Driving in Slovenia is an incredible way to explore this stunning country.
With its towering peaks, turquoise water, and incredible natural attractions, Slovenia is a country that continually amazes, and having a car allows the chance to get off the beaten path and explore its many hidden gems.
Whether you’re looking to explore small towns, the rugged Alpine regions, or simply take in the scenery, here’s everything you need to know about driving in this beautiful country to ensure you have an unforgettable experience.
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What Do I Need to Drive in Slovenia?
Driving in Slovenia is a perfect way to explore the country’s incredible landscapes and attractions. It’s similar to driving in other European countries, however, there are some requirements for driving in Slovenia that you will need to know.
- Driver’s License
- International Driving Permit
- Documentation (Insurance, Ownership, Vehicle Registration)
You must have a valid driver’s license from your home country and an International Driver’s License if your license is from outside the European Union.
International Driving Permit
You’ll need an international driver’s permit, as well as your license, to rent and drive a car in Slovenia if your license is from outside the EU.
We picked up our car in Germany, and I wasn’t asked to show the IDP, but you do need to have it if stopped while driving on the roads in Slovenia.
To drive on the major highways in Slovenia, you will need a vignette sticker, similar to those in neighbouring Austria.
Slovenia now has an e-vignette, so there’s no need for a physical sticker in the window – simply register your plate online and you’ll be good to go.
The e-vignette is valid for one week or one month (an annual e-vignette is also available) and costs €16/week or €32/month.
If you’re found driving on the highways without one, there is a fairly large fine which starts at €300, so it’s best to get one!
It’s also important to ensure you have all your documents readily accessible when driving in Slovenia. These documents include ownership or rental contracts, vehicle registration and proof of insurance.
What Do I Need to Know When Driving in Slovenia?
Driving in Slovenia is similar to driving in most other European countries, but it’s still a good idea to be aware of the country’s specific regulations and rules of the road. Here are the essentials you need to know.
In Slovenia, as in other European countries, you drive on the right side of the road.
The legal age to drive in Slovenia is 18 years old. Even if you have a valid driver’s license from your home country, if you’re under 18, you cannot legally drive in Slovenia.
Drivers under the age of 25 may also face restrictions on renting certain types of vehicles or be charged an additional fee, so it’s best to check with rental agencies in advance.
Slovenia has varying speed limits depending on the type of road. These speed limits aren’t always posted, unless there’s a change in the normal speed limit.
On major highways, the speed limit is 130km/hr. In towns, it’s usually 50km/hr, however, on some of the smaller roads connecting the towns, the speed limit can be as high as 90km/hr.
Don’t feel like you have to drive that fast though – some roads are narrow! And as a pretty experienced driver, having driven on Germany’s autobahns and major highways in North America, I was definitely not going 90km/hr around some of those narrow bends!
If you’re travelling with children under the age of 12, it’s important to have an appropriate child seat. Legally, any child under the age of 12 or shorter than 150cm must be in an appropriate child seat, but the law does not specify which type of seat, other than it’s suitable for the child’s height and weight.
It’s mandatory for all passengers to wear seat belts, not just the driver.
If your car breaks down, call 1987 for roadside assistance.
For accidents, call 113 for police, and 112 for ambulance, fire and medical assistance.
It’s mandatory to keep your vehicle’s lights on, even during the daytime. This applies to the main headlights, not just the running lights.
Each country has differing regulations on mandatory equipment that’s required. The first time we rented a car in Chile, I was surprised to learn that it was necessary to carry a fire extinguisher (it didn’t help that we had an older car, and I thought they were warning me about the car…)
In Slovenia, by law you need to have a European-standard first aid kit, a spare set of headlight bulbs, as well as an orange warning triangle and a reflective vest or jacket in case you need to exit the vehicle.
Unlike some other countries, in Slovenia, it’s not permitted to turn right on a red traffic light. I found I had to continually remind myself of this, as it’s permitted in Canada unless there’s a sign saying it’s not allowed.
It’s illegal to use a handheld cell phone while driving in Slovenia. Hands-free devices are allowed.
The legal blood alcohol limit for drivers in Slovenia is 0.05%.
Fixed Speed Cameras
Slovenia has fixed speed cameras along the highways, and often places them in small villages as well.
It’s important to stick to the speed limit, and even if you are driving a rental car, speeding tickets will be forwarded to you (often with an additional surcharge from the rental car company – speaking from experience on this one…).
If you’re driving in Slovenia in winter, winter equipment is mandatory from November 15 to March 15. This includes having winter tires, and in some areas, having snow chains as well. If you’re renting a car, the rental company should supply these, but be sure to check before driving.
What’s It Like Driving in Slovenia?
