The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is easily one of the most ambitious video games ever made. Not only is the world loaded with lively characters and a dense mythology, but the game is home to countless secrets, Easter eggs, and surprises. Unfortunately, despite Skyrim's plentiful wonders, it's extremely difficult to find them all. Have no fear, though! We're here to help.
Hidden areas in Skyrim are a dime a dozen if you know where to look, and the following list collects some of our favorites. These locations differ greatly — some hold hilarious Easter eggs, some house valuable loot, and others are totally absent from the in-game map.
There are bound to be some secrets you've seen before, but a true fan of The Elder Scrolls knows how cleverly tucked away many of these places can be. Think you've seen them all? Think again.
Ready to scour every mountain and cave in Skyrim? Time to grab a controller and break out that map, because we have quite a journey ahead of us. Seriously, you'll be doing quite a bit of walking — pack food, potions, and your trusty adventuring equipment... or, you know, just read along and have fun with it.
Here are 21 Hidden Locations You Never Found In Skyrim.
21 The Poultry Reanimator
Venturing south of Geirmund's Hall in The Rift will bring you to a rocky hill. Here, a necromancer is practicing magic. He must not be very good at it though, because he's trying to resurrect dead chickens. He can be found at a skeletal altar surrounded by deceased poultry. Well, if you're going to take up the dark arts, maybe it's best to start small?
It's an embarrassing sight, but don't feel too bad — the guy will likely attack you if you get too close. It's best to sneak up on him if you want to observe, but feel free to take him out and investigate. A basket in front of the altar usually contains several lootable ingredients, and sometimes even a soul gem. He also has a skill book on him for Conjuration, so make sure to grab it.
20 Yisra's Beachside Combustion
This depressing story can be found in northern Skyrim, on the shoreline south of Yngvild. The charred ground and body hint at a dragon attack, but further investigation suggests something much weirder. Beside the body lies a flame cloak spell tome, suggesting the spell may have gone horribly wrong and resulted in an explosion. On the body is an item: "Yisra's Necklace."
Speaking to Phinis Gestor at the College of Winterhold will reveal that Yisra, a mage student looking to practice fire spells, has gone missing. This is all left over from a quest that was cut from the game, in which the player would have had to find missing College Apprentices and report back to Gestor. The dialogue and crime scene remain in the game, leaving for a tragic set of events more akin to a horror story than a fantasy adventure.
Kagrenzel is way off the beaten path. It looks like the Dwemer Ruins scattered throughout Skyrim, but this one is unique. East of Ansilvund lies a steep path through a canyon. Follow this, and be sure to save your game first.
Inside is a large room with a floating light. Touch it, and you'll be trapped in a cage that rises from the ground. Sirens will ring out, and after a few seconds the booby-trapped floor will activate. You will fall. And fall. And fall. Honestly, go grab a drink in the meantime.
You'll land in an underground pool. There is a treasure chest at the bottom and one to the right of the path the leads out of the water. From here, it's a lengthy trek back to the surface with some Falmer enemies along the way. It's worth a look for some quick loot and that hilariously long drop.
18 Skywalker's Demise
This Easter egg is well-known but easy to miss. Located in Bleakcoast Cave (southeast of Winterhold), is a dead adventurer. His skeleton is hanging from the icy ceiling upside-down, with a glowing sword lying below him. This is a direct reference to Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back where Luke Skywalker is attacked by a Wampa and brought back to its cave on Hoth.
Luke's legs are partially frozen into the cave ceiling, so he uses the force to grab his lightsaber from the snow below. While Luke manages to cut himself down and escape, this guy wasn't so lucky. Maybe the Force just wasn't with him? Oh well — just don't forget to take the enchanted sword on the way out!
17 The Iceberg Explorer
In the icecaps north of the Tower Stone is a unique Easter egg. On top of an iceberg lies a skeleton, a treasure chest, and a tattered flag. The skeleton's hand is still clutching the flag pole. The book beside it is a Heavy Armor skill book titled "The Knights of The Nine", which tells the story of a group of treasure hunters. It summarizes the Knights' quest to recover the relics of Pelinal Whitesnake, a legendary warrior and king.
