Slovenia is reasonably accessible for travellers with disabilities. Facilities include public telephones with amplifiers, pedestrian crossings with beepers, Braille on maps at bus stops, sloped pavements and ramps in government buildings, and reserved spaces in many car parks.
Bigger hotels will normally have at least one room designed for disabled guests (bathrooms big enough for a wheelchair user to turn around in, access door on bath tubs etc). Helpful organisations:
Paraplegics Association of Slovenia Produces a guide for members in Slovene only (although the English-language website is fairly complete).
Slovenian Association of Disabled Students Active group for those with special needs.
Download Lonely Planet's free Accessible Travel guides from http://lptravel.to/AccessibleTravel.
Gentle haggling is common at flea markets; in all other instances you’re expected to pay the stated price.
Dangers & Annoyances
Slovenia is a safe country. The vast majority of crimes reported involve theft, so take the usual precautions.
- Be careful of your purse or wallet in busy areas like bus and train stations, and don’t leave either unattended on the beach, or in a hut while hiking.
- Lock your car, park in well-lit areas and do not leave valuables visible.
- Bicycle theft is on the increase. Secure your bike at all times (or, even better, bring it indoors).
The Ljubljana Card, available from the Tourist Information Centre (TIC) for 24/48/72 hours, offers free admission to 19 attractions, walking and boat tours, unlimited travel on city buses and internet access.
Camping Card International
- The Camping Card International (www.campingcardinternational.com) is available free from local automobile clubs, local camping federations such as the UK’s Caravan Club (www.caravanclub.co.uk), and sometimes on the spot at selected campgrounds.
- It incorporates third-party insurance for damage you may cause, and many campgrounds in Slovenia offer discounts of 5% or 10% if you sign in with one.
No hostel in Slovenia requires you to be a HI cardholder or a member of a related association, but they sometimes offer a discount if you are.
Hostelling International Slovenia Maribor-based organisation representing Slovenia in Hostelling International. Maintains an online database of member hostels in Slovenia.
Student, Youth & Teacher Cards
- The International Student Identity Card (€12.20; www.isic.org) provides bona fide students with many discounts on certain forms of transport and cheap admission to museums and other sights.
- If you’re aged under 31 but not a student, you can apply for ISIC’s International Youth Travel Card (IYTC; €12.50) or the Euro<26 card (€19) issued by the European Youth Card Association (EYCA; www.eyca.org), both of which offer the same discounts as the student card.
Embassies & Consulates
Emergency & Important Numbers
|Slovenia's Country Code||386|
|Domestic Directory Assistance||1188|
|Ambulance & Fire||112|
|Road Emergency or towing||1987|
Entry & Exit Formalities
Entering Slovenia is usually a straightforward procedure. If you’re arriving from an EU Schengen country, such as neighbouring Austria, Italy or Hungary, you will not have to show a passport or go through customs, no matter which nationality you are. If you're coming from any non-Schengen country, ie outside of the EU but also including Croatia, full border procedures apply.
Goods brought in and out of countries within the EU incur no additional taxes, provided duty has been paid somewhere within the EU and the goods are for personal use. Duty-free shopping is only available if you're leaving the EU.
Duty-free allowances (for anyone aged over 17) arriving from non-EU countries:
- 200 cigarettes or 100 cigarillos or 50 cigars or 250g of loose tobacco or a proportional combination of these goods.
- 1L of strong liquor or 2L of less than 22% alcohol by volume, plus 4L of wine, plus 16L of beer.
- Other goods up to the value of €300 if arriving by land, or €430 if arriving by sea or air (€175 if aged under 15).
EU citizens need only produce their national identity cards on arrival for stays of up to three months. Everyone else entering Slovenia must have a valid passport.
Generally not required for tourist stays up to 90 days (or at all for EU nationals); some nationalities will need an entry visa.
- Citizens of several developed countries, including Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand and the US, only need a valid passport (no visa) if entering as tourists for up to three months within a six-month period.
- Nationals from other countries may need an entry visa. Visa applications must be filed with a Slovenian embassy or consulate, and visas are valid for stays of up to 90 days.
- For full details, see the website of the Slovenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (www.mzz.gov.si).
- Greetings On initial meeting, greet strangers with a firm handshake and maintain eye contact as you say hello. In a formal situation, don't address a person by his or her first name without asking permission.
- Dinner parties If you're invited to someone's home for dinner, bring flowers or a good bottle of wine for the host.
- Shoes Slovenes don't usually wear shoes inside the home; if you're visiting someone's home, offer to remove your shoes at the door.
- Toasting The Slovene expression for 'Cheers!' is Na zdravje! (literally, 'To your health').
- A travel insurance policy to cover theft, loss and medical treatment is a good idea. There is a wide variety of policies available, so check the small print. EU citizens on public health insurance schemes should note that they’re usually covered by reciprocal arrangements in Slovenia.
