Slovenia is known for its sustainability focus. And it is the only country in the world with love in its name. How could we not be excited to explore this pocket rocket of a country? While we only visited for eight days (as Paul had to leave the Schengen Visa area at the beginning of June), we could have stayed much longer (and we will definitely return).
Our daily expenses in Slovenia were USD57.06 / EUR51.03 per person per day – well over our budget of USD50.00. We stayed three nights in Ljubljana, one night in Bled, two nights in Bovec and two nights in Kobarid – a total of eight.
Download your Sustainable Travel Checklist and show the world you care
As travellers, we should all be aware of our travel behaviour and its environmental, economic and social impact; and make conscious decisions about it. Too often, we hear negative stories in the media about tourists behaving badly.
Here is your chance to tick some boxes and check out what it really takes to travel with a sustainable mindset.
Travel Cost Assumptions
When reading this article, please keep the following in mind:
- The costs are based upon a couple travelling together.
- We are independent travellers, researching and organising our own itinerary using curated travel resources.
- Our travel style is reasonably consistent wherever we go, which is great when you want to compare travel costs between countries:
- Accommodation: We usually stay in self-catered accommodation - in our own room and (preferably) our own bathroom, though the kitchen may be shared.
- Dining and Groceries: We have at least two meals a day at home. We like to eat out at cafes or restaurants every few days.
- Transportation: Wherever possible, we travel by public transport.
- Experiences: We pay for some tourist attractions or activities, but are selective as our funds are limited (just like everyone elses).
- In addition to above expense categories, we also include in the overall daily costs (though only for the period we are in the country) our mail scanning and forwarding service, mobile phone plans and travel insurance.
- Not considered are the costs for entry or exit transport into/out of the country.
Where We Travelled
Below is the route and destinations we travelled to as we explored primarily Western Slovenia.
We found the accommodation to be more costly in Slovenia than in other European countries we have visited, especially in Bled. Partially, this is due to the tourist tax charged, which varies from city to city/town to town, and which our hosts collected in cash when they sighted our passports.
We sourced the majority of our accommodation through Booking.com rather than Airbnb. With only one or two nights in one place, Airbnb tended to be more expensive, thanks to its service fee and the cleaning fee that some properties charge.
|Accommodation Name||Location||Type||EUR Cost Per Night (including Tourist Tax)||EUR Tourist Tax (per person per night)|
|Sunny and cozy apartment in Ljubljana - No longer rented on Airbnb||Ljubljana||Apartment with own bathroom and kitchen||44.40||3.13|
|Back Hostel||Bled||Bunk bed in dormitory (for four), shared bathroom and kitchen||29.66||3.13|
|Apartmaji Pri Ticelnu - permanently closed||Bovec||(Studio) Apartment with own bathroom and kitchen||46.00||2.00|
|Apartma Zotler||Kobarid||(Studio) Apartment with own bathroom and kitchen||49.00||2.00|
How to save money on accommodation?
For accommodation, as with any other travel expenses, it’s worth shopping around. When we book accommodation somewhere, we tend to look across a number of booking platforms to find the best value for money option. Wherever you book, do make sure you read the fine print to make sure you compare apples with apples. For example, your stay may incur extra charges (like local tourist taxes or cleaning fees). Some booking platforms include them, while with others, you have to pay them to your host upon arrival.
Nightly rates are generally cheaper outside of peak season. If you can only travel in peak season, look for accommodation options that are a little further away from the main tourist attractions, yet have good connections by public transport.
We use and recommend the following booking platforms.
Groceries and Dining
Our grocery expenses were lower than in some of the other European countries we visited recently. We were eating out a bit more (you’ll know why when you read our food journey guide on Slovenia) but also because having our own car meant we could buy more in bulk.
Our cheapest meal cost us EUR12.00 at Orient Express in Ljubljana (two mains, a shared salad and a shared drink). The most expensive dining bill came to EUR33.27 at Hiša Polonka in Kobarid (two mains, a shared dessert and two drinks). Both restaurants are excellent options if you like to try traditional Slovenian food.
