Scotland travel to Slovenia for their final WC qualifier on October 8th. The venue for this fixture is the Stožice Stadium in Ljubljana (capacity 16,000), and kick-off is 18:00 (local time). Scotland have been allocated a generous 2567 tickets. There is not much between the teams, and only a late Chris Martin winner at Hampden in March saw Scotland take all 3 points. The significance of this match will only be known after the round 9 games, with Slovakia, Scotland and Slovenia all fighting for the second place, and a possible play-off tie. Our two previous games in Slovenia were a 3-0 win in Celje in 2005, and a 1-1 draw in Koper in 2012.
Ljubljana and Slovenia
Central Ljubljana is fairly compact, so there will be little need for public transport or taxis. There are plenty of pubs and restaurants within a 5 minute walk of Prešernov Square and the Triple Bridge – check Spotted by Locals for an up to date list of the best places to visit. The Friday and Saturday nights should be lively enough, but Sunday night could be a little quieter.
Slovenian cuisine has been heavily influenced by the surrounding countries, thus you’ll find many pasta dishes, as well as the heavy central European meat based dishes. Perfect fuel for the cooler October temperatures! Expect to pay between €7 and €10 for a main course. Vegetarians might find their choices somewhat limited. There are two main lagers (Union and Laško), which will set you back around €3 for a half litre, in addition to some slightly more expensive craft beers. Whilst beer is reasonably popular, Slovenia is a wine producing country, most of which is domestically consumed. Don’t pass on the chance to sample Sadjevec/Rakija, a fruit brandy distillate – the homemade stuff is (usually) terrific and deceptively potent.
For a bit of culture, head to Ljubljana Castle, an impressive medieval fortress perched on a rock overlooking the city – the views are definitely worth it. It’s a short climb, but if you’re feeling very lazy, there is a funicular railway for €4 return.
Arrival and getting around
Unfortunately there are no direct flights from Scotland to Slovenia, so you’ll have to change flights or fly to a neighbouring country. Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport is situated around 20 km north of the city. A pre-arranged taxi will cost in the region of €25, whereas the bus costs €4.10. Many supporters are basing themselves in Zagreb with onward travel to Ljubljana by bus. The journey takes 2 – 2.5 hours, although there can be delays at the border as Croatia is not within the Schengen zone – keep this in mind if travelling from Ljubljana directly to Zagreb airport. There are many regular buses (approx €10), in addition to five trains per day (€9 each way). The train and bus stations are a 5-10 minute walk from the Triple Bridge in city centre.
Other nearby airports with reasonable overland connections include Vienna, Venice, Trieste and Munich.
Whilst Ljubljana is pleasant enough for a couple of days, Slovenia is a fantastic country to travel around (see my Trover list). I recommend the 55 km trip to the picturesque Lake Bled (and town of Bled), which is situated in the Julian Alps. Whilst there are frequent buses from Ljubljana (and private transfer should be easy enough to arrange), the best way is to hire a car for greater flexibility. This will also allow easy trips to the Vintgar Gorge, Lake Bohinj and the Savica Waterfall. Another possible daytrip is to visit Predjama Castle and Postojna Cave.