Slovenia travel guide 2020: general tips about Slovenia

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Welcome to my Slovenia travel guide where you can find all the information you would need to plan a trip through this beautiful country. Slovenia is a small, but very diverse country on the sunny side of alps. Despite its size, it has everything you would expect from a tourist destination – cities and villages, rivers and lakes, mountains and sea, food and culture. 

I was born and raised in Slovenia and spent most of my life here. I’ve seen a few places around the world and done my share of traveling, but it was always geed to return home. While discovering other countries, I saw some pretty amazing sights, but Slovenia always remained one of the nicest places I ever saw.

Slovenia truly is a beautiful country, but when it comes to tourism, it often gets overlooked. I’ve dedicated this whole website to this beautiful country and to the people visiting it. I wanted to help you discover Slovenia and make your experience one-of-a-kind.

Slovenia travel guide: Overview

On this website, you can find useful travel tips, thorough destination guides, and other things a traveler may find useful. You can read about things to do, places to stay, and food to try. In short, I’ll do my best to let you know what Slovenia has to offer.

Do you need a visa to visit Slovenia?

Slovenia is a part of EU, making it a visa-free country of citizens of other EU countries. As a citizen of another EU country, you can visit Slovenia with only your ID and stay here for up to 90 days without any special registration. 

If you’re visiting Slovenia from outside the EU, you will probably need to apply for a Schengen visa, a common visa for the entire EU. Some countries (Canada and USA, for example) don’t require applying for a visa, but most of them do. You can find a complete list of countries that do or don’t require getting a visa here.

Weather in Slovenia

There are three distinct climate zones in Slovenia: Mediterranean near the sea, continental in the interior and mountain climate above 1000m.

On the coast and in the regions near it, you can expect warmer and drier weather. The summers are usually hot, humid and sunny, while winters are mild but often wet. July and August are the hottest months when the daily temperatures rise and stay above 30°C. January is the coldest month, but it never gets really cold. Temperatures rarely drop below 0°C, even at night, and snow is a true rarity in this part of the country.

Slovenia’s inner regions have a moderate continental climate. This means that the winters get wet and cold, while summers are mostly hot and dry. In summer, daily temperatures are often as high as on the coast, but nights usually get much colder. As for the winters, the central part of the country is mostly covered with snow, with an average temperature of about 5°C.

Slovenia weather

Slovenia travel guide: Money

Slovenia uses the EU’s common currency – Euro. This makes visiting from other European countries easier because there is no hassle with exchanging the money. However, many tourists still come from outside the Euro-zone, so exchanging currencies is still a relevant topic. 

Exchange

Because Slovenia uses the EU’s common currency, exchange offices aren’t a very big thing. You won’t find dozens of exchange offices one next to another with flashy no commission signs and rates published at the front. Instead, you will only find some offices, but mostly at the airports and in larger towns. Additionally, some banks also offer exchange services.

Still, you should only exchange money only if you really need to. The best option to convert your money to euros is simply withdrawing them from an ATM.

ATMs

When you need some cash while traveling, ATMs are (almost) always the best way. The same rule also applies to Slovenia. You can find ATMs in pretty much any town, and also in some villages. While this is your safest and easiest option, there are still two rules to follow:

Always reject the ATM’s conversion rate. When withdrawing your money in a different currency, the ATM will always give you two options: get charged in your currency and receive the euros according to the ATM’s exchange rate, or get charged in euros and let your bank decide the rate. When given this option, you should always reject the ATM’s conversion rate, as they are always the worse options, and end up charging you up to 10% more.

Beware of tourist ATMs. Some ATMs, such as Euronet, are designed especially for extracting money from tourists. They have expensive withdrawal fees and very low exchange rates. Instead, you should use the official banks’ ATMs.

But even if you follow these two rules closely, you still might get charged more. For example, some banks have special fees for withdrawing money in foreign currencies, so you should check your bank’s policy beforehand.

Credit cards

Credit cards are widely accepted in Slovenia, but there are still many places that still operate with cash only. Most restaurants, stores hotels, etc. will accept credit cards, but especially in the countryside, you’ll need cash to make your payments. 

Still, credit cards might be preferable, and also the easiest option to pay for your expenses. It’s also worth noting, that when paying in a foreign currency, the same rules apply as with ATMs. When you are asked to choose between paying in local currency or your currency, always choose the local currency.

