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Slovenia

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Travel Guide Europe Slovenia

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Introduction

View of Ljubljana

View of Ljubljana

© All Rights Reserved Lawto

When Slovenia gained its independence from Yugoslavia in 1991 after a ten-day war, it dodged a bullet. Ensuing years saw bitter warfare in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia, but Slovenia remained free of war and terrorism.

For tourists, this means that Slovenia is one of central Europe's safer destinations. Other factors, like its hilly, richly vegetated landscape, fascinating cultural pull between the influences of the Habsburg Empire and the Venetian Republic, and the narrow sliver of Adriatic coast are what give Slovenia a nice edge. Keen skiers have found Slovenia's Julian Alps to be an ideal site for their next adventure, whilst those non-skiers have been drawn by the abundance of fine hiking areas and beautiful scenery. Slovenes have made efficient use of their tiny coastline, which boasts an excellent Mediterranean climate and a line-up of vibrant towns. Animal lovers are awed by the strange 'human fish', which can only be found in Slovenian caves.

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Brief History

The first mentions of a common Slovene ethnic identity, transcending regional boundaries, date from the 16th century. During the 14th century, most of the Slovene Lands passed under the Habsburg rule. In the 15th century, the Habsburg domination was challenged by the Counts of Celje, but by the end of the century the great majority of Slovene-inhabited territories were incorporated into the Habsburg Monarchy. Most Slovenes lived in the region known as Inner Austria. After a short French interim between 1805 and 1813, all Slovene Lands were included in the Austrian Empire. Slowly, a distinct Slovene national consciousness developed, and the quest for a political unification of all Slovenes became widespread. In 1848, a mass political and popular movement for the United Slovenia (Zedinjena Slovenija) emerged as part of the Spring of Nations movement within the Austrian Empire.
With the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1918, the Slovenes initially joined the State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs, which just a few months later merged into the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes.
On 6 April 1941, Yugoslavia was invaded by the Axis Powers. Slovenia was divided between Fascist Italy, Nazi Germany and Horthy's Hungary and several villages given to the Independent State of Croatia. Soon, a liberation movement under the Communist leadership emerged.
Following the re-establishment of Yugoslavia at the end of World War II, Slovenia became part of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, declared on 29 November 1945. From the 1950s, the Socialist Republic of Slovenia enjoyed a relatively wide autonomy.
In 1990, Slovenia abandoned its socialist infrastructure, the first free and democratic elections were held, and the DEMOS coalition defeated the former Communist parties. The state reconstituted itself as the Republic of Slovenia. In December 1990, the overwhelming majority of Slovenian citizens voted for independence, which was declared on 25 June 1991. A Ten-Day War followed in which the Slovenians rejected Yugoslav military interference. After 1990, a stable democratic system evolved, with economic liberalization and gradual growth of prosperity. Slovenia joined NATO on 29 March 2004 and the European Union on 1 May 2004. Slovenia was the first post-Communist country to hold the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, for the first six months of 2008.

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Geography

Slovenia shares international borders with Italy, Austria, Hungary and Croatia. The country has just over 2 million people living on a total surface of slightly over 20,000 square kilometres.

Four major European geographic regions meet in Slovenia: the Alps, the Dinarides, the Pannonian Plain, and the Mediterranean. The Alps, including the Julian Alps, the Kamnik-Savinja Alps and the Karavanke chain, as well as the Pohorje massif, dominate Northern Slovenia along its long border with Austria. Slovenia's highest peak is Triglav at 2,864 metres above sea level.

Slovenia's Adriatic coastline stretches approximately 47 kilometres from Italy to Croatia. The southwest of Slovenia contains the Kras Plateau, a limestone region of underground rivers, gorges, and caves, between Ljubljana and the Mediterranean. On the Pannonian plain to the East and Northeast, toward the Croatian and Hungarian borders, the landscape is mostly flat. However, the majority of Slovenian terrain is hilly or mountainous, with around 90% of the surface 200 metres or more above sea level and the average well over 500 metres.

