Slovenia is one of Europe’s least-visited destinations, which is crazy to me! Known for its mountains, ski resorts, and post-card perfect lakes, traveling Slovenia gives you all the beauty of Western Europe with a fraction of the crowds.
Ljubljana, the country’s capital, is considered one of the continents greenest and most livable cities while Lake Bled, Slovenia’s Insta-famous hotspot, is just as stunning in person as it is in photographs.
The region is a favorite for hikers and history buffs, owing to its rugged landscape and contentious past. There’s a slew of outdoor activities here too, making it the perfect destination for active travelers. Best of all, even during the peak summer months, you won’t see many huge crowds here beyond the tourists snapping photos at Lake Bled.
This travel guide to Solvenia will give you the tips and tricks you need to plan the ultimate adventure, save money, and make the most of your trip!
Table of Contents
Click Here for City Guides
Top 5 Things to See and Do in Slovenia
1. Wander Ljubljana
2. Visit Piran
3. Enjoy the views at Lake Bled
4. Do some water sports
5. Go wine tasting
Other Things to See and Do in Slovenia
1. Visit Predjama Castle
Located one hour south of the capital, Predjama Castle was originally constructed in the 13th century but is now a Renaissance-style castle with a Gothic facade built right into the side of a cliff. (Fun fact: a Slovenian Robin Hood-type robber baron once called the castle home.) There’s also a “secret” tunnel that leads to the nearby Postojna Cave. The cave stretches over 24,000 meters and is open to the public (it’s the second biggest cave in the country). Admission to the castle is 15 EUR ($17 USD). To visit the cave and castle together, tickets cost 34 EUR ($40 USD).
2. Go hiking in Triglav National Park
The Triglav National Park is Slovenia’s only national park. Opened in 1981 and spanning 880 square kilometers, the park is named after the country’s tallest mountain. Thanks to its mountains, hills, lakes, and rivers the park is a magnet for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts. You can also kayak, raft, skydive, and parasail here. It’s a beautiful park and well worth a visit. Admission to the park is 9 EUR ($11 USD).
3. Visit Ljubljana Castle
Ljubljana Castle was built in the 16th-century and boasts some of the best views of the city. Perched on Castle Hill above the city, you can take a self-guided tour and wander the grounds yourself or take a guided tour to learn more about the castle and its history. Inside the castle are several permanent exhibitions on its history, an escape room, and a café and restaurant. Admission is 13 EUR ($15 USD) including a guided tour and a return funicular ticket (since the castle is up a hill).
4. Hang out in Velika Planina
Located northeast of Kamnik, Velika Planina translates to ‘Big Pasture Plateau’ — and that is pretty much what it is. This huge, empty plateau is dotted by a handful of small traditional wooden houses surrounded by the towering snowcapped Alps. From June through September, the houses are used by local shepherds whose livestock graze on the plateau, creating a seasonal village open to tourists. Be sure to sample some of the amazing cheeses and local dishes (like barley stew or hota, a bean and sauerkraut hotpot). To get here you will either need a car to drive to the top or you can take a 10-minute gondola ride from Kamniska Bistrica, a nearby village, for 17 EUR ($20 USD).
5. Tour the Skocjan Caves
Located one hour from Ljubljana, this enormous cavern system spans over 1,000 acres. It’s considered one of the most important cave systems in the world. There are underground streams and rivers, massive stone formations, and a 47-meter-high bridge you can cross. The caves have been in use for millennia, appearing in written sources as far back as the 2nd century BCE. They are pretty awesome!! Guided tours start from 16 EUR ($18 USD). You can also arrange day trips from Ljubljana.
6. Go skiing
For the best skiing, head to Vogel in the Lake Bohinj area where you will find downhill slopes and cross country trails. The regular ski season here lasts from December all the way until May. Expect to pay around 10-30 EUR ($12-35 USD) for a lift pass. Osovje, Luce, and Dole Pri Litiji are some of the most affordable places to ski if you’re on a budget.
7. Visit the Open-Air Museum
The Rogatec Open-Air Museum is a fascinating living museum that highlights what life was like in rural Slovenia in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Located near the border with Croatia, you’ll learn about everything from basket weaving to blacksmithing to how livestock was kept and managed. It’s open from April-November and admission is 3 EUR ($3.50 USD). It’s a bit cheesy but if you have time (or are looking for a family friendly activity), stop by!
