Cool gadgets, quirky characters, epic adventures, there are many things you can expect to find in a Legend of Zelda game. Counted among them are the dungeons that appear in every single main-entry Zelda titled. They challenge your wits and reward your intelligence with cool loot, which can be put to good use to defeat the big bad boss. Take a look below for our list of 10 of the best dungeons from The Legend of Zelda games.
1. Stone Tower Temple From Majora’s Mask
The dungeon is at the top of the Stone Tower in Ikana Canyon. Link can access this Temple after learning the “Elegy of Emptiness”, which invokes lifeless clones of Link so that slacked switches can be pressed and held. This is the only way to activate the platforms that allow the young hero to make his way to the top, where the lifeless clones are needed again to gain access to the entrance itself.
Unlike the other three dungeons in the game, the Stone Tower Temple requires the use of all four of Link’s forms: Hylian, Deku, Goron, and Zora. This dungeon is also unique in the fact that, thematically, it does not reflect the current situation of the region of Termina where it is located. Ikana Canyon is experiencing a dark age because of the rise of spectra, undead creatures and other beasts; in contrast, Stone Tower Temple does not even show the depressing atmosphere like the outside conditions. Instead, it is a light-themed dungeon that features a potpourri of other elements, including fire, water, and even sky.
Hylian Link is useful to solve puzzles pertaining to light, as he is the only form that can use the Mirror Shield. Nearly midway through the dungeon, he will encounter the Garo Master, whose defeat will grant him the Light Arrows. These mystical Arrows can be used to turn the dungeon, and the whole of Stone Tower, upside down, by firing one into the Red Emblem fastened to the wall just outside of Stone Tower Temple.
Each room flips on its own, so for example, the rooms on the east side of the temple remain on the east side. Other than that, the Light Arrows are also used to twist some rooms, as well as to defeat certain enemies whose weak points are evidently marked by emblems not unlike that of the Temple’s entrance. They are also used to remove Sun Blocks that can only otherwise be dealt with with the Mirror Shield, and even then there needs to be a light source.
As for the other forms, Goron Link is useful to cross lava rooms, and his brute force will also be called for use. Zora Link needs to swim through a large body of water, and while Deku Link is already required to fly through a chasm prior to the Garo Master’s room, he becomes entirely vital when the Temple is upside down, as most of the rooms will turn into large chasms due to the new position of the sky. The young hero’s alternate forms also come into play in rooms where the “Elegy of Emptiness” is used to press slacked switches. The Boss Key is guarded by Gomess, who can only be defeated with Light Arrows and then the Sword.
A corridor containing a tougher than usual Eyegore is found on the way, and Link must defeat this Eyegore to continue. The creature’s defeat reveals a chest containing the Giant’s Mask. Once this is obtained, Link can continue until the boss room is reached. Inside the room, he will find himself in a desert, which is the home of the temple’s boss, Twinmold. Defeating Twinmold yields a Heart Container and the final quest mask, Twinmold’s Remains.
If Link collects all 15 Stray Fairies, he will be rewarded with the Great Fairy’s Sword, a powerful blade.
2. Snowpeak Ruins From Twilight Princess
Located in the Peak Province, Link can find the manor at the end of Snowpeak Top’s descending gorge. The first time he looks for it, he slides alone towards there using a frozen leaf. Later visits down the gorge require him participating in a Race against either Yeto or Yeta.
The Snowpeak Ruins is a decrepit mansion, home to a Yeti couple. Yeto lives in the mansion with his wife Yeta, but they only inhabit the front rooms and the bedroom. Yeto resides in the mansion’s kitchen, where he prepares Soup for his ill wife using the Reekfish he caught in Zora’s Domain. Link is allowed to scoop some of the Soup for free into an empty Bottle, which replenishes Hearts when drunk. The vacant back rooms become home to a host of monsters that invaded the mansion after the second Shard of the Mirror of Twilight came to rest there.
