Slovenia is advertised as an idyllic place to vacation. The picture-perfect magazine spreads and glossy photos may lull one into thinking that this is a place where nothing bad has (or will ever) happened. Yes, its status as a Balkan country and the fact that tourists are often the target of crime in neighboring Italy and Hungary may make one pause and wonder is Slovenia safe to travel?
While I love traveling solo in Slovenia and find it generally safe, there are some important Slovenia safety tips you need to know to have a great trip. Also, anyone coming to appreciate Slovenia’s outdoor sports scene should take extra precautions, as skiing and hiking safety is different than simply avoiding pickpockets in Ljubljana!
Here are important Slovenia safety and crime statistics every traveler should be aware of, and important Slovenia safety tips for your trip.
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Is Slovenia Safe? 5 Things to Know about Safety & Crime in Slovenia
Here are five facts about the current state of crime in Slovenia that you should be aware of. I address how to protect yourself in the next section. So while these things exist, there are things you can do. Being aware of them is the first step.
Tourists can be the target of petty crime in Ljubljana.
Just like any European capital that gets flooded with tourists in the summer, tourists attract petty crime and pickpockets. I outline several tips below to avoid being the target of one, but here’s the bottom line on petty crime in Ljubljana (from OSAC’s Slovenia 2019 Crime & Safety Report):
“There is a moderate risk of crime in Ljubljana. While many travelers do not encounter crime, areas frequented by tourists can experience petty crime. Most crimes are non-violent and directed toward obtaining property (purse snatching, pickpocketing, unoccupied residential/vehicle break-ins).
There have been cases of purse snatching/pickpockets at restaurants in the city center, on city buses, and in the central open market. Even these are rare in comparison with rates in the U.S. or neighboring European countries.
Criminals general do not single out U.S. or foreign visitors based on nationality, but rather because they look like tourists. Most of the crimes committed against U.S. visitors fall into the category of petty theft (pickpocketing, purse snatching). These occur mostly in crowded areas, train stations, restaurants, open markets, and public transportation.”
While there is less organized crime in Slovenia than in neighboring countries, it does exist.
When I think of my time in Slovenia, I don’t exactly think of the mafia. But like nearly every country in Europe, organized crime exists in Slovenia. If you stay away from gambling facilities, however, you’re unlikely to run into anyone connected with it. From OSAC:
“Organized crime – primarily narcotics trafficking, auto theft, fraud, tax evasion, counterfeit goods, alien smuggling, and human trafficking – is a problem, but less so than in neighboring countries. Much of what violent crime does occur in Slovenia has connections with organized crime.
Online gambling is the origin of many crimes, often involving loan sharking, threats, or blackmail; these types of attacks have taken place at gambling/betting establishments, in private vehicles, and at private businesses in the late evening or early morning hours. The attacks are typically designed to send a message, rather than cause injury/fatality, to the intended recipient.”
Unlike in some Balkan countries, there are no parts of Slovenia deemed unsafe to visit.
Other than my fear of falling off a mountain, there are no parts of Slovenia that are off-limits for travelers or experiencing unrest. So while you need to take extra precautions in the cities and outdoors, you don’t need to stay away from any single region of the country.
Yes, taxi scams exist in Slovenia just like everywhere in the Balkans.
If you look like a tourist and you’re getting picked up at the airport, bus station, train station, etc., expect that some taxi drivers will try to scam you. And since taxis are much more expensive in Slovenia than in Albania, Bulgaria, etc., that overcharge will sting a little (or a lot).
The most obvious scams are drivers refusing to use their meters and then spitting out an exorbitantly high flat rate when you get to your destination.
Unlike the other former Yugoslav countries, Slovenia does not have a history of targeted religious or ethnic violence.
Slovenia somehow managed to escape the violence, war, and ethnic cleansing that happened throughout the rest of the former Yugoslavia during the nineties. So while you’ll hear horror stories of what it was like to live in Bosnia in the nineties or Kosovo up to even just a decade ago, Slovenia doesn’t have this trauma in its immediate past (though, like anywhere in the Balkans, if you dig deep enough you’ll find some messed up violent sh** lurking not too far into the past).
This means as a traveler you don’t need to worry about violence flaring up due to religious or ethnic conflict. The majority of the country are ethnic Slovenes, but there is a small Roma and Muslim minority in the country as well.