8. Hike to Lovrenc Lakes
For an easy and beautiful hike that won’t take much time, head to Lovrenc Lakes. Located near Pohorje in the northeast, this 1-hour trail begins at the Rogla Ski Center. Follow the wooden footpath that leads to the middle of the bog where you will find a viewing tower you can climb for stunning views over across the marsh and forest. There are longer full-day trails and mountain bike paths here too. Admission to the hike is free.
9. Cycle underground
One of the more unusual experiences that you may not find anywhere else, however, is underground biking. Located near Mezica in the north, here cyclists can explore the Slovenian underground by taking a tour underneath Mount Peca via its disused lead and zinc mine shafts. There are 5km of trails underground you can explore with tours costing around 40 EUR ($48 USD). You can also kayak sections of the underground mine too (tickets are the same price).
10. Drink beer from a fountain
In the Slovenian town of Žalec, you’ll find the only beer fountain in the world. Located in the hop-growing capital of Slovenia, the Green Gold Fountain opened in 2016 and you can choose between six different beers to taste (including a green beer specially brewed just for the fountain). You simply buy a special mug for 8 EUR ($10 USD) and then you’re able to sample each of the six beers on tap in the fountain.
Slovenia Travel Costs
Accommodation – Hostel dorms start around 10 EUR ($12 USD) per night for a 10-20 bed dorm. For a smaller dorm with 4-6 beds, expect to pay around 19-21 EUR ($22-25 USD) per night. Free Wi-Fi is standard and self-catering facilities are common. For a private room, expect to pay at least 40 EUR ($45 USD) per night.
Budget hotels start at 40 EUR ($48 USD) per night for a double or twin room. Many budget hotels include free breakfast (but not all do) so if you’re on a budget be sure to book a hotel that includes free breakfast.
Airbnb is another budget-friendly option in Slovenia, with private rooms starting at 25 EUR ($30 USD) per night. For an entire home or apartment, expect to pay at least 45 EUR ($50 USD) per night (though prices average closer to 55 EUR/$65 USD).
Campground are available around the country. Prices start around 12 EUR ($15 USD) for a basic plot without electricity. Wild camping in the country is illegal.
Food – Slovenian cuisine is influenced by Italian, Austrian, and Balkan cooking. Spicy sausage, goulash, and schnitzel make regular appearances and are easy to find in most restaurants. Burek, a flaky pastry filled with meat or cheese, is a local favorite for when you’re on the go. Other popular dishes are žlikrofi (potato-filled ravioli) and žganci (a porridge served with sauerkraut). On the coast, you’ll find plenty of mussels, fish, and squid.
For an inexpensive meal at a restaurant serving traditional cuisine, you’ll pay at least 8 EUR ($9 USD) for a meal. A pizza with a glass of wine or a bottle of imported beer will be around 14 EUR ($16 USD). International food, such as Thai and Indian cuisine, can really only be found in the capital. Expect to pay between 7-13 ($8-15 USD) EUR for a main dish.
Fast food (think McDonald’s) costs 5 EUR ($6 USD) for a combo meal. A beer costs 2.50-3 EUR ($3-$3.50 USD) and a cappuccino or latte costs 1.50 EUR ($2 USD). Burek, the flaky pastry mention above, can be found in cafes around the country for 2-3 EUR ($2.50-3.50 USD).
A three-course meal at a restaurant serving traditional cuisine costs around 15 EUR ($17 USD), including a drink. If you’re having a steak dinner, prices are closer to $22 EUR ($25 USD) for a meal with a drink.
If you are planning to cook your own food, a week’s worth of groceries costs 30-40 EUR ($35-$45 USD) for basic staples like meat, potatoes, cheese, pasta, and seasonal produce.
Activities – Slovenia has a lot of natural beauty you can explore for free. If you want to do some adrenaline-pumping outdoor adventures they have great rafting here and prices start at 36 EUR ($40 USD) per person. Entrance fees for the larger castles and museums are usually around $15-20 EUR ($17-23 USD). Rentals for kayaks and canoes cost around 20 EUR ($23 USD).
Backpacking Slovenia Suggested Budgets
On a backpacker budget you’ll pay between 34-42 EUR ($40-50 USD) per day. On this budget, you’re staying in a hostel dorm, cooking most of your meals, limiting your drinking, doing free walking tours and hikes, and using local transportation to get around.
