Slovenia

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Capital Ljubljana
Currency € euro (EUR)
Population 2,054,199 (July 2009 est.)
Electricity 230V/50Hz (European plug)
Country code 386
Time zone UTC +1

Slovenia (Slovenija) is a country in Central Europe that lies in the eastern Alps at the northern end of the Adriatic Sea, with Austria to the north, Italy to the southwest, Hungary to the northeast and Croatia to the south. Despite its small size, Slovenia has a surprising variety of terrain, ranging from the beaches of the Mediterranean to the peaks of the Julian Alps, to the rolling hills of the south. Slovenia was already more economically advanced than other nations behind the iron curtain prior to European integration and the powerhouse of Tito's Yugoslavia. Contrary to the popular misconception, Slovenia was not a part of the Eastern bloc (not after the Yugoslavian notorious split with the Soviet Union in 1948). Added the fact that Slovenia is also home to some of the finest scenery in the "New Europe", the transition from socialism to the European common market economy has gone well and serves as a model for other nations on the same track to follow.

Understand[edit]

History[edit]

Slavic ancestors of Slovenians came from eastern parts of Europe and inhabited territory north of present Slovenian territory in the 6th century AD. They established a state called Caranthania (Karantanija in Slovene), which was an early example of parliamentary democracy in Europe. The ruler (knez in Slovene) was elected by popular vote. The Caranthanians were later defeated by Bavarians and Franks, who subjugated them. They were Christianized, but they preserved many rituals of their pagan religion, and above all, they preserved their native language. The Slovene lands were part of the Holy Roman Empire and Austria under the Habsburg dynasty until 1918, when the Slovenes joined the Serbs and Croats in forming a new south-Slavic state ruled by Serbian Karađorđević dynasty called the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenians ("Kraljevina Srbov, Hrvatov in Slovencev" in Slovene), renamed Yugoslavia in 1929. In WWII, Slovenia was invaded and occupied by Germans, Italians and Hungarians, leading to a parallel civil war between pro-communist liberation forces (Partizani) and axis-sponsored anti-communist reactionary factions ("Belogardisti" and Domobranci). The victory of the Allies and consequently the Partizans resulted in a violent mass exodus of those who had fought with the occupying forces, including most of the native German and Italian minorities. After World War II, Slovenia became a republic in the reestablished Yugoslavia, which although Communist, distanced itself from the Soviet bloc and small territorial gains were made from Italy. Dissatisfied with the exercise of power in Belgrade, the Slovenes succeeded in establishing their independence in 1991 with minimal bloodshed. In 2004, Slovenia joined the European Union and NATO. Most recently, Slovenia adopted the euro in 2007, completing a quick and efficient accession to Europe and the EU.

Independence 
25 June 1991 (from Yugoslavia)
National holiday 
Statehood Day, 25 June (1991)
Independence and Unity Day, 26 December (1990)
Constitution 
adopted 23 December 1991, effective 23 December 1991

Historical ties to Central Europe and relatively stable democracy make Slovenia one of leading country among the new members of the EU and NATO.

Culture[edit]

Totalitarian disco

We are no ordinary type of group
We are no humble pop musicians
We don't seduce with melodies
And we're not here to please you
We have no answers to your questions
Yet we can question your demands

Without a doubt Slovenia's most misunderstood export, industrial band Laibach and their Neue Slowenische Kunst (NSK) collective emerged from the coal mining town of Trbovlje to smash their first sledgehammer in 1980 and, despite the best efforts of the state they skewered, went on to outlast Yugoslavia and are still going strong. Using totalitarian imagery stretched to the limit, with band members decked out in military uniforms, memorable moments include reworking Queen's starry-eyed "One Nation" into a Wagnerian march (sung in German, of course) that would make a Teuton blanch. Keep an eye on the NSK website [1] and try to catch a concert when in town.

Tartinijev trg/Piazza Tartini in Piran/Pirano.

For a small country, Slovenes are fiercely proud of their culture. Two names you will run into over and over again are national poet France Prešeren (1800-1849), who penned (among other things) the Slovenian national anthem, and the architect Jože Plečnik (1872-1957), credited with Ljubljana's iconic Tromostovje bridges and, seemingly, half the modern buildings in the country. It was the monks of the Catholic Church that kept Slovene alive over the centuries of relentless Germanization from the north. As a result Slovene survived in its unique form different than Serbo-Croatian to the south. Part of both the countryside and city architecture in Julian Alps shares a lot in common with neighboring Austria, including countless roadside shrines and pretty baroque steeples, giving the interior of the nation a truly alpine flavor. One could easily mistake parts of mountainous Slovenia for Tyrol, Salzburg or Bavaria. In modern times, industrial band Laibach (see box) has served to put Slovenia on the map. In the decades before them, Slavko Avsenik and his Oberkrainer (as known in German) did the same.

