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(Slovenian flag)Slovenia - the country

 

In a couple of sentences...
(Geographical location of Slovenia)Slovenia lies in the heart of Europe, its sorounding countries being Italy, Austria, Hungary, and Croatia.
Slovenia is a former republic of Yugoslavia. We gained our independence in 1991. Our national currency is (Slovenian) tolar - SIT. The capital city of Slovenia is Ljubljana. Our international code is SI (si), international telephone number 386.
Gay life in Slovenia is somewhat stiff; there aren't many explicitly gay-related activities, bars or restaurants. The country itself, however, is quite gay friendly altgough public opinion isn't a pro-gay one.

Slovenia is one of the smallest countries in Europe. It is strategically located in the center of Europe, bordered by Italy to the West, Austria to the North, Hungary to the Northeast and Croatia to the South. Slovenia is about half the size of Switzerland.

Despite its size, Slovenian landscape is very diverse: Julian Alps are in the Northwest Slovenia, there are any wonderful caves on the Karst region, Slovenia also has a portion of coastline: Adriatic Sea costal areas lie in the Southwest corner; there are Pannonian plains in the Northeastern part while a versatile lanscape of hills, valleys, rivers and woods which cover half of the country dominates its landscape. Limestone formations provide Slovenia with the unique geographical phenomena "kras" (the Karst), with over 1,000 underground caves, vanishing rivers and even vanishing lakes.

Triglav - Click to enlargeThe highest mountain is called Triglav - the name meaning "three-headed" - and is 2864 m high. Triglav is also a state symbol, also used on the Slovenian coat of arms and the flag.

General Information
Full country name: Republic of Slovenia (Republika Slovenija)
Area: 20,253 sq km (7820 sq miles)
Population: 2 million
Population Density: 98.1 per sq km
Capital: Ljubljana. Population: 300,000
(Geographical structure)Member of the EU: no (not yet)
Geography: the country is dominated by mountains, rivers and major north-south and east-west transit routes. Slovenia borders Italy to the west, Austria to the north, Hungary to the northeast and Croatia to the southeast, plus a 47km (30-mile) Adriatic Sea coastline
Government: Republic since 1991 (gained independence from Yugoslavia)
Language: Slovenian; most Slovenians speak at least one foreign language: German, Italian, or English
Time zone: GMT + 1
Weights & measures: Metric

Electricity: 220 volts AC, 50Hz.
Telephone: Country code: 386. Outgoing international code: 00. For emergencies, dial 112 (ambulance service and fire brigade) or 113 (police)
Internet/E-mail: plenty public internet access points, mainly in the libraries. For more information, go to e-tocke.gov.si
Opening hours: Stores: Mon-Fri 8AM - 7PM (non-stop). Banks: Mon-Fri 9AM-5PM (closed from 10AM to 2PM). Many stores are open on Saturdays 9AM - 1PM; closed on Sundays and holidays.
(1000 sit note)Money: Currency: Slovenian Tolar (SIT). Note bills are in denominations of 10000, 5000, 1000, 500, 200, 100, 50, 20 and 10 SIT. Coins are in denominations of 5, 2 and 1 SIT.
Currency exchange: The Tolar is fully convertible within Slovenia, but visitors are advised to exchange surplus amounts to the currency of their choice before leaving Slovenia, as it is not generally exchangeable elsewhere. Foreign currencies can be exchanged at banks and some hotels, supermarkets, petrol stations and exchange offices. Exchange rates.
Credit & debit cards: American Express, MasterCard, EuroCard and Visa are widely accepted; Cirrus and Maestro cards also.
Travellers cheques: Widely accepted. To avoid additional exchange rate charges, travellers are advised to take travellers cheques in US Dollars, Pounds Sterling or Euro.
Visas: citizens of Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, Hong Kong, the USA and most European countries do not require visas for stays of up to 90 days. Please consult the nearest Slovenian embassy or consulate before arrival (list can be found HERE).
Health risks: none

Public Holidays
(Slovenian coat-of-arms)Jan 1-2 2001 New Year
Feb 8 Preseren Day (Slovenian Cultural Holiday)
Apr 27 Resistance Day
May 1-2 Labour Days
June 25 National Day
Aug 15 Assumption
Oct 31 Reformation Day
Nov 1 All Saints' Day
Dec 25 Christmas
Dec 26 Independence Day

Nightlife
There is a good selection of theatres, cinemas, casinos and nightclubs in the larger towns. Ljubljana also has a good opera house and the symphony orchestra plays regularly in the Big Hall of the Cultural and Congress Centre. For gay-related activities, see Scene and Events.

