Planning your Trip to Slovenia
The main reason we have packed our website full of tips and info about Green Slovenia is that there is still so little good info out there for you in clear, simple English to help you find out about even some of the amazing secret places you can visit here and then prepare for the really tiny distances between these world class natural attractions..
This blog (refreshed for Jan 2023) is an extra checklist to help smooth over some little bumps in the road and to help you prepare for your visit to Europe's most beautiful country.. 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 (at least) to avoid disappointment..
So many guests leave Green Slovenia with their main regret being they have totally underestimated the huge variety and sheer scale of amazing little Green places to visit here and they simply 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 far fewer stops in the nicer Greener places.
3: Green Slovenia is a stunning location ALL Year round..
We consistently tip the very best months to visit Slovenia as April, May, September and October.. the weather is usually still fantastic & warm and the stunning waterfalls, rivers and gorges are full of water. The flowers are either coming out in spring or the leaves are turning gold and the grapes are being picked in autumn AND Slovenia is pretty much EMPTY of tourists. Kinda makes sense doesn't it!!
We totally understand why families turn up in the middle of July or August, but if you can make it here OUTSIDE the school hols you will be richly rewarded in so many ways.
And if you do need to travel in the school hols, now we work in tourism, we have noticed a really interesting feature.. Bookings and visitors fall off everywhere in the LAST WEEK OF AUGUST as the rest of Europe is thinking about going back to work and school.. so this is another fantastic time to have your holiday!!
4: Go buy a really nice bottle of wine before your trip and drink it before you set off.. then prepare for a very pleasant surprise when you get here..
Slovenia has 7 completely different wine regions producing a selective mix of very high quality, unique and fruity fresh wines at very reasonable prices. We are confident we can beat that bottle you tried from home!
5: Try to do some extra fitness training at least a month before arrival in any shape or form that is comfortable for you, say 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 Green paradise. There are so many extra places to tell you about or extra little bits to discover if you can walk the extra mile.
6: You can walk along a stunning 40 minute secret stone path direct from the Lodge to Predjama castle, the most unique castle in the world..
Most of our new arrivals know about this secret path by now, but please give yourselves enough time here to enjoy and experience this extra hiking treat when visiting Predjama castle.. quite simply the best secret hike in Green Slovenia!
7: You MUST buy an E vignette for your car before you arrive in Slovenia or at least on the border if you will be using the amazing motorways here..
There are multiple cameras on the motorway network now recording your license plate, so if you use the motorways here even for just one km, you must buy an E Vignette.
You can do this online or stop at a petrol station to get either a weekly or monthly pass, which are both pretty good value for driving around Green Slovenia's super modern motorway network.
We did a little blog to help you out and with the link to the website to buy your E VINETTE online.
8: Do not bother buying Slovenian wine in a supermarket..
There are thousands of amazing vineyards in Slovenia selling you superior, local and unique wines. Please make time to visit at least one to 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!
9: There is so so so much more to Green Slovenia than just Bled, Ljubljana, Piran and the Postojna cave..
It is not your fault that all the blurb and lazy 5 min reviews of Slovenia are about Bled, Ljubblylana, Piran and the Postojna cave!
Yes, these places are world class and well worth a visit, but you need to know that there are LOTS & LOTS of other secret places you might not have heard about that will be pretty much empty of crowds in comparison, especially in the busier July and August periods!!
So please at least check out our DAYTRIPS and SECRET PLACES TO VISIT sections for some extra ideas and tips for hundreds of these places you might not have considered!
10: There is more than one amazing cave in Slovenia.. a lot more!
If a guest arrives and tells us they want to visit "the cave", we always cheekily say "which cave, as there are over 15,000 discovered caves in Slovenia"!
You need to know there are a lot of amazing show caves to visit in Europe's capital of caves, why not check out our CAVES section and find out more about the secret caves you might have much more fun exploring, if you only knew!
11: Almost every business here is family run and/or small scale..
This means the moment a guidebook has hit the printing press or a reviewer has put their phone back in their pocket, some info given can be IMMEDIATELY out of date!
