Slovenia is the darling of European travel, and its a fairly easy country to travel to. That being said, there are a few things you want to make sure you think through before your trip. Here are the eleven steps you need to follow to have the perfect Slovenian getaway. Consider this your one-stop shop for planning a trip to Slovenia.
Step 1: Check to See if You Need a Visa
Slovenia is one of the two Balkan countries that are part of the Schengen Zone, the block of twenty-six European countries that use a common visa system.
Passport holders from Schengen Zone member countries do not need a travel visa to visit Greece:
Austria, Hungary, Norway, Belgium, Iceland, Poland, Czech Republic, Italy, Portugal, Denmark, Latvia, Slovakia, Estonia, Liechtenstein, Slovenia, Finland, Lithuania, Spain, France, Luxembourg, Sweden, Germany, Malta, Switzerland, Greece, and the Netherlands
Additionally, passport holders from these countries can visit the Schengen Zone without a travel visa for up to 90 days out of a 180 day period:
Albania, Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Bosnia and Herzegovina*, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominica, El Salvador, Georgia, Grenada, Guatemala, Honduras, Hong Kong S.A.R*, Israel, Japan, Kiribati, Macao S.A.R*, Macedonia*, Malaysia, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Mexico, Micronesia, Moldova*, Monaco*, Montenegro*, Nauru, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Palau, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent, Samoa, Serbia*, Seychelles, Singapore, Solomon Islands, South Korea, Taiwan**, Timor Leste, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tuvalu, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United States of America, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Venezuela
Countries marked with an asterisk have special requirements to be allowed visa-free travel to the Schengen zone.
Note that travel to one country in the Schengen Zone starts the clock on your ninety days, so you can stay in Slovenia for up to ninety days or spread it out amongst different countries. If you have been traveling the Schengen Zone for a while before arriving in Slovenia, make sure you have enough days left so that you don’t overstay.
While we will try to keep this post updated, you also always want to check visa rules ahead of time with the country you are visiting as well as your own country. You can check updated Schengen Zone information here.
Step 2. Book Your Tickets
Because of Slovenia’s location, bordering Italy, Croatia, Austria, and Hungary, many people arrive here for the first time on a bus or train as part of a longer trip. Whether Slovenia is part of your Balkan itinerary or a more Central European one, arriving in Ljubljana by bus or train is a simple affair.
If you will be flying into Slovenia, you most likely will arrive at Ljubljana’s Jože Pučnik Airport. Technically there are also international airports in Maribor and Portoroz, but it is rare to find a flight that goes to these airports. For example, Skyscanner doesn’t list any flights out of Maribor for the next month.
Getting around Slovenia by bus or car is fairly easy, so flying into the centrally located capital is not an issue as long as you think through your ground transportation options.
We usually use a combination of Skyscanner and Google Flights when we are searching for flights. Use Skyscanner’s “Everywhere” feature, which is helpful for determining which cities fly to your destination. When looking for deals to Slovenia, you can list your destination as the whole country. This will give you the options for all of the country’s major airports if there does happen to be a flight into one of the other two.
Alternatively (and perhaps better for Slovenia) we use Google Flights when we know exactly where we want to fly in and out of. This has the added bonus of having a nicer interface and updates with the correct prices faster, so there are no disappointments when you click through unlike Skyscanner sometimes has.
Step 3. Plan Your Itinerary
For the purpose of this article, we’re going to assume that you are only visiting Slovenia. If you are planning a multi-country Balkan trip, we have a whole post all about Balkan itineraries for you to read as well!
If you only have one weekend, then stick to one city. We have several Slovenian cities on our list of the best Balkan City breaks, but there are even more choices than that. The most popular cities for tourism in Slovenia are Ljubljana, Bled, Piran, Maribor, and Idrija, but here’s an even longer list of the best places to visit in Slovenia so you can get some ideas.
If you have four days or less, pick one city and add a day trip if you want to see more of the country. If you have five or more days, then you can add additional destinations. Because of Slovenia’s compact size and good transportation, we recommend basing yourself in Ljubljana and then doing day trips to the other places that interest you. The only exception to this is Piran, where two or three days (or a lifetime) will be relaxing and dreamy.
Step 4. Plan Your Activities
Once you’ve determined what cities are on your itinerary, it’s time to plan your activities! We are in the process of writing guides to many of Slovenia’s cities, so it’s always a good idea to start with our Slovenia travel page for ideas.
If you want to do any city tours or day trips, we recommend booking in advance, as sometimes tours book out especially in the peak season (May to September). We personally use and recommend GetYourGuide when searching for tours in Slovenia and the Balkans in general.
We like that they have a best-price guarantee and that they tell you the name of the tour companies they partner with (unlike Viator), so you can research it and be sure it’s worth your money! These are the company we recommend in our guides because this is who we use to book our own day trips. (Yes, we pay for our day trips and 97% of our travels).
Step 5. Budget Your Trip
Slovenia is a great bargain compared to much of Western Europe, but it is definitely pricier than other Balkan neighbors.
If you want to travel as a backpacker, staying in hostel dorms and eating street food and cooking for yourself, Slovenia will cost you about $50 dollars per day. Of that, about $18 will go towards your hostel dorm bed; the other $32 can be spent on food, drink, activities, transportation, and Slovenian souvenirs.
We personally feel that Slovenia offers the best value to mid-range travelers. This means staying in a cheap but cheerful private room, eating out at a mix of local restaurants and higher-end restaurants, going out for drinks at the local bars, booking day trips, and indulging in a few guided tours. On this budget, you can have a fantastic time in Slovenia for $75-100 USD per day, and that range largely has to do with whether you are traveling solo or with a travel partner (solo will be more expensive) and just how much exactly your accommodation costs. You can find private and double rooms in most Slovenian cities for about $50 USD per night.
