Ljubljana- Europe's Little Jewel
Ljubljana is the capital city of Slovenia. The country of Slovenia is relatively small and so Ljubljana as a capital, with a population of roughly 300,000 doesn't seem too overwhelming and is easily covered on foot. We stayed for just over a month, a short walk from Litostroj station. The walk into the centre of the old town was about 45 minutes, although there are frequent bus and trains services into the centre. We prefer to walk whenever we can, especially as we have Chelsea our dog, who loves a good walk. Ljubljana is also very cycle-friendly with cycle lanes everywhere, and has a bike hire service that most cities seem to provide now, with a reservation fee of 1 euro per week. The bikes are free to use within a 60 minute period.
The old town is stunningly beautiful and largely pedestrianised The architect Jože Plečnik had a big impact on designing the town that is seen today. The mix of older Slavic architecture with Plečnik’s signature “Athenian” style make for a dream walking tour.The best place to start is at Prešernov trg, the central square, where you will find the Franciscan Church of the Annunciation and the Triple Bridge.
Cafe culture in Ljubljana is huge and you will be spoilt for choice, although some are more aimed at tourists than others. There are more tables outside of the cafes, than inside, and even during the Winter, outdoor heaters and blankets are provided so the outdoor life can continue. If you prefer sitting inside, you will find most places are dog friendly, but it's always worth asking first. We preferred to stay on the central square side of the river on Petkovskovo nabrezje, where you will find a selection of cafes and restaurants. Our favourite was Fany and Mary, where you can get Union lager for 2 euros for a pint. (Union and Laško are the Slovenian lagers), a selection of cocktails including the one that gets everywhere – Aperol Spritz, and a great iced coffee that could almost be a dessert! The food is good too, with selection of pizzas, burgers and sandwiches. We found that one pizza was plenty big enough to split between two for lunch. We can also recommend the burgers!
The Central Market is both an open air market located in the Vodnikov trg and Pogacarnev trg Squares, and a covered market between the two squares. You'll also find street food stalls and cafes, open daily. We went to the market on a Saturday morning and it was full of locals buying the locally grown fruit and vegetables, as well as tourists. You'll also be able find oils, cheeses, honey along with a variety of other locally made products. Every Friday from mid-March until end of October (only in good weather) in Pogacar Square is Open Kitchen Market, where chefs of Slovenian restaurants prepare dishes from all over the world. This is definitely worth a visit if you enjoy food.
Walk across the Triple Bridge from Prešernov trg , the central square, turn left and following the river Ljubljana for about 15 to 20 minutes, you will come to Špica Park. Translated to English, Špica means Spear, this is where the river divides into two. Špica has cafes where you can enjoy a coffee, gelato or something a bit stronger. There is also a footbridge that takes you across to the public Botanical Garden, which also has a small cafe. This cafe is run by the catering college situated close by, so all the delicious cakes are made by the students.
Tivoli City Park
This is Ljubljana's biggest and most beautiful park, covering an area of about 5 square km and within an easy 10 minute walk from the city centre. This is great place to have a walk, cycle ride or just escape for a while. We enjoyed walking through during the late Summer to get some relief from the heat, passing the fountains and gardens. There are a few cafes to sit and people watch, You will also find an indoor swimming pool, bowling alley for Winter visitors to enjoy. Beyond the formal part of the park you can hike higher up the and follow paths up to the Roznik area, depending on the time of year there are excellent views over part of the city.
There are multiple museums and art galleries that regularly change their exhibitions so see here to see what’s going on to help plan your visit.
To get a fantastic view of the city and also much of Slovenia, a trip up the funicular to Ljubljana Castle is worth it. It is the only high spot in the city and offers stunning views of the city, especially from atop the clock tower. Tickets are reasonable and can be purchased on site. Dining and cocktail options are available once you hit the top. Don't expect a ruin. It's been re-designed over the centuries. We went in time for sunset, which we highly recommend, and found it breathtaking and not too busy. You can walk around the outside of the castle and will also find a puppet museum, chapel and the castle jail to explore.
St Nicholas Church, also known as the Cathedral, is near the central market and is free to enter. If you like Baroque architecture, this is your place, the cathedral is a gilded lily. Services are also held throughout the day from 6.00 until 12.30, then 16.00 & 18.30.
There are river cruises you can take, but we preferred to walk, taking in the various bridges along the way- the Dragon Bridge, Butcher's Bridge (also known as the Lock Bridge), and the Triple Bridge.
There are various walking tours available too, if you like to be guided.
These are just a few suggestions of the things you can enjoy on a visit to Ljubljana. We certainly didn't do everything! We fell in love with this place and will definitely be returning in the future. A good website to help plan your trip is www.visitljubljana.com