Slovenia

slovenia essential Information

Visas

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 appropriate embassy in their own countries.

Advantages

Slovenia might possibly be one of the easiest countries to hitch-hike in the entire Central Europe for several reasons. First of all, the country is tiny, so you will never be crossing large distances which will also give you some time to visit picturesque medieval towns on your way and do a bit of sightseeing. On the whole a day’s hitch-hike in Slovenia is very pleasant and there’s never that fear that you might be stuck in the middle of nowhere.

Secondly, it’s a pleasure to travel in Slovenia in general, not only by using your thumb. The country offers everything you might need: scenic soaring mountains, Mediterranean beaches and beautiful compact towns for all shutterbugs like me.

Thirdly, Slovenes are really nice people! Even if a bit reserved at first, they are very hospitable, tolerant and helpful. Many times drivers went out off their way just to help us and get us where we wanted to go.

Another factor in favour of hitchhiking in Slovenia is the fact that they understand the concept well and young Slovenians also do it when they travel or sometimes even on their way to school or uni.

Besides, the majority of Slovenians speak really good English (not to mention German and some of them even speak Italian). Depending on which border they live close to, they were either taught German if they come from the north; Italian, if they come from the west; and English, if they live in the central or eastern part of the country. Apart from that, they never dub films on TV, so they experience the same kind of natural immersion through television as the Dutch and the Scandinavians, whose language abilities are extraordinary and famous world-wide. And as many Slovenians have told us: if you come from a small, insignificant country like this, you just have to learn other languages.

St George's Church - Ptuj Tower. Ivy climbing on a building's wall. Red brick, red roof tiles - Ptuj, Slovenia (34)

Disadvantages

There is one disadvantage, or let’s rather call is a difficulty, about hitch-hiking in Slovenia. If you look at the road map of the country, you will notice that the network of motorways looks like two crossing diagonals of an imperfect square (X): the bottom left corner leading to Trieste (Italy), the top left one to Villach (Austria), the bottom right to Zagreb (Croatia) and the top right one to Maribor and then to Graz in Austria. But say you want to travel from the Julian Alps and the picturesque lakes of Bled and Bohinj (which no doubt will be your destination in Slovenia) to the second largest city of Maribor, to the oldest town in Slovenia – Ptuj or even to the capital of Croatia, Zagreb, you will have to go via Ljubljana and its ring road, which is a pain if you hitch-hike. All the major roads in Slovenia lead to the capital and there’s no way round it. You can try the tiny country roads but the traffic will be scarce.

Another minor inconvenience is that in Slovenia everything in slightly more expensive than in the other Balkan countries, but don’t fear, the prices are not as high as in Western Europe yet!

Crystal blue Lake Bohinj and the surrounding hills - Bohinj, Slovenia (2)

Food & Drink

1) 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.

 2) 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.

3) 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.

Ljubljana, Slovenia (46) - Tap water fountain in the Old Town

4) 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 :)

Accommodation

5) 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.

Bled, Slovenia (24) - The Lake seen from Blejski Grad castle

Weather

6) 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

source: climatemps.com


Transport

7) 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.

8) 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.

Bohinj, Slovenia (1) - Cerkev Sv Janeza Krstnika church, Ribčev Laz

Language

9) 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.

Skofja Loka, Slovenia (16) - Mestni Trg

Types of roads

Motorway symbol in Slovenia - avtocesta1. Motorways (avtocesta, AC, A-roads) – dual carriageways with a speed limit of 130 kilometres per hour (81 mph). They have white-on-green road signs as in Italy, Croatia and other countries nearby. Hitch-hiking on them is illegal..

Expressways symbol in Slovenia - hitra cesta2. Expressways (hitra cesta, HC, H-roads) – they are secondary roads, also dual carriageways, but without an emergency lane. They have a speed limit of 110 kilometres per hour (68 mph) and have white-on-blue road signs. Hitch-hiking on them is illegal..

3. Main roads (glavna cesta) – with a general speed limit of 90 km/h. But it might change depending on the terrain to 70 km/h in hilly terrain or 60 km/h in the mountains. Hitch-hiking on them is legal, unless stated otherwise..