Climate[edit]

Mediterranean climate on the coast, mountain climate in Alps with mild summers and freezing winters and continental climate with hot summers and freezing winters in the plateaus and valleys to the east.

Terrain[edit]

Predjama Castle in Karst

A short coastal strip on the Adriatic, an Alpine mountain region adjacent to Italy and Austria, mixed mountain and valleys with numerous rivers to the east and Pannonian Basin in northeast. Central Ljubljana valley with Ljubljana marshes in the southern part. In the southwest there is the Karst (Kras in Slovene, Carso in Italian) (where the name for karst topography as a whole actually comes from). The Karst region is a barren but beautiful limestone region directly north of the Italian city of Trieste.

Natural hazards 
flooding and earthquakes
highest point 
Triglav 2,864 m
lowest point 
Adriatic sea 0 m

Regions[edit]

Regions, cities and other destinations in Slovenia
Coast and Karst (Piran, Postojna)
The southwestern corner of Slovenia with rolling hills, awe-inspiring caves and the country's 47 km of coastline.
Julian Alps (Bled, Triglav National Park, Kobarid, Tolmin)
The mountainous northwest with hiking, rafting, postcard pretty lakes and Mt Triglav, the symbolic heart of Slovenia.
Central Slovenia (Ljubljana, Kamnik)
The urban part with capital Ljubljana and surround region.
Southeastern Slovenia (Novo Mesto, Brežice)
The region around the Krka and lower Sava Rivers.
Pohorje-Savinjska (Celje, Velenje)
Mountains in the north and the Savinja river valley.
Eastern Slovenia (Maribor, Ptuj)
The region around the Drava and Mura Rivers, with plenty of vineyards and a Hungarian influence in the east.

Cities[edit]

  • Ljubljana - the picturesque capital
  • Bled - romantic mountain lake complete with its own castle and island
  • Celje - one of Slovenia's oldest cities
  • Koper/Capodistria - lovely Venetian city, largest on Slovenian coastline
  • Maribor - Slovenia's second largest city
  • Nova Gorica - the city on the border with Italy
  • Piran/Pirano - gorgeous Venetian port
  • Postojna - Site of the gigantic Postojna caves
  • Ptuj - one of Slovenia's oldest cities


Other destinations[edit]

  • Škocjan Caves — Less commercial than Postojna but no less impressive, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Triglav National Park — Home to national symbol Mt. Triglav and mythical golden chamois Zlatorog.
  • Soča Valley — Soča river is with its emerald colour one of the most beautiful European Alpine rivers.

Get in[edit]

Entry requirements[edit]

Slovenia is a member of the Schengen Agreement.

There are no border controls between countries that have signed and implemented the treaty - the European Union (except Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Ireland, Romania and the United Kingdom), Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. Likewise, a visa granted for any Schengen member is valid in all other countries that have signed and implemented the treaty. But be careful: not all EU members have signed the Schengen treaty, and not all Schengen members are part of the European Union. This means that there may be spot customs check but no immigration checks (travelling within Schengen but to/from a non-EU country) or you may have to clear immigration but not customs (travelling within the EU but to/from a non-Schengen country).

Airports in Europe are thus divided into "Schengen" and "non-Schengen" sections, which effectively act like "domestic" and "international" sections elsewhere. If you are flying from outside Europe into one Schengen country and continuing to another, you will clear Immigration and Customs at the first country and then continue to your destination with no further checks. Travel between a Schengen member and a non-Schengen country will result in the normal border checks. Note that regardless of whether you are travelling within the Schengen area or not, many airlines will still insist on seeing your ID card or passport.

Nationals of EU or EFTA (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland) countries only need a valid national identity card or passport for entry - in no case will they need a visa for a stay of any length.

Nationals of non-EU/EFTA countries will generally need a passport for entry to a Schengen country and most will need a visa.

Notes

(1) Nationals of these countries need a biometric passport to enjoy visa-free travel.

(2) Serbian nationals with passports issued by the Serbian Coordination Directorate (residents of Kosovo with Serbian passports) do need a visa.

(3) Taiwan nationals need their ID number to be stipulated in their passport to enjoy visa-free travel.

Only the nationals of the following non-EU/EFTA countries do not need a visa for entry into the Schengen Area: Albania(1), Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Bosnia and Herzegovina(1), Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Israel, Japan, Macedonia(1), Malaysia, Mauritius, Mexico, Moldova(1), Monaco, Montenegro(1), New Zealand, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Saint Kitts and Nevis, San Marino, Serbia(1, 2), Seychelles, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan3 (Republic of China), United States, Uruguay, Vatican City, Venezuela, additionally persons holding British National (Overseas), Hong Kong SAR or Macau SAR passports.

These non-EU/EFTA visa-free visitors may not stay more than 90 days in a 180 day period in the Schengen Area as a whole and, in general, may not work during their stay (although some Schengen countries do allow certain nationalities to work – see below). The counting begins once you enter any country in the Schengen Area and is not reset by leaving one Schengen country for another.

