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10 days in Slovenia. (Must-see sights, Weather, Languages...

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10 days in Slovenia. (Must-see sights, Weather, Languages...
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We are three women (in our 20s, 30s and 50s respectively) traveling to Slovenia for ten days in late Sept/ early Oct. We really want to make the most of our trip, so please advise if there is anything you think we should add to our itinerary. Our primary interests are Nature, Culture, Food, and New Experiences in general (but nothing too extreme). We are not really interested in night life or clubbing. Here is our itinerary:

day 1: arrival in the afternoon. See the Castle & have dinner at Strelec.

day 2: guided city tour in the morning. Lunch somewhere (possibly Monstera Bistro). Union experience. Museums (esp. Museum of Contemporary History, National Gallery, Ethnographic Museum... would we likely have time for more?). In the evening, we want to participate in the Slovenian Tourist Information Centre's free intro class to Slovene. Dinner somewhere. Boat ride. Illusion museum.

day 3: [Not sure what to do in the morning. Is the Zoo worth seeing?] picking up our rental car @4pm. Participating in a cooking class in the evening.

day 4: driving to Piran. Walk around the town. Hike to the top of the bell tower of Church of St. George. Dinner somewhere (not sure yet which is a good choice for seafood)

day 5: might go see a fish farm and then go to Isola and Koper (any must-sees?) Dinner at Capra restaurant in Koper.

day 6: Skocjan Caves & Predjama Castle

day 7: hike in the Valika planina area

day 8: (might have stuffed too much in this day...) Visit a cheese farm in the morning. Drive through Skofja Loka, see Jamnik, Kropa, and Radovljica(visit the bee factory there). See Lake bled, vintgar gorge, Lake bohinj. Dinner at Vila podvin.

day 9: drive on some part of the Solčava panoramic road. See Robanov Kot and Rinka.

day 10: hike from vrsic pass to slemenova spica (not sure how long that will take...Would we have time for additional hikes?).

(We also want to try the restaurants Gostisce Gric, Gostilna Skarucna)

Here are some questions we failed to find definitive answers to by googling:

I. We are a bit concerned about the weather: how cold does it get? How often does it rain? & When it does rain, does it last for the whole day, or even several days, or just a couple hours?

II. I speak fluent English and some German. I was curious if it would be worth it to work on my German before the trip. My understanding is that the older generation does not necessarily speak English. So I was wondering if German would be helpful if I talk with older people.

III. Is driving difficult in Slovenia? When we went to Croatia a couple of years ago, we were quite stressed at several occasions because the roads were super narrow and drivers are a bit crazy (esp. in Dubrovnik). Are there areas we should avoid driving-wise?

IV. An additional concern is that we are not big wine drinkers and usually prefer to have our meals without any drinks (water at most). Would it be rude to not order any drinks at restaurants? (I was told that it's rude to not order drinks when I was in Austria...) Related to that, I read that tipping is not necessary and we should just round our bills; is that correct?

V. Finally, what do you think are some good souvenirs to bring home from Slovenia? I read that wine, honey, lace, and salt are the most popular choices. Are there any particular brand you recommend?

Thank you. (This is my first time posting a question on Tripadvisor; please let me know if I am not doing it right.)

Portland, OR
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1. Re: 10 days in Slovenia. (Must-see sights, Weather, Languages...
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You have at least two days worth of stuff packed into Day 8. Either add another day or two or move some things around. And the downside of going at that time of year is that the days will be getting shorter, so you won't have a ton of day light like you might in the summer for a longer day of exploring.

Late Sep/early October is generally a good time to visit the region. It should not be touristy at all. However, expect at little rain. I've had at least a little rain on each visit to Ljubljana, in both the spring and the fall. I've had days of heavy rain all day and days with some drizzle here and there. Bring an umbrella (or buy one there) and a light jacket. I wouldn't expect snow.

