img_0557Welcome to the land of dragons, and guess what! It’s not on HBO– I’m talking about Slovenia. For how small this country is and how few people actually live here, it’s quite a spectacular place. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever interacted with such a kind population of people, and I’m from the Pacific North West! Slovenia is a bit of a hidden gem. Not that many people come to visit, and because of that, there is a sense of something special. I probably shouldn’t even be writing about this.

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Lake Bled with a monastery in the middle

 

Slovenia was largely untouched from the Yugoslav War in the early 90’s and because of that, the spectacular towns and cities remain in their original condition. The best way to describe Ljubljana (the capital)? Cute. It’s the perfect place to escape to and you’re going to love the cobble stone streets and greenery within the city limits. It’s almost as if the town was built around the forest, filling in the cracks where trees never grew. Once you leave the capital, you become immersed in what feels like folklore.  You’re in the Shire!

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Postojnska Jama in Slovenia

Postojna has the most incredible cave system I’ve been to, and for how expansive it is, not that many people have seen it. Moving North, Lake Bled feels like the other side of the fantasy. It’s essentially a small town built around a lake at the base of the Alps. In the center of the lake is a monastery that defines what you’d call a “postcard photo”. That’s pretty cool right?

 


ESSENTIAL INFORMATION

  • Slovenia is on the Euro and because of this, the prices are a little higher than the other countries in former Yugoslavia. That said, Slovenia is also much more ahead of the game economically, and politically. It’s a pretty great place to live and an incredible place to visit. Seriously, the kindest people I’ve ever interacted with.
  • The rail system in Slovenia will easily get you around pretty much everywhere you’d need to be. Most people start their Slovenian travels in Ljubljana and branch out from there, which I’d say is a great way to organize. Some destinations are not completely lined up with the rail, so expect to take a hike or hitch a ride with a local (see my article on Postojnska Jama Cave). You could simply base yourself out of Ljubljana and do day trips from there, But there is decent availability in the countryside as well.
  • Slovenian is the native tongue, but you will find that locals often speak a few languages. Younger people will tend to have a decent grasp on English and the elderly might tend to know German or Serbo-Croatian. I never had much of a language barrier as I’m obviously fluent in English and have a decent grasp at German. As always, try to learn a few words/phrases in Slovenian, like “da/ne” — “yes/no”, “zdravo”– “hello”, and so on. Slovenia has a great education system and you’ll find that the population in general is very sharp!
  • Slovenia is very safe! I never felt uncomfortable and if anything, the locals will go out of their way to help! I even had someone find me in the pouring rain locked out of my hostel, only to offer me their phone so I could call and get in. As far as any safety concerns, just be aware of yourself while hiking or exploring caves. Watch your step, especially if it’s been raining.
  • Depending on the time of year you visit, Slovenia is the kind of place you’ll need an umbrella / rain jacket. Umbrella’s are found for pretty cheap at most of the stores in Ljubljana, however outside the city it will be hit or miss.
  • Drinking in Slovenia can be fun! Open bottles by the coast, and bubbles in the park are a pretty common thing in Slovenia, however you’re not going to see too many people wandering around on the streets with an open beer. It’s also illegal to sell alcohol at stores from 9PM-7AM so get you’re fix early if you’re planning on drinking at your hotel or hostel first. Sometimes you’ll see young people drinking in parks or at train stations, but I wouldn’t be too concerned, they’re probably just having fun!

COSTS / SAVING MONEY
  • Buy meals, breakfast at least at the nearest Mercator, Spar or any other grocery store is going to definitely save you money.
  • Always have cash on you as most of the cheaper options, street vendors and cafés,will only take Euro. Credit cards are becoming much more common, but are still not the norm.
  • Train tickets are fairly cheap. You can buy tickets on board the train if you’d like, but the tickets are cheaper purchased at the rail station (as long as there is someone working the ticket counter).
  • You’re going to walk everywhere, unless you are staying a ways outside. Save on public transportation and explore the Slovenian towns on foot. Save the money for the regional trains.
  • Beer isn’t as cheap as you’d expect. Watch for happy hours, and take a look at the wine section. Sometimes deals can be found just off the tourist stretch.
  • Hostels are a great value here! The quality is very high and as long as you stay close to the city center, you are going to be pretty happy with just about any place. Check out my post on Ljubljana for a my recommended hostel!