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Slovenia, Croatia and Refugees

I'd like to plan a trip for late summer 2016 to Venice, Trieste, Ljubljana, Zagreb and Pula. My wife and I have experience in travelling in Europe, both by bus and by train, so the connections are not intimidating. What's holding me back, though, is all of the news about the refugee issues in the Balkans. One day, the borders are open, and the next day, they're closed. After reading the news about the New Years Eve scene in Cologne, I'm pretty concerned about being the only American in a crowd of Syrian men. Does anyone have any recent experience in this area?

Posted by
23105 posts

My experience is probably not recent enough to make you feel comfortable: Italy (not Venice or Trieste) in May-July 2015, Ljubljana in late July 2015, and Zagreb in July, August and October 2015. I was a 60-something female traveling independently and alone, not just in the countries already mentioned but also in Montenegro, Bulgaria, Serbia, and Romania.

There was a small tent encampment near the bus station in Belgrade, Serbia. I walked past it 3 times. No one ever approached me, and I did not feel at all uncomfortable. My only other encounter with folks from the Middle East was outside a train station in Sicily, but those men may have been long-term residents rather than refugees. I only noticed them because what they were speaking was not Italian and sounded like it might be Arabic.

I, myself, would not worry at all about your itinerary.

Posted by
470 posts

As someone living in Slovenia during the refugee crisis, I haven't seen a single refugee - they were systematically transported to migrant centres and then travelled onwards to Austria, but now even that flow has completely stopped. I don't expect the route through Slovenia and Croatia to reopen, though I realize that with the current state of things, the conditions can change very quickly. That said, the refugee crisis had very little effect on everyday life in these countries even at its worst, the only negative effects were a short-lasting suspension of train services between Ljubljana and Zagreb, an increased strain on government resources and an increase in fear in some parts of society, which thankfully proved to be unfounded.

Posted by
1244 posts

Thanks Dejan. We will be visiting Slovenia in September.

Posted by
101 posts

We were in Slovenia last September and saw no negative impact from the refugee crisis. Slovenia is a beautiful country with warm, helpful people. My only caution regarding Slovenia in September is be aware that much of the Julian Alps becomes overrun with motorcycles during that time for the European Bike Week. We were staying in Kranjska Gora and it seemed like every European redneck with a motorcycle was ripping around the roads leading to the Vrsic Pass, ruining the beauty and peace for everyone else.

Just returned from Slovenia, Germany, Czech Republic and Austria. I saw no evidence of refugees. The border patrol entered the overnight train when crossing from Slovenia into Austrian and then Switzerland to check cabins. That's it.
I did see refugees being resettled into my own city on a plane trip from Toronto to Ottawa. They were accompanied by 2 resettlement agents.