Over half of the country is covered by forests. This makes Slovenia the third most forested country in Europe, after Finland and Sweden. Remnants of primeval forests are even to be found, the largest in the Kočevje area. Grassland form over 25% of the country, while about 5% consists of fields and gardens and even smaller parts are orchards and or vineyards.

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Regions

Slovenia is divided into twelve regions.

  • Primorska
  • Notranjska
  • Goriska
  • Gorenjska
  • Central Slovenia
  • Dolenjska
  • Zasavje
  • Posavje
  • Savinjsko
  • Koroska
  • Podravje
  • Pomurje

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Cities

  • Ljubljana - The capital is a small beautiful place to visit but somehow attracts fewer visitors than other capitals.
  • Maribor - Second largest city in Slovenia. Picturesque city with River Drava running through it.
  • Bled - Small town with beautiful lake, attracting many tourists - local and international alike.
  • Bohinj
  • Izola
  • Koper
  • Piran - Beautiful small coastal town on the Adriatic with an Italian-like feel.
  • Postojna - Famous for its cave system and castle.
  • Portoroz
  • Kranj

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Sights and Activities

Architecture

Famous throughout Slovenia is Jože Plečnik, a 20th century art nouveau architect who designed much of the buildings currently standing in Ljubljana. Plečnik is revered throughout the country, and could even be considered a sort of national hero.

Lake Bled

Lake Bled

Lake Bled

© All Rights Reserved Clarabell

Lake Bled is one of the most favorite places of travellers who visit Slovenia and possible of the Slovenians themselves as well. The lake and the town (which is called Bled as well) are beautifully located in the Julian Alps. In the lake itself is small island where a little church can be found, almost making up the whole island. There are numerous boats that can bring you there and the views are fantastic. The views are equally fantastic when you go up the hills to the Bled Castle, from where you can see the lake and little church from a distance. A very romantic place, but in the peak months a very crowded places as well. Therefore, it is best to visit somewhere in May/June or in September.

Škocjan Caves

The Škocjan Caves are one of the highlights of the country. The Škocjan caves are a fantastic system of limestone caves and forms some 6 kilometres of underground passages with a total depth of more than 200 metres. To add, there are many waterfalls and one of the world's largest underground chambers. The site is located in the Kras region (which basically means karst) and is probably one of the best in the world for the study of karstic phenomena. For this reason, it is the only place in Slovenia which is placed on the Unesco World Heritage List.

Triglav National Park

Mt.Triglav

Mt.Triglav

© All Rights Reserved triglav

Triglav National Park is the place to go if you like alpine landscapes and great multiple day hiking trips. The park is located in the extreme west of the country and covers nearly all of the Slovenian section of the Julian Alps. It is also Slovenia's only national park. Its masterpiece is the highest mountain in Slovenia after which the park has been named, Mount Triglav (2864 meters above sea level). You can get here first by road heading west from Bled towards Bohinj and further on to the historical village of Dovje-Mojstrana. Lake Bohinj is one of the other highlights in the park and is more quiet than Lake Bled. A small part of the park (Radovna valley) can also be cycled through from Bled. There are several cablecars (one near the town of Bohinj for example) which can take you up, from where you can walk further.

Other sights and activities

  • Postojna Caves - huge cave system.
  • Radovljicav - old town.
  • Kamnik - mediaval town.
  • Koper - small port city with Venetian old city part, nearby Piran is beautiful as well. Together they form part of a very short coastline of Slovenia.

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Events and Festivals

  • Ljubljana Festival held every July and August in the capital. It is mainly a musical and cultural event with jazz and classical music played on the streets.

