Looking for all the details about what it’s like renting a car and driving in Slovenia? You’re in the right place – read on for details!
If you’re planning a visit to Slovenia and want to explore the country, renting a car is by far the best way to get around. While there is some public transportation in the form of buses, the bus network is just not connected to every waterfall, hike, gorge, village, or incredible nature spot on your Slovenia itinerary.
We road-tripped around Slovenia for two whole weeks and seriously had THE best time. Slovenia is such a special country, and driving yourself around allows you the maximum flexibility to see and experience its magic.
We also learned a TON about what it’s like to drive in Slovenia. In this guide, I’m sharing everything we learned: renting a car, driving, navigating, parking, getting gas, and more, so that you’re prepared for your Slovenia road trip.
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When deciding what company to rent a car from, my top pick is always DiscoverCars.com. They have great rates, an easy-to-navigate website where you can compare different companies, and usually free cancellation.
They also have a lot of availability, but rates go up and availability goes down as your dates get closer, so I’d book your rental ASAP!
What You Need to Rent a Car
Here are the different documents you’ll need and the requirements to follow to rent a car in Slovenia:
- Have a driver’s license – Duh
- Be at least 21 years old – But some rental companies require you to be 25
- International Drivers License – Double check with the rental company if they require an IDL. Ours did not, though.
- Rental Car Insurance – Your regular car insurance may include rental cars when abroad… but it most likely does not. If this is the case, then I would definitely recommend procuring some rental car insurance. I always use the rental car insurance provided to me through one of my travel credit cards.
Rental Car Insurance Through a Travel Credit Card
Some of the best travel credit cards have the very convenient perk of rental car insurance! It’s got your back if anything happens like collision damage or if your rental car gets stolen, but just remember it doesn’t cover personal liability stuff.
It’s very easy to use rental car insurance from your credit card. After making sure your card has this benefit, just make sure to use that credit card to pay for the rental. Then, when the rental company tries to sell their collision damage insurance on you, just say, “No, thanks.” You’re good to go!
Travel credit cards are fantastic for so many reasons, and this rental car coverage is definitely one of my favorite perks. My top two picks that offer insurance are the Chase Sapphire Preferred and the Capital One Venture.
What Kind of Rental Car Should You Get?
Because of the small roads and smaller parking spaces, I would highly recommend you rent the smallest car that your group will fit into. Just keep in mind that these little cars usually have smaller trunk space, too. In our trunk, we managed to fit a medium-sized suitcase, a carry-on suitcase, and a small duffel bag.
I would recommend reserving your rental car as soon as possible – rates go up and availability goes down the closer you get to your dates. Avoid paying double or even triple and book early!
Manual Versus Automatic
Manual transmission is the default choice for rental cars in Slovenia, though you can get automatic ones too. If you’re not into driving stick shift, be sure to filter your options for automatic transmission when searching for your car.
If you do prefer automatic, again, definitely book your car early! There are way fewer automatic transmission cars available compared to manual ones, and they can get much more expensive. So for sure don’t wait until the last minute.
Slovenia Toll Roads
Slovenia has a lot of toll roads, but the way they do their toll system is a little different. As soon as you pick up your rental car, you’ll need to stop at any gas station to buy a toll pass (a vignette).
There are no actual toll stations in Slovenia, rather, they have cameras that monitor license plates. When you buy your pass, you are basically just registering your car and license plate in the system, so the cameras will see you have paid as you are driving on the toll roads.
A toll pass costs 16 euro for a week, and 32 euro for a month (and 170 for a year, but unlikely you’ll need one for that long). Once you’ve registered your car’s plates at a gas station, you’re good to go, nothing else is required.
Navigating in Slovenia
Navigating was pretty straightforward – we used Google Maps navigation everywhere we went and it worked well. Expect plenty of roundabouts, and sometimes it’s hard to see street names in the city, but roadway signage is pretty good and many attractions are marked.
However, the #1 most important thing you can do is download offline maps before you go. This will ensure you have map data and navigational abilities even if you have zero cell service.
Seriously – download the maps offline. It’s easy and only takes you 2 minutes to do. You can see the full tutorial here.
Roads in Slovenia are very well-maintained, but there is a very large difference in the types of roads you will encounter as you drive around the country.
If you are driving between major cities (e.g. Ljubljana to Piran, or Ljubljana to Maribor) you will be on the main highways. These highways are named A, E, and H, and the letters are always followed by a number – for example, A1, E59, etc. The A and E roads will often be toll roads where you need the vignette to drive on them.
These roads are very nice: fairly straight, lanes are marked, delineated, and wide, and there is often a shoulder. They feel like American highways in many ways, but be aware that speed limits change more frequently.
Driving in the Mountains and Countryside
Driving anywhere north of Ljubljana, e.g. in the Julian Alps, Triglav National Park, the Kamnik Alps, or the Logar Valley area, for example, was a whole different story. The roads here were much more narrow, had no shoulder, and were insanely winding.
Often, you are driving on roads that are going up into the mountains or down out of the mountains and there are constant switchbacks and curves. These roads are made even more challenging because they tend to be pretty narrow, and don’t have any kinds of lanes marked on them.
You had to be pretty aware, because you’d be the only car in sight, and you’re going around all these curves on a narrow road, and suddenly other cars would appear going in the opposite direction. You’d have to quickly adjust and scoot to the very edge of the road to make room for each other.
