While Slovenia may not be as expensive as its neighboring countries, the country has been getting more foreign visitors each year, and this has meant rising prices, especially in the tourist areas. Here are some tips on how to save money on your trip to Slovenia.
With only 2 million inhabitants and 20,000 square km, Slovenia is one of the smallest countries in the world. Most of the towns are tiny, too. Although several of them have public transport, most of the interesting places and sights are reachable by foot. Ljubljana, the capital, is practically the only one where you might need to take a bus — you’ll have to buy an Urbana card and charge it. But you can avoid all of the fuss and the expensive rides and instead walk around the city, including to the must-visit castle.
2. Skip breakfast and lunch, instead eat “malica.”
A number of restaurants all over the country offer a meal, called malica, served between 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Usually, you can choose among three different menus, one of them vegetarian. They’re primarily meant for workers, so you won’t find them in restaurants located in touristy neighborhoods, but with blackboards in the entrance exhibiting daily menus they’re easy to spot. They’re almost as abundant as lunches but are way cheaper. Don’t wait until the last minute because they tend to run out quickly.
Another cheap but tasty option is to visit the self-serving restaurants inside supermarkets like Intespar and Mercator in bigger towns, such as Ljubljana, Maribor, Celje, Koper, and Murska Sobota.
3. Go east.
The places that attract the most foreign tourists (Bled, Ljubljana, Postojna cave, Lipica, Piran) are located in the western part of the country, where the economy is stronger and the living standard is higher. If you’re willing to leave behind standard attractions and explore places that foreigners usually ignore, head to eastern regions, such as Prekmurje, Koroška, and Bela Krajina. Apart from being less crowded, they’re also less expensive.
4. Visit in summer.
The best time for visiting Slovenia is by far the summer, not only due to pleasant climate but also because of large numbers of festivals throughout the country. Many of them have free admission. Check out the biggest open-air summer festival Lent in Maribor, Ana Desetnica Street Theatre Festival in Ljubljana, Days of Poetry and Wine in Ptuj, the oldest Slovenian town, Festival Pivo in Cvetje (Beer and Flowers) in Laško, Jurjevanje, the folklore festival in Črnomelj, and the lace festival in Idrija.
5. Stay with a Couchsurfer.
Sure, there are Couchsurfers everywhere in the world, but Slovenians seem to be especially keen on welcoming strangers into their homes. There are less than 300,000 inhabitants in Ljubljana, but there are almost 9,000 people registered on the Couchsurfing site. And you’ll most likely find at least several dozens of them even in small towns with less than 3,000 inhabitants (Tolmin and Lendava, for example). Besides, Slovenians are really good hosts, so you’ll probably end up eating traditional home-made food and traveling to places you’d never discover without their help.
6. Enjoy the greenery.
Nature is free and Slovenia has lots of it; it’s considered one of the greenest countries in Europe with a third of its territory covered by forest. Triglav National Park is Slovenia’s first biosphere reserve, with seven lakes and Triglav, the highest peak in the country; Velika Planina has vast Alpine pastures and traditional herdsmen’s huts; and Kočevski Rog is one of the naturally most preserved areas in the country, with a huge amount of biodiversity (and home to the famous brown bear) and the crystal blue river Soča with the Trenta valley.
7. Remember three important cultural days.
There are three important dates when all museums have free admission: May 18 (National Museum Day), the second or third Saturday of June (Summer Museum Night), and December 3 (Happy Culture Day). Some of the museums in the capital (Muzej novejse zgodovine Slovenije, Slovenski etnografski muzej, Prirodoslovni muzej Slovenije, Moderna galerija, and Muzej sodobne umetnosti Metelkova) also don’t charge the entrance every first Sunday each month.