As one of the largest open world games in terms of both size and content, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim possesses countless secrets. Determined explorers will try to discover every secret within the game, but missing quests, areas, and Easter Eggs is easy in such a massive game. To help you find the best areas available in Skyrim, this list details the most satisfying secret areas of the game.
A few of these areas can be seen on Skyrim’s map and fall under the game’s category of clearable dungeons. However, most entries on this list can’t be found through the typical method of moving toward icons on the map. Some areas imitate dungeons yet are unmarked on the map, whereas others are small areas within Skyrim’s overworld with secret, significant events.
Certain quests in Skyrim lead to unique dungeons and areas. In order to access these secret areas, players must meet multiple criteria and complete particular quests that, unlike the larger questlines of the game, can be very difficult to find. In some cases, the NPCs with the quests die before you can initiate the quests.
This list refers to locations within the original version of Skyrim released in 2011; the list excludes areas found in the game’s mods or DLC. The creators of Skyrim built their game with an amazing variety of areas, quests, and secrets to entertain players and reward exploration. Thanks to all the effort and creativity that went into the game, Skyrim offers a thrilling world filled with mysteries, poignant stories, and beautiful settings that only a small percentage of players have found. Here’s 15 awesome areas in Skyrim that remain undiscovered by the majority of players.
15 Dunmeth Pass
Because Skyrim’s borders are invisible walls which produce an annoying message when touched, most players avoid the edges of the map. Generic terrain usually lies beyond the border, but Dunmeth Pass includes a snow-covered road leading to Morrowind. Dunmeth Pass shows players a glimpse of the world beyond Skyrim, grounding the game in a larger context and tempting newcomers to play the previous Elder Scrolls games.
This unmarked location can be found next to Refugees’ Rest, a watchtower which wonderfully illuminates the significance of Dunmeth Pass. A book titled Decree of Monument rests on a pedestal beside the tower, explaining the tower served as a resting place for refugees escaping a natural disaster in Morrowind. The tower has become a sad location since then; the nearby graveyard and the monsters occupying the tower show how dangerous the road is for current refugees.
14 Shrine Of Talos Massacre
Despite the narrative focus on the White-Gold Concordat (a treaty which outlaws worship of Talos and allows the Thalmor to rule Skyrim), the concordat seems to hardly affect the land. A man openly praises Talos in Whiterun and multiple statues of Talos are scattered throughout Skyrim.
The Shrine of Talos Massacre reveals the darker side of the treaty. Five bodies lie at the base of the shrine, including a Thalmor carrying orders to investigate the region for worshippers of Talos. Many characters in Skyrim express disdain for the Thalmor; this massacre shows the consequences of such disdain.
Although a path leads from the Guardian Stones to the shrine, the location is unmarked on the map and thus can easily be missed by players. The shrine lies just southwest of the Stones.
13 Lost Valley Redoubt
Lost Valley Redoubt is easy to find for players seeking every Shout in the game: a Word Wall rests at the top of the dungeon. What those players might miss at the Word Wall are two Hagravens who, if given enough time, successfully resurrect a Forsworn Briarheart.
Resurrection occurs throughout Skyrim, but reanimated corpses permanently die in a matter of seconds. Unlike other reanimated beings, the Forsworn at Lost Valley Redoubt remains alive if you avoid combat with him.
In addition to its unique resurrection, Lost Valley Redoubt presents a wonderfully unique design. To complete the dungeon, players must ascend a maze of ruins built along a river. A beautiful waterfall waits beyond the Word Wall, while a walkway allows players to stand above a second waterfall at Bard’s Leap Summit.
12 Bard's Leap Summit
Situated at the top of a waterfall, Bard’s Leap Summit may seem like one of the many locations without chests, quests, or any significance apart from its great view and name. However, a secret rests within the area’s fantastical name. A wooden board extends over the edge of the waterfall; if you leap from the board and land in the pool at the waterfall’s base, you will be greeted by a bard’s ghost. The bard explains that he jumped like you, but died in the process.
As a puzzle which must be completed through both exploration and risky behavior, Bard’s Leap Summit remains a secret to most players. The game rewards those who discover it; after speaking to the ghost, your Speech level will increase by one.