Best time to visit Slovenia

Before answering this question, you must first know whether you prefer summer or winter vacation. Slovenia has the means to cater to both sorts of people.

Summer

July and August are the warmest, but also the busiest months. The weather will allow you to fully enjoy everything Slovenia has to offer, but the best sights will be crowded, and prices will be higher. Keeping that in mind, it’s better to visit Slovenia in June or September.

However, you should always first decide what exactly you’re after, and then pick the best time accordingly. For example, September will be perfect for visiting the cities, but the mountains and river valleys will already be fairly cold and less appropriate for visiting.

Winter

Summer might be considered as the peak season in Slovenia, but winter also shouldn’t be neglected. Yes, the days get shorter, and the weather gets colder, but there are places, that become the nicest in winter.

A great example is Christmas markets, which you can find in most of the cities in Slovenia. They bring a special, festive vibe, and are another great reason to visit Slovenia in winter.

Skiing is also a thing in Slovenia. Especially in the northern half, you can find several ski resorts, where you can spend your winter holiday. 

Spring and Autumn

Summer is the high season in Slovenia, but there are other seasons, just as appropriate to visit. For some, visiting off-season is even the preferred choice. The prices will be lower, tourist places won’t be as crowded, and the sun won’t be scorching. 

April, May, September, and October are all decent months for traveling around Slovenia. Some places, like Soča valley or the coast, won’t be at their nicest, but still worth a visit. The only thing, that could mess with your trip is rain, which is common and unpredictable in these months.

Getting to Slovenia

Getting to Slovenia is not particularly difficult, but it mostly depends where you’re coming from, and which form of transport you’re taking. Let’s break this subject down and make it more comprehensive.

By plane

If you want to fly straight to Slovenia, choosing the Ljubljana airport is the only viable option. While landing in Ljubljana might be the easiest and fastest option, it’s certainly not the cheapest. This airport is quite small, so you won’t find the best deals there. If you’re on a budget, your best options are Venice, Vienna, and Zagreb. These three are cities have much larger airports with better connections and consequently lower prices. You can easily reach Slovenia from these airports by bus, train or airport transfer services.

By bus

If you’re coming to Slovenia from elsewhere in Europe, taking a bus can be a decent option. The best connections to Ljubljana are from the same three cities, mentioned in the previous paragraph – Venice, Vienna, and Zagreb. 

By train

When traveling long-distance across Europe, the train may actually be one of your best options. The railway network connects Ljubljana to most of the major nearby cities, similarly to the bus network.

Getting around Slovenia

The best way of getting around Slovenia is definitely by car. The country is small and geographically quite a diverse country with lots of winding roads and small villages, which make the drive itself quite an experience. You could also swap your car with a motorbike or a bicycle  – as long as you’re the one steering the vehicle. In short – driving is the way to get around Slovenia

There are, of course, many alternatives to driving as well. You can travel across the country using buses, trains, or even carpooling. Either way, you’ll reach your destination, it’ll only take a bit longer to get there. The only thing you absolutely won’t find in Slovenia are domestic flights – bet that’s because the country is simply too small for that. 

Want to read more about this topic? Check out these guides:

Driving in Slovenia

Getting around Slovenia

Holiday destinations in Slovenia

One of the most common questions travelers ask is where to go in Slovenia. Most visitors to Slovenia only visit two of the most popular places, Bled and Ljubljana, and then move on. However, Slovenia is packed with hidden gems, interesting towns, and wonderful natural landmarks. 

That questions, where to go, is an important one, but the answer to it mostly depends on your preferences. Slovenia has plenty to choose from, so whether you’re an outdoorsman, interested in culture and history, or just looking to unwind, Slovenia has something for you.

National parks

Slovenia is a fairly small country, it stretches over a mere 20.000 square kilometers. However, because of the country’s unique location, it is geographically and biologically very diverse, making nature the highlight of Slovenia. In order to preserve this pristine natural heritage, about 13% of the country is protected as a national park, nature park or some other type of reserve. 

Slovenia national park

Accommodation in Slovenia

Slovenia features a wide variety of accommodation, including hotels, hostels, apartments, homestays, camps, cabins, etc. The final choice, of course, depends mostly on your budget and your style of traveling. 