- Some insurance policies specifically exclude ‘dangerous activities’, which can include motorcycling and even trekking, so check the small print.
- You may prefer a policy that pays doctors or hospitals directly rather than you having to pay on the spot and claim later. If you have to claim later, make sure you keep all documentation. Some policies ask you to call back (reverse charges) to a centre in your home country, where an immediate assessment of your problem can be made. Check that the policy covers ambulances or an emergency flight home.
- Paying for your airline ticket with a credit card sometimes provides limited travel accident insurance, and you may be able to reclaim the payment if the operator doesn’t deliver. Ask your credit-card company what it will cover.
- Worldwide travel insurance is available at www.lonelyplanet.com/travel-insurance. You can buy, extend and claim online anytime – even if you’re already on the road.
Nearly every hotel and hostel will offer free wi-fi, and some still maintain a public computer on hand for guests' use. Most of the country's TICs offer free (or inexpensive) access; many libraries in Slovenia have free terminals; and many cities and towns have free wi-fi in the centre, including Ljubljana.
Persons violating the laws of Slovenia may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs in Slovenia are strict, and convicted offenders can expect heavy fines and even jail terms. The permitted blood-alcohol level for motorists is 0.05%, and it is strictly enforced, especially on motorways. Fines start at €300.
Alcohol may not be purchased from a shop, off-licence or bar for consumption off the premises between 9pm and 7am.
Slovenia has a national gay-rights law in place that bans discrimination on the basis of sexual preference in employment and other areas, including the military. In recent years, a highly visible campaign against homophobia has been put in place across the country, and same-sex civil union is allowed.
Ljubljana is the centre of gay life in Slovenia and is considered a reasonably tolerant city. Outside Ljubljana, there is little evidence of a gay presence, much less a lifestyle.
Several organisations are active in promoting gay rights and fostering cultural and social interaction. Foremost among these are ŠKUC (Študentski Kulturni Center, Student Cultural Centre; www.skuc.org) and Legebitra. Other sources of information:
- The Slovenian Queer Resources Directory (www.ljudmila.org/siqrd) contains a lot of info, both serious and recreational, but is in Slovene only.
- Out in Slovenia (www.outinslovenija.com), the first sports and recreational group for gays and lesbians in Slovenia, is where to go for the latest on outdoor activities and events.
- Newspapers Slovenia Times (www.sloveniatimes.com) is a comprehensive English-language online newspaper.
- Magazines Sinfo (www.ukom.gov.si) is a government-produced monthly e-mag about Slovenian politics, environment, culture, business and sport.
- Radio Radio Slovenija broadcasts English news and weather updates throughout the day on various frequencies. Visit the RTV Slovenija (www.rtvslo.si) website.
- TV The public broadcaster, RTV Slovenija, has three main channels; there are dozens of private broadcasters. English-language channels like CNN International and BBC are widely available.
ATMs are widely available or you can exchange money at banks. Credit and debit cards are accepted by most businesses throughout the country.
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 code, you can withdraw euros anywhere.
- One euro is divided into 100 cents. There are seven euro notes, in denominations of €5, €10, €20, €50, €100, €200 and €500.
- The eight euro coins in circulation are in denominations of €1 and €2, then one, two, five, 10, 20 and 50 cents.
- In practice, you may have trouble using large denominations over €50 for smaller purchases.
- Exchange your home currency for euros 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.
- Most banks take a provizija (commission) of 1%. Tourist offices, travel agencies and exchange bureaus usually charge around 3%.
Credit cards, especially Visa, MasterCard and American Express, are widely accepted, and you’ll be able to use them at restaurants, shops, hotels, car-rental firms, travel agencies and petrol stations.
For current exchange rates, see www.xe.com.
- Hotels Gratuity for cleaning staff completely at your discretion.
- Pubs Not expected unless table service is provided.
- Restaurants For decent service 10%.
- Taxis Round up the fare to the nearest euro.
Opening hours can vary throughout the year. We’ve provided high-season opening hours.
Banks 8.30am to 12.30pm and 2pm to 5pm Monday to Friday
Bars 11am to midnight Sunday to Thursday, to 1am or 2am Friday and Saturday
Restaurants 11am to 10pm
Shops 8am to 7pm Monday to Friday, to 1pm Saturday
- The Slovenian postal system (Pošta Slovenije) offers a wide variety of services – from selling stamps and telephone cards to making photocopies and changing money.
- Newsstands also sell znamke (stamps).
- Many post offices have limited opening hours on Saturday.
- Find up-to-date postal rates on the postal service website: www.posta.si.
Slovenia celebrates 14 prazniki (holidays) each year. If any of them fall on a Sunday, the Monday becomes the holiday.
