When planning how to get around Slovenia, think about how you’re going to limit your impact on this tiny nation. This nature-heavy nation is lodged between beautiful, and fragile, resources: the Alps and Adriatic Sea. To that end, Slovenia has built a tourism strategy — Slovenia Green — to help you do just that and get around using bicycles and/or hiking boots whenever possible.
Bike and hike to stay green in Slovenia
In order to facilitate this high-minded ideal, a plethora of recent itineraries and paths have been launched. Trekking trails such as the Juliana Trail around Triglav National Park and the Walk of Peace along the Soča River allow travelers with a wide range of abilities to commune with some of Slovenia’s most famous attractions.
Bicycling routes, like Bike Slovenia Green (from Kranjska Gora to the sea) and the Slovenia Green Gourmet Route (connecting the country’s eastern and western halves) make it easy to enjoy Slovenia at human speed. And, there are plenty of spots to rent bikes, a slew of safe cycling lanes throughout the country, and exceedingly cheap bike-share possibilities in cities like Ljubljana.
“The idea is to provide ways for travelers to experience the beauty of Slovenia more slowly and at a civilized pace while also reducing the typical over-tourism associated with car travel,” says Jana Apih, the co-director of GoodPlace, a Ljubljana-based NGO which helped devise the country’s innovative tourism strategy.
“When people move by foot or on a bike, they free the roads and reduce bottlenecks in the most popular areas. They also have more fun.”
This doesn’t mean that other forms of travel are frowned upon — not exactly. There are times when a car, train, and bus will make sense as the transport of choice. It simply means that awareness and balance are necessary and encouraged to preserve the country's Green Destinations certification.
Book train tickets in advance online in Slovenia
There is an old-school aspect to train travel, of course, but it feels even more so in Slovenia. It is not that the locomotives and carriages are outdated. The railway here — operated by a national network that covers the entire country — includes a wide range of trains, levels of comfort, and directness. It is just that Slovenian travel, like riding the rails, feels like it belongs to a different era in which simple pleasures are the priority; something as basic as boarding a train for adventure (with your bike or trekking poles in tow) is part of the journey.
Taking the train is comparable in price and more comfortable than the bus, but it is often slower. There are a host of discounts and passes based on age, family deals, and which day of the week you travel, for instance. You can purchase tickets online, at the station of your choice, or on the train itself for a slightly higher price. If you are taking your bicycle or even your car — make sure the route and train you’re eyeing allows for and has space available for your vehicle. Book early to make sure you’re not standing at the station disappointed.
Take the bus from Ljubljana to the coast or mountains
The bus system is both an efficient and effective way to discover Slovenia’s many different and diverse pockets. The country’s main hub, Ljubljana, is by far the biggest and most connected of Slovenia’s stations.
Booking tickets online will not only get you to the coast or the mountains — usually within a couple of hours — but you’ll be traveling like a local. An array of carriers offer prices that are budget friendly. A basic weekday ticket from Ljubljana to the seaside city of Koper, for instance, ranges from around 1.5 to two hours and costs approximately €10.
When you get to your destination, local buses are also available for visitors. In Ljubljana, the Urbana card will allow you to ride around town, take the cable car to the castle, and pay for entrance fees at museums and the like. The “hop-on, hop-off” option around Triglav National Park — a service that includes Kranjska Gora, Bled, Bohinj, and the Soča Valley — gives adventurers no excuse but to switch off the car’s ignition, forget about searching for parking spots all day, and see this pristine region without stress.
Renting a car offers you flexibility
Automobiles are indeed a convenient way to see Slovenia. There are so many villages to see and this is a place in which making a plan-changing choice on a whim is part of the fun. Starting the day with a morning jaunt in the mountains, then heading to a lunchtime wine-tasting in the country’s southwest corner, before jumping to the coast in the afternoon is a real possibility in this compact country.
Car rental, in towns and at the airport, is the way to go. It is compulsory to buy a vignette: a weekly, monthly, biannual, or annual sticker that charges you a one-time toll to use Slovenian roads. As of December of 2021, you can now also buy yearly and six-month e-vignettes online.
A word of caution: Slovenia’s roads are good, and often quiet, but the mountains always present a special challenge. Take your time, respect wildlife, and drive at manageable speeds. You are, after all, on holiday.
Part of Slovenia's commitment to responsible travel includes making sure as many travelers as possible have the ability to enjoy the country's natural and urban offerings. This inclusivity extends to those living with a disability. In many cases, destinations in Slovenia have made concerted efforts to provide the necessary infrastructure to facilitate participation for all visitors.
The Slovenian Tourist Board website has created a plan-your-trip page specifically for accessible tourism. Here, travelers learn how to best maneuver in each of the country's quadrants. Around Lake Bled, for instance, the path around the lake is wheelchair ready. The funicular to the Ljubljana Castle, as well as entry into many of the city's sites and museums, have been made accessible for all tourists. Even cellars in Slovenia's wine regions are prepared to properly welcome all visitors
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