The location of the book suggests that the skeleton might be Sir Amiel Lannus, the founder of the Knights and the only member whose relics and fate remain lost to history. The body could also be an explorer who was following in the Knights' footsteps, but the former explanation is way cooler. This unmarked spot is an interesting find, especially if you're into Elder Scrolls lore.
16 Arcwind Point
Nestled in the western mountains of the Rift is Arcwind Point — an outdoor Nordic tomb that always features very high-level enemies. It's a pain get to, but once you arrive you'll likely have to deal with several undead Draugrs, maybe a Dragon Priest, and a high-level Dragon. If you're level 78 or higher, it will always be the rare Legendary Dragon, so make sure to visit if you're looking for a good fight.
Once the enemies are dealt with, players can find a treasure chest, a word wall for the Drain Vitality dragon shout, and a skill book for Restoration. Plentiful loot and gold can be found on the enemies as well. Plus, it's got a tall watchtower that has a great view!
Low-level players be warned: if you're going to seek out Arcwind Point, be sure to come prepared.
15 Bard's Leap Summit
Bard's Leap Summit isn't a"hidden area" but it does hide a secret that players often miss. Walk towards the perch at the end of the bridge overlooking the waterfall. Carefully jump off the perch into the water below (good luck). At the bottom, a conversation will trigger where you will be greeted by a ghost — assuming you survived.
The ghost is... well, was a bard named Azzadal. He recounts the events of his own demise, having attempted the same jump with much less success. As a reward for your leap of faith and listening skills, Azzadal's conversation will boost your Speech skill by one level.
It's a nice reward for taking the risk, but it becomes a bit more unpleasant once you spot his bones floating around in the water.
14 The Chill
This unmarked location is so far north of the College of Winterhold that it borders the edge of the game's map. You'll likely never stumble upon it — unless you happen to get arrested in the area. The Chill is Winterhold's prison, and it's unlike like any other in the game. No cells, no military guards, no concrete walls — it's literally a jagged ice cave with rusty cages it in.
To be honest, there's little in the way of loot here, which is disappointing for such a hidden area. If you have a taste for exploration then it's worth the journey, especially since you'll likely never find it any other way. Winterhold is so boring that getting arrested requires some real effort.
Beware of the Frost Atronachs, though — it's the closest thing The Chill has to "guards."
13 Lady Of The Lake
A mysterious skeleton holding a sword is buried in a lake directly west of Whiterun. The location isn't marked on the map, so it may require some searching. This is a reference to the lady in the lake from the legend of King Arthur, who reaches out of the water and hands him Excalibur.
Unfortunately, this sword isn't so special. The weapon that spawns is a leveled sword, so its stats are based on whatever the player's level is at the time of retrieval. It likely won't replace whatever trusty weapon you rely on, but it's a curious piece of loot.
Strangely enough, the arm will shatter after the sword is taken away, and the bones will lie there for the rest of the game instead of disappearing like most bodies. Nevertheless, it's a clever nod to the series' fantasy influences.
12 The Reaper's Lair
This secret boss can only be discovered in Skyrim's first downloadable expansion, The Elder Scrolls V: Dawnguard. The Reaper's Lair can be found in the Soul Cairn, an area that becomes accessible during the "Chasing Echoes" quest. The Soul Cairn is huge and takes time to fully explore, so the Reaper can be an easy miss.
Look for three Reaper Gem Fragments scattered throughout the area. You might hear wandering souls remark "Shh, he's watching us!" as you search. Once you have them, head east after passing the large stone wall. You'll eventually come upon the Reapers Lair, where you may place the fragments in a receptacle. This spawns the Reaper, a ghostly boss enemy dressed like an executioner with bright red eyes. He won't be happy to see you. Good luck!