On a mid-range budget of about 80-89 EUR ($95-105 USD), you can stay in a budget hostel or Airbnb, eat out for all your meals at budget-friendly restaurants serving local cuisine, drink a lot more, do some castle tours, go cycling or kayaking, and take some taxis to get around.
On a luxury budget of 253 EUR ($300+ USD) per day, you can stay in a four-star hotel, eat out for all your meals at any restaurant you want, take taxis everywhere, do as many activities as you want, rent a car, and book some private guided tours.
You can use the chart below to get some idea of how much you need to budget daily, depending on your travel style. Prices in USD.
Slovenia Travel Guide: Money Saving Tips
Slovenia is one of the cheaper countries in the region. If you’re trying to save money, it’s pretty easy to do so, especially since most of the outdoor activities are free. Food and drinking will be your biggest expenses. Here are ways to save money in Slovenia:
- Take a free walking tour – Free walking tours are a fun and budget-friendly way to learn about a new destination. Ljubljana Free Tour has a free daily tour that will show you all the major sites in the city, Just be sure to tip your guide!
- Ride Flixbus – Flixbus is an affordable way to get around the country (and region). They have Wi-Fi, electrical outlets, and decent enough sites for overnight and long-haul bus journeys.
- Cook your own meals – If you’re on a tight budget, book accommodation that has a kitchen. Buying your own groceries may not be as glamorous as going out to eat, but it will keep your budget intact
- Stay with a local – staying with a local via Couchsurfing (or similar sharing economy sites) is a great way to not only save money but you’ll get access to a knowledgeable local who can help you better understand the city and its people.
- Walk everywhere – All of the major cities in Slovenia are quite walkable, so skip the public transportation if you want to save a few extra euros.
- Enjoy the free spaces – There are plenty of free parks as well as many free hiking trails around the country. Save your budget and enjoy the outdoors!
- Bring a reuseable water bottle – The tap water in Slovenia is safe to drink so bring a reuseable bottle to avoid buying single-use plastic. It won’t hurt to also have an external filter like LifeStraw or SteriPen to ensure your water is clean (especially if you’re out hiking).
Where To Stay in Slovenia
Slovenia has some great hostels spotted around the country in all of the popular backpacker spots. Here are some of my favorite places to stay in Slovenia:
How to Get Around Slovenia
Public transportation prices will vary by city, but expect to pay around 1.20 EUR ($1.50 USD) for a standard adult ticket.
Bus – Flixbus is one of the most budget-friendly ways to travel around Slovenia (and into neighboring countries as well). The 90-minute journey from Ljubljana to Bled is just 5 EUR ($6 USD) while the 75-minute bus ride from Ljubljana to Koper is 6 EUR ($7 USD). The 2.5-hour ride from Ljubljana to Zagreb, Croatia costs 10 Eur ($12 USD).
Train – Trains connecting Slovenia with other European cities run daily, and thanks to Slovenia being part of the Eurail network it can be a great budget way to travel both internationally and domestically. Slovenia Railways are the sole company operating domestic trains and you can find the full timetable and pricing on their website. It is always better to buy your ticket in advance as prices can double if you buy them last minute.
The two-hour train ride from Ljubljana to Koper costs 9 EUR ($11 USD) while the hour-long trip from Ljubljana to Bled is just 4 EUR ($5 USD). The trip to Zagreb, Croatia from Ljubljana takes around 2.5 hours and costs 24 EUR ($29 USD) while the 3.5-hour journey to Graz, Austria is just 13 EUR ($15 USD).
Fly – There are no domestic flights in Slovenia as it’s a small country.
Car rental – Car rentals cost as little as 30 EUR ($35 USD) per day. Be sure to have an International Driving Permit (IDP) as you’ll need one for the rental.
Hitchhiking – Hitchhiking in Slovenia isn’t very common, however, it’s quite safe and relatively easy. You might end up waiting for a while since people aren’t used to seeing hitchhikers though. Having a sign and looking presentable will go a long way to securing a ride. HitchWiki is the best website for hitchhiking info if you want to give it a try or learn more.
When to Go to Slovenia
There’s no wrong time to visit Slovenia! While it is a small country, Slovenia has a very diverse climate in its three distinct regions. In the mountains of the north, you will find an alpine climate, the central lowlands have a more continental climate, and the west has a more Mediterranean climate.