If you are a non-EU/EFTA national (even if you are visa-exempt, unless you are Andorran, Monégasque or San Marinese), make sure that your passport is stamped both when you enter and leave the Schengen Area. Without an entry stamp, you may be treated as an overstayer when you try to leave the Schengen Area; without an exit stamp, you may be denied entry the next time you seek to enter the Schengen Area as you may be deemed to have overstayed on your previous visit. If you cannot obtain a passport stamp, make sure that you retain documents such as boarding passes, transport tickets and ATM slips which may help to convince border inspection staff that you have stayed in the Schengen Area legally.

Note that

  • British subjects with the right of abode in the United Kingdom, and British Overseas Territories citizens connected to Gibraltar, are considered "United Kingdom nationals for European Union purposes" and therefore eligible for unlimited access to the Schengen Area.
  • British Overseas Territories citizens without the right of abode in the United Kingdom, and British subjects without the right of abode in the United Kingdom, as well as British Overseas citizens and British protected persons in general, do need visas.

However, all British Overseas Territories citizens except those solely connected to the Cyprus Sovereign Base Areas are eligible for British citizenship and thereafter unlimited access to the Schengen Area.

Citizens of the above countries are permitted to work in Slovenia without the need to obtain a visa or any further authorisation for the period of their 90 day visa-free stay. However, this ability to work visa-free does not necessarily extend to other Schengen countries.

By bus[edit]

The Ljubljana Bus Station (Avtobusna Postaja Ljubljana) provides composite information about international and airport bus services. Phone: 090 93 42 30 (inland only), website in English: [2].

Connections between the Italian city of Trieste and nearby Koper and Piran are frequent on weekdays. There's also a daily bus between Trieste and Ljubljana. In addition, services between Gorizia (Italy) and its twin town of Nova Gorica (Slovenia) are at least hourly throughout the day although the journey is easily walkable. This offers an ideal connection between the Italian and Slovene railway networks or an alternative entry point from Trieste's Ronchi Airport or the city of Venice.

By plane[edit]

Ljubljana is Slovenia's primary international airport and the hub of national carrier Adria Airways, which flies to a number of European cities and offers connections to Southeast Europe. The cheapest ways into the city, though, are via wizzAir's (or easyJet's) daily flight from London.

There are a few other options worth exploring. Ryanair also runs flights from Dublin to Pula across the border in Croatia. Another convenient gateway, especially to western Slovenia, is via Italy's Trieste airport, which is but an hour's drive from Ljubljana via super highway. Klagenfurt, in Austria, is also an option. Although further away, the Italian airports in Venice and Treviso (called 'Venice Treviso) offer other entry points to Slovenia or good day trips to/from Slovenia. Note that railway connections between Slovenia and Italy are rather poor, though (see below).

By train[edit]

Slovenia is well connected to Austria, Croatia and Hungary by train. The most popular routes connect from Vienna or Villach in Austria (in good weather, this journey past the Julian Alps is spectacular), from Budapest in Hungary and from Zagreb in Croatia. All lines converge on the capital Ljubljana.

Italian Railways have slashed the only remaining cross-border service. To get around this poor connection, one can take a train to Nova Gorica (Slovenia) and then walk or take a bus to its neighboring town of Gorizia (Italy) from where there are frequent trains to Trieste, Udine, Venice and further afield. For trips to Trieste, it may be more advisable to take a train to Sežana and then take a taxi on to Trieste (about 10km, €10) or a connecting bus (3 times a day, weekdays only, €1).

English website of the Slovenian Railways company [3]. There are numbers of international routes [4] and special offers exist for some destinations, so you should consider informing yourself about that in advance. There are destinations, which have tickets on contingency basis, meaning that they could run out fast, but are usually a lot cheaper, such as Ljubljana - Prague line (cooperation between SŽ and Czech railways), €58 for a return ticket (compared to a normal price of €200). For return trips originating in Slovenia, "City Star" tickets, which are open-dated, but usually require a weekend stay, are often the cheapest choice[5]. Also, be aware that you also receive a discount with the Euro<26 youth card [6] on most international lines (of course the discount does not stack up if you already have a special deal). The same card also applies for all domestic lines, with a 30% discount.

The quality and comfort of the trains on international routes varies significantly. The unwritten rule is that everything heading up north from Ljubljana has a pretty good standard. The trains usually have restaurants on board, with clean and modern toilets. The same can not be guaranteed for the lines heading south (such as Belgrade, Sofia, Skopje or Thessaloniki), so be sure to carry a supply of food and beverages on board (water (and coffee) is available in every sleeping compartment), when heading to or from Ljubljana from the Balkans, with the train. However, the express services which run to Zagreb (usually starting in Munich, Germany) are very high quality - but the price shows this.