Like many other countries, Slovenia has a mix of major highways and smaller roads throughout the country.
Major highways are well-maintained and easy to navigate. Smaller roads vary from paved to gravel roads, and some of the roads in Slovenia can be very narrow!
Locals aren’t afraid to drive fast on these narrow roads, so be cautious, especially around corners.
Most rental cars come with a GPS now, but you may have to ask to add it to your rental agreement. I can’t say enough how worthwhile it is to add it! Especially when driving in a foreign country, a GPS is so helpful.
Slovenia is a small country with incredible scenery, and while distances are fairly short, driving time can still be quite long, especially if driving through the mountains.
After driving the Vrsic Pass, we continued on through Bovec to Lake Bohinj, which on the map looked like a good idea, but it took much longer than anticipated!
Plan accordingly, and don’t be surprised if your journey takes a bit longer than Google Maps predicts.
Slovenia is bordered by Austria, Croatia, Hungary and Italy, and it’s an easy drive across the border.
However, most car rental companies in Slovenia won’t let you take the car out of the country unless you add a cross-border charge to your rental agreement. It’s an easy thing to do, and well worth it if you are planning to visit any of the neighbouring countries.
When visiting Slovenia’s coast, it’s only a 25-minute drive from Piran to the Croatian border (and a further hour to the gorgeous town of Pula).
And after driving the Vrsic Pass in the northwestern area of Slovenia, the easiest route to return to Ljubljana is passing through Italy.
Renting a Car in Slovenia: What You Need to Know
Renting a car in Slovenia is a straightforward process, and allows you the freedom to explore the country at your own pace.
It’s easy to rent online ahead of time and simply pick up the rental car when you arrive in Slovenia. There are multiple companies with rental cars in downtown Ljubljana or at the airport.
We use DiscoverCars when renting a car, which is an online aggregator that searches for the best deals from various rental agencies, ensuring you get the lowest rate. It’s an easy process, and we got an excellent deal (booking pretty last minute too!) for our road trip through Slovenia.
How Much Does It Cost to Drive in Slovenia?
The cost of renting a car in Slovenia will vary depending on several factors, including the type of vehicle, the rental company, how long you’re renting it for, as well as other costs associated with driving a car.
Smaller economy cars are generally more affordable, and returning the rental car to the same pickup location will save you money as well.
When budgeting for your road trip in Slovenia, it’s important to consider the other expenses that are associated with driving, including gas, tolls (e-vignette) and parking.
In Slovenia, the toll roads are covered by having an e-vignette, however, if you are crossing the border into Austria via the Karavanke tunnel, there is an additional fee.
What to Know About Parking
In towns and at popular attractions, you’ll often have to pay for parking, and this is usually paid at parking meters or at the entrance to the parking lot. Most places take credit cards.
It can be tricky to find parking in the old city centres though. When we were visiting Piran, we parked at a parking garage just outside of the center and there was a shuttle that took us to the town centre.
In Ljubljana, it’s free to park on city streets after 3pm on Saturdays and Sundays, but if you’re staying in Ljubljana, it’s best to walk from your accommodation.
Parking fees are also common at most popular tourist attractions, such as Postojna Cave and Predjma Castle. It’s also common to find paid parking for some hikes and waterfalls, like Savica Waterfall and the Vintgar Gorge trail.
Is Driving in Slovenia Safe?
Yes, driving in Slovenia is generally considered safe. The roads are in good condition and signs are clear and consistent with those used throughout Europe.
Off the main highways though, roads can be narrow and some local drivers drive faster and more aggressively than a tourist would on those roads, but use caution and it’s not a problem.
FAQ’s: Driving in Slovenia
Yes, driving in Slovenia is fairly easy, with well-maintained roads and clear signage. However, some rural areas may have narrow and winding roads, so it’s a bit different than driving on major highways. As always, use caution and drive responsibly.
In Slovenia, you drive on the right side of the road.
Yes, tourists can drive in Slovenia, provided they are over the age of 18 and have a valid driver’s license, as well as an International Driving Permit.
If you have a valid driver’s license from a country within the European Union, you do not need an International Driving Permit, but anyone with a license from outside the EU will need an IDP to drive in Slovenia. In the US and Canada, an IDP can be purchased from your local AAA or CAA office before leaving for Slovenia.
Final Thoughts: Driving in Slovenia
With its well-maintained roads, stunning landscapes and diverse attractions, Slovenia is an amazing country that is best explored by car.
Whether you’re exploring picturesque towns or taking in the gorgeous scenery at Lake Bohinj, driving past vineyards or through the sun-drenched Istrian Peninsula, every corner of Slovenia has something unique to offer.
Driving in Slovenia is an unforgettable road trip experience and offers the chance to make memories that will last a lifetime.