Social Conventions
Shaking hands is the normal form of greeting. Usual European social conventions apply and informal dress is widely acceptable. Smoking is prohibited on public transport, in cinemas, theatres, public offices and in waiting rooms; restaurants have special s
moking sections. Tipping: 10% is generally expected in hotels, restaurants and for taxis.

Getting There & Away
(Adria Airway's plane)Slovenia's national airline, Adria Airways (www.adria.si), has nonstop flights between Ljubljana's Brnik airport (www.lju-airport.si) and practically every major city in Europe, as well as from Tel Aviv.
Buses travel between Slovenia and Italy daily, using Nova Gorica in Slovenia as the easiest exit and entry point. Koper also has good bus connections with Italy: Some 17 buses a day go to and from Trieste, 21km (13mi) to the northeast. It's also easy to travel by bus to and from Hungary, Croatia, and Austria.
The main train routes (www.slo-zeleznice.si) into Slovenia come from Salzburg (4-5 hrs away), Trieste (3 hrs), Vienna (6 hrs) and Zagreb (2-3 hrs) in Croatia. There are dozens of international border crossings if traveling by car, bike, or even on foot.
On weekends between April and mid-October, it's possible to sail between Venice and Izola (one of Slovenia's Adriatic coast towns) by catamaran, otherwise local ports and marinas are available if you sail in with your own boat.

Major cities and places of interest
Ljubljana - Click to enlargeThe capital Ljubljana (www.ljubljana.si) is situated in the heart of the country, along the banks of the Ljubljanica River, within a two-hour drive of all the state borders. The old part of the town is particularly delightful.
The second largest city is Maribor (www.maribor.si) which history and architecture is also very interesting
Lake Bled - Click to enlargeThe fashionable mountain resort of Bled (www.bled.si) is set on the idyllic Lake Bled, where skating and curling take place in winter, and swimming and rowing in summer.
Another gem is the lake Bohinj (www.bohinj.si) which is set by the foot of a mount and surrounded with breath-taking nature.
If caves and Karst interests you, you just have to see the Postojna cave (www.postojna-cave.com) and Škocjan caves (www.park-skocjanske-jame.si). The underground truly is amazing!
If you find the seaside and coastline attractive (www.slo-istra.com), don't miss our old city Piran and the tourists resort Portorož (www.portoroz.si).
A small town with an interesting history is Idrija (www.rzs-idrija.si), with Idrija lace and abandoned mercury mine (it was the second largest mercury mine in the world).

When to Go
September is an excellent month to visit because it's the best time for hiking and climbing, and the summer crowds have vanished. December to March is high-time for skiers, while spring is a good time to be in the lowlands and valleys because everything's in blossom. Try to avoid July and August, when hotel rates rise and there are lots of tourists, especially on the coast.

Getting Around
(Transport in Ljubljana)Public transport is widely used, bus is the preferred way of getting around Slovenia. There are frequent departures and the network has an octopus' reach across the country. With the exception of the ICS express train between Ljubljana and Maribor, travel by rail is best left to sightseers: one of the prettiest rides chugs through the Soča Valley.
Driving a car can be a good way to get to some of the most beautiful and isolated towns and villages in Slovenia, and rental prices are reasonable. Rental agencies at Brnik Airport and in Ljubljana have the most competitive rates. The country's tolls and petrol prices are relatively inexpensive. Slovenians drive on the right.

Useful links about Slovenia
Slovenian Tourist Board: www.slovenia-tourism.si
Exchange rates: www.bsi.si/html/eng/financial_data/daily/tecajna_lista.asp
Government Public Relations and Media Office: www.uvi.si/eng/slovenia/

 

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