By car[edit]

Slovenia has an excellent highway network [7] connected to neighboring countries. Slovenia demands that all vehicles with a permissible weight of up to 3.5 tons buy a vignette (road tax) before using motorways or expressways. For passenger vehicles, the vignette costs €15.00 for a week, €30.00 for a month, or €95.00 for a year. For motorcyclists, this costs €7.50 per week, €25.00 for 6 months and €47.50 for a year.[8]. Using motorways without a vignette will result in a fine of €300+. Vignettes are actually sold at the border, and the border agents are supposed to give you a flyer advising you to buy one, but they don't always do that. There are also signs advising you to buy, but they are in Slovene only.

When entering through northern neighbor Austria, you also need a separate vignette to use the Austrian highway network.

From Austria[edit]

From Italy[edit]

By boat[edit]

  • There is a fast ferry between Venice and Izola, running with an irregular schedule mainly during the summer season (for the timetable see [9]). The journey takes 3 hours.
  • Venezialines [10] run one fast ferry per week between Venice and Piran.
  • During the summer months, there is a fast craft service operated by Trieste Lines between Trieste (Italy), Piran (Slovenia), Poreč (Croatia) and Rovinj (Croatia). The portion of the journey between Piran and Trieste lasts 30 minutes, which is pretty much the same as the same journey in a car.

Get around[edit]

Slovenia is a relatively small country and getting around is generally quick and painless. However, the explosive growth in car ownership has meant tougher times for public transport, and bus schedules in particular have been slashed, so some planning ahead is required. Services are sparse on Saturdays and very limited indeed on Sundays.

By train[edit]

Timetable decoder

D — Mon-Fri
D+ — Mon-Sat
N — Sundays
NP — Sundays and holidays
PP — Mon-Fri
SN — Sat-Sun
Šr — School days
V — Daily

Slovenia's train network, operated by Slovenske železnice (SŽ) [11] will get you to most destinations in the country, although there are some annoying gaps in the network and routes can be circuitous, so going from anywhere to anywhere usually requires a change at Ljubljana. Trains are, however, some 30% cheaper than buses and return discounts are available on weekends. Buy tickets before you board, as there's a surcharge for any tickets bought from the conductor - except if tickets are not sold at the station. A €1.20 surcharge also applies to any InterCity trains.

Quite a bit of money and effort has been put into modernizing the system and the newest trains are as nice as anything you'll find in Western Europe, and although rural stations are often quite basic, most stations are extremely well kept with flowers decorating the platforms throughout summer months. In particular, the name of the station is typically only visible on a single sign on the station building itself, so figuring out where you are means craning your neck a lot. Newer trains do have an voice announcement system that tells you to which station you are approaching. Trains are punctual (except some international ones), so check the expected arrival time and some previous station names to be sure where to get off. For figuring out your next train from a station; electronic signboards are a rarity (outside Ljubljana), but printed schedules are always available: odhod (yellow) means departures, while prihod (white) is arrivals, although this is usually indicated in both English and Slovene.

By bus[edit]

Buses fill in the gaps, and are usually a better option for some towns not directly served from Ljubljana by train (e.g. Bled, Piran). Some bigger stations have handy electronic search engines for schedules and fares.

Time table in English: [12]

By car[edit]

Slovenia's roads are for the most part well maintained and well signposted, and you won't have a problem if you drive or hire a car. Having a car certainly does add a level of mobility and self-direction that you won't get by train or bus.

There are a number of car rental and taxi businesses in Ljubljana. The big international companies are all represented [13], but if you are on a budget, the local companies have some nice offers if you do not mind using a car which is a few years old.

Talk[edit]

See also: Slovenian phrasebook

Slovenian, the national language, is spoken as the mother tongue by 91% of the population, but there are also small Italian (concentrated on the Primorska coast) and somewhat bigger Hungarian (in Prekmurje to the northeast) minorities. Historically, and prior to the end of WWII there was also a significant German speaking minority. Conversely, Slovenian is spoken in border regions of neighboring countries.

The level of spoken English is very high when compared to most European countries. Most people you come into contact with as a tourist, especially younger ones, will speak English. Many Slovenians have some functional knowledge of German, in particular in Eastern Slovenia, and of Italian in the coastal region where Italian is a co-official language. Serbo-Croatian is very closely related to Slovenian and widely spoken by those above 30 and at least understood by younger people. Slovenian and Croatian/Bosnian/Serbian people often understand each other quite well even if each speaks only their own language. Communication in other Slavic languages, while possible, will require some more effort and hand waving.

The Slovenian school system heavily promotes the teaching of foreign languages from primary school onwards. Children study two foreign languages (most commonly English and German) by the time they get to grammar school. A typical grammar school often teaches an optional third foreign language, Spanish, Italian, or French. Many speak English quite fluently, with older people speaking German, and can read Cyrillic.

However, learning a few words of the local language will earn you a great deal of respect and some friendly smiles.

Remember, when speaking English, use simple language, as anywhere where English is not a native language. It will get you further and help to avoid any misunderstandings.