I always buy an International Driving Permit (IDP) for driving in Slovenia and Croatia, even though I've heard it's not required or not anymore if you have a US driver's license. IDP's cost $20 at AAA - not a big extra cost. You won't need one to rent the car but may need it if ever stopped by the police.

Driving in Slovenia is about like driving in Croatia. Drivers can be crazy and pass you with limited passing distance. I've learned to tolerate it. FYI, driving TOO slow on the highways could be more dangerous than driving TOO fast. Try to do the speed limit at least. You don't have to drive crazy like they do, but driving more like the locals is probably going to be safer than driving super slow because you are afraid of the other cars.

I didn't like driving in Dubrovnik, either. I think that's the worst place I've had to drive in Slovenia/Croatia. I can't think of anywhere nearly as bad in Slovenia to drive as Dubrovnik. And there shouldn't be much tourist traffic in late September onward.

Roads are narrow, but every car I've rented in the area has been pretty small too. When the roads are narrow, I am patient and allow for cars coming the other way to get by and don't get stressed out. The road up over from Skofja Loka via Jamnik and Kropa to Bled is pretty narrow but passable. Just take it easy. (May sound like the opposite of what I said above: i meant not to drive slowly on the regular highways where it's possible to drive fast - not on the windy, narrow roads.)

You can use your smart phone with Google Maps as a GPS - download "offline" maps on WiFi and you won't have to use mobile data for GPS - the phone will without it even in airplane mode. But, having mobile data on your phone is still not a bad idea and pretty cheap to buy a SIM these days - but you may already have a mobile phone plan with international roaming included or not expensive to add.

Portland, OR
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2. Re: 10 days in Slovenia. (Must-see sights, Weather, Languages...
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Language: I don't speak any language besides English. I've never worried about it anywhere in Europe. True: most people in Slovenia (younger people) tend to speak at least a little English or speak it fluently. Unless you are expecting to have real conversations with locals of all language abilities in Slovene or German, I wouldn't worry about brushing up on other languages myself. Up to you.

Edited: 3 years ago
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3. Re: 10 days in Slovenia. (Must-see sights, Weather, Languages...
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Those are some very good advice re: driving and weather! Thank you for sharing.

I will make day 8 plan into two days.

Višnja Gora
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4. Re: 10 days in Slovenia. (Must-see sights, Weather, Languages...
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Maybe do day 7 rather Solčava and skip Velika planina. Day 8 do in 2 days.

For Solčava one of the best restaurant there but serve only dinner and supposed one of the best breakfast

http://www.raduha.com/en/odpiranje.php

Vrsic slemenova spica is 3h walk there and back. Around Kranjska gora are also Zelenci. In Kranjska gora hotel Skipass is one of the best restaurant

If you rent a car in the morning on day 3 you can easy do a half day trip to Velika planina or at least to Kamnik and Kamniška Bisrica

http://www.velikaplanina.si/What-to-see/In-the-Kamniska-Bistrica-valley

and take lunch

http://www.gostilna-repnik.si/en/gostilna/

http://www.gostilna-cubr.com/cubr-en

Weather can be everything in that time. Can be rain for couple of days on the west (Soča valley, but sun on the east Ptuj, Maribor, Solčava,...) So maybe do a backup plan for rainy days. Temperatures can be around 5-10C in the morning and from 10C to 25 in the afternoon. Also count that with rain temperature can drop for 10C in a day. For sure take a jacket.

If you don't drink wine order only water or mineral water. Many of mention restaurant have home made apple or other friut juice. Maybe try this. You are the guest so like you wish. If you like the food and servis you can leave the tip or just round, but isn't neccessary.

Edited: 3 years ago
UK
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5. Re: 10 days in Slovenia. (Must-see sights, Weather, Languages...
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I don't think it's fair to say that Slovenes "drive crazy". European roads often seem fast to Americans because of the higher speed limits, but after driving in Italy last year (on the motorway and around Lake Garda) getting back to Slovenia seemed like a haven of calm! Slovenian drivers generally obey rules and are courteous to each other and cyclists and pedestrians.