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Weather

Slovenia is a small country but has significant differences regarding the weather throughout the country. Most of the country has a moderate continental climate with warm summers and relatively cold winters. Temperatures in summer range from 22 °C to 27 °C during the day and around 15 °C at night. Precipitation is quite high throughout the year, with some less wet conditions in winter. During winter, temperatures are between 3 °C during the day and around -5 °C at night. The main differences are that the northwestern part lying in the Alps has cooler and even wetter conditions than inland. Also, the coastline has conditions that are more of a Mediterranean type with warmers summers and milder winters, though also here precipitation is very heavy, especially in summer when heavy thunderstorms can happen. Still, many fine days with sunshine are the norm as well.

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Getting There

By Plane

Adria Airways is the national airline of Slovenia, based at Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport (LJU). International destinations served by this airline are Amsterdam, Barcelona, Birmingham, Brussels, Bucharest, Copenhagen, Dublin, Frankfurt, Istanbul, Kiev, London, Manchester, Moscow, Munich, Ohrid, Paris, Podgorica, Priština, Sarajevo, Skopje, Stockholm, Tirana, Vienna, Warsaw and Zürich. It also has charter flights to about 20 destinations mainly in the south of Europe. About 20 other airlines (both scheduled and charter flights) have direct flights to Ljubljana as well. Low-cost airline easyJet regularly flies to/from London-Stansted (STN).

The airport is served by a highway exit off the A2 motorway and by bus service connecting it with Ljubljana and Kranj. A rail line to both cities is planned as well. The airport is located 20 kilometres north from the city centre. There are many minibuses outside the airport and is the easiest way to get to Ljubljana. The journey to the main train/bus station costs €5-8 and lasts 35-45 minutes. From there it is about a 10-minute walk to the old town centre. Minibuses will typically leave when full, pay onboard. Taxi's from the airport to the centre of town will cost around €40. Minibuses also wait outside to take you to other popular destinations such as Bled (33 kilometres).

By Train

The Slovenian Railways have numerous connections to cities in Europe. Many of them go to other former Yugoslavian republics, including connections to Zagreb, Skopje and Belgrade. Vienna, Villach, Thessaloniki and Budapest have connections with Ljubljana as well.

By Car

Slovenia is easily reached by car from neighbouring countries, like Austria, Serbia, Croatia and Italy. Crossings are very fast and straightforward. Be sure to have the proper documentation and insurance for the car and you will be fine.

By Bus

Buses connect Ljubljana and other cities in Slovenia with neighbouring countries and beyond. Check Eurolines for more information about long distance services. There are very regular connections with Austria, Croatia and Serbia.

By Boat

As Slovenia is located all the way in the north of the Adriatic coastline, it hardly pays to take a ferry. There are useful connections though between Venice and Rovinj.

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Getting Around

By Plane

There are no domestic flights in Slovenia, as distances are small and there are excellent other ways of getting around.

By Train

The Slovenske železnice (Slovenian Railways) has an efficient train network of both intercity and local trains with regular departures to and from Ljubljana and smaller towns. Ljubljana to Maribor is relatively fast, the others are slower but still prefered as the routes to the coast and mountains are impressive.

By Car

Roads in Slovenia are in excellent condition and since the 1990's many new roads have been built or old ones have been renewed or tarred. This applies to motorways as well as secondary roads into the mountains. On airports, bigger cities and popular tourist areas like Bled and the coast you can rent cars from several international and national companies. You need a national driver's licence or international one if not from the EU. Be sure to have sufficient insurance which is mandatory. Traffic drives on the right.

By Bus

A number of bus companies run comfortable and frequent busses, most of which originate or terminate in Ljubljana. Destinations include Koper and Bled, which are just a few hours away.

By Boat

There are no scheduled passenger services in Slovenia, although you can get by boat to a small island in Lake Bled and a few other lakes and rivers and the small coastline can be visited by rented boat or tour.

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Red Tape

If you are a European Union (EU) citizen, you may enter without any restriction as per your EU citizenship rights. If you are not an EU citizen, you will need to obtain a Schengen Visa. This visa is valid for any country in the Schengen zone.