4. Regional roads (regionalna cesta, R-roads) – with a general speed limit of 90 km/h. But it might change depending on the terrain to 70 km/h if you’re driving through plains, or 50 km/h around the hills and 40 km/h in the mountains. Hitch-hiking on them is legal, unless stated otherwise.

Motorway map of Slovenia (avtocesta)

motorway map of Slovenia

Ljubljana’s ring road

Ljubljana's ring road, Slovenia hitch-hikers essentials

Speed limit on Slovenian roads

slovenia speed limits

Absolutely essential hitch-hikers phrasebook

HelloŽivjo (ZHEE-vyoh) / Zdravo (ZDRAH-voh)
Thank youHvala (HVAA-lah)
YesDa (dah)
No – Ne (neh)
PleaseProsim (PROH-sihm)
Excuse meOprostite (oh-prohs-TEE-teh)
How are you? – Kako si? (kah-KOH see?) / Kako ste? (kah-KOH steh?)
Fine, thank you! – Hvala, dobro! (HVAH-lah, DOH-broh)
GoodbyeNasvidenje. (nahs-VEE-deh-nyeh)
Hich-hikingštopanje (shto-PAH-nye)
I don’t have moneyNimam denarja (NEE-mum deh-NAR-ya)
we don’t have moneyNimava denarja (nee-MUH-vah deh-NAR-ya; said by 2 people) / Nimamo denarja (nee-MUH-noh deh-NAR-ya; said by more than 2 people)
moneydenar (DEH-nar)
I’m going – Grem … (gryehm…)
We are going to … – Gremo… (GRYE-moh…; said by 2 people) / Greva (GRYE-vah…; said by more than 2 people)
Where are you going? – Kam pa greste? (Cum pah GRYE-ste?)
Can we go with you? – Lahko gremo s tabo? (lah-KOH GRYE-moh STA-boh? …; said by 2 people) / Lahko greveo s tabo? (lah-KOH GRYE-vah STA-boh?…; said by more than 2 people)
I am… – sem… (sehm…)
My name is… – Ime mi je… (ee-MEH mee yeh…)
I am from… – (io) sono de… (EE-yo SOH-noh deh…)
What is your name? – Kako ti je ime? (inf.) (kah-KOH tee yeh ee-MEH?) / Kako Vam je ime? (form.) (kah-KOH vahm yeh ee-MEH?)
Nice to meet you! – Lepo, da sva se spoznala  (leh-POH, dah svah seh spohz-NAH-lah)
I don’t understand – Ne razumem (neh rah-ZOO-mahm)
now – sedaj (SEH-dai) / zdaj (Zdai)
today – danes (DAH-nehs)
yesterday – včeraj (VCHEH-rai)
tomorrow – jutri (YOO-tree)
friend –  prijatelj (pri-YA-telee)
→ Very useful when they ask you where you’re staying. The concept of Couchsurfing is often too difficult to explain, so just say you’re staying with a friend. You can also use this word to express the relationship between you and your fellow travellers.
Can you stop? – Lahko ustavite? (lah-KOH us-TAH-vee-teh?)
I want to get out – Želim oditi (ZHEH-leem O-dee-tee)
Turn left – Zavijte levo! (Za-VEEY-teh LEH-voh)
Turn right – Zavijte desno! (Za-VEEY-teh DEHS-noh)
Straight ahead – Naravnost! (Nah-RAH-vnost!)
Here – tukaj (TOO-cay)
Do you have… (in a shop) – Imate …? (ee-MAH-teh…?)
beer –  pivo (PEE-voh)
→ 
You should know this word, you will be often invited for some.
bus stationavtobusna postaja (ow-toh-BOOS-nah POHS-tah-yah)
→ You should know this word and listen out for it to avoid situations when your driver, in their best intentions, takes you off the road and drives you to a station.
train stationželezniška postaja (ZHEH-lehz-neesh-kah POHS-tah-yah)
Help – Na pomoč! (nah POH-motch!)
Look out! – Pazi! (PAH-zee!)
street – ulica (oo-LEE-tsah)
road – cesta (TSEH-stah)
roundabout – krožišče (crho-ZHEE-sh-cheh)
crossroads – križišče (cree-ZHEE-sh-cheh)

Main Border Crossings

Bohinj, Slovenia (1) - Cerkev Sv Janeza Krstnika church, Ribčev Laz

Slovenia is a member of the Schengen Agreement and as such there are no border controls with the bordering countries that have signed and implemented this treaty. So, if you have a Schengen visa you will have absolutely no problem travelling on to Italy, Hungary, Austria or Croatia.

