Planning your Trip to Slovenia
The main reason we have packed our website full of tips and info about Slovenia is that there is so little good info out there in clear, simple English to help you find out about some of the amazing places you can visit here and prepare for the really tiny distances between so many world class natural attractions..
This blog is an extra checklist to help smooth over some little bumps and help you prepare for your visit to Europe's most beautiful country.. so hold on to your bottle of water and hiking stick, cos here we go.. below..
1: Take the amount of time you are planning to spend here and triple it to avoid disappointment..
So many guests leave with the only regret that they have totally underestimated the huge variety and sheer scale of amazing places to visit here and they just run out of time.
2: Look at a map of Slovenia and then.. please take another look at our map of Slovenia on our LOCATION page..
The distances here are very, very small. Unless you like hotel hopping and constantly unpacking your suitcase, spread your trip out over fewer stops.
3: Go buy a really nice bottle of wine before you come here and drink it before you set off..
Slovenia has 7 different wine regions producing very high quality, unique and fruity wines at very reasonable prices. We are confident we can beat that bottle from home!
4: Try to do some extra training at least a month before arrival by walking, running or cycling up as many hills as you can find at home..
The fitter you are, the more you will get out of this natural paradise. There are so many extra places to tell you about or extra little bits to discover if you can walk the extra mile.
5: You can walk along a stunning 40 minute secret path direct from the Lodge to Predjama castle, the most unique castle in the world..
Most of our new arrivals know about this path now, but please give yourselves enough time here to enjoy and experience this extra hiking treat when visiting Predjama castle!
6: Buy a vignette for your car windscreen before you arrive in Slovenia or at least on the border..
There are little toll gates not far after each motorway border crossing where you will be fined up to €400 for not having a vignette.. so buy one and stick it on your windscreen. (PS, if you hire a car in Slovenia then the sticker on the windscreen will very probably be a yearly one, so don't worry).
7: Do not buy Slovenian wine in a supermarket..
There are thousands of amazing vineyards in Slovenia selling you superior and unique wines. Please make time to visit them and buy your wine there like the local people do, it will also be so much more fun! We also stock a large selection of wines from partners we know personally, so you can get to try wines from all over Slovenia here at the Lodge!
8: There is so much more to Slovenia than Bled, Ljubljana, Piran and the Postojna cave..
Yes, these places are world class and well worth a visit, but you need to know that there are hundreds of other places you might not have heard about that will be pretty much empty of crowds in comparison, even in the busier July and August periods, please check out our DAYTRIPS and SECRET PLACES TO VISIT pages for some extra tips!
9: There is more than one amazing cave in Slovenia..
If someone arrives and tells us they want to visit "the cave", we always cheekily say "which cave, there are over 15,000 discovered caves in Slovenia"! You need to know there are a lot of amazing caves to visit in Europe's capital of caves, please check out our CAVES page on our DAYTRIPS section.
10: You can hike or cycle to the world famous Postojna cave from the Lodge..
It's just 10 mins by car, but there are trails you can follow to walk or bike to the cave for a wonderful day out.. In the summer there is also a free bus between the Postojna cave and Predjama castle, so you could hike to the cave (approx. 90 mins), visit it, then catch the bus to the castle and walk back home 40 mins to the Lodge along the secret path from there.. what a day!
11: Bring your swimming togs (swimming gear / stuff / clothes)..
Slovenia has the largest amount of natural water per square KM than any other country in Europe.. On pretty much every daytrip, somewhere along the way you will find a river, lake or the Mediterranean sea to have a dip in!
12: Of course you should go INSIDE Predjama castle..
Please just read our BLOG on the subject and scold yourself for even thinking to just stand outside the most unique castle in the world and just have a quick selfie!!
13: Don't worry about the rows of overhead cameras hanging over the motorways..
These are for electronic tagging of lorries, so just ignore them, however please SLOW DOWN when you get to the old motorway toll stations, (currently the inside lane is for lorries to pay, so go to the outside lane and drive through when you get to these gates). Sometimes brave policemen are waiting by the toll booth exits to hop out in front of you with binoculars, (no, they are not bird watching) and check if you have bought a vignette so be prepared to SLOW DOWN!