Unless you plan on skiing, it is probably best to skip the winter months and plan your visit between April and October. During the summer months (June-August) the weather is much more reliable though prices rise slightly and there are far more tourists around (especially at Lake Bled). Expect daily highs around 23°C (73°F).
To beat the crowds, the best time to visit is during the shoulder months — either April-May or September-October. The weather is warm enough to hike and explore but you won’t have to compete with the growing number of visitors.
How to Stay Safe in Slovenia
Slovenia is not just one of the safest places to visit in Europe — it’s one of the safest countries in the entire world. Ranking 7th on the Global Peace Index, Slovenia is a country where you can travel freely without any noteworthy concerns for your safety (the United States, for reference, is ranked 128th).
Of course, you’ll still want to use some common sense here. Don’t flash any valuables and keep an eye out for pickpockets in busy areas like public buses or bus/train stations. If you rent a car, don’t leave any valuables in the vehicle overnight.
112 is the countries emergency services number.
In the larger cities, you’ll find people probably trying to take advantage of you with harmless tourist scams. They aren’t really a big deal and you can read my post on the 14 travel scams to avoid right here.
Always trust your gut instinct. If a taxi driver seems shady, stop the cab and get out. If your hotel is seedier than you thought, get out of there.
If you don’t do it at home, don’t do it in Slovenia!
The most important piece of advice I can offer is to purchase good travel insurance. Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. You can use the widget below to find the policy right for you:
Slovenia Travel Guide: The Best Booking Resources
These are my favorite companies to use when I travel to Europe. They are included here because they consistently find deals, offer world-class customer service and great value, and overall, are better than their competitors. They are the ones I use the most and are always the starting points in my search for travel deals.
- Momondo – This is my favorite booking site. I never book a flight without checking here first.
- Skyscanner – Skyscanner is another great flight search engline which searches a lot of different airlines, including many of the budget carriers that larger sites miss. While I always start with Momondo, I use this site too as a way to compare prices.
- Airbnb – Airbnb is a great accommodation alternative for connecting with homeowners who rent out their homes or apartments.
- Hostelworld – This is the best hostel accommodation site out there, with the largest inventory, best search interface, and widest availability.
- Couchsurfing – This website allows you to stay on people’s couches or spare rooms for free. It’s a great way to save money while meeting locals who can tell you the ins and outs of their city. The site also lists events you can attend to meet people (even if you’re not staying with someone).
- Booking.com – The best all around booking site that constantly provides the cheapest and lowest rates. They have a no money down policy, great interface, and the widest selection of budget accommodation. In all my tests, they’ve always had the cheapest rates out of all the booking websites.
- Eurail – If you are going to Europe and taking a lot of high speed or long distance trains, get a rail pass. I’ve used a rail pass three times and saved hundreds of dollars each time. The math just works.
- Intrepid Travel – If you want to do a group tour around Europe, go with Intrepid Travel. They offer good small group tours that use local operators and leave a small environmental footprint. If you go on a tour with anyone, go with them. And, as a reader of this site, you’ll get a discount when you click the link!
- The Man in Seat 61 – This website is the ultimate guide to train travel anywhere in the world. They have the most comprehensive information on routes, times, prices, and train conditions. If you are planning a long train journey or some epic train trip, consult this site.
- Rome 2 Rio – This website allows you to see how to get from point A to point B the best and cheapest way possible. It will give you all the bus, train, plane, or boat routes that can get you there as well as how much they cost.
- FlixBus – German based Flixbus has routes between 20 European countries with prices starting as low 5 EUR ($6 USD)! Their buses include WiFi, electrical outlets, and up to three 3 free bags.
- Bla Bla Car – BlaBlaCar is a ridesharing website that lets you share rides with vetted local drivers by pitching in for gas. You simply request a seat, they approve, and off you go! It’s a cheaper and more interesting way travel than by bus or train!
- World Nomads – I buy all my travel insurance from World Nomads. They have great customer service, competitive prices, and in-depth coverage. I’ve been using them since I started traveling in 2003. Don’t leave home without it!
- EatWith – This website allows you to eat home cooked meal with locals. Locals post listings for dinner parties and specialty meals that you can sign up for. There is a fee (everyone sets their own price) but this is a great way to do something different, pick a local’s brain, and make a new friend.
