I have been to Slovenia twice; the first time I used the public transport and the second time I hired a car. As Slovenia is a wonderful country with stunning scenery, I do recommend hiring a car so that you can have the freedom to visit off the beaten path places and saves you a lot of time (and money). You might think that the process of renting a car in Slovenia is quite straight forward but it’s not really. You do need to know a few tips and tricks in order to save money, and this is why I am writing this complete guide on how to rent a car in Slovenia, based on my own experience.
Car hire in Slovenia
Why should you rent a car in Slovenia, you might ask? Sure, you can easily reach Ljubljana from the airport by shuttle bus, and from the capital there are frequent buses to Bled and Bohinj, two of the most popular destinations in the country, but if you want to explore at your own pace then you do need a car to travel around. Hiring a car in Slovenia is also cost-effective, especially if you are traveling with your family. For example, you can rent a car for about 20 euros a day, which is the equivalent of a return ticket from Ljubljana to Bled, by bus.
The further away you book, the cheapest your car will be. I use Holiday Extras to find the best deal on rental cars. They have a search engine that shows you all the deals from all the car rentals in the airport and in town, so you can choose the best one for you and your family. You can browse through different types of cars, manual and automatic, big or small, and compare the prices. They also offer free cancellation, theft protection, collision damage waiver and you can book without your credit card and without any booking fees as well. I hired my car using them for £40, for 4 days.
The all-inclusive rental car insurance – watch out for hidden costs!
I remember standing in line at the airport, waiting for the couple in front of me to get the keys for their rental car when I heard the magic words “deposit”. Going back to the online booking, when I reserved my car I have been asked if I want to pay an extra tenner a day for full protection in case the car is damaged. Needless to say, I chose not to. I truly advise you not to follow my example and do book the full protection!
Back to the counter, when my turn arrived, I was asked the same question: “Do you want to pay for extra insurance or leave as a deposit of £1200?”. If I would have booked the full protection online, I would have paid only £40 extra. When I booked it at the airport, I had to pay £120. You can choose not to pay it, but then you are liable for anything that happens with the car, including scratches that can happen in the parking lot and are not even your fault. So, do take the full protection in the same time when you book your car online, for peace of mind and no extra hassle at the rental office.
Where to rent a car in Slovenia from?
The easiest way to hire a car in Slovenia is at Ljubljana airport. Here you will find all the major companies, like Avis, Hertz, Europecar, Exterprise or Sixt. The rent – a -car building, where all the offices are, is across the street from the arrivals terminal.
You can also rent a car in Ljubljana or other smaller cities, like Bled, if that’s the start journey of your trip. Some companies do prove a pick up and collection service free of charge for distances lower than 30 km from the airport (Ljubljana is 20km away from the airport).
What do you need to hire a car in Slovenia?
First of all, to hire a car in Slovenia you need to be at least 18 and have a driving license for at least 2 years. You will be asked for you passport as well when you pick up the car, and it needs to match your driving license. If you are under 25 years old, mot of the companies will charge an extra young driver fee, per day.
If your license is printed in a different language that uses a different alphabet than the Roman one, you will need an international driving permit. Otherwise, your national driving license will be enough to hire a car.
In order to hire a car, you will need a credit card. Prepaid or debit cards are not accepted.
What kind of car to hire in Slovenia
My advice would be the smaller, the better. But that, of course, depends on how many members your family has. I hired an Opel Corsa, a small car, easy to park and with low fuel consumption. A smaller car is also easier to navigate around through towns. My Opel Corsa was brand new, with only 1500 km on board.
For a larger family, a cost-effective solution would be a 5-seater Renault Clio, Volkswagen Golf or Opel Astra, all being only a few quid a day more expensive than a smaller car. If you want more space however, you can always opt for a Skoda Octavia, a Volkswagen Passat or a Mazda 6, but be prepared to pay almost double the price of a small car.
The selection of cars you can hire in Slovenia, at the airport, is large, ranging from small, large, estate, minivans or SUVs. However, being a small airport, with a small garage for rental cars, do book online if you want a particular type of car.