Most Beautiful Nature Spot

Without a doubt, the place of best nature spot on our Slovenia absolute musts are Slovenia’s Julian Alps with its gems: Bled and Bohinj lakes.

Slovenia Absolute Musts

The town of Bled and the glacial lake that shares its name, are internationally famous and it isn’t hard to see why. The iconic Bled castle standing high on the hill; omnipresent from every angle, the idyllic Assumption Church sitting proudly on an island in the middle of the lake; the crystal clear blue water and the international and relaxed atmosphere help make it an essential stop on any Balkan trip.

But Bled and Bohinj are not only about the lakes; it’s the surrounding mountains that are really worth coming for. The soaring snowy peaks, rocky ridges and deep lush valleys set in this part of Europe’s greatest mountain range are just spectacular!

Slovenia Absolute Musts

The walks around Bled are not too challenging, however, so if you’re after some higher peaks, you will need to travel to Bohinj, which is only 22 km away.

To see more photos and read about the hike we did, go to our post.

Best City /  Town

The best and the friendliest city in Slovenia and maybe in the whole Balkan region is, in our opinion, Ljubljana. The first thing you will notice about the capital is that it’s extremely small. On the map we collected from the tourist information office were shown distances (in minutes) from one part of town to the other and to our utter surprise we learnt that Ljubljana’s Old Town is set in the radius of only 5 minutes! It’s one of the smallest capital cities in the world!

Slovenia Absolute Musts

What we particularly liked about it were not just the medieval winding cobbled streets, Baroque stone buildings or even the castle perched on the hill, but the great atmosphere of the city. In Ljubljana there is a vibrant cafe culture and in summer street performances and music fills all its squares. Besides, it’s a very green capital with Tivoli being its largest (5 km2) park where people are walking, cycling, slack-lining, picnicking and doing yoga.

You will notice that the citizens of Ljubljana are very active people; they do a lot of sport and many of them use the public bike system for which they only pay 3€ per year, a ridiculous amount compared to 45€ which we pay for the privilege in Barcelona.

When the night falls, all young people gush out to meet in the bohemian part of town called Metelkova. It’s an autonomous social centre in the centre located on the site of former military barracks which was also a squat over a decade ago. There you will find bars, galleries and artists’ studios and there’s always something interesting happening.

Slovenia Absolute Musts

Read our story from a random night in Metelkova to get the feel of the atmosphere.

Read about our experience in Ljubljana.

Best area for hitch-hiking

The whole country is one easy area for hitch-hiking but the most pleasant and problem-free was the stretch between Ljubljana and Bled. We crossed it twice: first on the way to the mountains from Ljubljana and the second time from Bled to Ptuj (via the capital). The first time we used it, we didn’t take the motorway all the way to Bled, but instead we jumped on a local road #211 to visit Škofja Loka on the way.

Slovenia Absolute Musts

On our way back from Bled we took the motorway and were near the capital within 30-40min. The ring road is another story.

Our Experience

It was during our Balkan Peninsula by Thumb 2013 trip when we visited Slovenia for the first time and we loved it! During our trip, we spent a week in Slovenia, covering 445 km by thumb!

This was our route:
.

written by: Ania

4 comments

  • Very impresive post! I’m Slovene and I always like to read what foreign traveles write and think about my country. And I have to say this is one of the most elaborated post I have read so far. Keep up the good work!

  • What a great write up! Thanks for sharing. I am currently in Slovenia and came across your site whilst searching for 2 day hikes. There is so much to see here and so many good hikes it’s hard to settle on one (a good problem to have!). I’ve only been here for 24 hrs but already love this beautiful country :)

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