However, it is possible to do Slovenia in absolute luxury and not spend too much money! This means the nicest hotel in town, no-holds-barred when you order, nice drinks, taxis galore, and guided tours. Even on a blow-out budget, you will spend between $100-200 USD per day tops.
Step 6. Book Your Accommodations
Once you’ve sorted out what you want to spend per night on accommodations, it’s time to get booking! We use Booking.com because we like that they have free cancellation if you end up changing your plans and they have the widest selection and best prices.
We’re in the process of creating comprehensive guides on where to stay in each major Slovenian city, but for now, we recommend checking out Booking.com as early as possible. Slovenia is a popular travel destination and rooms have a tendency to sell-out during the high season, especially the ones that provide great value for the money in all price-tiers.
Step 7. Research Any Vaccinations You May Need
Slovenia is a cave-lovers dream, and caves mean bats. According to the CDC:
Although rabies can be found in dogs, bats, and other mammals in Slovenia, it is not a major risk to most travelers. CDC recommends this vaccine only for these groups:
- Travelers involved in outdoor and other activities in remote areas that put them at risk for animal bites (such as adventure travel and caving).
- People who will be working with or around animals (such as veterinarians, wildlife professionals, and researchers).
- People who are taking long trips or moving to remote areas in Slovenia
- Children, because they tend to play with animals, might not report bites, and are more likely to have animal bites on their head and neck.
What does this mean for people are merely going to touring the major caves on an organized walking tour for an hour? I did not get rabies vaccines before touring Skogjan caves (honestly, I didn’t even think about it). Since getting bitten by a bat would have meant I’d need post-exposure shots, I’m not sure if it would have even been helpful to get vaccinated beforehand. However, if you’re a worrier, then talk to your doctor about the risks before your trip.
Anyone not at high risk for a bat run-in just needs to be up-to-date on normal shots:
Make sure you are up-to-date on routine vaccines before every trip. These vaccines include the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, and your yearly flu shot.
Step 8: Learn a Few Common Slovenian Words and Phrases
Slovenian in a South Slavic language closely related to Croatian and Serbian. It is written using an extension of the Latin Alphabet. This is called Gaj’s alphabet, and it’s the same one used in Serbia and Croatia.
- The Slovenian alphabet has the following additional letters: č, ć, dž, đ, lj, nj, š and ž
- The Slovenian alphabet doesn’t have the letters: q, w, x and y
Here’s a pronunciation guide for these additional letters.
Almost everyone I have met in Slovenia speaks excellent English, but it’s always nice to learn a few common words and phrases in Slovenian before you go.
Hi = Zdravo
Good day (more formal) = Dober dan
Please = Prosim
Thank you = Hvala Vam
Goodbye = Nasviđenje
Excuse me = Oprostite
OK = V redu
Good = Dobro
Yes = Da
No = Ne
I don’t understand = Ne razumem
Do you speak English? = Govoriš angleško?
If you will traveling to the Balkan countries of Serbia, Bosnia, Bulgaria, or Macedonia after (or before) your time in Slovenia, then you may want to consider learning the Cyrillic alphabet! However, if you will only be in Slovenia (or Croatia) then you will be fine with just your knowledge of the Latin alphabet. Don’t let the diacritical marks get in your way!
Step 9. Pack Your Bags
What you should pack depends greatly on the time of year. We have some packing lists that we’ll add soon to help you plan for your trip to Slovenia, but for now, here are five things we don’t recommend you visit without!
- A Lonely Planet guidebook, to help you plan when on the ground
- Your swimsuit, especially if you’re headed to the Adriatic coast
- An unlocked smartphone, so you can buy a cheap SIM card and use taxi apps
- Wet wipes and hand sanitizer, in case of a poorly stocked bathroom
- Comfortable walking and/or hiking shoes, so you can make the most of Slovenia’s cities and natural wonders
Step 10. Prepare For Your Arrival
You’re nearly done planning your trip to Slovenia, but don’t miss this last crucial step – planning what you do when you arrive!
Firstly, money – you’ll either want to withdraw cash from the ATM at the airport or exchange your money. We recommend withdrawing cash instead, as you will get a better exchange rate at money-changers in the city. However, if you plan to use the ATM, you should probably call your bank to advise them of your travel. The last thing you want to happen is for your bank to deny your card when you arrive! I always advise carrying at least $50 USD/Euros as a backup in case of any card problems.
Once you’re in Slovenia, you’ll use Euros. Check out our Balkan Currency Guide for an overview of how money works in Slovenia and what to tip in the country.
Next, transportation. The best way to find out how to get to your accommodations is to ask your accommodations directly. Taxis are more expensive than in other parts of the Balkans, so you should ask them what the best public transportation options are if you are trying to stick to a strict budget. If you arrive in Ljubljana by bus or train, the easiest way to get to your hotel or hostel might simply be to walk since the city is fairly compact.
Be prepared to pay in cash if you do need to use public transportation or taxis to get to where you’re staying.
Finally, be sure you have your hotel or Airbnb information (address and phone number) easily accessible so that you or your taxi driver can contact them if you have any trouble reaching them. We also recommend pre-downloading the local city map on your phone so that you can know your location if you get lost, even if you don’t have wifi or data.
Step 11: Don’t Forget Travel Insurance!
We put this last so it’s fresh on your mind: travel insurance is essential for Slovenia and for travel in general! 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 Slovenia is perfectly safe to travel around, there’s always a risk inherent in everyday travel, so it’s better to play it safe. The saying goes “if you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel” is true!
Pin This Slovenia Trip Planning Checklist for Your Trip