Tips on how to save money on your car hire in Slovenia
The “Full to full” policy
Take advantage of the “Full to full” policy and don’t pay in advance for the fuel tank. The agent at the rental shop will try to advise you pay, but there are plenty of gas stations around the airport where you can fill the tank up before returning the car. The rental will ask for a payment between £40-£60 for a full tank, but if you do it yourself you will save money. As an example, I only paid £10 to fill up the tank, the last day, just before returning the car. Make sure you read the documents of your car before going to the gas station, to know what kind of fuel it needs.
Do you really need navigation?
You should know that most of the cars will come without a navigation system. Hiring one from the rental company will cost you another £8/day. These days however, with no roaming fees in Europe, you can use the data on your phone and use Google Maps as your navi. Another solution would be to download the country map from Google Maps and use it offline, it has the same precision and landmarks as the on-line one. However, as the GPS does eat quite a lot of the battery, bring a power bank with you as well. It will be cheaper anyway than hiring a GSP from the rental company.
Read the small print on what is and what is not included
Does your care have winter tiers included in the price? When you book online make sure that it is mentioned what kind of tires your rental car has. Slovenia in a country with many mountains, snow and low temperatures during November 15th – March 15th. You will need winter tires during this time and if they are not included then you will have to pay extra.
Hire a manual, not an automatic
If you want to save money, consider hiring a manual car instead of an automatic one. Automatic cars come at a higher price and you do need to book them quite some time in advance to make sure there will be availability. In Europe manual cars are much more common than automatic ones. However, if you only drive an automatic back at home and don’t have a licence for manual cars as well, you won’t be able to rent a manual.
How many drivers?
You should know that for any extra driver you will have to pay another fee/day, so think well if you really need someone else to drive the car. Slovenia is quite a small country and there are no long-distance drives (the longest may be around 4 hours, if you want to reach Piran).
As I mentioned above, hiring a smaller car is much cheaper to run than a bigger one. My Opel Corsa only ate about 5L/100km, which went a long way!
Driving in Slovenia
Driving in Slovenia is a pleasure as the roads are very well maintained, especially the highways. Slovenia might be a small country, but it does have over 450 miles of highways, so it’s easy to reach everywhere quite fast.
The speed limit in urban areas is 50km/hour, otherwise specified, 90km/hour in non-urban areas and 130km/hour on motorways.
Note that you should always have the dipped lights on, even during the day. It’s law in Slovenia.
The wear of seatbelt is obligatory for the driver and all the passengers in the car. Do not drink and drive! The law allows you to have an alcohol level of 0.05%, which is the equivalent of a small beer. But driving a rental, and having a deposit on the car, it’s advisable not to drink at all. Alcohol breath tests are quite common in the country, so better not risk it.
There are service stations opened 24 hours every 30km on the motorway, where they also sell food and refreshments.
Parking in Slovenia
First of all, check with your hotel if they provide free parking and how secure it is. My hotel in Bled, Astoria, offered free parking in their underground garage, which not only protected the car from the bad weather (it was snowing heavily during my visit) but also gave me peace of mind that it is in a secure place.
Before you book your hotel, check the amenities and see if they offer secure parking, and if it’s free or at an extra cost. I always use www.booking.com to book my hotels and never been disappointed.
You will find plenty of public parking lots in central Ljubljana that charge around 1 euro/hour. I recommend to always park in a secure public parking and not by the side of the road, especially if you have luggage in your car.
During low season, some of the park meters will be out of order. This happened to me at lake Bohinj, so the parking was free.
In the cities, there are two kinds of zones: white and blue. The white zones, marked with white lines, allow you to park there for a maximum of two hours. The blue lines allow you to park only for 30 minutes. For more than this, you have to use a public parking.
Hire a car in Slovenia and travel internationally
You can hire a car in Slovenia and take it across the border, for an additional charge of around 10 euros/day. Make sure you check with your rental agent first which countries you are allowed to take the car to. Some companies refuse the entry to Greece, Serbia, Montenegro and Bosnia with certain types of cars.
If you cross the border with your rental car but don’t tell the rental company, you might end up paying a fine of over 500 euros.
If you do take the car across the border make sure you buy the appropriate vignette (road tax) for the new country at the first petrol station after the border and display it on your windscreen, otherwise you risk a fine.
What happens if you have an accident with a rental car in Slovenia?
If bad luck hits and you do have an accident in Slovenia with your rental car, make sure that the first thing you do is let the police know at 113. The emergency number in Slovenia is 112.
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