See[edit]

Slovenian cities leave no doubt about historic influence played by Austrian and Italian architecture: Ljubljana is not unlike Prague and Piran could be easily mistaken for a small Italian town. While cities are far from boring, the real Slovenian must-see is its diverse and unspoiled nature.

Ljubljana's Triple Bridge at night
  • Visit the alpine resort of Bled and its romantic lake with an island, but continue towards Srednja vas to see some traditional villages, or hitch a ride to Pokljuka mountain, a good starting point for hikes into Julian alps.
  • Enjoy the 5.3 km ride through Postojna caves, the longest publicly accessible depth of any cave system in the world, with massive stalactites and stalagmites.
  • After visiting the lively coastal town of Piran, a trip to the serene salt works of nearby Sečovlje will feel like stepping out of this world.
  • Soča river is said to be one of the few rivers in the world to retain their emerald green color throughout its length. The Trenta valley, through which it flows before crossing to Italy, is also well worth seeing.
  • Slovenian pint-size baroque capital Ljubljana is nice in any season but especially popular in December due to its abundant but tasteful decoration.

Do[edit]

Hiking in Triglavski Narodni Park

There are many great opportunities for activity holidays in Slovenia: The mountains and rivers of the Julian Alps provide the perfect location for hiking, mountain biking, rafting and kayaking. The southern part of Slovenia is an area of numerous caves. You can enjoy different spa resorts in the eastern part, take a dive in the Adriatic Sea, experience the Slovene cities, go skiing, or enjoy in the countryside tasting Slovene cuisine and local wine.

  • Adrenaline adventures in the Posočje area, you can stay in Ljubljana and, in a short distance away, discover the amazing North-Western area of Slovenia called Posočje and Triglav National Park -- canyoning (soteskanje), rafting, para-gliding and much more! Because of the relatively new appearance of Slovenia on the national stage of extreme sports, these are much less expensive to participate in than other European countries, such as the UK or Switzerland. These activities are particularly prevalent in Bohinj, Bovec, Kranjska Gora, and other north-western cities.
  • Since Slovenia is a small country, you can discover it in a few days. Therefore you can visit Ljubljana (the capital city), the Julian Alps, Karst region, alpine lakes within several days. A more detailed look at the country, however, requires much more time.
  • There are more than 8,000 known caves in Slovenia, including the tourist area of Postojna and the UNESCO listed Škocjan Caves.
  • Take advantage of beautiful nature in the Alps and go hiking, cross-country skiing, Nordic walking, or mountain biking, weather permitting.
  • Visit of one many spa resorts in Slovenia.
  • Visit the Slovene seaside and swim in the Adriatic Sea. Try local seafood and visit the towns of Piran and Portorož.
  • Visit one of the golf courses in Slovenia.
  • Skiing in the Julian Alps is popular in the winter. More popular ski resorts are: Kranjska Gora, Krvavec, Vogel, Rogla, Cerkno, Kanin, and Mariborsko Pohorje.

Buy[edit]

Currency[edit]

Slovenia uses the euro (€, EUR). It is one of 24 European countries that uses this common European currency: Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain (which are all eurozone countries of the European Union or EU) together with the six non-EU members Andorra, Kosovo, Monaco, Montenegro, San Marino and the Vatican that also solely use euros but have no say in eurozone affairs. These 24 countries together have a population of more than 330 million.

One euro is divided into 100 cents. All eurozone countries have coins issued with a distinctive national design on one side, and a standard common design on the other side. All bills or banknotes have exactly the same design and all are legal tender in all 24 Eurozone countries.

The euro replaced the Slovenian tolar (SIT).

Prices[edit]

Prices are high compared to most of Eastern Europe (except Croatia), but lower compared to Italy or Austria. Although prices do vary quite a bit, it really depends on the location. For example, a beer (0,5 litre) in a pub in "Stara Ljubljana" (literally "Old (Town) Ljubljana") would cost you around €3.00, while a beer outside Ljubljana would cost around €1.80. A budget minded traveller can hold his own, if they are smart. For example buying your groceries in a large store (supermarket), such are Mercator, Tuš, Spar, Lidl, Hofer, E.Leclerc etc., will be likely cheaper than buying on the market, or in a small store, etc.

A value-added tax (VAT) of 20% (with a reduced rate of 8.5% usually applied to food, including some soft drinks) is charged on most purchases—this is always included in the price displayed. Note that if you are not an EU citizen, you are entitled to VAT tax return for purchases over a certain value. Ask the cashier to write down your name on your bill (račun, pronounced rah-CHOON) and show this bill when you leave Slovenia through Jože Pučnik (formerly Brnik) airport, or any of the main border crossings with Croatia.

Tipping[edit]

Tipping was traditionally not practiced in Slovenia, but the flip side to the near-disappearance of Communist-style "service with a snarl" is that tips for service are now generally expected at sit-down restaurants, with 10% considered standard.