14: Don't ask for tap water in a Slovenian restaurant..
Despite having the cleanest natural tap water in Europe, Slovenians order fizzy or still water at restaurants and let's face it.. this is not expensive anyway compared with your country, so enjoy a bottle or two, but if you insist on having a glass of tap water then be prepared for a blank face from the waiter and you might need to explain what you want with amateur dramatic actions, so start practising turning on an imaginary tap, filling an imaginary glass and drinking that glass of delicious imaginary Slovenian tap water!!
15: DO NOT be put off, if the restaurant says "Pizzeria"..
Slovenian restaurants are usually called Pizzeria or Gostilna, but most "Pizzeria's" are general restaurants, serving lots of fantastic different dishes, it's just that Slovenians love pizza and another thing.. unless you are Italian, do not even try to think our pizzas will be like your pizzas back home, they are really really very good here, so please try one!
16: If a shop, restaurant or museum looks closed.. GO IN / if a path looks private.. EXPLORE IT
We have often almost turned away from places where it looks like there will be more ghosts than people there, but don't forget there are VERY FEW people in Slovenia, so try the door handle.. walk a little further around the corner and very often you will be surprised at what you find! You wouldn't believe the number of times we have thought a restaurant is closed, but then gone in and found it is open!
17: Don't worry if most Slovenian words look like inverted Hieroglyphics with no vowels and lots of J's K's and very scary Z's everywhere..
Slovenians, lovely as they are, seem to have no concept whatsoever that the rest of the world has absolutely no idea what they are talking about and the place names are the best example. A local person might think that repeating a name several times means you will remember it, but Slovenia is filled with smiling happy tourists, wandering around and mumbling to themselves, "wow that cave / castle / river / mountain / lake / waterfall was amazing, but I haven't got a clue how to say where I was"! Visitors are like goldfish.. being told a name and then completely forgetting it within 3 seconds, but don't worry it doesn't get any easier, we still have a lot of difficulty with the names!
But help is at hand! Out of practicality and desperation, we refer to the unpronounceabubble place names in simple terms, like Pyjama castle, Vintage gorge, Kojak waterfall, Scotland cave and Cucumber castle. You will never forget the beauty, but if you want to remember where on earth you were, please take a photo and make the name up!!
18: Luckily, Slovenians are very good at English..
If you ask a Slovenian if they speak English and they hold their head down a bit and shyly say "a little", they will be your best friend within 5 minutes / if they say they don't speak English, they really don't!
19: A crash course in Motorway Toll charges in Italy, Croatia and sunny Slovenia..
It can often be a bit confusing crossing a paper border and maybe missing the signs that tell you how to pay to use the local motorways, so just remember in Slovenia you get a vignette, which is a sticker you put on the inside of the windscreen and is later more difficult to remove than chewing gum super heated with dragon's breath!
In Italy you take a ticket at the first toll station when you join a toll motorway and pay when you leave, or if you are driving from Venice to Slovenia for example, the payment toll station is about 10km before the border, it costs a little over €10. (Trieste to the Lodge is a couple of Euro max).
When you hit Croatia, you will know because you will have probably blindly followed a sat nav / garmin device and therefore been stuck in a queue to cross the border for up to 2 hours!! So actually our first tip is to look at your route and if you are crossing in or out of Croatia at a busy time of year, why not take a more countryside crossing.. it will be infinitely more beautiful, particularly on the Slovenian side and there will very unlikely be a queue! (Can you believe that as little as 3 years ago there were serious talks to have another "open" road border (Schengen) with Croatia).
For the Croatian motorways you pay up front at a toll station in Euro or those Croatian "Thingamebobs" when joining the motorway, the speed limits also mysteriously change without logic, so please follow these limits carefully, as you won't be surprised to know the police give out lots of fines on them.. mysterious that! And a last tip, in Croatia, it is worth having some local coins (Kunar) available if you go into a town as you can only use these in the parking meters.
To cross Austria you buy another Vignette, so your windscreen will resemble a scrapbook by the time you reach the Lodge! Just leave a space so you can see where you are going.
We look forward to this tip becoming obsolete when all these countiries introduce electronic tolls, but you will hopefully also be driving an electric car by then!