New Year’s 1 and 2 January
Prešeren Day (Slovenian Culture Day) 8 February
Easter & Easter Monday March/April
Insurrection Day 27 April
Labour Day holidays 1 and 2 May
National Day 25 June
Assumption Day 15 August
Reformation Day 31 October
All Saints' Day 1 November
Christmas Day 25 December
Independence Day 26 December
- Smoking Forbidden in all enclosed public spaces. Most pubs will have a smoking area outside. Vaping is legal, though banned in public indoor spaces.
Taxes & Refunds
Value-added tax (VAT) is a sales tax applied on the purchase of most goods and services. The standard rate is 22%, with a reduced rate of 9.5% on select items, such as accommodation, food, books and museum entrance fees. VAT will almost always be included in the price.
Claiming Tax Refunds
Visitors who reside outside the EU can claim VAT refunds on total purchases of over €50 (not including tobacco products or spirits) as long as they take the goods out of the country (and the EU) within three months.
To smooth the process, inform the salesperson at the time of purchase that you intend to export the goods. To make the claim, the corresponding DDV-VP form must be correctly filled out. Retain the form and have it stamped by a Slovenian customs officer when you leave the country at the border (or airport).
You can collect your refund – minus a handling fee – from selected offices or have it deposited into your credit-card account. For more information see the Global Blue (www.globalblue.com) website.
Slovenia's country code is 386. Slovenia has six area codes (01 to 05 and 07). Ljubljana's area code is 01.
- To call a landline within Slovenia, include the area code if the number you are calling is outside the area code.
- To call abroad from Slovenia, dial 00 followed by the country and area codes, and then the number.
- To call Slovenia from abroad, dial the international access code, 386 (the country code for Slovenia), the area code (minus the initial zero) and the number.
Local SIM cards can be used in European, Australian and some American phones. Other phones must be set to roaming to work, but be wary of roaming charges.
- Mobile numbers carry special three-digit prefixes, including 030, 031, 040, 041, 051, 070, 071 and 080. These numbers correspond, in some cases, to different mobile operators.
Central European Time (GMT/UTC plus one hour)
Daylight saving time kicks in at 2am on the last Sunday in March and ends on the last Sunday in October.
|City||Noon in Ljubljana|
- Finding a public lavatory is not always easy and when you do, you sometimes have to pay up to €1 to use it.
- All train stations have toilets, as do shopping centres and department stores. The standard of hygiene is good.
Travel with Children
Slovenia is prime family-holiday territory, especially in July and August when Europeans hit the road and celebrate the summer break. Water parks, caves, swimmable lakes and walking trails designed for little legs are just part of the story – many businesses go out of their way to make families welcome.
Best Regions for Kids
The capital's attractions include a bridge guarded by dragons, a castle reached by funicular, a zoo, the House of Experiments and a mega-waterpark. For the littlest ones (and their parents), there's even a 'public living room' with workshops, crafts, puppet shows and so on.
- The Julian Alps
Prime spot for outdoor, active pursuits. For younger kids, there are cable cars up to the mountaintops, lakes to swim in and leisurely boat rides. Teens will enjoy rafting, camping, cycling and 'glamping' in the open air.
- Southwestern Slovenia
Kids won't soon forget descents into two enormous, awe-inspiring caves, plus castles, dancing horses and the usual seaside activities.
- Southeastern Slovenia
Castles, gentle forest walks and cycling, water parks and whitewater rafting rides suitable for the whole family.
- Eastern Slovenia
Castles, forest trails, massive water parks and uncrowded ski areas.
Slovenia for Kids
If you’re travelling with kids, you’re in for a pretty easy ride. Slovenia gets a big tick for its friendly locals, accessible nature, unique attractions and short travel distances. Get your kids involved in your travel plans – if they’ve helped to work out where you’re going and they've heard plans of dancing white horses, train rides through caves, or dragons on bridges, they'll have plenty to look forward to in Slovenia.
Sights & Activities
Make a point of stopping by the local TICs – everywhere has attractions where kids are king, and there will be recommendations on sights, activities and how to spend a rainy day.
Newer museums are interactive (some have a dedicated kids’ section), and there are parks, playgrounds and swimming pools, plus year-round water parks. Many attractions allow free admission for young kids (up to about seven years) and half-price (or substantially discounted) admission for those up to about 15. Discounted family tickets are usually available.
In the great outdoors, there are loads of family activities. Kids will enjoy paddling on a lake at Bled or Bohinj, swimming in the Adriatic, taking a cable car up a mountain at Vogel or Velika Planina, or riding a train through a cave at mighty Postojna.
Popular warm-weather activities like rafting on the Soča River can be done from around age five; other adventures (kayaking, canyoning) are possible from around age 10.
