As many of you may know, I moved to central Europe in August 2015 which means I have spent the past year exploring more European cities than I can count. I have explored hundreds of cathedrals, wandered through countless main squares and looked out from many castle walls. As much as I adore Europe, and I really do, after a while it can all start to look the same.
I have always preferred lakes and mountains over bustling cities, and although I do love the gothic architecture of Prague and the imperial decadence of Vienna, I longed to see somewhere a little greener. Which is why last month, David and I decided to spend some time in Slovenia, a country whose rumoured beauty had always intrigued me. We wanted to climb mountains and swim in lakes, and Slovenia was the perfect destination for this.
After driving from The Czech Republic down to Slovenia, we decided to base ourselves in Ljubljana for the first couple of days as it was a good location for other nearby attractions we wanted to visit. I never gave much thought to the city of Ljubljana itself, after all, I wasn't interested in seeing another European city.
I'm not sure if it was the lack of expectation or if the city would always have captured my heart the way it did. Walking to the centre from Hotel Park, I ambled down grungy street art filled lanes with graffitied walls and hipster hangouts. When the path turns unexpectedly and opens onto the most beautiful stone bridge and emerald river. It caught me off guard and I thought I had stumbled into an enchanted, medieval city with the trendy arty scene from moments ago feeling a world away. It was the first time in a long time a city had excited me.
Coupled with its gorgeous setting, cars are also banned from the city centre which means its for pedestrians only. I loved how easy it was to walk around without being bothered by traffic. There are lots of bars, cafes and restaurants whose terraces lie along the river bank. Everyone we met was so friendly and helpful, the ice cream stalls were incredible, the Slovenians we met spoke an impressive level of English and Ljubljana was also voted Europe's green capital. The city cares about recycling and minimising carbon emissions and this itself was so refreshing. I could talk about this incredible city all day but the best thing to do is go and see if for yourself, so here is your guide on what to do, eat and where to sleep whilst in Slovenia's beautiful capital.
How long to spend here?
Ljubljana is a very small city so you can see most of it in a day. However, I would recommend you stay for longer. There are lots of things to experience here and whilst you might be able to explore the city in 1 day, 3 days would be better if you want to go a little deeper.
Where to stay?
I have already raved about this hotel here, however when in Ljubljana there really is no where else to stay. Ideal location, competitive prices and most of all, the ethos of Hotel Park is in line with not only what Ljubljana is trying to achieve but with Slovenia as a whole. (Plus, the staff are amazing!)
What to do?
The first thing I would recommend is the free city walking tour. We done the Ljubljana Free Tour which meets daily at the pink church and lasts for a couple of hours. The informative guide will take you to the main points of interest around the city including the Old Town and The Triple Bridge whilst explaining the history of this fascinating capital. I would also highly recommend the Graffiti Tour, Ljubljana has some of the most incredible street art in Europe and its fascinating to learn the story and reasoning behind many of the images displayed throughout the city.
If you don't want to do the graffiti tour then alternatively you can head to Metelcova Ulica to see the graffiti yourself. There's also Ljubljana Castle perched at the top of a hill which offers panoramic views of the city. On Saturdays and Sundays there is the local market at Vodnik Square and if you are looking for something active to do, why not paddle board along the river to see the city from a different perspective.
Where to eat?
Ljubljana is a foodie's dream!
With countless restaurants and cafes serving everything from delicious cakes to gourmet burgers. You could spend a month in this city and still discover new, yummy places to eat. My absolute favourites are: Le Petit Cafe - This place is amazing!! It has a gorgeous French styled terrace serving the best eggs benedict and freshly squeezed orange juice you could ask for. It is the most perfect place for breakfast or brunch. If you're looking for a bite to eat in the afternoon then Slovenska Hisa has a bountiful selection of wines, cheeses and cured meats. With outdoor seating right on the river its a lovely spot to stop and recharge whilst sampling some Slovenian wine. For the best coffee in the city then head to Cafe Cokl, these coffee connoisseurs know how to make an incredible coffee. If you are serious about your food then you can also do one of the Ljubljana Food Walks, which is a tour of the city including stop offs at various restaurants to try local food and drink, whilst hearing all about Ljubljana from a local.
Credit Image @ Two Scots Abroad
Credit Image @ Two Scots Abroad
Ljubljana is a beautiful city filled with art and history, it's European architecture is perfectly intertwined with Italian influences which means in summer it feels like a gorgeous Mediterranean city with its flowing river and outdoor eateries. Although one of the smallest capital cities in Europe, it is undoubtably one of its most charming.