We have noticed to our mild frustration that restaurants or cafes, in particular often close early or sometimes don't even open at all and without notice! We have even turned up at a restaurant we know to find it had ceased trading completely.. Restaurants in tourist locations can also shut down for 2 week "summer" holidays in the middle of August without any warning!
Completely bonkers in your country, but totally normal here.. So that restaurant tip you just read or googled might be leading you down a frustrating garden path dead end!
The reasons for this unpredictability are varied, but with a pop of just 2 million, there really are so few people here that if there is any staff illness or maybe an argument in the family or some kind of emergency, then there really is nobody left to cover!
Children sometimes do not want to take over the running of a restaurant, so the parents just close it and there are other issues over rent here too, so a whole host of reasons behind the scenes that you just won't know about.
Additionally Slovenians do love a good party, so this is another common reason you might turn up to find your particular restaurant closed for the night, with not a sausage of info about it on their website!
Please do not be paranoid about this, you are here for a short amount of time and probably in the busier summer, so you are unlikely to be affected, but it is always a good idea to phone in advance to check if you need to book, especially if you are going out of your way to go to a specially tipped restaurant.
It is also a good idea to phone ahead for some castle visits and stuff like that too.. ABSOLUTELY you should go visit the lesser known, secret castles, cos they are way better than trudging round Ljub castle with thousands of others for example, BUT these other castles might have an unadvertised wedding booked on your chosen day to visit them or something like that.. so just give them a bell!
And it is so much better to PHONE in Slovenia than try to read a website or write an email.. Websites, particularly in English, are often not up to date and emails often get unnanswered.. if you phone directly there is no escape for your customer service representative!!
We often phone the local TIC, (Tourist Info Centre) in the town close to the Green attraction where we or our guests will be visiting that day, for example to make sure the cable car is running and which times or that the only road up that particular mountain is not closed, etc etc. (Do not get us started about random road closures)!
12: You still need to carry cash on you here..
Covid did change this a bit, but probably not as much as in your country and cash is still king here, so it is ALWAYS worth having some dosh on you for the unexpected..happens most often in restaurants..
There is still a little way to go in the subtle art of customer service here as the old guard push past you on the way to their retirement gardens, so you will be told, not asked, to pay in cash when you least expect it!
Always good to have a card available too as we were also told on a train that we had to pay a few Euro with only a card!
We hope you will not be caught short, but bet you a tenner in cash it will happen to you.. just joking!
13: You can also hike, cycle or E Bike 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 through the forest AND from 2023, a new safe BIKE PATH all the way into Postojna along the main road from the Lodge..
In the summer there is also a free bus between the Postojna cave and Predjama castle, so you could even 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!
Almost every Lodge guest hikes to the Castle, but so few make plans to also hike to the cave, when it could also be so much Green fun!
14: 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.. we can help you find a river, lake or the Mediterranean sea to have a dip in.. even the biggest Disappearing Lake in Europe has a secret beach!!
15: Of course you should go INSIDE Predjama castle!!
We have not had one guest say it wasn't worth it, especially with the headphones explaining one of the best castle true stories in your own language.. Please also read our BLOG on the subject and scold yourself for even thinking to only stand outside the most unique castle in the world and just have a quick selfie!!
16: Don't worry about the rows of overhead cameras hanging over the motorways..
These are just for electronic tagging of lorries and checking your number plate matches the E Vignette you should have bought.. If you haven't bought an E Vignette, then it would be a good idea to worry!
17: Don't ask for tap water in a Slovenian restaurant..
Slovenians tend to order fizzy or still water at restaurants and let's face it.. this is not expensive anyway compared with your country, so please enjoy a bottle or two, particularly from a recyclable glass bottle..
But if you do 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.. cheers!
And even with this said, don't be surprised if you still end up with a bottle of delicious Slovenian natural water!!
18: But DO drink tap water all around Green Slovenia..
The exact opposite happens at cafes, where you will almost always be given a glass of tap water with your coffee, without asking.