11 Hag Rock Redoubt Bridge
Skyrim possesses many Easter eggs, some of which are more noticeable than others. Many players miss the Easter egg near Hag Rock Redoubt because it revolves around goats, one of the most common creatures found in the game. While most goats in the game run around randomly, the three goats at Hag Rock Redoubt follow a set path.
The first time you visit the bridge between Hag Rock Redoubt and Purewater Run (an unmarked location), you’ll see two goats crossing the bridge while a third joins them from beneath the bridge. If you look under the bridge, you’ll find a dead Troll. This event references Three Billy Goats Gruff, a Norwegian children’s story in which a troll threatens three goats crossing its bridge and is murdered by the third goat.
One of the creepiest stories of the game can be found in Yngvild. If you read the four journals scattered through the dungeon, you’ll discover the dungeon’s boss, Arondil, is a necrophiliac who reanimates and sleeps with female corpses. The only enemies other than Arondil are female Draugr, corpses, and ghosts—one of which lies asleep within Arondil’s bed.
Even if players discover this dungeon or the single quest that can lead you to it, most players will not realize that the ghosts can betray Arondil. If you sneak to a pedestal beside Arondil and take the Greater Soul Gem atop it, the ghost standing beside Arondil will fight him. Arondil is easily the most disturbing character in Skyrim, so it’s extremely satisfying to watch his terrible experiments backfire.
9 Mistwatch Folly
Mistwatch is a great dungeon with an epic structure and beautiful setting. The sulfur pools to the north and east are even cooler. With unmarked locations like skeleton-inhabited ruins, this network of sulfuric pools—known by gamers as Mistwatch Folly—possesses a multitude of secrets.
The greatest secret of Mistwatch Folly—and one of the sweetest scenes in Skyrim—lies just east of Mistwatch. A giant stands at the edge of a pool by a dead mammoth, which likely died from drinking the sulfuric water. The giants of Skyrim are fascinating because they won’t battle you unless you attack or get too close to them. This giant, however, will not fight even if you touch him. Preoccupied by the death of his best friend, the giant remains dormant unless attacked. If you stand next to him, you might notice a sad look in his eyes. This hidden event shows the kindness of the giants and will make you regret the deaths of all giants and mammoths in the game.
8 Bleakcoast Cave
Bleakcoast Cave has a great aesthetic as a dungeon made entirely of ice and snow. Hidden within the beautiful dungeon is the greatest Easter egg within Skyrim.
An upside down skeleton is frozen into the ceiling of Bleakcoast Cave; beneath the skeleton lie bloody bones and a glowing, enchanted sword. The scene wonderfully alludes to the beginning of The Empire Strikes Back when Luke Skywalker is trapped within the ice ceiling of a wampa’s cave. The wampa resembles a Yeti—as do the four Frost Trolls found in Bleakcoast Cave—and is seen consuming other bodies before Luke grabs his lightsaber and slays the wampa. The victim within Bleakcoast Cave must have failed in retrieving his sword; despite all the magic within Skyrim, only Luke can use the Force to escape dire situations.
7 Shriekwind Bastion
Shriekwind Bastion is amazing in multiple ways. The dungeon centers around a massive stone wall built within an underground cavern. A natural skylight above the wall illuminates the dungeon and allow a single, white tree to grow at the wall’s base. Skeletons patrol the wall while vampires await in the dungeon’s rooms.
Because of the epic content within Shriekwind Bastion, players might miss a door leading to a small closet. Inside the secret closet are over a dozen pairs of shoes. The image is disturbingly reminiscent of the Holocaust; the shoes likely belonged to the skeletons roaming the area, who the vampires probably devoured and reanimated. The closet wonderfully complicates the dungeon by including a creepy mystery and creating sympathy for the skeletons.
When you first enter the Dwarvish ruins of Kagrenzel, the dungeon seems small. You quickly reach a dead end within a massive, cubic room with a circle in the center. When you enter the room, an orb of golden light appears above the circle—revealing two corpses next to the orb.