Slovenia Gear and Packing Guide
If you’re heading on the road and need some gear suggestions, here are my tips for the best travel backpack and for what to pack!
The Best Backpack for Travelers
Straps: Thick and cushy with compression technology that pulls the pack’s load up and inwards so it doesn’t feel as heavy.
Features: Removable top lid, large pocket at the front, hydration compatible, contoured hip belt
If you want something different, refer to my article on how to choose the best travel backpack for tips on picking a pack and other backpack suggestions.
What to Pack for Your Trip
- 1 pair of jeans (heavy and not easily dried, but I like them; a good alternative is khaki pants)
- 1 pair of shorts
- 1 bathing suit
- 5 T-shirts (Unbound Merino is my preferred company. If you’re a member of NM+, you can get 15% off your purchase)
- 1 long-sleeved T-shirt
- 1 pair of flip-flops
- 1 pair of sneakers
- 6 pairs of socks (I always end up losing half)
- 5 pairs of boxer shorts (I’m not a briefs guy!)
- 1 toothbrush
- 1 tube of toothpaste
- 1 razor
- 1 package of dental floss
- 1 small bottle of shampoo
- 1 small bottle of shower gel
- 1 towel
Small Medical Kit (safety is important!!!)
- Hydrocortisone cream
- Antibacterial cream
- Hand sanitizer (germs = sick = bad holiday)
- A key or combination lock (safety first)
- Zip-lock bags (keeps things from leaking or exploding)
- Plastic bags (great for laundry)
- Universal charger/adaptor (this applies to everyone)
- LifeStraw (A water bottle with a purifier)
Female Travel Packing List
I’m not a woman, so I don’t know what a woman wears, but Kristin Addis, our solo female travel guru, wrote this list as an addition to the basics above:
- 1 swimsuit
- 1 sarong
- 1 pair of stretchy jeans (they wash and dry easily)
- 1 pair of leggings (if it’s cold, they can go under your jeans, otherwise with a dress or shirt)
- 2-3 long-sleeve tops
- 2-3 T-shirts
- 3-4 spaghetti tops
- 1 light cardigan
- 1 dry shampoo spray & talc powder (keeps long hair grease-free in between washes)
- 1 hairbrush
- Makeup you use
- Hair bands & hair clips
- Feminine hygiene products (you can opt to buy there too, but I prefer not to count on it, and most people have their preferred products)
For more on packing, check out these posts:
Slovenia Travel Guide: Suggested Reading
Mother Tongue: A Saga of Three Generations of Balkan Women, by Tania Romanov
Mother Tongue follows the lives of three generations of women over a 100 year period as they live their lives in refugee camps and as exiles in strange new countries. They travel through countries that dissolve and reform, through the rule of the fascists, nazis, and nationalists. The story is about identity within the context of history and how the places we go — and the struggles that we encounter — impact and shape us.
Balkan Ghosts: A Journey Through History, by Robert D. Kaplan
Balkan Ghosts was chosen by the New York Times as one of its best books of the year and has been hailed as “the most insightful and timely work on the Balkans to date.” If you want a book that is going to really put into context the politics of the wars in the Balkans since World War II, this is it. The newest edition also contains six essays written by the author Robert Kaplan about the Balkans.
How We Survived Communism & Even Laughed, by Slavenka Drakulic
An eye-opening collection of essays offering insight into the day-to-day realities of life under Slovenia’s communist regime. Drakulic’s work examines what was status quo of society through the intersection of material goods and personal expression. As one of the first and foremost feminist critiques of communism, this book will inform and expand your perspectives on human rights and leave you with a deeper understanding of Eastern Europe, the Balkans, and its people.
Slovenia 1945: Memories of Death and Survival After World War II, by John Corsellis & Marcus Ferrar
Praised for revealing a history long untold, this is a critical read for anyone wishing to understand the details of World War II’s tragic impact on Slovenia and its people. The book is the product of over five decades of research and it includes first-hand accounts from refugee survivors who offer their personal histories and experiences of the war’s cruelty. An earnest telling of brutality, this book is not for the faint-hearted; but for the die-hard history fans and anyone wanting to get deeper into the hearts of the Slovenes, it’s a must-read.
Slovenia Travel Guide: Related Articles
Want more info? Check out all the articles I’ve written on backpacking/traveling Europe and continue planning your trip: