I’m not suggesting that people don’t know where Slovenia is (although I have heard a fair few people confuse it for Slovakia). What I am suggesting however, is that most people don’t realise it’s beautiful diversity. As far as European countries and European capital cities go, Ljubljana is one of the best kept secrets.
I’m far from an expert on Slovenia. There is so much I haven’t seen – which considering it is one of the smallest countries in Europe is saying something remarkable. If I had the opportunity to return today, I’d go hiking in Triglav National Park, raft and swim in the Soča river, visit the beautiful city of Piran, return to Lake Bled and Vintgar Gorge (more on this later), drink wine in Maribor, relax at Lake Bohinj and explore the UNESCO World Heritage Škocjan Caves. I could easily continue…
This is all in a country that you can drive across in about 2 hours. Incredible.
Unfortunately, my last trip to Slovenia was much more budget and time constrained than I would’ve liked and therefore, most of these locations remain a mystery to me. However, one location I did get to spend some time in was the beautifully underrated capital city of Ljubljana (and the surrounding area). This blog will share my highlights of this city; a city which is small in size, but huge in personality. A city which, on the surface, has been largely undisturbed by tourism. A city brimming with charm, authenticity and adventure.
So, what’s there to see in Ljubljana?
Tromostovje (Triple Bridge)
Triple Bridge is actually three bridges which connect the modern part of Ljubljana to the older town. It’s buzzing. There are restaurants and bars and loads of opportunities to take some cool photos. It’s the proper heart of the city.
Visit Tivoli City Park
Located on the outskirts of the central district, Tivoli Park is a great place to relax for a couple of hours.
Zmajski Most (Dragon Bridge)
Yeah, there’s a lot of bridges in Ljubljana. None are probably photographed as much as ‘Dragon Bridge’. As with all the others, it crosses the Ljubljanica river. According to local legends, when a virgin crosses the bridge, the dragons will wag their tales. Something for you to bear in mind…
Take a stroll up the steep hill to the castle for some pretty fantastic views. The view from the clock tower probably offers the best views across the city, while there is also a museum and other attractions to visit. If you can’t be bothered to walk up/down, take the funicular – but don’t miss out on the views you get on the walk to the castle.
St. Nicholas’s Church is well worth popping your head inside. Located right in the centre, the intricacies of the ceiling painting is well worth a look.
Unleash your inner ‘foodie’
I’m not one to fill my blogs full of recommendations for bars and restaurants. You can find those yourselves with a quick google search. Or better yet, you can just wander around the city and stumble on your own. That being said, it is undeniable that Ljubljana is a foodie heaven. The locally produced food is delicious and, compared to a lot of countries with the euro, pretty affordable. Don’t get me started on the wines and craft beers too.
Eat Ljubljana Cake at Torta Ljubljana
I’m about to be a total hypocrite. I just said I don’t give restaurant recommendations and here I am. Telling you what to eat and where to eat it. Made using local ingredients (accept the chocolate which glazes it), this traditional delicacy is a must.
Get out of the city
It might seem weird that one of my highlights of Ljubljana is getting out of Ljubljana, but there’s just so much to do only a few miles away. Being located less than an hour away from the Julian Alps, featuring the Triglav National Park, picturesque Lake Bled and stunning waterfalls of the Vintgar Gorge, it’s well worth a few days of your time. If you don’t have a few days to spare, you can do Lake Bled and Vintgar Gorge in a day trip, entirely on public transport and bicycle hire. I might write more about that soon.
Overall Ljubljana was a brilliant surprise. I had absolutely zero expectations when jumping on the bus from Zagreb, but now I’d happily proclaim that Ljubljana is one of Europe’s more underrated capital cities. That being said, this was one of the hardest blogs to write. Why? Well… although there are loads of things to do in the city, it’s hard to accurately portray exactly what’s so great about it.
And what’s so great about it is… it’s a city that affords you the opportunity to do nothing. And really enjoy doing nothing. When I return to Ljubljana, I’ll make sure I’ve got more time to and more money to eat, drink and soak in one of Europe’s best kept secrets.