I am sure that everyone who's played this game has been on their way to a distant location on foot or by horse and have encountered a cave, fort, or other structure along the way. With me, I cannot help but explore all locations on the map as I encounter them, mainly because not doing so would just mean I need to mark the place in a notebook or something to remind me that I need to explore it later. Otherwise, I have a "discovered" location on the map with no 100% sure way to know whether or not I've fully checked it out (things don't always show as cleared).

Is it possible that every location on the map will eventually be the target of a quest? If so, you could ignore the random cave that you pass by since you will ultimately be directed back to it by a quest.

Extra credit: If there were a mod out there that would indicate whether or not a location has been entered (as opposed to being discovered by simply walking in front of it) then that would address my issue.

  • I think if you hover over it on the map it says if it's explored or not.
    – Charkz
    Nov 2, 2013 at 10:14
  • 2
    I've done the former. I've got about 200-odd hours played and I've barely progressed beyond the first meeting with the greybeards where the main quest is concerned... But I'm now the Archmage of Winterhold and a thane in at least three major holds (maybe four; I lost count), and have survived encounters with at least two Daedric princes (three if you count the one that just got me drunk in order to play an elaborate prank)... Nov 4, 2013 at 7:55
  • 1
    I feel your pain. I handle the problem by avoiding discovering locations that I am not going to explore immediately (they are darker/inverted on your compass when undiscovered by nearby, so I avoid getting closer). This way, I know that every location on my map has been explored. This doesn't let me track the locations I've skipped by, however.
    – user6789
    Nov 4, 2013 at 23:14

6 Answers 6


Yes and no:

Thanks to the Radiant Quest system, pretty much every location in the game can potentially be the target of a quest; but the odds of this happening for any given play-through are slim to none.

If you happen on a cave or fortress, but don't have a quest there yet, exploring it is usually worth the effort; but keep in mind that you might get sent back there for a quest at a later date (at which point the place will reset, forcing you to clear it again).

Some quests tied to dungeons are unmarked, which helps make the game feel less gamey; and may also prevent that dungeons from being a target of radiant quests; so even if you spam a bartender or other quest giver for repeatables in any given region, you'll still not get sent everywhere.

Finally, it's worth noting that some caves have bugs related to resetting, and quest completion order; potentially preventing you from completing a quest if you clear the dungeon before getting the buggy quest.

However, if you only do the main quest and resign yourself to free-form exploring the rest of Skyrim, this is unlikely to present an issue.

  • Note that Urag gro-Shub will hand out radiant quests targeting nearly every location in the game, unlike most radiant quests which only target a subset. His quests are repeatable, so this can be an effective way to discover new locations.
    – Kevin
    Mar 29, 2018 at 15:28

No, quests will not bring you to every cave or other area on the map. Skyrim was made to be a game where not everything was bound to a quest, although they are fun. It is worth it however to search these caves because they will usually contain decent loot and you will level skills from fighting enemies. Have fun!

  • 2
    Slight point of order, you don't actually gain experience from killing enemies. You gain XP from skill increases, and you train skills by using them -- which in the case of stealth or combat skills requires hostile targets to use them on. Nov 4, 2013 at 7:57
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    @Shadur: In other words: You gain experience from killing enemies. The specific mechanism is not, in this case, important; what's important is: kill enemies -> experience. Nov 4, 2013 at 14:57
  • Yes it is, because you gain /more/ experience from a protracted fight that lets you exercise blocking and armor wearing skills, than from charging up and killing everything in one blow. Nov 4, 2013 at 15:44
  • @WillihamTotland Skyrim has no concept of "gain experience", so really very no. It has levels, skills, but no XP. You improve skills by using them, and level by improving skills, not by killing enemies (you don't smith your enemies to death!). It's entirely possible to achieve high level having never killed anything after Helgen. Nov 4, 2013 at 23:08

Quests will not always lead you to one but there are some that do. However the ones that you do find you should walk up to them until the name of the location pops up so you can fast travel to it later.

A simple answer to your question, no, quests won't lead you to all of the dungeons so make sure you explore A LOT!


On the off chance someone comes along to this thread in 2018... I'd be careful not to randomly enter big sites. You can mess up quests - both Major and side quests by killing the wrong person, or completing something out of sequence.

In have played over 100 hours and killed blessed Alduin, but can't complete the Dark Brotherhood stuff, the Companions or a half dozen other side quests, all because I apparently did something out of order.

I actually enjoy the side stuff and own houses everywhere you can (Solstheim, Markarth, Whiterun, Windhelm, Riften and Solitude (which no longer shows on my map for the same reason, but which I can access through petty crime in Dragon Bridge) and built the other three. I am Thane in all 9 regions and the arch mage of Winterhold and have amassed 120,000 gold and more jewellry and enchanted crap than I can count. In many ways, this was more fun than hunting down Miraak or defeating the Imperials (that's right, I'm Stormcloak through and through, what are YOU gonna do about it?!?) or killing the World Eater.

Do it the way you want, but know that rando activity can mess up some of your quests.


As a long time Skyrim player explore all dungeons/caves or anything that looks interesting. You can train your skills in this manner. So go ahead and explore. The good gear is crafted gear. But the skill increase is more valuable.


No quests will not lead you to every location in skyrim but discover locations along the way because skyrim is a free roam game and that's what gives you that felling to explore rather than following quests which normally tell you what you will find.

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