13 Important Slovenia Safety Tips
We wholeheartedly think that overall, Slovenia is safe. However, we still think there are things you should be aware of in Slovenia (as well as any other country, really). We’ll list our top safety advice for travel below.
Avoid political demonstrations
Political demonstrations in Slovenia are rare, and when they occur they rarely break out into violence. However, if you happen to be in the country during a political protest, you should stay away.
I know it’s tempting. It happened to me in Tunisia and Iceland. You see a large protest rally and you just have to know what’s going on.
Well, in Slovenia (and anywhere), you really should stay away. You do not want to be in the middle of a political situation that you don’t understand, especially when you don’t speak the language. If something does turn violent, you won’t be able to understand anyone’s warnings or attempts to help you get out of the situation.
f you’re curious, it’s better to chat with a local and hear their point of view rather than get involved in the protest itself.
Know what to do if something goes wrong
It’s a good idea to know what you would do in a country if something were to go wrong. Besides your embassy’s contact information, keep these numbers handy:
Road Emergency & Towing: 1987
Allison recently had a traumatic incident happen in Ohrid (a pretty safe place to travel) when a drunk British tourist tried to break into her room at 4 AM, thinking it was his room. She didn’t know the emergency number by heart and had to try to find it, and then she didn’t have a SIM card working at the time, so she had to try to make an emergency call via Skype, which isn’t possible.
It was extremely stressful, and luckily, a neighbor called the police when they heard the noise. While I strongly doubt anything like that will ever happen to you in Slovenia, things can occur that you don’t expect, so it’s best to be prepared!
Learn from our mistakes: be sure to have a functional SIM card with roaming that you can activate in case of an emergency!
Enroll in your government’s safety program
If you’re an American and you are concerned about the possibility of an incident while in Slovenia, you can enroll in the State Department’s STEP Program. This lets the government know your travel plans, and they will also email you to alert you if anything happens on the ground.
To be honest, I don’t use it when I go to Slovenia (though I probably should) since I feel pretty safe there. I have used it while traveling in Tunisia during protests, and I appreciated the up-to-date emails with what to look out for and areas to stay away from.
There is a similar program for Canadians. If you are a citizen of another country, check with your government to see if they provide these services.
Do not drink and drive
While we love going to Slovenia for the wine, do not drink and drive. That’s one reason we always recommend going on wine tours in Slovenia instead of trying to go to wineries on your own – those small sips add up!
The legal drinking limit in Slovenia for driving is a .05 BAC, which is less than one full drink for most people (and lower than the US and UK limit). Laws are strictly enforced, and the penalties are steep. They also have random breathalyzer checkpoints from time to time (though sometimes there are cool rewards for people who pass).
Have your travel insurance information handy
Since you’re a smart, safety-first kind of traveler, you know it’s a good idea to get a travel insurance policy before you leave for your trip.
But what do you do with it once you have it? First, it’s a good idea to have easy access to your policy information so you can make a claim if needed. You can also give the policy info to an emergency contact who’s not traveling with you. In a worst-case scenario, they can access the benefits to help you if you’re unconscious.
Of course, the most likely scenario is you have travel insurance and everything goes right on your trip. That would be awesome. You’d have peace of mind while you travel but you wouldn’t need to deal with anything.
Keep your money safe
Don’t every flash your cash. Use a mix of credit cards and cash in the city, and keep everything tucked away. Remember that having your stuff stolen while you’re out in public is the MOST LIKELY incident you will encounter as a traveler in Slovenia.
I use a Pacsafe Citysafe backpack, which has a pocket inside with RFID technology. This helps to make sure my credit cards won’t get scanned from afar.
It also has interlocking zippers, which means if someone does see that I have extra cash on me, it will make it far harder for them to pickpocket me. The backpack also has slash-proof construction with wire mesh inside, so your bag can’t get slashed.
If you don’t want to buy a new backpack with safety features, you can use a money belt instead. However, thieves do know about money belts, so it’s not the safest option.
Have a hard copy of your card numbers, phone numbers, and passport information
If something does go wrong and your cards and passport get stolen, you need to be able to get them replaced. Have a hard copy in case your phone also gets stolen. This way you can call your banks, your embassy, and then your travel insurance company to get everything replaced without needing access to the internet.