And worry not, Slovenia has very safe natural tap water, brought from really clean natural sources.. Ljubljana is one of the few capital cities in Europe where the water does not need to be treated and so we highly recommend you PLEASE DO NOT BUY GALLONS OF WASTEFULL PLASTIC BOTTLES of water and please drink the tap water here instead, where possible!
And if you are lucky out hiking you might find one of the many forest or mountain water stations built from bamboo or whatever to guide and direct the crystal clear natural water directly into your water bottle!
19: 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 too, serving lots of fantastic different local 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!
We have never had a guest say they did not like the pizzas around here and many, many of you say how much you like them, especially in the sub Mediterranean region where the Lodge is located, which was once part of Italy..
Indeed if you do actually find a pizzeria here that is just a pizzeria, then you have hit the Pizza jackpot and we suggest you order a pizza! We have one around the corner from the Lodge and it is very special indeed.
Restaurants in Slovenia are generally OPEN ALL DAY too, which is wonderful for families especially and keeps the pressure off your logistics.. we only noticed how fantastic this was when we recently visited France and were reminded you have to go eat when the restaurants are open, not when you want to!
20: If a shop, restaurant or museum looks closed.. GO IN / if a path looks private, EXPLORE IT.. if you see a corner, ALWAYS explore around it!
We have often almost turned away from places where it looks like there will be more ghosts than people inside, but do not forget there are VERY FEW people in Slovenia, so try the door handle and you will be surprised they are just empty and open.
Also walk on 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 or shop is closed, but then gone in and found it is open, or taken an extra path around a blind corner and found something green and special!
21: 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!
The beauty & wonder of these places will stay with you for a lifetime, but if you want to remember where on earth you were, just take a photo and maybe make the name up!!
We also did a handy blog to help you with the local vocab for the things like waterfall & lake and other stuff you really want to find!!
22: 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.. give up, they really don't!
23: No Coffee is the same..
Most of Europe's coffee actually arrives and is roasted in the sweet smelling old Slovenian port city of Trieste, (Italy nowadays), just 25 mins from the Lodge and the coffee here is really very good!
But you are highly unlikely to get what type or portion of coffee you think you ordered as the measures and descriptions tend to fluctuate wildy from region to region and even cafe to cafe!
All this despite there being only 2 main milky choices on the menu.. Cappucino and Bela Kavo (white coffee).. (May the Coffee Gods be merciful on you if you try to ask for a Latte)!!
If you don't believe us then you will see soon enough, but the coffee is really great here, so put your sunglasses on, chill out and enjoy it!
One last coffee thing.. some of you will be used to having a nice slice of cake with your coffee, but that is not common here, so much so, that we decided to list some of our favourite cafes along the way where you can get a decent cake or gelato at..
24: Do NOT Plan Your Holiday here by trying to Join City Dots..
Total waste of time and you would only realise when it was too late if you made the huge mistake of doing a "town centric" holiday here in the greenest country in Europe..
To be as crystal clear as a Slovenian river.. the magical Green beauty of Slovenia is OUTSIDE the towns.
For most countries your holiday might follow a join the dot route from city to city.. that is a big mistake here..
We feel so passionately that too many visitors are making this mistake and realising too late that we did a whole BLOG on the subject, here it is.. Do not Join the Dots to Plan Your Slovenian Adventures..
We also did a Secret Places Treasure Map to help you plan a greener route joining up the magical GREEN DOTS instead!
25: ALL shops are closed on a Sunday..
Make sure if you do need groceries that you do not leave it to a Sunday as you might be eating crisps and chocolate from the petrol station.
But seriously, the restaurants here are so good and such excellent value that we see it time after time.. guests arrive with the intention to cook for themselves and end up going out to eat.
Slovenian food is fresh & local and our best advice is that you should try as much of it as you can while you are here and then go back to eating out of a tin when you get home!!
It might NOT even be possible to buy and cook your own meal for a better price than some restaurants offer, so have a break from the kitchen and do not worry too much about the Sunday shopping thing.
26: Do not look at Green Slovenia with Green Tinted Glasses..