Any sane person would immediately flee, but as a video game player you of course have to investigate. A cage entraps you when you touch the orb, and the orb itself blares like an alarm. After a minute, the floor will vertically rotate and drop you into an underground tunnel. The tunnel is narrow and long, making the fall difficult to survive. If you manage to avoid the walls, you’ll fall into a lake. Making your way back to the surface is extremely fun; the underground cavern looks amazing thanks to strange minerals that make the ceiling glow a dark blue color. Very few dungeons lead you so far underground and no dungeons include the thrilling trap which greets you at Kagrenzel.
5 Giant's Grove
While players can stumble into many of the areas on this list, Giant’s Grove can only be accessed through a particular questline called “The Cursed Tribe.” The thrilling quest can easily be missed: players must first defeat a giant at the gates of Largashbur, which is quite a challenge in itself. Players must then speak to Atub, an Orc who may be killed by you, the giant, or anyone else before she can give you her quest.
Once you’ve started the quest, you’ll eventually be lead to Giant’s Grove. You must traverse through an underground dungeon to reach the small, outdoor grove, where a single giant and a Shrine of Malacath await. As a beautiful refuge isolated from the rest of the world, Giant’s Grove is one of the most unattainable but satisfying secrets in the game.
4 Yngol Barrow
Located at the eastern edge of the map, Yngol Barrow is a highly unvisited dungeon that possesses one of the most magical atmospheres in the game. Apart from the boss, no enemies populate the dungeon, allowing players to relax and appreciate the beautiful dungeon filled with fog and blue lighting. As you explore the dungeon, you’ll discover several Wisp-like spheres which follow you and joyfully bounce around the dungeon.
The final room is terrifying compared to the rest of the dungeon, although the green light and mysterious boss maintain the dungeon’s surrealism. The spheres you’ve collected will bounce into the room, making you think the room is safe as you approach the back of a throne. A spectral Draugr Death Overlord (named Yngol’s Shade if you’re completing a certain quest), waits behind the throne. Designed to always be several levels higher than the player, the spirit is extremely difficult to defeat. You’re rewarded with a powerful helmet, which the spirit’s skeleton still wears within its throne.
3 Hamvir's Rest
Hamvir’s Rest isn’t hard to find, but few players discover its thrilling secret. The graveyard possesses the remains of the Headless Horseman, a ghost who rides across Skyrim and always ends his journey at Hamvir’s Rest. Players are lucky if they find the Headless Horseman and even luckier if they think to follow him to his graveyard.
Three tombs sit at the back of the graveyard. Sitting at the base of the left tomb is an unmovable skull, a helmet, and an Iron Battleaxe that perfectly resembles the spectral axe on the Headless Horseman’s back.
Players who follow the Headless Horseman will be haunted by the sight of his severed skull. With multiple steps and subtle hints, the mystery of Hamvir’s Rest remains one of the most satisfying mysteries in the game.
2 The Chill
The criminals of Winterhold are delivered to the Chill, a prison entirely made of ice. Players sent to the Chill are actually lucky, for the Chill is almost impossible to find through typical exploration.
Despite being an underground cave, the Chill is an unmarked location with a small entrance that blends into the rocks around it. Found north of the College of Winterhold in the northeastern corner of the map, the Chill may only be discovered by criminals or diehard explorers.
The prison is a gorgeous but terrifying cave of ice with imprisoned corpses and a single Frost Atronach who attacks intruders—the place must be too cold for prisoners and guards alike. Three Frost Atronachs await any who exit the Chill, making the secret area a dangerous but worthwhile discovery.
1 Azura's Star
Azura’s Star is the most unique area in Skyrim. Players only enter Azura’s Star—a handheld soul gem—by completing a difficult questline. You can begin the quest by speaking to Aranea Ienith at the Shrine of Azura. Afterward, you must successfully intimidate, persuade, or bribe a character, meaning not all players will be able to complete the quest. If you manage to continue the quest, you will find Azura’s Star beside the skeleton of Malyn Varen and a journal detailing his pursuit of immortality by experimenting with Azura’s Star.
The questline perfectly establishes suspense for its final phase, at which point you teleport into the Daedric artifact and defeat the soul of Malyn Varen. You walk through a small world made of beautiful blue crystals—a world which you permanently exit after defeating Malyn.
With a thrilling mystery and a shocking finale, Azura’s Star provides the greatest and most surreal of Skyrim’s quests. You also keep the Star after the quest, allowing you to infinitely collect and use souls as no other character in the world can.