Winter activities include ski schools – close to Ljubljana there's Krvavec ski centre; in the west, Kranjska Gora is well set up; and the east has Maribor Pohorje.
Sleeping & Eating
In peak season (July and August) campgrounds are hives of activity, and many organise activity programs for juniors; some are attached to water parks. Campgrounds often have bungalows for rent, while 'glamping' (upscale camping) brings creature comforts to the great outdoors – and with options ranging from log cabins to treehouses and safari tents, it's a fun way to amuse the kids.
Most hostels are geared more towards young backpackers, but others are set up for, and welcoming to, families. Rooms may sleep up to six (in bunks); there will invariably be kitchen and lounge facilities. Check out the apartments at Jazz Hostel in Bled, or family rooms at Hostel Pod Voglom on Lake Bohinj. Farmstays offer a rural idyll and/or the chance to get your hands dirty and are perfect for families. Many guesthouses and hotels offer family-sized rooms, and self-catering villas and apartments are plentiful.
On the whole, restaurants welcome children. Many will have a highchair and a children’s menu, or serve the kind of food kids will eat (like pizza and chicken). Self-catering is a breeze if you stay somewhere with kitchen facilities – larger supermarkets stock all you’ll need (including baby items), but may have shorter opening hours than you might expect.
Having your own vehicle will make life easier, but getting around using public transport isn’t impossible.
A cycling holiday may be doable with older kids, as distances between towns are not vast. Larger bike-rental outfits supply kids bikes.
Ljubljana Castle Ride the funicular to the castle, and poke around up top among the ruins. Older kids will like the 'Time Machine' tours.
Bled Castle A cool mountaintop fortress with tip-top views. Halloween celebrations here are awesome.
Predjama Castle A castle in a cave with history that involves a toilet – it's every kid’s dream.
Old Castle Celje The largest fortress in Slovenia, perched on a high hill, is straight out of a fairy tale.
Atlantis Multiple pools in the capital.
Terme Čatež Near Brežice, with watery activities and a campground bursting with family fun.
Terme Ptuj Out east, with indoor and outdoor pools and lots of waterslides.
Balnea Wellness Centre Ahoy! At Dolenjske Toplice, the Lagoon at this spa centre has an open-air pool with a pirate ship.
Terme Olimia At Podčetrtek, with an abundance of slides, pools and activities, plus a child-care club.
Aquapark Bohinj Overflows with indoor and outdoor pools and play areas; ideal rainy-day fun for everyone.
Vintgar Gorge Near Bled, this is an easy path (1.6km each way) through fabulous nature, on a wooden walkway.
Postojna Cave Stalagmites, stalactites, a train ride through a cave, eyeless human fish. If your kid likes science projects, this is paradise.
Savica Waterfall Magnificent waterfall that cuts deep into a gorge. The long hike out to the falls is more suited to older children and teens.
Križna Cave What fun! You get boots and a lamp, and set out on a boat ride across a lake inside a cave.
Kozjak Waterfall From Kobarid, a forested walk to a beautiful chute.
Bled For lake swimming, rowboats, bike rides and the kremšnita cream cake.
Bohinj More lake swimming, boat rides, horse riding, and a cable-car ride up Vogel.
Bovec Family river rafting is perfect, the older/braver can try canyoning and kayaking.
Kranjska Gora Winter skiing is facility-laden; summertime sees hiking and cycling.
Portorož The most active city on the coast, with lots of seaside activities.
Logarska Dolina The Fairytale Forest perfectly pairs walking trails with storytelling.
When to Go
The best time for families to visit Slovenia is between May and September, when you're likely to get good weather and attractions are in full swing. On the downside, facilities crowd up once local schools close for summer holidays from late June to early September and hotels and campgrounds charge peak prices.
All car-rental firms in Slovenia have children’s safety seats for hire; make sure you book one in advance. Hotels will also usually be able to handle special family requests, like cots, cribs and extra beds, but it's always better to arrange these things in advance.
Several organisations can assist travellers seeking to volunteer in Slovenia.
GoOverseas (www.gooverseas.com) Lists several projects, mainly in environmental protection and community development.
Slovene Philanthropy (www.filantropija.org) Local group offering some volunteering opportunities in Slovenia and abroad in communal health and working with migrants.
Voluntariat (www.zavod-voluntariat.si) Student-oriented organisation offering both short- and long-term volunteering options.
Workaway (www.workaway.info) International organisation that matches in-country hosts with volunteers. Check the website for Slovenian listings.
Weights & Measures
- Weights & Measures The metric system is used.
EU citizens do not require a work permit and are free to apply for jobs on the same basis as Slovenian nationals. Citizens of other countries can only work on the basis of a work permit and must normally be sponsored by a local company or institution.
For further details, see the website of the Slovenian Ministry of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities (www.mddsz.gov.si).