I like to have one copy in my backpack, one copy in my day bag, and email a copy to myself in case I get everything stolen.
Never leave your stuff unattended
Slovenian cafes, restaurants, and markets are charming, and they look dreamily safe. But keep in mind this is the place you are most likely to encounter and issue. You look like a tourist, which makes you a target. (And if you think you don’t look like a tourist, then you’re delusional. Pickpockets have trained eyes to pick out who’s the foreigner. Unless you’re ready to bust out some perfect, accent-less Slovenian, they will make you).
It’s tempting to leave your stuff unattended when you’re in a restaurant or cafe, especially if you’re traveling solo. How much easier would it be to just leave your backpack at the table while you go to the restroom?
Don’t! Never leave your stuff unattended. Don’t leave your cell phone out on the table. If you’re out in a public place that has a lot of tourists, sit with one of your chair legs through the loop of your backpack.
Be the hardest target, not the easiest. That starts with not letting your stuff be easily snatchable!
Pay attention to your surroundings
Pay attention to your surroundings. The one time I thwarted a pickpocket (in Italy, of course) was because I saw him out of the corner of my eye. He caught me looking at him, and he removed his hand from my backpack.
If I hadn’t have been paying attention, he would have gotten my cell phone, my cash, and my passport!
Don’t get lost on your phone in transit or a taxi. Don’t keep your headphones on when you’re walking alone. Make sure you can generally see and hear what’s going on around you so that if something is about to happen you’ll be aware.
The tap water is safe to drink in Slovenia, but bring a water filter if you’ll be spending time outdoors
According to the Slovenia tourism board, tap water is safe to drink across Slovenia.
However, outside of major cities, its always good to ask a local for their point of view before drinking the tap water. If given a negative answer or you’re still unsure, we suggest you opt for bottled water or bring your own Grayl Water Filter so that you can filter the tap water yourself. It’s also a good idea to bring one if you plan on going on long day hikes or camping overnight.
Women need to use extra caution – just like everywhere in the world
Generally, as a female traveler, I feel quite safe in Slovenia – it’s not a country where catcalling and harassment is a real problem. However, that doesn’t mean women shouldn’t be just as vigilant in Slovenia as they would be in their home towns or big cities.
The same basic rules women know by heart by now apply here as well: Don’t leave your drink unattended, don’t drink too much if you’re traveling alone, be wary of any men who try to get your attention, etc.
You should be just as wary of other travelers you meet as locals. When Allison almost got her apartment broken into in North Macedonia this year, it wasn’t because of a Macedonian, but because of a drunk foreigner!
Unfortunately, sexual assault is a problem everywhere, and Slovenia is no different. And of course, like everywhere else in the world, it’s hard to know the real statistics because it is underreported.
If you’re the victim of sexual assault, contact your embassy before contacting local authorities so they can provide support.
Be wary of taxi scams
Taxi scams in the Balkans are omnipresent. Yes, even in Slovenia. It can be hard to get a proper rate if you’re a tourist, so we suggest you have your hotel or hostel call you a taxi from a reputable company and to use the meter.
If you don’t have the ability to call and order a reputable taxi, such as at the train/bus station, be sure to discuss the price in advance with your driver. I’ve found that drivers at the bus station tend to refuse to use the meter, so I tend to just pay a fixed price. Do not leave without either the meter running or a prenegotiated rate.
If you want to know a fair rate for getting to your accommodations, you can ask your hotel or hostel ahead of time for what you should expect to pay.
The typical charge for a taxi from the airport to Ljubljana is forty euros, but many of the taxis there will try to charge you fifty! For the airport, I recommend pre-arranging a shuttle: this one from the Ljubljana airport is priced fair and well-reviewed.
If you arrive in Ljubljana by train or bus, your hotel is probably within walking distance. You may decide to skip transportation altogether and just walk unless you have mobility issues or arrive after dark.
Know what to do if you have an incident while driving
Driving is a popular way to get around the country, but its full of narrow mountain roads and high bridges. While I found driving in Slovenia generally to be very safe, there are some aggressive drivers and bad roads to contend with.
The number for a roadside emergency is 1987. If you plan on driving, make sure you have a Slovenian sim card or working international number so you can call in case of an emergency.
So, How Safe is Slovenia?
