Slovenia is a country of writers, poets, painters, cooks, dancers, musicians, and wine-makers, and Ljubljana is its beating heart. It is a city alive with culture – you will see it at every turn you take, and its charisma will linger in your thoughts long after you have said goodbye.
When to Go?
Whether leaves are just budding on trees, crunching underfoot, or the city is dusted with snow, Ljubljana is beautiful at any time of the year. From the beginning of July to the end of August, the city springs to life during the Ljubljana Festival, two months of “concerts of star soloists, acclaimed ensembles, chamber and philharmonic orchestras and performances by prima ballerinas, opera divas, and seasoned thespians”.
Ljubljana’s railway station is just north of the historical city centre and connects the city to destinations in neighbouring countries like Austria, Croatia, Hungary, and Italy.
Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport (LJU) is about 25 kilometres northwest of the city and while there are no train services to and from Ljubljana, a bus, a taxi, or a pre-booked shuttle will get you anywhere you need to go.
If you are departing by air, your last purchase at the duty free shop should be a bottle of viljamovka, a Slovenian pear brandy. The viljamovka produced by the Carthusian Pleterje monastery has a smooth taste and contains a pear which was grown inside the bottle.
You can’t miss Ljubljana Castle, it towers over the city centre, and it’s a steep and winding walk up Castle Hill on which it is situated. A trip on the funicular railway reduces the time from bottom to top quite significantly – it’s a one minute ride – but a cold beer from the Castle Café will be even more well-deserved after powering your way up on foot.
The fruits and vegetables at Ljubljana’s Central Market are an explosion of colour, and if you are the kind of person who tastes with their eyes, you’ll be pleased indeed. It’s also a great place to pick up Slovenian honey.
Each bridge spanning the Ljubljanica River brings something unique to Ljubljana. Pose for a picture at Dragon Bridge, admire the love locks attached to Butchers’ Bridge, and have your finger on the pulse of the city at Triple Bridge.
Galerija Fotografija is a space to admire and appreciate the talent of Slovenian and international photographers, and perhaps to inspire your own creativity.
Lovers of vintage clothing will have their hands and their shopping bags full after a day spent exploring for hidden treasures. Shopping can be hard work so breathe life back into your day with a stop at Kavarna Zlati Dukat – their latte art will leave you seriously impressed.
Eat and Drink
The cakes and pastries at Lolita are beyond seductive – at any time of the day – and to resist would be futile. Their apricot mascarpone cake is sumptuous, but you must also try Prekmurska gibanica, a Slovenian layer cake made with poppy seeds, walnuts, apples, cottage cheese, and puff pastry.
Tea connoisseurs will appreciate everything CHA teahouse has to offer, including their breakfast and brunch menu. The long list of variations and blends will please even those with the most discerning tea tastes and a seat at the window will put you in a perfect position to watch the world go by.
If you are from a country or culture where eating horse meat is considered taboo, you may want to give Hot’Horse a miss. For everyone else, the Hot’Horse location in Tivoli Park is great for lunch and serves up thick and juicy build-your-own horse burgers, together with golden fries.
There are many restaurants lining the picturesque banks of the Ljubljanica River but step just one street away and you’ll discover Valvas’or. To best soak up the ambiance of your surroundings, savour your dinner at a table on the terrace in front of Valvas’or and pair it with a bottle of one of Slovenia’s finest wines.
For a night out, Žmavc is “the hipster pub for hipsters who are down-to-earth and prefer grunge to $15 cocktails mixed by other hipsters”, but at Premier Pub you are sure to find some of Slovenia’s best craft beer, Human Fish, on tap. And why not go all the way and visit the Human Fish Brewery for a tour and tasting, 20 kilometres outside of Ljubljana in the town of Vrhnika.
The accommodation at Penzion Pod Lipo is basic but it’s very affordable and is just a 10 minute walk from the city centre. Rooms at the front have wide windows which open onto a quiet and leafy square and the restaurant on the ground floor serves traditional Slovenian cuisine.
Rooms at Garni Hotel Azur feature bold and bright accent colours, each with a unique design. You won’t have far to go for a great meal – it’s located right next to the mouth-watering Azur Tratorija.
If it’s romance that brings you to Ljubljana, it will be alive and well during a stay at the boutique Antiq Palace Hotel, in the heart of the city. Enjoy your breakfast in bed or ask for their help in organising a private wine tasting session at any of Slovenia’s vineyards.
Here are additional options for where to stay in Ljubljana.