Going Through Countryside Villages
Country roads are also narrower, though far less harrowing. Don’t expect much shoulder or wide lanes. Additionally, many of the routes in the countryside, in the mountains, or to Slovenia’s many waterfalls take you through tiny little villages.
These villages have some extremely narrow spots, where you have to wait and take turns with cars coming the opposite way to go through.
These narrow spots can also occur outside of villages. Be prepared to encounter roads throughout the countryside, on the last stretch to attractions, and even sometimes in the mountains where you have to take turns (one of the two cars pulls off the road a little bit, or one person has to back up to a pullout to create some space).
It’s a little bit crazy, and while certainly stressful, it did work out okay for us. Plus, we never saw any accidents, so clearly it works for the Slovenians.
Gas stations are different from the United States in that you don’t swipe your card before pumping or even pay at the pump at all!
When you pull into a stall at the gas station, go ahead and start pumping (no need to pay or let anyone know you’re going to start), and then when you’re done, go inside to the desk to pay your bill.
In Slovenia, gasoline is the green-handled pump, and diesel is the black-handled pump.
Gas was around 1.40-1.50 per liter when we were there. For my fellow Americans, this is about 5.50 euro per gallon.
Unlike in the US, gas stations are rarely located at exits on the highway. Rather, there are just little pullout areas on the highway that are just for the gas station.
In smaller towns, gas stations can close randomly during the day. For example, they might keep regular business hours, but close down in the evening, but they might also close for their lunch break. When this happens, they will string a rope across the entrance, marking that it’s closed.
These gas stations will almost certainly be open sometime later, but if you need gas now, you’re just out of luck. For this reason, it’s a good idea to not run down your tank close to empty or to do a lot of driving at night in the country.
Parking in Slovenia is a mixed bag. Some towns will have free parking lots that you can take advantage of, others will only have paid parking available, or the free parking is just very far away. Sometimes there is a limit to how long you can park in a location, other times you just pay for your time.
If you’re parking in the street or an open-air lot, pay attention to the color that the stall lines are painted. White lines indicate free parking. Blue lines are paid parking, and there will be a meter that you can pay at. Yellow lines are reserved parking, and you won’t be able to park in yellow unless you’re handicapped or an official.
About 30% of the time, you would pay in advance for the amount of time you will be parking. The majority of the time, however, you take a ticket upon entering, and then pay when exiting.
Paying at the exit is a little different in Slovenia than in the United States – you must find the pay machine in the parking lot (separate from the exit stiles) and pay your parking fee there. Then, you take your paid ticket with you, get in the car, and insert it into the machine at exit.
Usually, paid parking was 1-2 euro/hour. However, be prepared to pay quite a bit more for parking when visiting Lake Bled, which cost anywhere from 3-6 euro/hour.
Also, be prepared that parking lots in Slovenia have relatively narrow parking spaces. If you’re in an open-air lot, it’s usually not too bad, but if you’re in a garage, it’s very tight. Be prepared to squeeze into little spots – your car *will* fit. Pretty much all parking garages were like this – it’s just how it is!
Speed Limits + Other Rules
The default speed limits are:
- 50 km/hour in towns, unless otherwise posted (very small towns often had signs posted as 40). Central areas also have 30 km zones.
- 90 km/hour if you are on a small country road (outside of town).
- 110 km/hour for “blue” highways – any highway that has its road signs in blue. On Google maps, the road numbers will also be marked in blue.
- 130 km/hour for “green highways. These are the biggest highways that generally go between different countries (A1, A2, for example). They also have their road signs in green, and will be green on Google maps.
Again, these are the defaults, and of course, posted speed limit signs take precedence. For example, frequently the country roads will have 60 or 70 km sections and will also drop as you enter a town. Also, speeding was much less common in Slovenia, and it’s much less common for people to go up to the limit. On highways, it was common for cars to drive 20 or 30 kph below the speed limit.
These are a few other rules/details to be aware of:
- There are rarely police patrolling in Slovenia, but there are radar cameras regularly throughout the country that are monitoring speeds.
- In Slovenia, you need to drive with your lights on at all times of the day. Many cars are set to do this by default, but be aware.
- Stop lights blink yellow before they turn green.
- Yellow lights tend to be much shorter than in America.
- Cars always yield to pedestrians.
- Watch for bikers, both in the cities and in the mountains. There are a ton of mountain bikers that come to Slovenia.
Road signs in Slovenia are pretty intuitive, but here are a few signs to be aware of as you drive through the country:
Right of Way
In a few locations where the road is too narrow for two cars to pass at the same time, you’ll see these blue signs with the arrows. These indicate who has the right of way (white has right of way, red yields) – in this case, you would have the right of way and the other direction would yield.
Speed Limit Signs
Speed limit signs are always a red circle with a black number inside.
Speed Limit Ending
A speed limit sign (for whatever reason, this doesn’t have the red circle, but it’s still a speed limit sign), with a slash through it means that the posted speed limit is ending.
Regularly, you’ll find these types of mirrors to help people with tricky curves.
Leaving/Entering a Town
These yellow-orange rectangular signs indicate when you are entering or leaving a city. Without the slash means you’re entering the city, and with the slash (like above) means you’re leaving the city.
Road Tripping in Slovenia – The Wrap Up
While the twisting and winding of mountain driving takes concentration, and the narrow roads can be a bit of an adventure, I’d still wholeheartedly recommend picking up a rental car and driving yourself around this absolutely gorgeous country