People will tend to tail-gate on country roads, but being from the UK I'm used to that (in the UK they also do it on motorways).

Croatian cities generally are a bit chaotic traffic-wise, with queues and horns; nowhere in Slovenia is like this at all, and Croatia's accident stats are much worse. But even Croatia is pretty fine compared to places like Latvia, Poland, or - above all - Russia!

Scariest place I've driven was Portugal in the 90s, where we saw an accident daily, but it's apparently improved hugely since. I'd say Poland is the scariest of countries I've visited lately - wouldn't even *attempt* driving in Latvia or Russia! :)

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6. Re: 10 days in Slovenia. (Must-see sights, Weather, Languages...
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Zelenci and hotel Skipass would be nice addition to our trip. Great advice on weather and food. Thank you. I thought the same about the necessity to have rainy day plans, but failed to come up with any besides visiting caves and mines :(

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Thanks for the heads up for tail gating; it's one of the things that tend to get on my nerves. Now I can be more mentally prepared for it.

Good to know about Poland: my husband and I were actually considering driving through Poland for our next vacation; now we know better.

Edited: 3 years ago
Saskatchewan, Canada
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7. Re: 10 days in Slovenia. (Must-see sights, Weather, Languages...
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If you are not an EU resident, you do legallly require an IDP for Slovenia. You also require a vignette to drive Slovenian highways.

UK
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8. Re: 10 days in Slovenia. (Must-see sights, Weather, Languages...
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I wouldn't want to put anyone off Poland, as it's a great country - just do it by train and coach - or be prepared for people overtaking three abreast on country roads! It's survivable. ;)

Country drivers are somehow the worst in a lot of countries - they seem to go super-fast and take risks because they don't expect to see anyone. In Latvia they do the same in the capital! ;)

Dunstable...
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9. Re: 10 days in Slovenia. (Must-see sights, Weather, Languages...
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On a slight side note, I do think that you might be missing one of the international historic treasures of Slovenia being the Lipizzaner horses of Lipica. OK, I am horse person but you are talking about a breed of horses that goes back to the 16th century influencing so much in the world of classical riding and Hapsburg history. They survived centuries before WWI and their story of survival at the end of WWII is one that numerous books and even a movie has been made of. It is rather miraculous that they survived and if there hadn't been American troop intervention, they wouldn't have. The great read "The Perfect Horse" by Elizabeth Letts gives you some of their WWII story.

We stayed at Hotel Maestoso (on the Lipica Stud) for two nights and used at a great place to day trip to Piran and nearby caves. Nothing fancy. BUT I will never forget standing on my little balcony watching a thunderstorm coming in over the Karst. It was early evening and the lightening was striking so vividly in the storm darken sky. This was awesome enough. Almost under my balcony, a herd of white Lipizzaner mares with their black foals came galloping past. The lightening did this strange thing of lighten them and then darkness. It was kind of surreal and definitely something that I will never forget nor my Hubby who I called over to watch. It was of those moments that you know you will never forget and one of reasons I love to travel....

One of my great memories of Slovenia. Looking forward to making more in 2018.

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10. Re: 10 days in Slovenia. (Must-see sights, Weather, Languages...
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I hear you. We definitely want to go to Poland some time in the future. We will take trains for the trip thanks to your tips. We live in Michigan right now, where people drive pretty fast on the highway(I've never heard of anyone getting stopped by the police for speeding... even for those who regularly go 100miles/hour), but crazy driving on country road is not very common.

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Sounds like you had a great time with the Slovenian horse. I have heard about them indeed; quite famous they are. Unfortunately, for me, the only association I have for horses is the unpleasant smell of their droppings... Seeing the horse probably will not be one of our priorities. Although I do agree it would be a wonderful experience for anyone with interests in horses. Thank you anyways for sharing.

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