Population: 2.0 million
Food: Surprisingly good pizza
Drink: Union beer
We were completely ignorant of Slovenia before we started cycle touring.
Mountains, flat river routes, bustling cities, castles and caves are all crammed into this small space. It’s just joined the European monetary union so there’s no need to change over your euros, everyone speaks english and drivers are very courteous. What more could you want?
A good place to start for information is the official tourist site.
We entered Slovenia from Italy, crossing a steep but not-very-high mountain pass and then over the border at Ucia. We dropped down into the Soca river valley and spent our first two nights in the charming town of Kobarid, before carrying on to Ljubljana. From there we headed east and north, setting a course for Maribor and the border with Hungary.
Our favourites came right at the start and end of the our tour. The Soca river valley around Kobarid and Tolmin is nothing less than stunning and on the other end of the country Maribor has vineyards covering nearby hills and the world’s oldest grapevine in the city itself. A large student population gives Maribor a youthful feel. The capital Ljubljana is also nice, small enough to explore on foot and big enough to have a few museums and other attractions to keep you occupied for a while.
Roads were generally in good condition, although some of the smaller routes needed patching. They could be cracked, full of dips or quite narrow. In one or two instances there were small stretches of gravel along an otherwise paved road. The roads tended to be quiet, a nice change from Italy! In one or two cases we had to follow our nose a bit, as our map didn’t seem to relate to what we saw in front of us and minor junctions tended not to be signposted.
We used a 1:300 000 atlas published by Studio F.M.B. Bologna. Campsites are marked, helpfully quite close to their actual locations. We also used a series of free maps, widely available at tourist bureaus across the country and some campgrounds, called “Next Exit”. You could easily tour Slovenia just using these free maps.
BRING YOUR TENT
We did our usual mix of wild camping and staying at campsites in Slovenia. There are many more campsites than those marked on the tourist maps and equally there was no shortage of spots to set up our tent when we didn’t want to stay at a campground. The campgrounds are somewhat like Italy, in that they are expensive but also offer more facilities such as swimming pools. Prices for camping are on a per person basis, with no site fee.
Slovenia has long been the most developed country in Eastern Europe so it’s no surprise to learn it’s not really a budget destination. Campgrounds run between €8-13/pp in the high season. A cappuccino goes for about €1. Eating out in restaurants was slightly less pricey than in Italy, with a meal for two in a pizza restaurant with beer going for €20-25. A beer on its own runs €2. Internet access was a pleasant surprise. It was free in many tourist bureaus and in Ljubljana and Maribor we found free wifi hotspots.