In this guide, I’ll be sharing tips for your first trip to Slovenia. When visiting someplace for the first time, it’s always useful to know some basic information about the place.
Even if you have already been to Slovenia before, we hope you will find some useful tips for your next holiday in Slovenia.
First trip to Slovenia: everything you need to know if you are traveling to Slovenia for the first time
Decide what you want to do or see
You can’t really visit the entire Slovenia in one week. Yes, the country is small, but to truly experience it, a week simply isn’t enough. It might be enough if you’re only interested in the few most visited places, but that isn’t something I would suggest.
Despite ist size, Slovenia is quite a diverse country. We got seas, rivers, lakes mountains, valleys and more, so deciding what you want to do beforehand will your planning easier. For some help on this matter, read the Where to go in Slovenia guide.
Take a day trip
If you are not traveling by car, rent one for at least one day in Slovenia. Slovenia is a perfect destination for a road trip with roads in good condition and stunning landscapes. There is much to see, and sticking to day trips allows you to see something new every day.
If you still prefer to visit several places, I’d suggest staying in Ljubljana, as it lies in the middle of Slovenia. You can make it your base location, and take trips from it. Not sure where exactly to go? This guide should give you some ideas.
Stay in Ljubljana
Slovenia’s capital is a great place to make your base for two reasons. First, the city itself is a great destination, with lots of things to keep you busy and interested. And second, Ljubljana’s central location makes it the perfect starting point for pretty much any other place in the entire country.
Eat local food
I always say that eating local is a substantial part of any trip, and Slovenia is no exception. Even though the country is small, the food varies from region to region. It goes from Mediterranean at the coast, to sausages and cabbage in the mainland, and to goulashes and broths in the east. But generally, the food we eat on a daily basis is pretty mainstream western food. So if you’re craving some fried meat, or a burger and fries, you won’t have trouble finding those.
As for eating out, there’s no shortage of restaurants, but unfortunately, most serve that generic mainstream food. Especially around the main tourist attractions, you’ll find plenty of places, offering overpriced pizza, pasta, grilled meat, and fish plates for two. While those will satiate your hunger, I’d still suggest searching for a better, more authentic restaurant.
To summarize, regardless of where in Slovenia you are, I suggest you try at least some local food.
Shop in a local green market
Slovenians prefer to buy fresh produce in the green in open-air markets. These markets are found in all the towns of Slovenia. While exploring the local green market, feel the pulse of the city and observe the daily habits of the locals. Be sure to get there early though, most tend to close in the afternoon.
Explore the countryside
Though Ljubljana is one of the most visited places in Slovenia, the nicest sights lie outside the city limits. So to get a more authentic experience, you should wander past the beaten path, and explore the beautiful countryside. Slovenia is full of small towns, quaint villages and hidden landmarks. And the only way to find them is to take a road trip and discover them.
Visit Soča valley
The valley of the gorgeous emerald river Soča, and one of my favorite places in the entire Slovenia. The river has made its way towards the sea past the breathtaking Julian Alps and carved this valley in the process. Soča valley is a great destination for nature lovers and outdoorsmen, but still a great place to simply relax and unwind.
The entire area is indeed gorgeous, and jam-packed with countless things to see and do. To help you decide, I’ve written an extensive guide about the Soča valley.
Check out the most visited sight
The place I’m talking about is Bled – the town beside the lake, with a tiny island in the middle. It is truly a magnificent sight and is definitely worth the visit. After all, it is Slovenia’s most well-known destination.
Just don’t make the same mistake many tourists do, planning their trip around this town. Though Bled is gorgeous, it gets overrun by tourists, especially in the high season. This means, that beside crowds, you’ll also need to pay inflated prices.
Still, don’t let yourself be discouraged by that paragraph above, and make that trip to Bled. And while you’re in the area, make sure you check out its surroundings as well. Lake bled might be the town’s biggest attraction, but the town is surrounded by many wonderful nature’s creations, all of them worth a visit.
Yes, we also have the sea!
At first glance, one would argue that Slovenia doesn’t have sea – but they’d be wrong. I’d like to proudly announce that we, in fact, do have sea. To be precise, the entire Slovenian coast is only 43 kilometers long, but don’t let this fact discourage you. After all, the entire country is small, but still very much worth the visit.
Along those few kilometers of the Slovenian coast, you’ll find charming seaside towns, Mediterranean vibe, and relaxing beaches. Perfect for a day’s trip, or a longer relaxing vacation.
Getting around Slovenia
Unlike the rest of Europe, the Slovenian railway network is very poor and is not a really viable way to explore the country. The only decent connection is Koper – Ljubljana – Maribor, so I suggest using buses elsewhere.
Getbybus brings together many bus lines within Slovenia and between Slovenian cities and major European destinations. In addition, they offer online tickets for all of these bus lines. Also, in the lase few years, Flixbus has started operating in Slovenia, which is also a decent option.
Is Slovenia off the beaten path destination?
It used to be, but that has changed in the last five or so years. People from all over the world are starting to discover Slovenia and its beauties. In the summer, the most visited places like Ljubljana, Bled, Koper and Soča valley are teeming with tourists.
However, most visitors tend to only visit the most popular sights and leave out the rest. So the rest of Slovenia might as well be labeled off the beaten path.
Avoid taxi ripoffs
The best advice I can give you about taxis is to call one. There usually are taxis around, especially in Ljubljana, those tend to price gauge, especially foreigners. The best way is to get the taxi company’s phone number (googling should do the trick) and order one.
Ljubljana also has the cheapest and most competitive taxi scene in Slovenia. So, yes, if you visit Ljubljana, go ahead and take a taxi everywhere.
As for the rest of Slovenia, use it if it is your only transportation option, or if you have two or more and you can split a fare. Taxis are fairly expensive and the drivers are not always polite.
English is widely spoken
There is no need to worry about not speaking Slovenian. It is a difficult language to learn and Slovenians are well aware of this fact.
Almost everyone speaks at least a little English, and many speak at least another foreign language (German and/or Italian is the most spoken language after English).
Not cheap, but doesn’t have to be expensive
People sometimes falsely assume that Slovenia is cheap. Well, it’s not. In fact, many things, especially in the touristy areas, are more expensive than other Western European countries.
In general, prices (lodging, food, etc.) are comparable to those in Germany. But as always, you can stick to your budget, if you travel smart.
The wine here is impressive
Slovenia is a small country, regardless of what people produce, it is produced small quantities. Most agricultural products are also sold to the Slovenian market.
This is why you have probably never heard of Slovenian wine. But let me comfort you, they are an excellent quality, and you should try when in Slovenia. In fact, we strongly recommend that you go to a wine tasting. The best way to do this is by going directly to a winemaker. They often offer this and have their wine for sale, you only need to explore the countryside a bit and find one.
The currency of Slovenia is Euro
Slovenia is a part of the European Union as well as the Euro-zone. For those of you, coming from within the EU, this is, of course, a huge bonus. Removing the hassle of exchanging currencies and calculating prices is always welcome. And for those coming from overseas, exchanging to Euro will also be more convenient than otherwise. Banks all over the world offer exchange services to Euro and arriving with some local money in the pocket is always welcome.