Eat[edit]

People from Slovenia's northern neighbour Austria come to Slovenia just for the food; with a mixture of Subalpine, Italian, Hungarian and Balkan cuisine, most people will find something to their liking - unless they're strict vegetarians. Many claim that the pizza here is as good or even better as in neighboring Italy.

Cuisine[edit]

Generally speaking, Slovenian food is heavy, meaty and plain. A typical three-course meal starts with a soup (juha), often just beef (goveja) or chicken (piščančja) broth with egg noodles (rezanci), and then a meat dish served with potatoes (krompir) and a vinegary fresh salad (solata). Fresh bread (kruh) is often served on the side and is uniformly delicious.

Common mains include cutlets (zrezek), sausage (klobasa) and goulash (golaž), all usually prepared from pork (svinjina), lamb (jagnjetina) and game (divjačina), but there is a large choice of fish (ribe) and seafood even further away from the coast. Popular Italian imports include all sorts of pasta (testenine), pizza (pica), ravioli (ravioli) and risotto (rižota). A major event in the countryside still today is the slaughtering of a pig from which many various products are made: blood sausage (krvavica), roasts (pečenka), stuffed tripe (polnjeni vampi), smoked sausage (prekajena salama), salami (salama), ham (šunka) and bacon (slanina). Recipes for the preparation of poultry (perutnina), especially turkey (puran), goose (gos), duck (raca) and capon (kopun), have been preserved for many centuries. Chicken (piščanec) is also common. Squid is fairly common and reasonably priced.

Uniquely Slovenian dishes are available, but you won't find them on every menu, so here are some to look out for:

  • Kraški pršut - air-dried ham, similar to but not the same as Italian prosciutto
  • štruklji - dumplings which Slovenians prepare in 70 different ways stuffed with sweet fillings, meat or vegetables
  • žganci - a type of polenta (ajdovi žganci are made of buckwheat)
  • žlikrofi - potato dumplings similar to gnocchi, specialty of the Idrija region
  • jota - a type of soup made of beans, sauerkraut, potatoes, bacon, spare ribs, and the main seasoning is garlic.

Some Slovenian desserts can also be found:

  • potica - a type of nut roll for holiday occasions also prepared with the widest variety of fillings.
  • prekmurska gibanica - a very heavy cakelike pastry of poppy seeds, walnuts, apples, raisins, cheese etc.

Places to eat[edit]

A typical gostilna, Kamnik

At the top of the food chain is the restavracija (restaurant), which could be a fancy restaurant with waiters and tablecloths or just a typical Chinese restaurant. More common in the countryside are the gostilna and gostišče, rustic inns serving hearty Slovene fare. Lunch sets (dnevno kosilo) cost around €7 for three courses (soup, salad and main) and the large portions are usually well worth the paltry cost.

Fast food is, invariably, cheap, greasy and (more often than not) terrible. It's best to steer clear of the local mutation of the hamburger, which is served up in grills and snack bars known as okrepčevalnica. There is no real Slovenian fast food, but Slovenians have adopted greasy Balkan grills like pleskavica (a spiced-up hamburger patty) and čevapčiči (spicy meatballs) are ubiquitous, but one of the more tasty if not healthy options is the Bosnian speciality burek, a large, flaky pastry stuffed with either meat (mesni), cheese (sirni) or apple (jabolčni), often sold for as little as €2. In recent years, many fast food places started making döner kebabs, and they are now among the most popular fast foods in Slovenia. It's very difficult to find a bad kebab in Slovenia, and they are sold in many places nationwide.

Dietary restrictions[edit]

Slovenia is not the best of destinations for a vegetarian, although even the smokiest inn can usually whip up a decent fresh salad (solata) and fried vegetables on request. Lacto-ovo vegetarians will have it easy in Slovenia, while strict vegans won't find more than a handful of vegan restaurants in the country (most of them in Ljubljana). It is wise to know that even the smallest store has its healthy food shelves with many non-animal alternatives. In the cities the Mediterranean chick-pea staple falafel and its cousin the vegiburger have made some inroads on fast-food menus. Many restaurants offer a "vegetarian plate", which includes potatoes, fresh or boiled vegetables and soya "steak".

In coastal cities, there is a paradise for pescetarians and seafood lovers. Local specialities are fish, squids, mussels, and octopus.

Drink[edit]

In proper Slovene style, all bases are covered for drinks and you can get very good Slovenian beers, wines and spirits. Tap water is generally drinkable.

Coffee and tea[edit]

In Slovenia, coffee (kava) usually means an espresso, and cafes (kavarna) are a common sight with a basic cup costing €1.00-€1.50. One can also order coffee with milk (kava z mlekom) or whipped cream (kava s smetano). Coffee culture is widespread in Slovenia, and one can see Slovenes with friends sitting in the same café for hours. When invited to a cup of coffee at someone's home, expect turkish coffee. Tea (čaj) is nowhere near as popular, and if they do drink it (mostly in the winter), Slovenes prefer all sorts of fruit-flavored and herbal teas over a basic black cup. Tea is served with honey and lemon by request.

