous all over Slovakia. In terms of depth and length, the cave is considered one of the largest ice caves in Europe. It has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000.
It's not just its size that makes it special. The ice walls here reach - or even exceed - 26 meters thick in some places!
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Map - Where is the cave?
Map, address, distance, entrance, approach
The ice cave is located near the mining town of Dobsina in Slovakia. It is at the southwestern border of the Slovak Paradise National Park, in the Spiš-Gemer karst. Its entrance is below the mountain called Duča (1141 m). It is located at 971 above sea level.
- Address: Dobšinská Ľadová Dobšinská ľadová Jaskyňa, 049 71 Dobšinská Ľadová Jaskyňa, Slovakia
- Distance from Bratislava: 3.5 hours / 330 km
- Distance from Kosice: 1.5 hours / 100 km
You can park in a parking lot not far from the cave. An educational trail leads up the 1 km route. The level difference is approx. 130 meters, take about 20 minutes to complete.
The cave is only open during the summer season and is closed in winter.
- Season: mid-May - mid-September
- Closed: mid-September - mid-May
- Holiday: Monday
- Opening hours in high season: 09:00 - 16:00
- Opening season: 09:30 - 14:00
You can also find the current opening hours on the cave's website. You should check it out before you leave.
Visiting the cave
Visiting is only possible with guided tours. In the summer high season, groups start every hour; in September, they start 3-4 times a day.
It is worth knowing that not the entire cave can be visited. Only a 475 meters section is open to tourists, which will take about 30 minutes to visit.
- Length of the tour: 475 meters
- Duration of the tour: 30 minutes
- Languages: Slovak and English
Tickets can be purchased at the box office in cash only. There is no way to buy tickets online. As far as we know, it is not possible to pay by credit card.
- Adults: €10
- Children (6-15 years): €5
- Students: €9
- Seniors: €9
It is possible to visit the cave outside the visiting hours - if you consult the organisers 2-3 weeks in advance.
- Private tour ticket: €50.00
More about the cave
The world carved from ice is 1483 meters long and reaches a width of 112 meters. The level difference within the cave is approx. 110 meters.
But the cave is not only special because of its visible features. Its ice walls can reach a thickness of 26 meters in some places. A significant part of the cave comprises ice, which sometimes forms huge columns. Some of these columns divide multiple areas of the cave into different "rooms", e.g. Malá sieň, Veľká sieň, Ruffínyho corridor, or Prízemie.
The cave also has ice-free or ice-poor parts, which can be observed mainly in the upper sections. Moreover, classic stalactite formations can be found here (standing and hanging stalactites).
One of the most spectacular parts of the cave is the Great Hall. The ice wall here reaches its maximum thickness of 26.5 meters.
It is worth knowing that forming an ice wall is a very long process. The rock walls, which melt the ice, durability is also affected. Due to this, the ice "attached" to the wall is replaced every 2000 years.
The formation of the cave
The cavities were dug by a primeval river called Hnilec. After the river made its way, the tunnels collapsed. This is how the main part (Great Hall) was formed, creating a huge cavity from the surface to a depth of 70 meters.
The ceiling is believed to collapse first, which is still the entrance today. The cold air got stuck and turned the infiltrating rainwater into ice. The frozen rainwater took over the ground and the walls and started dripping from the walls forming columns.
Although the cave has been known to locals since the beginning of time, it was officially discovered in the second half of the 19th century, when Jenő Ruffiny and his companions excavated it. Very early, just a year after its discovery, it was opened to visitors in 1871.
The huge ice giant soon became a popular destination among tourists and was admired by several celebrities. There was even a concert in the Great Hall in honour of Charles of Habsburg.
After exploring the Great Hall, the exploration of additional spaces awaited:
- In 1947, J. Mišelnický discovered the Kvapľová sieň
- J. Ogurčák in the Northern Corridor (Severná chodba)
- L. Šimkovič the White House (Biela sieň)
Routes and lighting were also renovated in the mid-20th century.
The fauna of the Dobšiná Ice Cave is not particularly diverse. Mostly insects and bats live in the underground world.