Slovenia Tourist Information and Tips
Slovenia entered the Eurozone on January 1st, 2007 and now utilises the euro (ˆ, EUR) as its currency, having previously used the Slovenian tolar (SIT).
Prices are high compared to most of Eastern Europe (except Croatia ), but generally a bit lower (but not by much) compared to Italy or Austria . Although prices do vary quite a bit. It really depends on your location. For example, a beer (0,5 litre) in a pub in "Stara Ljubljana" (literally "Old (Town) Ljubljana") would cost you around ˆ3.00, while a beer outside Ljubljana would cost around ˆ1.50. A budget minded traveller can hold his own, if he is smart. For example buying your groceries in a large store (supermarket), such are Mercator, Tus, Spar, Lidl, Hofer etc., will be likely cheaper than buying on the market, or in a small store, etc.
The flip side to the near-disappearance of Communist-style "service with a snarl" is that tips for service are now generally expected of foreigners at sit-down restaurants, with 10% considered standard. Note, however, that most Slovenians do not tip.
Not too many people come to Slovenia for the food, but with Austrian, Italian, Hungarian and Balkan influences most people will find something to their liking - unless they're strict vegetarians. Many say that the pizza here is as good as in neighboring Italy .
Generally speaking, Slovenian food is heavy, meaty and plain. A typical three-course meal starts with a soup ( juha ), often just beef ( goveja - ) or chicken ( piscancja - ) broth with egg noodles ( rezanci ), and then a meat dish served with potatoes ( krompir ) and a vinegary fresh salad ( solata ). Fresh bread ( kruh ) is often served on the side and is uniformly delicious.
Common mains include cutlets ( zrezek ), sausage ( klobasa ) and goulash ( golaz ), all usually prepared from pork, but there is a large choice of fish ( ribe ) and seafood even further away from the coast. Popular Italian imports include all sorts of pasta ( testenine ), pizza ( pica ), ravioli ( zlikrofi ) and risotto ( rizota ). A major event in the countryside still today is the slaughtering of a pig from which many various products are made: blood sausage ( krvavica ), roasts, stuffed tripe, smoked sausage ( prekajena salama ), salami ( salama ), ham ( sunka ) and bacon ( slanina ). Recipes for the preparation of poultry ( perutnina ), especially turkey ( puran ), goose ( gos ), duck ( raca ) and capon, have been preserved for many centuries. Chicken ( piscanec ) is also common. Squid is fairly common and reasonably priced.
Places to eat
At the top of the food chain is the restavracija , a fancy restaurant with waiters and tablecloths. More common in the countryside are the gostilna and gostisce , rustic inns serving hearty Slovene fare. Lunch sets ( dnevno kosilo ) cost around ˆ7 for three courses (soup, salad and main) and are usually good value.
Fast food, invariably cheap, greasy and (more often than not) terrible — it's best to steer clear of the local mutation of the hamburger — is served up in grills and snack bars known as bife or okrepcevalnica , where trying to pronounce the name alone can cause indigestion. There is no real Slovenian fast food, but greasy Balkan grills like pljeskavica (a spiced-up hamburger patty) and cevapcici (spicy meatballs) are ubiquitous, but one of the more tasty if not healthy options is the Bosnian speciality burek , a large, flaky pastry stuffed with meat ( mesni ), cheese ( sirni ) or apple ( jabolcni ), often sold for as little as ˆ2. In recent years many fast food places started making doner kebabs, and they are now among the most popular fast foods in Slovenia, and can be found virtually everywhere.
In proper Slovene style, all bases are covered for drinks and you can get very good Slovenian beers, wines and spirits. Tap water is generally drinkable.
Coffee and tea
In Slovenia, coffee ( kava ) usually means a tiny cup of strong espresso, and cafes ( kavarna ) are a common sight with a basic cup costing ˆ1.00-ˆ1.50. One can also order coffee with milk ( kava z mlekom ) or whipped cream ( kava s smetano ). Coffee culture is wide-spread in Slovenia, and one can see Slovenes with friends sitting in the same cafe for hours. Tea ( caj ) is nowhere near as popular, and if they do drink it, Slovenes prefer all sorts of fruit-flavored and herbal teas over a basic black cup.
Beer ( pivo ) is the most popular tipple and the main brands are Lasko and Union . An inside tip would be Adam Ravbar beer, which is usually hard to find anywhere except in their small brewery (located in Domzale, a town about 10 km north of Ljubljana). A bottle or jug will cost you ˆ2.50 in a pub ( pivnica ). Ask for veliko (large) for 0.5L and malo (small) for 0.3L.
Despite what you might think if you've ever sampled an exported sickly sweet Riesling, Slovenian wine ( vino ) can be quite good — they keep the best stuff for themselves. Generally, the Goriska brda region produces the best reds and the drier whites (in a more Italian/French style), while the Stajerska region produces the best semi-dry to sweet whites, which cater more to the German/Austrian-type of palate. Other local specialities worth sampling are Teran , a very dry red from the Kras region, and Cvicek , a red so dry and light it's almost a rose. Wine is usually priced and ordered by the decilitre ( deci , pronounced "de-tsee"), with a deci around one euro and a normal glass containing about two deci.
A Slovene brandy known as zganje or (colloquially) snops , not unlike the Hungarian palinka , can be distilled from almost any fruit. Medeno zganje also known as medica has been sweetened with honey.
There are hostels in all of the tourist destinations in Slovenia. The average price for a basic bed in a dorm is ˆ10-ˆ20 euro. Quite a few student dormitories ( dijaski dom ) are converted into hostels in the summer, but these tend to be poorly located and somewhat dingy.
Mountain Huts can be found in Triglav National Park , and they are very warm, welcoming and friendly. Information about these huts can be found at tourist information offices who will also help you plan your walks around the area and phone the hostels to book them for you. The only way to get to the huts is by foot, and expect a fair bit of walking up hills, as the lowest huts are around 700m up. There are clear signs/information around stating how long it will take to travel to/between all the huts indicated in hours.
Tourist farms can be found around Slovene countryside and usually they offer wide selection of traditional food, local wine, different sport activities etc. They also offer opportunities to experience real traditional countryside life.
Camping is not permitted in the national parks of Slovenia, but there are various designated camping grounds. It's advisable to take a camping mat of some sort, as nice, comfortable grass is a luxury at camp sites and you're much more likely to find pitches consisting of small stones.
Emergency phone number: 112
Police phone number: 113
Slovenia is most likely one of the safest countries to visit, but be aware of your surroundings.
People may get a bit aggressive in crowded bars and discotheques, and it is not uncommon to be grabbed or groped.
There are no unusual health concerns in Slovenia. Hygiene standards are generally high and tap water is potable. While in nature, always use tick repellents, due to Boreliosis and Meningitis danger.
Slovenians are a bit more reserved than neighboring nations but after the initial contact they are quite open and friendly. Don't hesitate to address people, those younger than 50 understand English and they will be eager to help you. You will impress them if you try using some basic Slovene words. Slovenian is rarely spoken by foreigners, so your effort will be appreciated and rewarded.
Not thinking of the former "Eastern Bloc" as one monolithic entity is a big plus (see two paragraphs down), and knowing at least a few basic facts about Slovenia (something still fairly rare with foreigners) will always sit well with the locals.