Beer[edit]

Beer (pivo) is the most popular tipple and the main brands are Laško and Union. Adam Ravbar beer is good quality and is usually hard to find anywhere except in their small brewery (located in Domžale, a town about 10 km north of Ljubljana). A bottle or jug will cost you €2.50 in a pub (pivnica). Ask for veliko (large) for 0.5L and malo (small) for 0.3L. Also try "Union Radler Grapefruit", a refreshing mixture of beer and grapefruit juice.

Wine[edit]

Despite what you might think if you've ever sampled an exported sickly sweet Riesling, Slovenian wine (vino) can be quite good — they keep the best stuff for themselves. Generally, the Goriška brda region produces the best reds and the drier whites (in a more Italian/French style), while the Štajerska region produces the best semi-dry to sweet whites, which cater more to the German/Austrian-type of palate. Other local specialities worth sampling are Teran, a very dry red from the Kras region, and Cviček, a red so dry and light it's almost a rosé. Wine is usually priced and ordered by the decilitre (deci, pronounced "de-tsee"), with a deci around €1 and a normal glass containing about two deci.

Spirits[edit]

A Slovene brandy known as žganje or (colloquially) šnops, not unlike the Hungarian palinka, can be distilled from almost any fruit. Medeno žganje also known as medica has been sweetened with honey. Vodka is, as in most of Slavic nations, also very popular, especially among the youger generation.

Sleep[edit]

Slovenia has a wide variety of accommodation, ranging from five star hotels to secluded cottages in the mountains.

Hostels[edit]

There are hostels in all of the tourist destinations in Slovenia. The average price for a basic bed in a dorm is €10-20. Quite a few student dormitories (dijaški dom) are converted into hostels in the summer, but these tend to be poorly located and somewhat dingy.

Mountain Huts can be found in Triglav National Park, and they are very warm, welcoming and friendly. Information about these huts can be found at tourist information offices who will also help you plan your walks around the area and phone the hostels to book them for you. The only way to get to the huts is by foot, and expect a fair bit of walking up hills, as the lowest huts are around 700m up. There are clear signs/information around stating how long it will take to travel to/between all the huts indicated in hours.

Tourist farms[edit]

Tourist farms can be found around Slovene countryside and usually they offer wide selection of traditional food, local wine, different sport activities etc. They also offer opportunities to experience real traditional countryside life.

Camping[edit]

Camping is not permitted in the national parks of Slovenia, but there are various designated camping grounds. It's advisable to take a camping mat of some sort, as nice, comfortable grass is a luxury at camp sites and you're much more likely to find pitches consisting of small stones.

Learn[edit]

Slovenia has four universities, located in Ljubljana [14], Maribor [15], Koper [16], and Nova Gorica [17] as well as several independent colleges (i.e. BSA Kranj, IEDC Bled [18]).

University in Ljubljana is the oldest, largest and most well-respected teaching institution in the country. The University of Ljubljana also contains 3 art academies: Theater and Film, Music, Fine Arts. Various recognized international charts list the University of Ljubljana in the top 3% of universities worldwide.

Work[edit]

Citizens of the EU, Norway, Iceland and Switzerland can work without the need to apply for any visa in Slovenia.

Citizens of some non-EU countries (see the 'Get in' section above) are permitted to work in Slovenia without the need to obtain a visa or any further authorisation for the period of their 90 day visa-free stay.

It's possible for English-speaking graduates to get work in a Slovene school teaching English for around a year in a scheme similar to Japan's JET programme.

Stay safe[edit]

Slovenia is most likely one of the safest countries to visit, but be aware of your surroundings.

The nationwide emergency number is 112. To call police, dial 113. There are emergency telephones interspersed along the main motorways. You can find the closest SOS-phone by the arrows on the reflection posts.

People may get a bit aggressive in crowded bars and discothèques, and it is not uncommon to be grabbed or groped.

Petty theft is routine in vicinity of Roma settlements in southern parts, especially around Krka river. Don't worry about it, just don't leave your watch on the car seat while you go kayaking.

Stay healthy[edit]

There are no unusual health concerns in Slovenia. Hygiene standards are high and tap water is potable.

While in nature, always use tick repellents, due to the Borreliosis and Meningitis danger. Borreliosis is very widespread in the country.

There are two species of venomous adders in the Julian Alps. You are unlikely to be bitten, but if you are, you should seek medical help as antiserums are available (although actually seldom administered). In the forests in the south, you may encounter a bear; Slovenia contains the highest bear population in Europe, but attacks are very rare. Normally, in countries that have been domesticated for several thousand years, the indigenous wild fauna will be either very skittish or very comfortable with humans. It depends on the area you are in, of course, but use your head. If you go camping in the Julian Alps and bring a lot of sausage and bacon, chances are you will attract some unwanted visitors.