Yeto had found it and given it to his wife Yeta. The mansion has three floors, with the predominant theme being ice. The goal during its exploration is to reach the bedroom on the third floor, where the Mirror Shard is kept. The item obtained in the dungeon is the Ball and Chain after defeating the mini-boss, Darkhammer.
The ruins are explored in stages, as Yeta attempts to direct Link to the correct location of the Bedroom Key. Due to her current condition, her memory is poor, and she unintentionally misleads Link to find first the Ordon Pumpkin, then the Ordon Goat Cheese. These two items are used by Yeto to transform his Reekfish broth first into the Good Soup, then into the Superb Soup.
Many areas of the dungeon are clogged by large blocks of ice, which can only be broken using one of the Cannons found within the dungeon (and subsequently the Ball and Chain). The main enemies encountered within Snowpeak Ruins are mostly ice-based, including Freezards, Mini Freezards, Chilfos, White Wolfos and Ice Keese.
The mansion is last seen during the game’s end credits; a Heart “pops” out from the ruins, indicating the endurance of Yeto and Yeta’s love.
3. Spirit Temple From Ocarina Of Time
Placed inside the Goddess of Sand, the temple is located in the westernmost area of the Desert Colossus in the Haunted Wasteland. It lies past the Gerudo Fortress. Constructed by the ancient ancestors of the Gerudo, it served as Nabooru’s headquarters until Ganondorf rose to power becoming a base of operations for the King of Thieves and his surrogate mothers. It is the only place in the game where Link encounters Anubis and White Bubbles.
Unlike the other dungeons of the game, the Spirit Temple has two portions, each requiring a different age of Link. The Spirit Temple carries a theme of the relation between past and future, and the statues in the temple’s entrance tell poems relating to such.
As an adult, Link finds the temple after following a ghost that guides him across the desert. However, when he enters the temple for the first time, he cannot make any progress due to the obstacles in front of him being beyond his tools. The west route can only be accessed through a hole too small for Adult Link, and the east route is blocked by a block too big for him. After exiting the temple, he finds Sheik and learns the Requiem of Spirit, which allows him to return to the area anytime regardless of his age.
The young hero then goes to the Temple of Time and travels back to the past, and plays the new tune to start exploring the temple’s western route as a child. Only after finding the proper tool can Link return to the Spirit Temple as Adult Link and explore it in the future.
As a child, Link explores the western wing of the temple through a crawl space. This is the only time in this age that he encounters Nabooru, who asks him to fetch her the Silver Gauntlets. The puzzles mirror those seen in the first three dungeons (Child Link’s period): In one room, a switch behind a fence must be pressed with the boomerang, another switch must be held with a statue, torches must be lit with a Deku Stick, etc. Upon defeating an Iron Knuckle and finding the Silver Gauntlets, Link has his final meeting with Kaepora Gaebora and witnesses Koume and Kotake abduct Nabooru.
The adult portion of the temple is not accessible until after Link obtains the Silver Gauntlets. While wearing these, Link is able to explore the eastern wing of the temple as an adult by moving Marble Blocks. Now having a larger repertoire of items, he must solve several puzzles involving light until he ultimately finds the Mirror Shield behind an Iron Knuckle. With said shield acquired, Link’s next objective is to find the Boss Key in order to access the whereabouts of Koume and Kotake.
Before battling the bosses, Link must first battle a third Iron Knuckle, who is revealed to be a brainwashed Nabooru. Koume and Kotake abduct her a second time and Link gives chase to the boss room. After defeating Twinrova, it is revealed that Nabooru is the Sage of Spirit, and she gives Link the Spirit Medallion to aid him in his quest.
