Money & costs
Although prices are increasing, with imported items costing as much as they do in the rest of Europe, Slovenia is cheaper by as much as a third than neighbouring Italy and Austria. At the same time, everything costs at least 33% more than in nearby Hungary. Croatia has always been more expensive than Slovenia.
If you stay in private rooms or guesthouses, eat at medium-priced restaurants and travel 2nd class on the train or by bus, you should get by on under €50 a day. Travelling in greater style and comfort – restaurant splurges with bottles of wine, a fairly active nightlife, small hotels/guesthouses with ‘character’ – will cost about twice as much in the capital but an average of €75 to €80 in the provinces. Those putting up at hostels or college dormitories, eating burek (meat- or cheese-filled pastries) for lunch and at self-service restaurants for dinner could squeeze by on €30 a day.
Tipping was not really very common at Slovenian restaurants, bars or hotels under the ancien régime but has become so since independence. When a gratuity is not included in your bill, which is usually the case, 10% is customary. If service is outstanding, you could go as high as 15%. With taxi drivers, you usually just round up the sum if you have been happy with the ride or for the sake of convenience.
Slovenia traded the tolar (abbreviated SIT) for the euro (abbreviated € and pronounced ew-roh in Slovene) in January 2007, sharing the currency with 12 of the 25 other member-states of the EU (Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal and Spain). One euro is divided into 100 cents. There are seven euro notes in different colours and sizes; they come in denominations of €5, €10, €20, €50, €100, €200 and €500. The designs on the recto (generic windows or portals) and verso (imaginary bridges, a map of the EU) are exactly the same in all 13 countries and symbolise openness and cooperation.
The eight coins in circulation are in denominations of €2 and €1, then one, two, five, 10, 20 and 50 cents. The ‘heads’ side of the coin, on which the denomination is shown, is identical throughout the euro zone; the ‘tails’ side is peculiar to each member-state, though euro coins can be used anywhere where euros are legal tender, of course.
In Slovenia, the verso of the €2 coin (brassy centre ringed with silver) shows the poet France Prešeren (1800–49) and a line from his poem Zdravljica, which forms part of the national anthem. The €1 coin (silver centre with brassy ring) portrays the Protestant reformer and translator Primož Trubar (1508–86) and the Latin inscription Stati Inu Obstati (To Stand and Withstand).
On the three lowest-denomination coins – €0.01, €0.02 and €0.05 (all copper) – are a stork, the stone where the 8th-century Carantanian dukes were installed, and The Sower by painter Ivan Grohar (1867–1911). The other three coins are brass. On the €0.10 coin is a design for a parliament by architect Jože Plečnik (1872–1957) that was never built and the words ‘Katedrala Svobode’ (Cathedral of Freedom). The €0.20 coin features a pair of Lipizzaner horses prancing together. The stunning and very symbolic €0.50 coin shows Mt Triglav, the Cancer constellation (under which independent Slovenia was born) and the words ‘Oj Triglav moj dom’ (O Triglav, my home).
Automated teller machines (ATMs) – called bančni avtomat – are ubiquitous throughout Slovenia. If you have a card linked to either the Visa/Electron/Plus or the MasterCard/Maestro/Cirrus network and a PIN (personal identification number), then you can withdraw euros from almost any ATM in the country. Both Abanka and SKB Banka ATMs are linked to both networks; all banks mentioned in this guide have an ATM unless otherwise indicated.
Although an English-language option is available on the ATM screen, the following are the Slovenian words you’ll find on the buttons of the machines (in the order shown) and their English equivalents:
Popravek – Correction/Clear
Prekinitev – Cancel
Potrditev – Enter/Confirm
Nothing beats cash for convenience – or risk. It’s always prudent to carry a little foreign cash, however, in case you can’t find an ATM nearby or there’s no bank or travel office open to cash your travellers cheques. You can always change cash at a hotel, though the commission will be high.
Visa, MasterCard/Eurocard and American Express credit cards are widely accepted at hotels, restaurants, shops, car-rental firms, petrol stations and travel agencies. Diner’s Club is also accepted but less frequently.
Visa cardholders can get cash advances from any Abanka branch, Eurocard/MasterCard holders from a Nova Ljubljanska Banka or SKB Banka. American Express clients can get an advance from the main office of Atlas Express (01-430 77 20; Kolodvorska ulica 16; 8am-5pm Mon-Fri) in Ljubljana, but the amount is usually limited to US$600 in travellers cheques for Green Card holders and US$1200 for Gold Card holders. American Express customers who want to report a lost or stolen card or travellers cheques should also call here They can both replace cards (although you must know the account number) and make refunds for lost or stolen American Express travellers cheques.
If you have problems with your Visa card, call the Visa Centre (01-471 81 00) in Ljubljana. Eurocard and MasterCard holders should call Nova Ljubljanska Banka (01-477 20 00). Diners Club (01-589 61 11) is based in Bežigrad, a northern suburb of Ljubljana.
Nova Ljubljanska Banka (01-477 2001 for information) is an agent for Western Union, and you can have money wired to any of its branches throughout the country.
It is easy to change cash and travellers cheques at banks, post offices, tourist offices, travel agencies and private exchange offices. Look for the words menjalnica or devizna blagajna to guide you to the correct place or window.
There’s no black market in Slovenia, but exchange rates can vary substantially, so it pays to keep your eyes open. Banks take a provizija (commission) of 1% on travellers cheques and usually nothing at all on cash, but tourist offices, travel agencies and exchange bureaus usually charge around 3%. Hotels can take as much as 5%.
Taxes & refunds
Value-added tax (known as davek na dodano vrednost or DDV in Slovenia) is applied to the purchase of most goods and services at a standard rate of 20% (eg on alcoholic drinks, petrol and so on) and a reduced rate of 8.5% (eg on hotel accommodation, food, books, museum entrance fees etc). It is usually included in the quoted price of goods, but not of some services, so beware.
Visitors who are not residents of the European Union can claim refunds on total purchases of €62.50 (not including tobacco products or spirits) issued on one or more receipts by the same retailer/shop on the same day as long as they take the goods out of the country (and the EU) within 90 days. In order to make the claim, you must have a DDV-VP form or Global Tax-Free Shopping refund cheque correctly filled out by the salesperson at the time of purchase and have it stamped by a Slovenian customs officer at the border. You can then collect your refund – minus handling fee from more than 30 post offices nationwide. You can also have it sent by bank cheque or deposited into your credit-card account. For information contact Global Refund (01-513 22 60; www.globalrefund.com; Goriška ulica 17) in Ljubljana.
Most towns and cities in Slovenia levy a ‘tourist tax’ on visitors staying overnight (typically €0.65 to €1.25 per person per night). This is not normally included in hotels’ advertised rates.
Slovenian banks often give a better exchange rate for travellers cheques than for cash while some private exchange offices (not travel agencies) do the opposite. Post offices are not the best places to change money as many accept only cash, and when they do take travellers cheques it will be at a relatively poor rate.