Hotels

You’ll find most of the high-end hotels in Ljubljana, Bled or along the coast. Staying in all-inclusive resorts isn’t a big thing in Slovenia, but if you’re after that kind of luxury, your needs will be met.

Campsites

In the last years, camping has become increasingly popular in Slovenia. They’re most suitable for staying near the sea, rivers, and lakes, but you’ll find them all over Slovenia. The best way for finding a camp is avtokampi.si, a website featuring all the noteworthy camps in the country

Camping

Hostels

A popular choice for the younger travelers and a smart choice when staying in the cities. They’re much cheaper than hotels and often situated near the town center. Besides their location and price, you’ll often get useful information from the staff and some helpful additional services, such as bike rental. The preferred way to book them is booking or hostelworld, but you can also visit their official website directly. 

Apartments

Not the most common, but still a viable option. Formerly, you’d only find apartments for rent at the coast, but in the last few years, they became widely available throughout Slovenia. Especially as Airbnb gained popularity, staying in apartments became quire common. 

Driving in Slovenia

As I’ve already mentioned, driving is the preferred way of traveling around the country. Slovenian roads are generally in decent condition, with a two-lane highway that runs from Ljubljana to Austria, Italy, Croatia, and Hungary. Tolls apply to these highways with a vignette system, meaning you have to buy the vignette (highway pass) beforehand. A weekly pass for car costs 15€, and a monthly pass costs 30€ (last checked in 2020). There are more options available for different vehicles and time periods available on the official website.

Another reason to drive around the country are all the small, quirky sights you encounter along the way. Slovenia is packed with smaller and less known, but still beautiful sights. Because they’re not too commonly visited, reaching them by public transport would be difficult and time-consuming. 

Renting a car

We’ve already established that the best way to explore Slovenia is by car, but not everyone takes theirs on their trip. So, for those of you who want to get most of Slovenia, but have come here without a car, there’s always the option of renting one. Even if you usually don’t, I’d advise you to still rent a car for a day or two. With your own transportation, you’re free to roam around the countryside and discover those quirky hidden sights you otherwise wouldn’t. 

Tourist registration

All tourists staying in Slovenia need to be registered. When staying at a tourist accommodation, you will be registered by the staff. For this reason, you will often be asked to show (and often leave until the end of your stay) your passport or ID.

Slovenian food

Despite its size, Slovenia is culturally very diverse, and cultural diversity often means also culinary diversity. Slovenian traditional cuisine offers a wide variety of dishes, from Mediterranean style to meat-and-potato dishes. 

Eating out in Slovenia is not too expensive, about 10€ for a meal in a normal restaurant. However, if you’re after a more high-end and traditional food, you’ll have to pay a bit more, but real Slovenian food is often worth its price. When choosing a place to dine, the same rules apply as elsewhere – the most touristy places will often have high places and mediocre food. 

Slovenian food

Drinking

Tap water in Slovenia is safe to drink. If you prefer drinking bottled water, you can still do that. You can find it in any supermarket and kiosk, and it costs around 0.5€ for a 1.5l bottle.

The legal age of drinking is 18 and drinking is something completely normal in Slovenia. 

One way of dividing European countries is by their favorite alcoholic beverage, and in Slovenia, this would definitely be wine. You can find vineyards, wineries, and wine shops all across the country. And even if you don’t find a specialized wine shop, supermarkets often sell decent wine at fair prices.

Wine might be the most common, but you’ll find plenty of beer and liquor as well. Like wine, many people make their own schnapps, which you can try at some local restaurants. Craft beer is also a booming industry in Slovenia, though only since recently. But nowadays, you’ll find some local craft beers in almost every bar or pub.

Slovenian wines

Travel insurance

Travel insurance is not absolutely necessary, but it is recommended to have it while traveling. Yes, it is useless as long as everything goes as it should, but absolutely vital when it doesn’t. And even if everything turns out okay in the end, being insured also gives you a sense of security.

If you are an EU citizen, you should have your European medical insurance card with you. It works as an extension of your normal insurance and covers basic medical needs and emergency care without any extra cost. 

If you’re not an EU citizen, it is advised that you contact your embassy and inquire about the level of medical care coverage in Slovenia. It mostly depends on your country’s bilateral agreement with Slovenia. 

For other mishaps, such as stolen items, lost luggage or medical emergency, you will need to purchase travel insurance. 