4. Ancient Cistern From Skyward Sword
The dungeon is located behind the Floria Waterfall past the throne of Faron. When Link first meets Faron, she is unable to stop the flow of the Waterfall that blocks access to the dungeon because of wounds Ghirahim gave her in an earlier battle. She asks Link to find a sample of Sacred Water, which can be found in the Skyview Spring behind the Skyview Temple. After Link heals her with this Sacred Water, Faron stops the Waterfall’s flow to allow Link passage into the dungeon, leaving the young hero to search for Farore’s Flame.
A giant stone statue sits at the center of the dungeon, surrounded by water. Navigation through the Cistern is interwoven with water-themed puzzles, and Link must contend with areas containing streams, stream pools, Lily Pads, waterwheels, and water-filled high-pressure pipes to proceed.
Although the Ancient Cistern is a serene, water-themed temple with distinctly far-eastern architecture, the dungeon’s lower level is an ominous abyssal underworld populated with Cursed Bokoblins. This sinister area has murky purple water which damages and Curses anyone who makes contact with it.
The dungeon contains many drains and Switches, due to its nature as a cistern. After Link obtains the Whip that is guarded by a Stalmaster, he can use it to activate many of the Switches in the dungeon, including raising and lowering the central statue, and flipping over various Lily Pads with damaging, barbed undersides. The Whip is also often used to unscrew the tops of tubes, creating geysers which can lift Link to other destinations. Many sections of the dungeon are submerged, which Link can navigate easily with the Water Dragon’s Scale.
The underground section differs greatly from the rest of the dungeon, showing puzzles and obstacles based on timing or skill rather than the manipulation of water. One portion of the underground section has Link fighting off Cursed Bokoblins as the dungeon’s statue falls down from above after he obtains the Blessed Idol. Another section forces Link to climb up a thread as a horde of Cursed Bokoblins attempt to pull him down. In contrast, the upper dungeon levels prefer to use water-based puzzles and Whip-activated switches as Link’s main obstacles to overcome.
5. Arbiter’s Grounds From Twilight Princess
The Arbiter’s Grounds is located at the far end of the Gerudo Desert. Link reaches the dungeon after infiltrating the Bulblin Camp and battling King Bulblin. The entrance to the grounds itself is uninhabited, except for an Imp Poe that appears at night on one side of it.
The Arbiter’s Grounds was a prison built to house Hyrule’s most ruthless criminals while they awaited trial, execution, or exile to the Twilight Realm. It is connected to the Spirit Temple from Ocarina of Time, both containing a statue of a woman wrapped in a snake. The Mirror Chamber, home of an ancient relic known as the Mirror of Twilight, stands atop the ruins of the Arbiter’s Grounds, where the sacred council of the Sages presides over the cursed grounds, conducting trials and executions of convicted criminals. Its appearance from afar resembles the Roman Colosseum, but inside it resembles an Egyptian tomb.
The dungeon contains four floors and two basements. The first section of the dungeon is very similar to the Forest Temple in Ocarina of Time, as it requires tracking down and destroying four unique Poes in order to light four torches and proceed into the inner sanctums of the prison. Link must transform into his wolf form to follow the Scent of the Poes’ essence, which helps him seek them out. After destroying each Poe, one of the four torches in the main room will be lit; once all four torches are lit, a door leading deeper into the prison will open and Link will be able to advance to the second part of the dungeon, where new and different types of obstacles await him, including metallic rails that can give Link a ride once he obtains the ancient device known as the Spinner.
The Arbiter’s Grounds teems with the undead. Its halls are haunted by vengeful wraiths, from Stalfos and Stalchild to Gibdos and Bubbles, and even the occasional pack of Ghoul Rats. Link also encounters swarms of Poison Mites, which threaten to slow him down and pull him under the pits of quicksand that cover the dungeon. The Spinner is protected by the dungeon’s mini-boss, Death Sword, a vengeful spirit that haunts the sword it once wielded in life. In addition to riding rails to access otherwise inaccessible areas, the Spinner is also necessary to spin certain gears to open new pathways in the dungeon.