11 Abandoned Rowboat Of Riches
If Easter eggs and pop culture references aren't your cup of tea, then you'll definitely want to seek out this unmarked little gem.
Head to Kolskeggr Mine outside Markarth, and follow the river south. Around a large river bend is an abandoned boat loaded with valuable loot, ripe for the taking.
The deck of the boat is loaded with flawless gems. Search it carefully to avoid accidentally kicking any into the water. Also onboard is an apothecary's satchel full of alchemy ingredients and a strongbox with even more loot. To top it off, a treasure chest is sunken in the river below.
It's not a jaw-dropping vista or lore-driven secret — just a hidden cache of loot for adventurers looking to make a quick buck.
10 Azura's Star
During "The Black Star" questline, you'll earn a quick visit to this unique location. Pictured above is the interior of Azura's Star, an artifact that houses souls. At the end of the quest, the Dragonborn is transported into the item to fight Malyn Varen, whose soul is trapped inside. In the Star is an ethereal, crystalline dimension that looks like it was ripped out of the original Superman movies.
The area doesn't feature any important items — the only things inside are some powerful Dremora enemies and the boss, Malyn. However, there is no other location like this in the game and is an absolute must for any Skyrim sightseers.
If that's not enough, though, players will get to keep Azura's Star once the quest is complete so they can steal some souls of their own. How's that for a reward?
9 A Shakespearean Tragedy
Just north of Old Hroldan Inn is a tragedy hidden in an unmarked location. A small abandoned camp can be found just off the road. There are three bodies at the site; a man, a woman, and a wild animal. Reading through a nearby journal reveals that the two were Talvur and Karan, lovers who have seemingly been killed by the beast.
Karan, who came from a wealthy Markarth family, wanted to run away with Talvur, a miner who came from poverty. Karan's father did not approve of her relationship with someone of lower social class, so she decided to run off with Talvur anyway. Unfortunately for them, they didn't make it far from Markarth.
If the player leaves the campsite and returns days later, the bodies will have disappeared and been replaced with a Shrine of Mara, Skyrim's goddess of love.
8 The Silvermoon Shipwreck
South of the Lady Stone lies a shipwreck in Lake Ilinalta: the Silvermoon. The wreck isn't marked on the map, but can be seen in person as part of the mast stands above the water's surface. The Silvermoon was apparently an old trading ship, and according to the citizens of Riverwood, has been sitting in Lake Ilinalta for as long as anyone can remember.
Underwater exploration is rarely necessary in Skyrim, but this is one of the few instances where it pays off. Plenty of fish and ingredients surround the shipwreck, and a treasure chest can be found inside as well. An axe can also be found in the Captain's cabin, along with the Captain himself. Well... what's left of him. He probably won't mind if you keep that axe.
7 A Red Wedding Indeed
The Dark Brotherhood quest "Bound Until Death" has the player crash the wedding of Vittoria Vici, an imperial noble marked for assassination. The task can be carried out in any way the player desires — quickly and quietly, or violently and in front of all the guests. It even be made to look like an accident. However, the Brotherhood provides a method that some players may not have considered.
Two balconies can be found behind the seating area. In the northwest corner of the courtyard is a door that leads to one of them, where Brotherhood member Gabriella has left an enchanted bow, Firiniel's End, and a potion of True Shot for a marksmanship skill boost.
Because the quest can easily be completed in a number of ways, it's easy to miss this hidden balcony and rare weapon.
6 A Spartan's Death
An Easter egg can be found in the mountains west of Karthwasten. In a narrow canyon, a Sabre Cat lies dead with a weapon lodged in it. A skeleton can also be found in front of the animal, only a few feet away. This is a direct reference to the film 300, specifically to the sequence where young Leonidas fights off a wolf.
Leonidas, armed with only a spear, kills a hostile wolf by trapping him in a space between two rocks. Leonidas manages to survive, but this adventurer did not. Funnily enough, the skeleton has fallen downhill and looks like he hit his head on the way down. Not a very dignified way to go, but at least he managed to defeat the Sabre Cat.
