Ljubljana, Slovenia, is known for many, many things. Like, for example…mmm well. How about…? That thing…?
Okay, truth time
I knew literally nothing about Ljubljana before randomly deciding to go there.
A quick google research and I learnt that, according to the Insider, Ljubljana is one of top 10 cheapest cities in Europe to have a beer. No, that’s totally *not* why I decided to visit. Well, let’s say it wasn’t the only reason ok…?
Jokes aside, as I pleasantly discovered, Lju-beer-ljana is so much more than an exquisitely cheap weekend destination. There are also weird statues, dragons, lots of bridges, and even more weird statues. And if that isn’t enough for you (freak!), think about a beautiful riverside cobblestone walkway, tons of cafes filled with a lively atmosphere and an overall fairy-tale good looks.
Sounds pretty great amirite? And that’s why, my dear, I’m going to annoy you this little awkward Ljubljana travel guide. Really, I’m doing this for your own good! I want to help you plan this trip and maximise the fun. I’ll give you things to do, places to eat and all of that good stuff.
What to see in Ljubljana in a day:
I firmly believe your first day in Lubi should be mostly spent aimlessly wandering the tiny cobbled streets of the old town and lounging in cafes by the river. You really must get the vibe of the city, so just chill and soak in the sun! Of course while you do that, you’ll certainly stumble upon the most famous landmarks.
I’d suggest to see, following this exact order:
1. Dragon’s Bridge
Originally named “The Jubilee Bridge of Emperor Franz Josef I” – which wasn’t understandably catchy enough – the Dragon’s Bridge is one of Ljubljana’s most popular attractions. The bridge was constructed around 1901, and at the time it was of the largest bridges of this kind to be built in Europe.
Why the dragons tho? Well, first of all, they’re awesome, and secondly, a local legend suggests that Jason was actually the founder of the city, and that he and his Argonauts bravely killed a dragon.
2. Prešeren Square
Leaving the dragons behind and strolling along the river, you’ll soon find yourself in this little square that is pretty much the heart of the city: Prešeren square. Just next to it, you can see a lovely Baroque Franciscan Church. Fun fact: the church was once painted in a vivid and intense red, and just naturally faded into the fab shade of pink you see today.
3. Triple Bridge or Tromostovje
Right in front of the main square you’ll find TromostovJe. The Triple bridge is a group of three bridges (you don’t say?) and it’s a rather unique architectural gem of Lubi. The central bridge has actually been standing there since 1842, and was all alone until 1929, when the side bridges, intended for pedestrians, were added by the architect Jože Plečnik.
“I fudging love bridges” – cit. literally every architect in Lubi
4. Farmer’s Market
A short walk from the Triple Bridge, on Vodnikov Square, you’ll find the Central Market, an open-air market filled with all sorts of vendors selling anything from miscellaneous items to tasty food. It’s a great place to shop for some fresh fruit, random farmer’s products and to have a sausage-oriented snack.
5. Ljubljana Castle
Ljubljana castle is an architectural patchwork, but most of what you see today dates back to the 16th century, when it was rebuilt after a destructive earthquake. The castle today houses a museum about Slovenian history, a puppet museum, the Chapel of St George and other historical rooms as “the Prison”.
To be honest I’m not sure the inside of the castle is an absolute must-see, however, the walk from the city center is very pleasant, and the view from the top is quite nice. An alternative way to reach the castle is taking a 70m-long funicular that leaves from the Old Town (near Vodnikov square).
6. Tivoli Park
Did you know Slovenia is the greenest country in Europe? It is, and Lubi definitely does its part of the job to make that happen. Tivoli Park takes a good chuck of the city’s center, and it’s a really beautiful and peaceful place to spend a chilly spring / autumn afternoon.
Besides, it’s full of super weird statues!
Berlin has Tacheles, Copenhagen has Christiania, and Lubi has Metelkova.
A former military neighbour, Metelkova is today a weird-but-in-a-good-way city within the city, filled with urban street art, bizarre sculptures and clubs. Everything started in 1993, when a barracks complex was squatted by a group of volunteers of the so called “Metelkova Network” to stop the army complex from being destroyed. After that, the former barracks were slowly re-designed during the years by numerous artists.
During the day, the area hosts art performances, exhibitions and festivals. Things get even cooler once the sun goes down though, when the entire neighbour becomes a popular nightlife hotspot.
Where to eat in Ljubljana
Breakfast / Brunch
There are numerous places that serve brunch in Ljubljana, but you gotta go at least once to Ek Bistro. They serve the most amazing dishes and their Eggs Benedict are to die for. Cholesterol-raising, artery clogging, tasty goodness.
Lunch / Afternoon snacks
If you’re into hipster cafès, try out Slovenska Hija. They have a 100% Slovenian menu, covering beers, cocktails (served in jars no less!), as well as some traditional dishes.
For dinner I highly suggest Robba, a mid-priced restaurant located right in the heart of Old Ljubljana. The ambience / atmosphere is really cool, and the food is delicious (really loved the beef carpaccio and the goulash).
Extra tip: squeeze in a day-trip to Lake bled
Did you know that the scenic area of Lake Bled is only 40 minutes away from Ljubljana by car? Yes, Lake Bled, that annoyingly beautiful scene plucked from the pages of a fairytale that you totally saved on your “Instagrammable places” board on Pinterest. It’s close, and you guys, it’s amazing. Do consider it for a day-trip if you plan on visiting Lubi!
Ok, that’s it pal. Hope you liked this little guide! Now go and grab yo cheep Lubi beer!
Hej prijatelj, če bereš to pomeni, da mi moraš kupiti DVE PIVI!!!
(That means cheers in Slovenian)