Also see the governmental website for more (official) information on Slovenian visa and immigration policy

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Money

See also: Money Matters

Slovenia has adopted the Euro (ISO code: EUR, symbol: ) as its official currency. One Euro is divided into 100 cents, which is sometimes referred to as eurocents, especially when distinguishing them with the US cents.

Euro banknotes come in denominations of €5, €10, €20, €50, €100, €200, €500. The highest three denominations are rarely used in everyday transactions. All Euro banknotes have a common design for each denomination on both sides throughout the Eurozone.

The Euro coins are 1 cent, 2 cents, 5 cents, 10 cents, 20 cents, 50 cents, €1 and €2. Some countries in the Eurozone have law which requires cash transactions to be rounded to the nearest 5 cents. All Euro coins have a common design on the denomination (value) side, while the opposite side may have a different image from one country to another. Although the image side may be different, all Euro coins remain legal tender throughout the Eurozone.

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Study

Ljubljana is a university town, populated by a huge number of eager young students pursuing many different areas of study. This lends the city an immense vibrancy and energy, and makes for excellent night life and wonderful coffee.

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Language

The Slovenian language is a South-Slavic language, with 3 person forms, 6 cases (to indicate case the ending of the word is changed), Singular, Dual and Plural.

The Slovenian alphabet has some signs that are common for Slavic languages but not other European languages:

  • č - tch (like in China)
  • š - sh (like in shoe)
  • ž - zh (like in beige)

Other special pronounciations include:

  • c - s (like in bicycle)
  • g - (like in go)
  • j - y (like in yoghurt)

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Eat

Tipping is not traditional in Slovenia.

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Drink

Alcohol can only be sold to people over 18.

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Health

See also: Travel Health

There are no vaccinations legally required to travel to Slovenia. It's a good thing to get your vaccinations in order before travelling to Slovenia. The general vaccination against Diphtheria, Tetanus and Polio (DTP) is recommended. Also a hepatitis A vaccination is recommended.

Vaccination against hepatitis B is sometimes recommended for stays longer than 3 months. It is also recommended to have a vaccination against tick borne encephalitis when you go hiking and/or camping for 4 weeks or more in the period of March to November.

Finally, other possible health issues include diarrhea and other general travellers' diseases like motion sickness. Watch what you eat and drink and in case you get it, drink plenty of fluids (to prevent dehydration) and bring ORS.

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Safety

See also: Travel Safety

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Keep Connected

Phone

See also: International Telephone Calls

Post

Posta Slovenije is the national postal service of Slovenia. It has relatively fast and reliable services. Post offices are generally open from 8:00am to 6:00pm Monday to Friday and 8:00am to noon on Saturdays. Only the larger central post offices keep longer hours and/or are open on Sundays. You can also use them for money transfers and some other simple banking services. Stamps are available here or at newspaper stands/kiosks. Domestic rates for sending postcards/standard letters start at €0.29. International rates start at €0.39 for postcards and €0.44 for standard letters. Parcels start at around €16 for delivery to other Europena Union Members. You can also use companies like UPS, TNT or DHL to send parcels, as they offer comparable prices and fast services.

Quick Facts

Slovenia flag

Map of Slovenia

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Capital
Ljubljana
Population
1,936,000
Government
Parliamentary Democratic Republic
Religions
Christianity (Catholic, Orthodox), Islam
Languages
Slovenian
Calling Code
+386
Nationality
Slovenian, Slovene
Local name
Slovenija

Contributors

as well as Peter (10%), Hien (8%), aglaja (2%), SavageD (2%), Sander (1%), Lavafalls (1%), dr.pepper (1%), marcolambr (1%), Herr Bert (1%)

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This is version 50. Last edited at 14:15 on May 15, 13 by Sander. 50 articles link to this page.

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