While Slovenia is a very safe place to travel, there are certain risks inherent in everyday travel. It just comes with the territory. I’ve spent time in Ljubljana and Bled as a solo female traveler, and even driven all over the country, and I feel very safe there. As safe as I feel in any other part of the world. But that’s the catch – nowhere in the world is completely safe.
In Slovenia, you need to use the same caution against pickpockets, sexual assault, etc. as you would anywhere in the world.
Also, if political protests flare-up or there is an incident, it’s better to know ahead of time what you will do. Hopefully, you will have a safe, fantastic trip, but it’s better to be prepared just in case!
5 Things to Pack to Stay Safe in Slovenia
We have a full Slovenia packing list, but in case you just want the quick version, here are a few essentials you shouldn’t forget to pack!
A good guidebook: While travel blogs are great, we still think a good guidebook is always handy. We suggest Lonely Planet Slovenia if you’ll be traveling quite a bit around the country, or if you are planning a multi-country Balkan trip, Lonely Planet Western Balkans includes Slovenia and many of its neighbors.
Unlocked Cell Phone: Allison and I both have unlocked cell phones that we bought in Europe (I use a Samsung and Allison uses an iPhone). This allows up to get SIM cards when we travel so that we always have the internet. This has gotten us out of so many jams.
If you don’t have an unlocked cell phone that can use a Slovenian SIM card, you can buy a cheaper unlocked phone online and bring it with you! This is also good if your cellphone is expensive and you’re worried about losing it or having it stolen while you travel.
Pacsafe Citysafe or Other Anti-Theft Bag: This is the bag both Allison and I use (it’s unisex, so even men can enjoy it). It has a pouch with RFID technology so our credit cards can’t get scanned from afar, interlocking zippers to make it harder to pickpocket, slash-proof mesh inside, and it’s roomy enough to be a perfect sightseeing day bag. We also think it’s stylish enough that it’s just our everyday bag!
A Sturdy Moneybelt: If you don’t want to get a new bag with anti-theft features as I use, you can use a money belt instead. I prefer to have these features built into my bag instead, but I know for a lot of people a money belt is a less expensive investment than a new bag.
Grayl Water Filter: While the water is safe to drink, you’ll want this if you plan to do a lot of hiking or you’ll be spending a lot of time outdoors. If you don’t want to be buying millions of plastic water bottles, you can get a reusable water bottle that comes with a water filter so that you can stick to the tap water and reduce your plastic waste.
Wet wipes, hand sanitizer, TP & other Balkan transit needs. Bathrooms in the Balkans tend to be… how can we say it?… not so well-stocked. Save yourself the disappointment and bring a mini-rescue pack of wet wipes & hand sanitizer.
Where to Stay in Slovenia
When traveling to Slovenia, we recommend checking out Booking.com as early as possible. The country is gaining in popularity as a tourist destination, so some of the best spots do sell-out early!
More Slovenia Travel Resources
If you’re just starting to prepare for your trip to Slovenia, read our guide to planning a trip to Slovenia which features an 11-step checklist!
If you’re an avid photographer, you’ll find our Instagram guide to Bled helpful (Ljubljana on the way!).
If you need more Slovenia travel inspiration, check out the best places to visit in Slovenia, the best Slovenian castles, the most breath-taking Slovenian waterfalls, and what Slovenian souvenirs you should bring home.
If you’re headed to Slovenia in the off-season, check out our guide to what to do in Slovenia in winter. We also have a guide to visiting the Lake Bled Christmas Market and the best Lake Bled winter activities if you’ll be here from the end of November through the beginning of January!
Don’t Forget About Travel Insurance!
I’m sure you’re aware that travel insurance is a good idea for traveling in Slovenia (or really, any part of the world)! Allison and I have both been paying customers of World Nomads for the last three years. We love the peace of mind it gives us in case of emergencies, accidents, illnesses, theft, or trip cancellation or disruption.
While the Balkans are perfectly safe to travel around, there’s always a risk inherent in everyday travel, especially during the winter! – so it’s better to play it safe.
Pin this Slovenia Travel Safety Guide for Your Trip
Stephanie has been living in and traveling around the Balkans for the past three years. She’s written for National Geographic Online, appeared on CNN Arabic and in the New York Times, and ridden more Balkan buses than is good for a person.