About the size of New Jersey, the Republic of Slovenia is one of Europe’s most water-rich nations. Its many rivers are fed by the alpine snowmelt of the mountain ranges that blanket most of the country, and by a vast underground aquifer system. More than half the land is covered with forests of beech, fir-beech, and beech-oak. With some of Europe’s major geographic regions meeting here–mountains from west, north and south, plains from the northeast and the Adriatic Sea from the south – it is a richly bio-diverse country.
Once part of Josip Broz Tito’s socialist Yugoslavia, today’s Slovenia is a parliamentary democracy with a multi-party system. Its capital, Ljubljana, was voted the European Green Capital for 2016 for its environmental achievements.
Slovene is Slovenia’s official language. While knowledge of the local language is not necessary, you may want to learn some fun and useful phrases to use during your walking tour. The effort seldom goes unappreciated and by trying some greetings and salutations with a smile, your interactions are likely to grow into rewarding exchanges. See BBC Languages for helpful hints. Country Walkers also recommends a phrase book or two in our Reading Guide that you’ll receive after you reserve.
Life in Slovenia
Shopping and banking hours: Shops and stores are generally open Monday to Friday between 7:00 a.m. or 9:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. or 9:00 p.m., and Saturday from 7:00 a.m. or 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.. Larger shopping centers may be open on Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Banks are open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday to Friday, and may be closed for an hour at noon.
Meal times: Breakfast is served at hotels from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. In restaurants, lunch is served from 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. and dinner is usually served from 6:00 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. In tourist areas, restaurants serve continuously from noon until late in the evening.
Tipping: Tipping in Slovenia is not very common. In cafés and taxis, you can round up your change on the table for excellent service (a 10% service charge is usually included in the bill at restaurants).
Slovenia public holidays: Slovenia public holidays, festivals, or calendars of events may affect your travel planning. Visit the Slovenia tourist board’s website for more.
Slovenian cuisine is a savory blend of tastes reflecting the cultures (German, Austrian, Hungarian and Italian) that have influenced the country over the course of its history. Mediterranean Coastal cuisine typically features pastas, local wines, frtalje (omlettes), vegetables and local meats, including a local prosciutto called kraški pršut. Central Slovenia is known for its wheat and buckwheat štruklji (rolled dough filled with walnut, tarragon, apple or cottage cheese). For main courses, you might be served creamy paprika chicken, buckwheat žganci (a polenta-like dish served with cracklings), or jota (a hearty bean and sauerkraut soup).
Slovenia has a long wine-making tradition, and is especially known for its white wines. Two distinctive wine-producing regions are Primorska and Brda, both in the west of Slovenia, abutting Italy’s Friuli-Venezia Giulia. They export world-renowned bottles. In the east, the Podravje region produces a beautiful laški rizling, as well as chardonnay and sauvignon.
Slovenia’s climate varies from sub-Mediterranean along the Adriatic coast to continental in the northeast lowlands (Ljubljana) to alpine in the mountains.
The coastal areas experience warm, sunny weather throughout the year with mild winters and hot summers: temperatures can reach up to 100 degrees Farenheit in the summer (although more typically it is in the mid-80s). In the eastern part of Slovenia, warm summers and cold winters are typical, with rain likely in late spring and early summer. Be prepared to layer your attire if your itinerary includes boat journeys, since weather at sea can be variable. And bring a variety of layers for cooler mountain regions.
U.S. citizens: Passports are required and must be valid for at least three months beyond the dates of travel. Visas are not required for stays of up to 90 days. For more information, see travel.state.gov.
Slovenia uses the euro (EUR). The current exchange rate is 1 USD = 1 EUR. Exchange rates can vary greatly month to month, so we recommend you visit oanda.com for the latest.
Many businesses in Europe will no longer accept credit cards without PIN numbers (chip and pin cards). Contact your bank or your credit-card company for details on fees and card use when travelling, and to inform them of your travel destination and dates so they do not freeze your accounts when they see charges appear from a foreign country.
We recommend having a variety of payment options readily available to help you start your trip: ATM card(s), credit card(s), some U.S. dollars to exchange, and some euros in small denominations.
No immunizations are required to enter Slovenia. Requirements and recommendations change frequently, so always check directly with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC: cdc.gov/travel; 800-232-4636), a travel clinic, and/or your personal physician for the most current information. Plan ahead for immunizations, as some require administration several months prior to departure.
Electricity: Alternating current of 220V and 50Hz is used in Slovenia. Plugs have two round prongs. For a full listing of electrical outlets worldwide, see electricaloutlet.org. If you are bringing your own hair dryer or other electrical device, you will need a travel converter, available at most hardware, travel, or consumer electronic stores. For laptops or an electronic device with a dual voltage switch, you will only need the adapter plug, not the converter.
Phone: Slovenia’s country code is “+386.” Cell phone coverage throughout Slovenia is extensive, but we cannot guarantee adequate signals on all American phone models or while on walking trails or in remote areas. For more information regarding international phone use, please refer to this blog post.
Internet: Internet access is generally very good in towns and villages; however, all of the hotels used on our tours do not necessarily provide it, or they provide it at an additional cost. Details regarding Wi-Fi availability in each hotel are available in the Itinerary Overview that you’ll receive once you’ve reserved.
Slovenia is in the Central European Time Zone, Eastern Standard Time plus 6 hours. For more information on worldwide time zones, see: worldtimezone.com.
A wealth of travel information is available at www.slovenia.info/?lng=2.
The majority of international flights arrive at the international Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport, which requires connections within Europe from the United States. Maribor Edvard Rusjan Airport is the second largest airport, which offers seasonal service between London and Maribor.
International Airports in Slovenia
- Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport
- Portorož Airport
Slovene Railway: Slovenia’s national train company is http://www.slo-zeleznice.si. You may book your train travel directly with them. Or, if you plan to travel for longer periods, consider Rail Europe, a U.S.-based company that provides schedules, reservations, and ticketing for all European train networks. Their multi-day, -week or -month passes in one country or combinations of countries may be a more economical and convenient choice. For more information, go to raileurope.com or call 800.622.8600.
Other local transportation
In addition to rail and airlines, Slovenia also has an extensive long-distance bus network that, for some towns and cities, may be more convenient and affordable than rail or air travel. Find timetables and maps here: http://www.ap-ljubljana.si/eng. Because there are a number of local companies and online ticket booking is not available, it is best to buy tickets and seats at the local bus station.
Most major car rental agencies are available at airports and train stations, although it may be best to rent through a local agency branch. You can find car rental options here: www.slovenia.info/?lng=2.
Taxis are available at all major airports, train stations, and in smaller towns, and can be reserved in advance (your hotel can usually provide assistance). For more information contact Country Walkers, or go to www.slovenia.info/en/FAQ.htm?ns_faq=0&lng=2 to get a sense of taxi fares between airports and major cities.