First things first, don’t let the name intimidate you. It’s pronounced lyoo-blyah-nuh. So there, now you have no reason not to visit the capital of Slovenia. With that out of the way, let me tell you some reasons why your next holiday destination needs to be Ljubljana, if you’re looking for an Eastern European city get away.
Slovenia is actually pretty easy to travel to. Australian, Canadian and US citizens can stay for as long as 3 months without a visa. EU residents also don’t need a visa, and must simply register with the Slovenian government to stay past the three month mark.
If you’re a bit behind on your geography, that’s okay. I’ll just let you know that chances are, you’re going to have book a flight to get to Ljubljana. I would make Slovenia a stop, if you are already in Europe. It is situated around a lot of really great countries, so you won’t regret going to that area of Europe. It borders Italy, Hungary, Austria, and Croatia. Some of my favorite countries, and as stated before, you can take the train around in that area so cheaply. I suggest getting an EUrail pass like I did. I also suggest taking the train to Lake Bled before or After your trip to the Slovenian capitol.
Why You Need to Get There
Now let me tell you why you why you want to visit here. This city is a young, growing area that’s gone as green as you could want. In 2016, it was named the European Green Capital. The city center is now almost totally car-free, the public transportation systems are low emission, and the whole place is the stuff of cyclists’ dreams. And for the hipster hearted (admit it, you probably are) there’s a buzzing atmosphere in the live music at Metelkova. There are great fresh produce markets almost daily, and many great healthy restaurants. During the holidays, there are amazing Christmas markets, and even weekend markets with wine and amazing hot food.
We had some great food while in the capitol. Check out some of the restaurants along the river, they can be a bit touristy, but the atmosphere is good. Also, Vigo has amazing ice cream, treat yourself! The weather is also lovely as well, considering it was end of winter. We really felt safe here and even made friends with some other ladies from America passing through. You only need 2-3 days to experience the city.
Where to Stay
Ashli and I stayed at Urban Hotel and were very happy with it. It’s a chic, minimal, and modern boutique hotel just a few hundred meters from the city center. The rooms are very clean, comfortable, and offer city views. The breakfast was also lovely and there is unlimited tea in the lounge I helped myself to. The staff was very helpful and gave us great recommendations. Did I mention how well I slept? The bed was so comfortable! Thanks Urban Hotel for such a lovely stay. I couldn’t have needed more while here.
Of course you can’t miss a visit to the castle. Looking up from any of the city squares, you’ll notice that the castle is set up pretty high. If you’re up for the challenge, you can try walking up to the castle. But if that’s not really your speed, there’s also a train and a funicular railway (a really cool cable car, built into the side of a cliff).that takes tourists up to the top. We were feeling adventurous so we walked up the hill. It only takes about 30 mins walking. Follow the signs.
Music to any tourist’s ears: FREE ENTRY. That’s right, access to the castle’s main courtyard is completely free. The courtyard is host to galleries, restaurants, and even a nightclub (who wouldn’t want to party in a freaking castle?!).
You do have to pay in order to go up the watchtower, but the spectacular views of Ljubljana from the top are more than worth it. Plus a “Time Machine” tour is included, which will teach a bit of history about the castle and the city.
The bridges around Ljubljana are absolutely gorgeous. Triple bridge is a group of three bridges connected to Prešeren Square, decorated with pretty lanterns and big stone balustrades. The middle bridge is a fair bit older than the two on the ends, dating all the way back to 1842. The two younger bridges were designed by Ljubljana’s premier architect, Jože Plečnik, in the 1930s. They also have a small lock bridge. It’s nothing like Paris, but the idea is still adorable.
My favorite bridge in Ljubljana is the Dragon Bridge, so named for the four dragon statues that stand guard on each of the four corners of the bridge. This bridge was opened in 1901, and was an architectural achievement for Ljubljana, as it was one of the first reinforced concrete bridges in Europe. The dragons are made from copper and are quite emblematic of the city, even featuring on the coat of arms.
This area is a drastic contrast to the rest of Ljubljana. Covered in graffiti and murals, Metelkova is a popular spot for instagrammers and photographers looking for that urban aesthetic. At night, bars and clubs featuring live bands, which make it a really hot spot for nightlife tourists. There are also outdoor concerts in the summer, making it a really vibrant music scene.
I always tell people, one of the best ways to discover a city, is to just start walking around. Get lost in the city. You find so much by just walking all over and not having an exact destination or plan. There are so many colorful buildings, and cute smaller squares here. You can walk up towards the castle and get great views of the city. Explore. There is no rush. Ash and I just walked around all afternoon and evening one night, just to see what we could find and take a few snapshots in our cameras. It’s a safe city like I said, so enjoy it!
It might seem like a pretty offbeat place to travel to, and to be honest, it is. But that’s the whole reason why you should go! Places only become popular from being unpopular in the first place.
I’d bet my bottom dollar that Ljubljana is well on its way to becoming a real up and coming travel destination. The city is young and vibrant. The music scene is awesome, and it’s a great contrast to the medieval architecture. If you want somewhere unique to brag about visiting before all your friends, then Ljubljana is the place for you. Not to mention you can take the train two hours to Lake Bled which is one of the most picturesque places I’ve ever seen. It’s like staring at a post card and everyone there is so friendly and hospitable.