Shopping in Slovenia

Shopping isn’t exactly the main reason why you’d come to Slovenia, but there are still some typical Slovenian things you can buy. Wine, olive oil and honey are only a few amongst the homemade goods, available all across the country. Besides food, art is another great thing you can bring home from your trip.

Open markets, where you can buy fresh produce, are popular in Slovenia, especially in the major cities. 

Malls, shopping centers, and supermarkets are common in Slovenia. The largest national supermarket chain is Mercator. Other popular supermarkets in Slovenia include Lidl, Hofer (known as Aldi elsewhere), Eurospin, and Spar. There are also some smaller chains, and even independent stores, but you’ll mostly find those in the countryside. Stores are often open 8 am – 8 pm Monday to Saturday, and 8 am – 3 pm on Sundays. Take this only as a reference, though, as every store has their own schedule.

Is Slovenia a safe country?

Generally, Slovenia is a safe country with little crime and almost no violence. You can walk around most of the places, even at night, without fearing for your life. However, you should still be at least somewhat careful. When in a crowded place, take extra care of your belongings, and avoid suspicious and shady places.

Internet and roaming

Internet access is available pretty much everywhere in Slovenia. Most bars and cafes offer free Wi-Fi, and you can also find it available in some towns. Ljubljana, for example, features WiFree program – free WiFi hotspots, scattered all over the town. In general, the internet connection is decent, meaning that it runs fairly fast and without interruptions. 

However, if you find yourself hiking on some mountain, but still need Internet access, you’ll have to rely on mobile data. If your mobile provider is from within the EU, you don’t have to worry. Roaming surcharges for the EU territory were abolished in 2017. This means, that you can call, text and surf the internet without paying anything extra.

If you’re coming from outside the EU, your best option is purchasing a local SIM with a pre-paid plan. Choosing the right service provider and package depends on your needs and budget. But there’s plenty of options, and prices are not too high.  If price is your priority, you can get a SIM and some data for as little as 5€.

Parking

Generally, finding a parking spot isn’t too difficult – unless you’re looking for one in the city center, or near major touristic attractions. Some larger cities also have car-free city centers, so to visit them, you’ll have to park your car a bit farther away. 

Parking usually isn’t too expensive, the prices are usually 0.5-1.5€ per hour or 5-15€ per day. Unless, of course, you’re parking near tourist destinations. Those are usually as expensive as they are crowded.

Hotels and other accommodations almost always offer their own parking. Unless you’re staying in a hostel or an Airbnb, you shouldn’t worry too much about it. 

Do Slovenians speak English?

The country’s official language is Slovenian. It is a Slavic language, spoken by a mere two million people, that inhabit the country. Given these statistics, not many people are incentivized to learn Slovenian. 

But don’t worry, most Slovenians speak English, and many speak at least one more foreign language. The most common foreign languages, besides English, are German, Croatian, and Italian (the latter being spoken only in the western part of the country). 

Is Slovenia expensive?

Slovenia isn’t the cheapest place you can visit, but neither is the most expensive one. I know, this doesn’t say much, but Slovenia does actually qualify as a moderately priced tourist destination. The cost of traveling is generally comparable to Germany or Croatia, but the exact prices, of course, vary throughout the year.

That being said, you can still enjoy Slovenia even if you’re on a budget. You’ll have to make some compromises – like choosing a hostel instead of a hotel, and making your own food instead of eating in touristy restaurants – but it’s more than doable. 

Tipping in Slovenia

Tipping in Slovenia isn’t necessary, but it is appreciated. In a bar or a restaurant, leaving a tip shows that you were satisfied with the service. People usually leave around 10%, or simply round up the bill. 

Slovenia time zone

Slovenia belongs to Central European Time Zone, meaning it is one hour ahead of GMT (Greenwich Mean Time), and two hours ahead of GMT when daylight saving time is observed.

Daylight saving time makes us move our watches one hour ahead. It takes place from the last Sunday in March until last Sunday in October.

Find here time differences of some major towns when compared to Slovenia:

  • Barcelona: 0
  • London: – 1 hour
  • Montreal: – 6 hours
  • New York City: -6 hours
  • L.A.: -9 hours
  • Chicago: -7 hours
  • Tokyo: +7 hours
  • Sydney: +8 hours

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