5 The Secret Dragons Of Forgotten Vale
Taking a stroll on a frozen lake is already stressful, but how often do you expect two dragons to burst out and attack? During the "Touching The Sky" questline (only in The Elder Scrolls V: Dawnguard expansion), players will venture to the Forgotten Vale: a frozen valley once ruled by Snow Elves. Players can easily bypass the large frozen lake if they aren't exploring thoroughly, which is a missed opportunity in this case.
Walking far enough onto the ice will trigger an attack by two Revered Dragons: Naaslaarum and Volslaarum. They're a decent challenge to fight off, especially at the same time. Watch out for their dives, too — the dragons swoop in and out of the ice in an attempt to confuse the player.
Once they're handled, claim the unguarded treasure chest on the center island!
4 The Sword And The Stone
Here's another King Arthur reference — this one being a little more well-known. East of Karthwasten is Rebel's Cairn, a cave featured in the miscellaneous quest "Find Red Eagle's Sword". Even without that quest, it is possible to stumble upon this large sword in the stone, right outside the entrance. Watch your step, though. It's kind of messy.
The bodies indicate plenty of people have fought over the sword, or at the very least, the chance to pull it free from the stone. It's a great visual reference, but ironically, the weapon in the stone is just a generic steel sword without any special properties. What a rip-off.
You're better off continuing to the cave to get Red Eagle's Sword, but enjoy the Easter egg on your way.
3 Dunmeth Pass
Let's be upfront about this — Dunmeth Pass doesn't look like anything special. It isn't marked on the in-game map, and looks like nothing more than vast wilderness. However, true Elder Scrolls fans understand its significance. Dunmeth Pass is east of Windhelm and is the only safe passage through the Velothi Mountains to Skyrim's neighboring province, Morrowind. Of course, this is the setting of 2002's The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind.
Hundreds of years before the events of Skyrim, Morrowind suffered a catastrophe called the Red Year, where a moon crashed onto the surface and caused widespread destruction. The province was leveled, and many fled to Skyrim to escape the harsh conditions.
Dunmeth Pass was used by Morrowind refugees as a checkpoint for linking up with lost friends and family, hence the name of Skyrim's closest marked location, Refugees' Rest. It might not look like much, but Dunmeth Pass has major historical significance.
2 Pilgrim's Trench And The Northern Shipwrecks
Northern Skyrim is brimming with unmarked areas and secrets, most notably of which are the several shipwrecks scattered through the region. Some are marked on the map, but tons of them aren't and require some serious exploration to find. If you're up for some lucrative deep-sea diving, though, visit Pilgrim's Trench.
Located northwest of Winterhold, this area looks barren above ground. However, below the water's surface is a concentration of several shipwrecks and sunken treasure chests. Don't just poke your head into the water — these shipwrecks are extremely deep. Be sure to bring plenty of water-breathing potions or enchanted water-breathing gear.
It's an eerie dive, mostly consisting of dark, cloudy waters until you approach the bottom. Once you're there though, the scope of the area will be apparent. Happy swimming!
1 Notched Pickaxe
Yeah, you've probably found this place, but how could we leave it off the list? At the top of the highest mountain in the game, the Throat of the World, is the unique "Notched Pickaxe". It might take a precarious walk to get to, but it's worth the item and the unbeatable view.
The area only becomes accessible after "The Throat of the World" questline, but clever players might be able to find (or glitch) their way to the top. Regardless of how you arrive, the pickaxe adds five levels to the Smithing skill and inflicts shock damage when used as a weapon. This is a reference to Marcus "Notch" Persson, the creator of Minecraft — a pickaxe being an important tool in the game itself as well.
If you haven't snagged it already, head up there, test it out on the surrounding ore veins, and soak in the view.
Have you found all 21 hidden areas? Leave a comment below and tell us about your favorite place in Skyrim!