Deep within the Arbiter’s Grounds lies the remains of a fierce beast, Stallord. Its skeleton is reanimated when Zant appears and stabs the Shadow Scimitar through the creature’s skull. Link is able to defeat it by using a combination of the Spinner and the Master Sword. After clearing the dungeon, Link will be able to progress to the Mirror Chamber outside, where the Mirror of Twilight is found.
6. Forest Temple From Ocarina Of Time
Deep within the Sacred Forest Meadow in the Lost Woods lies the mansion-like Forest Temple, inhabited by many fierce foes. Since the stairway leading to the temple is now broken, the only way to gain access to the temple is by obtaining the Hookshot from the Kakariko Graveyard and grabbing onto a tree branch hanging off the top of the entrance platform.
The Forest Temple is an eerie, complex temple filled with strange puzzles and other features designed to confuse its explorers, such as an array of switches which have the ability to twist entire hallways in an unnatural manner, rearranging the very dungeon, making walls become floors. It one of the few dungeons in The Legend of Zelda series whose structure can be altered in this manner (for other examples, see the Eagle’s Tower and the Stone Tower Temple).
The dungeon’s interior design is reminiscent of a mansion or castle, with portraits hanging in certain rooms and quaint red carpets decorating the floor. This is also one of the few dungeons that has open-air elements, walled gardens are found on the east and west sides of the dungeon, connected by two wells. Most of its rooms and corridors are covered with moss and vines, and many hold enemies like the Skulltula and Deku Baba, but most of the threats Link will encounter in this dungeon are of the undead variety, be it spirits or skeletons.
The temple marks many returning elements from previous games in the series that had been lacking in the more unconventional earlier dungeons that Young Link goes through. As well as being based on the Palaces that appeared in The Adventure of Link and A Link to the Past, this dungeon marks the first appearance of Stalfos and Bubbles in a 3D Zelda game, staples of the series. Stalfos appear as mini-bosses in the temple twice, one time while guarding the Fairy Bow, another primary weapon in the series making its first appearance in 3D. It is also the first temple where Link meets the dreaded Wallmaster, a classic enemy who previously appeared in the likes of Skull Woods, another forest-themed dungeon filled with the undead.
The temple is also home to the four Poe Sisters that first appear by stealing the flames from four multicolored torches in the center of the main room of the dungeon. This becomes the primary puzzle that the dungeon is centered around: Link must hunt down and destroy them to restore the flames and complete the temple.
The first two sisters can be found on the upper levels of the temple, in passageways with staircases; the third sister appears in the eastern end of the upper levels after Link solves a jigsaw puzzle, and the final sister returns to the dungeon’s main chamber after the other three are defeated.
The temple’s music uses a mix of haunting, eerie sounds and a slow, gentle melody driven by wind instruments. Its boss is the fierce Phantom Ganon, who would go on to become a recurring boss in the series.
7. Earth Temple From The Wind Waker
Both the Earth Temple and the Wind Temple were constructed to safeguard the power to repel evil within the Master Sword, by providing a place for the two Sages to offer up their prayers to the Golden Goddesses. The prayer song for the Sage of Earth was the Earth God’s Lyric. When Ganondorf escaped to the surface of the ocean, he sought a way to deactivate the Master Sword. He invaded the Earth Temple and murdered the Sage of Earth, the Zora known as Laruto.
It was here that Laruto’s spirit lingered on, awaiting the time when a new Hero armed with the Master Sword would come with a successor Sage to restore its power, and destroy the evil that now haunted the temple.
Link comes to investigate what had become of the Sages of the Master Sword, and to restore the Master Sword’s power. He brings Laruto’s predestined successor, a Rito by the name of Medli, with him. Medli bears a harp identical to Laruto’s, and they both play the Earth God’s Lyric to break down the Sage Stone that blocks the entrance to the Earth Temple.