Respect[edit]

Slovenians are generally open and friendly, so don't hesitate to address people as those younger than 50 understand English and will be eager to help you. You will impress them if you try using some basic Slovenian words. Slovenian is rarely spoken by foreigners, so your effort will be appreciated and rewarded.

Slovenians will insist when offering something, as "no" doesn't always mean "no," they just think it's polite for you to refuse, and polite for them to insist. Don't worry unnecessarily, but still you should take some normal precautions to study your host first.

Slovenians are proud for having preserved their national identity (especially the language) in spite of the pressures from neighboring nations in past centuries. Due to their economic success as well as historical and contemporary cultural bonds to Central Europe, they usually don't like their country to be described as part of "Eastern Europe". While Slovenian is closely related to Serbian and Croatian, it is not the same language. Another common misconception is that Slovenia was part of the Soviet Bloc, while it was in fact the northernmost country of Yugoslavia. You can, however, freely discuss these topics; just be aware that you can hear contrasting sides of the story, depending on who you talk to and his/her political affinity. There is still a strong division among leftists and rightists. Be careful if entering a discussion on open territorial issues with Croatia or on the Slovenian civil war during WWII and its aftermath. Consider these controversial topics a taboo.

There is an active lesbian and gay scene in Slovenia. As elsewhere in this part of Europe, homosexuals are generally safe, although there have been a few reported attacks in the past. Be cautious in the evening and during the night, especially in cities. Women/girls holding hands are considered normal and a sign of friendship.

Practical advice:

  • If you are invited to dinner at someone's home, bring a bottle of good wine. It's expected to give a compliment to a cook. Do it before you are asked if you liked the meal!
  • Slovenians generally wear slippers at home, so take your shoes off when you enter. They will offer you slippers or insist you keep the shoes on. They'll normally be very gracious, knowing that you are a visitor and don't know all of their customs, but try not to be ignorantly callous.
  • It's normal to shake hands when introduced to someone. Don't try to make a kiss when introduced, though in the younger generation, kissing and hugging is not uncommon between friends.
  • The Slovenian Alps (especially the highest peak Triglav, named after a Slavic god) are a national symbol. Slovenia is the only country to have its highest peak on the national flag.
  • Don't litter!
  • It's common to greet people with Dober dan (Good day) when you meet in the mountains, and to say Srečno (Good luck) when you depart. There is a strong spirit of camaraderie in the mountains.
  • It is also polite to say Dober dan to people passing by in small towns and villages.
  • Try to avoid using the phrase, "May you be kicked by a horse!", as it is considered an insult.

Connect[edit]

Telephone[edit]

The international calling code for Slovenia is 386, and the prefix for international calls is 00; the area code prefix is 0. Some number blocks are reserved for special use: 080 are toll-free numbers and 090 are commercial services, which are usually expensive.

Mobile networks use the common European frequencies (900 and 1800 MHz for GSM/LTE and 2100 MHz for 3G; 800 MHz is planned for LTE). Two major Slovenian mobile companies, Mobitel and Simobil, provide an excellent coverage in GSM and 3G, but 3G can be unavailable in mountainous regions. Roaming between European phone companies is becoming cheaper due to the EU regulation setting a maximum of 0.29€ per minute for calls made and 0.09€ for calls received, while calls to or from non-EU providers remain expensive. Slovenian pre-paid SIM cards are also available in supermarkets and gas stations.

Telekom Slovenije operates around 3500 phone booths. They unfortunately do not accept coins but require the use of cards costing 3-15€.

Internet[edit]

Slovenia is generally well covered by inexpensive broadband internet due to fierce competition between multiple companies. Internet cafes are thus common in cities and internet access is offered by most hotels and hostels.

A free wireless internet network is also being set up in some cities by volunteers (Ljubljana [19], Maribor, Nova Gorica). You can use it if you have a computer or a WiFi enabled phone.

Postal Services[edit]

The offices of Pošta Slovenije are ubiquitous. Look for French horn-like signs on dark yellow background. Delivery takes one day within Slovenia, a few days within Europe and (usually) less than two weeks worldwide. DHL is also available.

Postal rates[edit]

Postage for an inland postcard is €0.40 (value of the "B" stamp); for an inland letter (up to 20g) it is €0.34 (value of the "A" stamp).

Postage for an international postcard is €0.56; for an international letter (up to 20g) it is €0.60 (value of the "C" stamp).

Postage for an international airmail postcard is €1.25, for an international airmail letter (up to 20g) it is €1.29.

Newsagents or shops selling postcards usually sell stamps, too. If this is not the case, you can always buy them at the Post Office.

For airmail, you will have to go to the Post Office and ask for prednostno. You can pay directly at the counter or attach proper stamps.

Rates correct as of August 2014.


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