How to save money on dining and groceries?
Dining out all the time can quickly get expensive. We always try and book accommodation where we have access to a kitchen - either our own little kitchenette or the kitchen of our host. That way, we can store food in the fridge and make our own meals. We usually have breakfast and one other meal at our accommodation, and one meal when we're out and about.
Restaurants (even in tourist hotspots) often have special lunch offers (for example, a three-course meal for EUR10). Portion sizes in many parts of the world are usually quite substantial, so we often share a three-course meal. The same applies if you go out for dinner: Order a starter or salad and a main, and that's usually enough for two people. An added benefit: there is less food waste.
As for groceries: every country has more expensive and cheaper supermarkets. Ask your host what the cheaper options are (for example, Aldi or Lidl in many European countries) and avoid convenience stores as much as possible.
Experiencing the local cuisine is one of the reasons why WE travel… Paul and I tend to only eat out once a day (sometimes only once a week), usually at lunchtime. This allows us to try local dishes while taking advantage of awesome lunch deals. It also means we don’t have to roam around unknown parts of town every night in search of a restaurant.
From/to the airport
While about 25km north of the capital, Ljubljana airport (IATA Code: LJU) has good bus connections to both the capital and the surrounding towns and villages. The ticket to Ljubljana was EUR3.60 per adult one way. You buy the ticket from the driver. Note: the bus from/to the airport is not part of the public transport system of the city of Ljubljana. More on that below.
Ljubljana has only one mode of public transport: buses. Trams and trolley buses were phased out in 1958 and 1971, respectively. To use Ljubljana’s buses, you first need to purchase an Urbana Card, a rechargeable plastic card (as drivers do not carry cash).
The card can be purchased for a one-time fee of EUR2.00 from various outlets, including newsagents and tobacconists, selected petrol stations and post offices, the main Bus Station and the Tourist Information Centres in Ljubljana. Some bus stops apparently also have ticket machines but we didn’t come across any.
How much money do you need to travel?
Are you planning a trip to any other country? As full-time independent travellers with carry-on luggage only, we list our country by country travel costs curated over the years. Can you afford not to travel?
If you have the choice buy your card from a Tourist Information Centre (and keep the receipt), as this is the only place that takes your card back at the end of your visit and returns the EUR2.00 fee. Before you buy the Urbana Card, calculate the amount you think you’ll need over the time you’re there, as you won’t get any money stored on it back when you leave Ljubljana. You can always recharge it as needed (at the same outlets).
The good thing: One Urbana Card can be used between multiple people. Just tell the bus driver before you tap it on the card reader upon entering the bus. One journey costs EUR1.30, but you are allowed to change buses within 90 minutes at no additional charge. Another great thing: you can also use the card to rent a bike from the public bike sharing stations and to pay for the cable-car to Ljubljana Castle.
For our journey around Western Slovenia, we decided to rent a car for five days, as it was the most efficient way to visit Triglav National Park and the Soča Valley. While we prefer to use public transport, when we travelled at the beginning of June, there weren’t any buses (yet) to the Soča Valley via Vršič Pass (the road is closed over winter).
We managed to secure a great deal with local company AvantCar through DiscoverCars. AvantCar staff were a pleasure to deal with, and the car was a brand new Renault Clio.
How to save money on transportation?
Being flexible is what really pays when it comes to transportation and air travel in particular. Travel outside of peak season if you can. If you can't, fares might still be cheaper during certain times of the week and even hours of the day, so check websites like Skyscanner and Google Flights that allow you to see a whole month and all the options on any given date.
If there are several airports in the vicinity of your home (or in the vicinity of your destination) compare the prices between the different options. For example, flying to Mykonos and taking the ferry to Santorini might end up being way cheaper than flying from your home airport straight to Santorini.
