10 Things you should be aware of when backpacking and hitch-hiking in Slovenia
Backpacking and hitch-hiking in Slovenia
1) No need to worry, you’re within the EU
As a member of the European Union and a member of the Schengen treaty, the same visa rights apply as in other EU countries.
EU nationals are not required to get a visa and can stay as long as they like.
Stays of 90 days or less, also do not require a visa for nationals from the United States, Canada, Australia and Japan.
Other nationalities should check with the Slovenian embassy in their own countries.
Further information can be found here.
Food & Drink
2) You can rely on cheap & tasty pastry snacks
Due to the easiness of finding CouchSurfing hosts in Slovenia, we rarely ate out and cooked for our hosts most of the time, so we are not overly familiar with the restaurant culture is Slovenia (if you are, give us a shout and we will feature your tips here!). What we can tell you, however is that it’s pretty easy to find cheap snacks everywhere. The most popular type is, as in the whole Balkan region, burek, which is a greasy and filling pastry stuffed with meat, cheese or other things. It’s also easy to find sliced pizza and other types of pastry, which Slovenes are in love with. In Ljubljana we were even recommended high quality horse burgers but we never got to try them. Check out the official website of Hot Horse restaurant if you’re interested in a new culinary experience.
3) Most popular local specialities
In the mountains, where there is no CouchSurfing, we did try some local specialities, though and they included the widespread Balkan ćevapčići (grilled mince meat sausages in bread, called the Balkan kebab), Wiener Schnitzel (thin bread-crumbed piece of veal or pork; visible Austrian influence) and lots of grilled fish. As a dessert you should try kremna rezina, cream cake typical for the Bled region.
4) Drink tap water
When it comes to drinks, you should know that the water quality is very good, so don’t bother buying bottled water. Drink straight from the tap and fill up your bottle from city fountains, which are widely available everywhere.
5) Recycling pays off!
Slovenian supermarkets are well stocked and in their local Mercator you can exchange every beer bottle for 0,10€, which we thought was a nice touch and many times after a heavy night of drinking we were able to get a chocolate bar in exchange for our bottles :)
6) CouchSurf or Camp!
If CouchSurfing fails you the cheapest accommodation alternative are campsites which are usually well-organised. For two people and a tent you are likely to pay between 20-30€/night.
Check out this useful map of different accommodation options in Slovenia.
7) Tiny country with various climate patterns – dress according to the area!
Because Slovenia is not a homogeneous country in terms of terrain, it’s not uniform in terms of weather either. There are three major climatic systems across the country:
The centre and the north-east of the country lies in the continental climate, where the difference between summer and winter are the most visible. Here the daytime temperatures range from 21 – 32oC in summer and -12 – 7 oC in winter. The precipitation is moderate and occurs mostly in summer. In winter the precipitation comes in the form of moderate rain, moderate snow, light snow, and light rain. However, Ljubljana is slightly wetter given the fact that it’s located in a basin.
In the coastal region sub-Mediterranean climate prevails, with the average winter temperature of 6°C and hot, dry summers with the average temp. of 23°C. The winters might be slightly cooler and moister than in a typical Mediterranean climate (say Spain or Italy).
In the Julian Alps expect an Alpine climate, where no month has a mean temperature higher than 10°C. In the valleys it is slightly warmer (reaching 20°C in summer) but here the temperature drops with elevation at a normal rate of 5.5°C per 1,000 m.
Ljubljana climate graph
8) You can travel in Slovenia for free!
Yes, travelling around Slovenia can be absolutely free in you hitch-hike. It’s childishly easy as Slovenians are really nice, they understand the concept of hitch-hiking (and the fact that it’s free), speak really good English and German and many times went our of their way to help us. You will have no problem at all hitch-hiking in Slovenia and you don’t even need a sing. We never got stuck anywhere for long, as in such a small country you’re always close to civilisation.
9) Official means of transport
For the less adventurous ones, Slovenia has a very efficient public transport system, too. The most popular are buses, which run between cities and in the countryside. Check out the timetable of both local and international buses here. For more information about getting to Slovenia from abroad, click here.
In Slovenia you can also travel by train which are run by Slovenian Railways company. Tickets can be bought at railway stations or on the train. Trains in Slovenia usually run on time.
10) Slovene is a unique language!
Before entering Slovenia I had never heard Slovenian language but hoped that, since it belongs to the same group as Polish, I would be able to understand something. I soon realised that when written down it’s quite similar and we share many words, but if spoken it’s completely incomprehensible to me. Moreover there are around 50 different dialects of Slovene itself, which can be so distinct that even natives from different regions might have problems understanding each other!
Although our lack of Slovene wasn’t a problem, since everybody speaks English, German or Italian, we decided to try and learn something about their language. What I found the most fascinating is that in Slovene there are three types of grammatical numbers: singular, plural and what is unique – dual. In most languages you can express that either you do something on your own (using the pronoun I) or you do something as a part of a larger group (using we). In Slovene, however, there is a third way of expressing that you do something as a couple (using e.g. midva which would be “the two of us”). Isn’t that a romantic concept?
As I learnt, the dual number existed in Proto-Indo-European and some of its descendants like Sanskrit or the Ancient Greek. There are only a handful of modern European languages which still maintain this form: Scotish Gaelic, Frisian and Slovene.
Moreover, we’ve learnt some really hilarious swearwords and cursing expressions in Slovene:
- Krščen Matiček! – Baptised Matthew!
- Gromska strela! – Thunderbolt!
- Tristo kosmatih! – Three Hundred Hairymen!
- Ta usran zazidan! – This shitty bricked-in guy!
They might come in handy as a conversation starter or to impress your drivers, CS hosts or Slovene friends.