Yes this country has more shades of Green than a paint shop colour chart and you can have the most fantastic holiday in nature here.. BUT do not be fooled into thinking that everyone here is green, just cos the nature is..
Just like in your country we also have people here who do not understand or respect the environment, so if you see something or someone damaging nature, then call it out.. Living here and exploring as much as we do, we do sadly see it and we absolutely call it out!
Also, just cos you are on holiday and despite how Green Slovenia is, you still have your own personal responsibilty to the planet.. so we know you will pick up your rubbish, try not to buy plastic bottles or at least reuse the same one and hike or bike where possible.
Here at the Lodge, we are delighted to get more and more guests arrive without a car and stay a week or more and we try to help you out as much as possible. You do not need a car to stay at the Lodge in Green Slovenia!
We hope that more and more E Cars will also arrive at the Lodge and we already have 2 overnight chargers powered by the Slovenian sunshine to encourage this.
So our gameplan for guests to be able to reach ALL the best Green bits of Slovenia on foot, bike, E Bike or by E car in simple daytrips directly from the Lodge, still sounds like a decent ecoplan, but we need your help to do it!
If you want to read a bit more about going green in Slovenia we also did a GO GREEN page..
27: Finally, a crash course in Motorway Toll charges in Italy, Austria, 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 must buy an E Vignette, which is a virtual sticker identified by your license plate.
If you stop to buy one, make sure you tell the cashier your number plate CLEARLY, as English can sound very different when spoken by different peoples from around the Earth.
If your co pilot is quite relaxed about stuff like changing the music on the radio, plotting the navigation before you actually have to make the next turn or in this case using the ap to pay online for the Vignette as you whizz over the Slovenian border, then do politely remind them to get on with it.. before you reach that first camera!!
In Italy you have to take a ticket from the machine at the first toll station when you join a toll motorway and then pay at the toll station when you actually leave the motorway.. if you are driving from Venice to Slovenia for example, the last Exit payment toll station is about 10km before the Slovenian border, the whole journey costs a little over €10. (Trieste to the Lodge is a couple of Euro maximum).
By the way, we challenge you to pull up first time next to an Italian motorway toll ticket machine without having to hang out of the window like a gorilla or get out of the car to actually reach your ticket.. you will see!
Big news for Croatia!! From Jan 2023 the borders will disappear under the Schengen agreement, so to be clear, you do not have to senselessly queue for hours like before at the border between Slovenia and Croatia, you will just sail right through!
More great news, from 2023, those little Croatian Kunars are being replaced by the EURO and will float off up to the "Piggy bank in the sky" to join the Franc, those crazy bright yellow Dutch notes with Van Gochs on and the Lira, to become just fond currency memories of holidays gone by and more reason for your kids to think you are really old!
So for the Croatian motorways it is like Italy, you roll up to the first payment station and take a ticket, then when you exit you pay at the machine. There might also still be some stretches of motorway where you pay up front at the first entrance, but this will be clear enough for you.
We popped down to the pretty hill top village of Visnjan on DEC 21st, 2022 to have a fantastic meal to use up our stash of Kunars before Frankfurt takes over yet another little country, but we noticed the machines did NOT look like they would be ready for Euros.. SO BE PREPARED TO USE YOUR CARD TO PAY EVEN FOR THESE SMALL AMOUNTS..
But where will all those friendly border staff go, we wonder..?!
Take extra care when joining Croatian motorways AND on seemingly clear, straight stretches of country road, as the speed limits mysteriously change without logic.. you would be forgiven for thinking they are actually deliberately trying to catch tourists out.. so please follow the speed limits very carefully, regardless of what the local cars are getting up to, as you won't be surprised to know the police give out lots of fines to foreigners on them.. how mysterious and maybe there will be more officers available to trap tourists now the borders are open.. just a theory, but don't let it spoil your Istrian experience!
To cross Austria you buy another Vignette or an E Vignette.. If you do go for the sticker version, then please note you might need to ask a dragon to breathe on it later just to get if off your windscreen.. so maybe go digital, also better for the environment..
Please drive safely, have a great trip and see you soon!