Inside the dark and eerie temple, Medli proves very useful in that she can fly, as well as reflect light off her harp. Her harp is Link’s only way of reflecting light until he finds the Mirror Shield, after defeating a group of Stalfos deep within the temple’s interior. The pair works together to cleanse the temple of the evil monsters infesting it, and works their way to its deepest recesses, where they discover the entrance to the shrine chamber of Sage of Earth. Link enters the room and defeats Jalhalla using the Mirror Shield.
After Link defeats Jalhalla, Medli enters the chamber and plays the Earth God’s Lyric with Link, who conducts with the Wind Waker. This causes Laruto to appear one final time to play alongside them. This song restores part of the Master Sword’s former power, and releases Laruto from her obligations, allowing her spirit to finally rest in peace. Medli remains in the Sage shrine and sends Link back above ground to seek out the Wind Temple, where he could restore the Master Sword to its full power.
There is a great focus on the duality of light and darkness which is portrayed throughout the temple. Much of the temple appears to be nothing short of a large tomb, with many coffins (several of which contained ReDeads) adorning walls and hallways. This is a trait shared with the Shadow Temple of Ocarina of Time as it too was, for all intents and purposes, a large tomb (the “House of the Dead,” by name).
The temple was constructed of many blocks and tiles, and was riddled with statues related to the fusion of the Sun and Moon, perhaps hinting at the duality of light and darkness, or of day and night. There are also several rooms that have large, scorpion-shaped mirrors, which are used to reflect light onto some of the statues, in order to open the way forward into the temple’s deepest recesses.
As Link and Medli make their way through the temple, they will encounter several Sage Stones similar to the one encountered at the entrance, which can only be destroyed when the young duo play together the Earth God’s Lyric. The Command Melody is also heavily used by Link in order to control Medli to reach places that Link would otherwise be unable to reach, as well as to use her harp’s ability to reflect light.
One very important element to completing the temple is the ability to reflect and control the flow of light. This underscores the importance of the temple’s primary treasure, the Mirror Shield, in the way that the item is required at certain points, since it may take more than one reflection to proceed forward, as well the fact that the ability to reflect light is key to defeating the evil boss of the temple, Jalhalla.
8. Goron Mines From Twilight Princess
In pursuit of the second Fused Shadow, Link must enter the Mines through a passage in Death Mountain, which he can access after defeating Gor Coron in a Sumo Wrestlin’ match using the Iron Boots.
The Goron Mines are notable for featuring several forms of advanced technology. It deploys several complex machines that operate to keep the place functional, including magnetic cranes, elevators and mine carts; Link can take advantage of the machinery available to explore the dungeon.
The insides of the Mines are also filled with lava and flame geysers; to avoid them, Link has to use his Iron Boots to stick to magnetized platforms. Link does not need to worry about the temperature, despite the hot environment. Due to its high temperature, the Mines are inhabited by several fire-based enemies. Despite this, some rooms of the Mines are filled with water.
Link must seek out the three remaining Goron Elders – Gor Amoto, Gor Ebizo, and Gor Liggs – in order to piece together a shattered Key to get into the final chamber, where the Goron Patriarch Darbus was imprisoned after being transformed into the Twilit Igniter Fyrus. The dungeon has two floors and contains many large rooms, some with walkways over massive pools of lava. The mini-boss guarding the Hero’s Bow is a Goron guardian named Dangoro.
Towards the end of the dungeon is an open area of the Mines that is flooded with water. It is crisscrossed with scaffolding manned by Bulblin archers. On the uppermost walkway in the northeast corner of the area is a Treasure Chest containing a Purple Rupee. It can only be reached after retrieving the Clawshot from the Lakebed Temple.
9. Sandship From Skyward Sword
The Sandship, once captained by Skipper, is a mechanical galleon that protects Nayru’s Flame, and is able to cloak itself. However, it was taken by pirates in search of the Sacred Flame on a stormy day ages before Link’s quest, so Link and Skipper search through Skipper’s Retreat, Lanayru Shipyard and finally the Pirate Stronghold to find clues to the ship’s location. At the Pirate Stronghold they finally find broken pieces of the ship, allowing Fi to dowse for it.
