Slovenia is most likely one of the safest countries to visit, but be aware of your surroundings.
The nationwide emergency number is 112. To call police, dial 113. There are emergency telephones interspersed along the main motorways. You can find the closest SOS-phone by the arrows on the reflection posts.
People may get a bit aggressive in crowded bars and discotheques, and it is not uncommon to be grabbed or groped.
Petty theft is routine in vicinity of Roma settlements in southern parts, especially around Krka river. Don't worry about it, just don't leave your watch on the car seat while you go kayaking.
There are no unusual health concerns in Slovenia. Hygiene standards are high and tap water is potable.
While in nature, always use tick repellents, due to the Borreliosis and Meningitis danger. Borreliosis is very widespread in the country.
There are two species of venomous adders in the Julian Alps. You are unlikely to be bitten, but if you are, you should seek medical help as antiserums are available although actually seldom administered. In the forests in the south, you may encounter a bear, although attacks are very rare.
Slovenia is generally well covered by inexpensive broadband internet due to fierce competition between multiple companies. Internet cafes are thus common in cities and internet access is offered by most hotels and hostels.
A free wireless internet network is also being set up in some cities by volunteers Ljubljana (http://nodes.wlan-lj.net/network/map#lat=46.05&long=14.5&zoom=13&type=m&project=1,3,6,7,8,9,10&status=up,visible,down,duped,new,pending, Maribor, Nova Gorica). You can use it if you have a computer or a WiFi enabled phone.
Slovenian, the national language, is spoken as mother tongue by 91% of the population, but there are also small Italian concentrated on the Primorska coast and somewhat bigger Hungarian in Prekmurje to the northeast minorities. Historically, and prior to the end of WWII there was also a significant German speaking minority. Conversely, Slovenian is spoken in border regions of neighboring countries.
The level of spoken English is very high when compared to most European countries. Most people you come into contact with as a tourist, especially younger ones, will speak English. Many Slovenians have some functional knowledge of German, in particular in Eastern Slovenia, and of Italian in the coastal region where Italian is a co-official language. Serbo-Croatian is very closely related to Slovenian and widely spoken by those above 30 and at least understood by younger people. Communication in other Slavic languages, while possible, will require some more effort and hand waving.
The Slovenian school system heavily promotes the teaching of foreign languages from primary school onwards. Children study two foreign languages most commonly English and German by the time they get to grammar school. A typical grammar school often teaches an optional third foreign language, Spanish, Italian, or French. While the youngsters speak English quite fluently, older people are more skilled in Serbo-Croatian, German and Russian, and can read Cyrillic.
However, learning a few words of the local language will earn you a great deal of respect and some friendly smiles.
Remember, when speaking in English, use simple language, as anywhere where English is not a native language. It will get you further and help to avoid any misunderstandings.
The international calling code for Slovenia is 386, and the prefix for international calls is 00; the area code prefix is 0. Some number blocks are reserved for special use: 080 are toll-free numbers and 090 are commercial services, which are usually expensive.
Mobile networks use the common European frequencies 900 and 1800 MHz for GSM and 2100 Mhz for 3G. Two major Slovenian mobile companies, Mobitel and Simobil, provide an excellent coverage in GSM, while 3G is mostly unavailable in mountainous regions. Roaming between European phone companies is becoming cheaper due to the EU regulation setting a maximum of 0.42â¬ per minute for calls made and 0.132â¬ for calls received, while calls to or from non-EU providers remain expensive. Slovenian pre-paid SIM cards are also available in supermarkets and gas stations.
Telekom Slovenije operates around 3500 phone booths. They unfortunately do not accept coins but require the use of cards costing 3-15â¬.
Slovenians are generally open and friendly, so don't hesitate to address people as those younger than 50 understand English and will be eager to help you. You will impress them if you try using some basic Slovenian words. Slovenian is rarely spoken by foreigners, so your effort will be appreciated and rewarded.
Slovenians will insist when offering something, as "no" doesn't always mean "no," they just think it's polite for you to refuse, and polite for them to insist. Don't worry unnecessarily, but still you should take some normal precautions to study your host first.
Slovenians are proud for having preserved their national identity especially the language in spite of the pressures from neighboring nations in past centuries. Due to their economic success as well as historical and contemporary cultural bonds to the Central Europe, they usually don't like their country to be described as part of "Eastern Europe". While Slovenian language is closely related to Serbian and Croatian, it is not the same language. Another common misconception is that Slovenia was part of the Soviet Bloc, while it was in fact, the northernmost country of Yugoslavia. You can, however, freely discuss these topics; just be aware that you can hear contrasting sides of the story, depending upon whom you're talking to and of his/her political affinity. There is still a strong division among leftists and rightists. Be careful if entering a discussion on open territorial issues with Croatia or on the Slovenian civil war during WWII and its aftermath. Consider these controversial topics a taboo.
There is an active lesbian and gay scene in Slovenia. As elsewhere in this part of Europe, homosexuals are generally safe, although there have been a few reported attacks in the past. Be cautious in the evening and during the night, especially in cities. Women/girls holding hands are considered normal and a sign of friendship.
If you are invited to dinner to someone's home, bring a bottle of good wine. It's expected to give a compliment to a cook. Do it before you are asked if you liked the meal!
Slovenians generally wear slippers at home, so take your shoes off when you enter. They will offer you slippers or insist you keep the shoes on. Just do whatever they say.
It's normal to shake hands when introduced to someone. Don't try to make a kiss when introduced, though in the younger generation, kissing and hugging is not uncommon between friends.
The Slovenian Alps especially the highest peak Triglav, named after a Slavic god are a national symbol. Don't litter! It's common to greet people with Dober dan Good day when you meet in the mountains, and to say SreÄno Good luck when you depart. There is a strong spirit of camaraderie in the mountains.
It is also polite to say Dober dan to people passing by in small towns and villages.