We use and recommend the following online travel agents and service providers for our transportation needs:
To find good flight deals, we use one-stop travel sites or travel aggregators. Each shows the cheapest airfares on any given day, so you can choose to fly a day/week/month earlier or later, pending your flexibility.
If you find a good deal, book it there and then as prices change constantly. Ideally do your research with your browser in incognito mode, as cookies will show booking sites how keen you are to do a certain trip, which may affect the price quoted – that goes for all online travel bookings (not just flights). The best fares generally go first, so planning ahead is important when it comes to (air) transportation. The same is true if you want to use air points/miles, as there is only a very limited number of seats available for any given flight. We tend to not actually go through the flight aggregators, but book with the airline/s directly. The price is usually the same but we have a direct contract with the airline (rather than with the middleman) in case something goes wrong.
If you plan to travel across multiple continents, you may want to compare passes that offer several destinations as a package (such as around-the-world fares offered by One World or Star Alliance members) vs booking each leg of your trip individually. If you are travelling during peak season those multi-destination packages may be a better deal than booking each leg individually. You can do overland sections on around-the-world tickets too, which means you could supplement your around-the-world ticket with cheap flights, bus and train rides in between destinations.
Vehicle rental (including relocations)
Unless your trip takes you across oceans, another way to save on transport is to look for vehicle/motorhome relocations. There are websites in many countries offering massively discounted one-way rates (often including fuel and/or insurance) to those driving a vehicle/motorhome from A to B within a certain period. These deals are fairly last minute, and A and B are usually bigger transport hubs, but if that’s an option just search for vehicle/motorhome relocation at your destination.
Speaking of vehicles: If you are planning to hire a vehicle at your destination, it also pays to shop around. We use and recommend Discover Cars, an aggregator website that allows you to search across major car rental companies at once. And you don’t have to pay for the hire until you pick up the car.
A final option to save on transport costs is… to hitch a ride. While Paul and I did it safely in Dominica on a public holiday (when there was no other option), and we have taken plenty of people along in our campervan in New Zealand, there are many countries we wouldn’t feel safe hitchhiking. Judge for yourself where and when you can and can’t do it.
How to save money on experiences?
Free activities or experiences
Many activities (and some of our most treasured experiences) are free or cost very little. On our journeys, we have
- Visited many museums free of charge (including the Colosseum and Forum in Rome which are free on the first Sunday of the month)
- Joined Al Green’s Baptist Church Service in Memphis (rather than pay the exorbitant entry fees at nearby Graceland)
- Attended free guided walking tours around the world (you pay a tip at the end based on your budget and how much you liked the tour)
- Did countless self-guided walks and used public transport to get to know a city
- Hiked in the Andes in Ecuador and climbed volcanoes in the Caribbean
- Swam and snorkelled at countless beaches, using tree shade rather than paying for parasols; and
- Attended free performances and danced with locals in Cuba.
Just search for free activities in your destination and chances are someone has made a nice list for you already.
Paying for experiences or activities can add up quickly, especially if you're travelling as a family. Make use of family passes (if available). Look out for special deals and discount coupons. If you travel in a group, it may also pay to book a private tour and share the cost. Definitely shop around - here are some of the service providers we have used and can recommend:
Travel Costs Summary Table
Withdrawing cash overseas can be expensive but it doesn’t have to be. We can show you how to avoid unnecessary fees and make your travel budget stretch further.
How do you determine which card is best for your overseas trip? Using the right one can save bank fees and make your travel budget stretch further.
Ever been caught out by the bad FX rates and exorbitant commissions charged by FX bureaus? These tips allow you to minimise these charges in future. We also recommend XE Money Transfer to keep more of your money when you complete a transfer.
Have you seen our other articles about Slovenia?
Discovering the local cuisine is part of the fun of travelling. It also makes for a more immersive and authentic experience if you eat in a local restaurant, chat with the wait staff/chef and learn more about the food on your table. So, while in Slovenia, make sure you taste a few traditional dishes. In our food guide for (Western) Slovenia, we talk about dishes to look out for on the menu (and where to have them).