Skipper explains that the Sandship will still be sailing the Sand Sea, cloaked and invisible to the eye, but that attacking it with its current boat’s onboard cannon will damage the Sandship enough that the cloaking will fail and the ship will stop. Link and Skipper hunt down the Sandship, and after enough bombardment from the cannon, the ship stops and Link boards it.
Shortly after boarding, Link finds the ship mostly deserted and non-functioning. In this state, several Arachas have overrun the ship. After investigating the ship, Link discovers LD-002G Scervo, the pirate captain. Link defeats LD-002G Scervo in battle, and gains the ship’s treasure: the Bow.
The Sandship’s center mast contains a Timeshift Stone which, when activated, encompasses the entire ship and the surrounding area. The dungeon also features many Eyeball Switches.
After activating the Timeshift Stone using his Bow, Skipper informs Link that his crew is trapped in the brig below. To free the ship’s crew, Link must use the Timeshift Stone to alternate between the past and present to navigate the ship and reach the generators. Once the generators have been activated, Link climbs underneath the ship’s main passages to the brig, freeing the crew.
After the ship’s crew has been freed, they give Link the Key to the Captain’s Cabin, where the control room Key, the Squid Carving, lies. Upon entering the control room, Fi notes that the ship seems to be under attack by a monster of considerable size, and recommends that Link exits to further assess the situation, using Skyward Strikes to eliminate the tentacles. Link has to fend off large tentacles using Skyward Strikes to clear a path to reach the deck. Once Link reaches the deck of the Sandship the culprit of the attack, the Abyssal Leviathan Tentalus, reveals itself.
After Tentalus is defeated, the ship is nearly completely destroyed, but Skipper and his crew quickly repair it and continue to sail the seas.
Once the ship is rebuilt, Link can no longer enter the control room because he is unauthorized. Furthermore, if Link returns to the prison cell where Skipper’s crew was held, he will find that a number of Technoblins (which can still be killed) are now imprisoned in the cell instead. In addition, there are several Ancient Robots from Skipper’s crew scattered throughout the ship, in places like the deck, engine room, captain’s cabin and the battlefield where LD-002G Scervo is found.
10. Water Temple From Ocarina Of Time
The ancient temple lies deep under the vast Lake Hylia. Guarded by the Zoras, it is considered a sacred temple that is used to worship the water spirits. The Water Temple is accessible after the young hero finds the Iron Boots in Ice Cavern. Aided with the boots and the Hookshot, Link can access its entrance by shooting the target above the gate.
Various parts of the temple require Link to go underwater for substantial amounts of time, thus necessitating the Zora Tunic (though the Water Temple can be beaten without it by an experienced and resourceful player). Its enigmatic structure consists of various floors (four in total, one of them is a basement) and requires the use of playing Zelda’s Lullaby at each of the special markings on the walls that manipulate the level of water, which give Link access to various parts of the temple from the hub room.
Link will need to use all of his intellectual skills and cunning survival techniques to truly conquer this temple, as puzzles and obstacles are strategically varied: From the aforementioned water level manipulation, to swimming in presence of current flows, defeating enemy groups, climbing a waterfall with descending platforms, raise and lower pillars with a switch, etc.; the young hero will also come to confront his very own doppelgänger, Dark Link in the Water Temple. After defeating Dark Link, Link will find the Longshot which, once acquired, helps Link in the search for the Boss Key and enter the lair of the aquatic boss, Morpha.
This temple is infamous to Ocarina of Time fans for its difficulty and necessity for constantly pausing the game in order to switch to the Iron Boots and back. When the game was remade for the 3DS, the temple was altered in order to be completed easily. The Iron Boots are now a click-on item, glowing markings appear on the wall to show the way, and the entire temple was made brighter.