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Have you ever visited a city not knowing how to pronounce its name? Well I love visiting a city and learning exactly how the locals pronounce their city name. From Krakow (Kra-koov) to Sarajevo (Sara-yea-vo) to Plitvice (Plit–vich-ka) to Blagaj (Blagay). Now comes a toughie.
When planning my 14-day trip around the Balkans, Ljubljana was one of the cities I was most excited about, so I budgeted almost 3 full days from our already-tight itinerary. Once we got there, I felt like we had over-budgeted a little. Don’t get me wrong! Ljubljana is beautiful. The proof is in the pictures. But I felt that perhaps it could have been done in under 2 days. However, we put our time to good use and traveled a little ways away from the city!
What to do
1. Take a free tour of the city
One of the best things to do when you first arrive in a new city is to join a free walking tour to get your bearings straight. There are free tours all over Europe that work on a tip basis, so you basically just pay what you think the tour was worth. It’s a great way to see the sights even if you’re on a budget! There are lots of different tour operators nowadays, but one of the bigger ones is Sandemans New Europe Tours. The great thing about taking a walking tour with an experienced guide is all the rich history and culture they can fill you in on!
2. Walk across the Triple Bridge (Tromostovje)
The Triple Bridge as its name suggests is a group of three bridges that connects the Old Town to the New Town. You’ll also get a nice view of the famous pink church and Preseren Square from here.
3. Hunt down dragons
Look up photos of Ljubljana, and you’ll often find these dragon statues. And if you haven’t taken a selfie with this infamous dragon statue, have you really been to Ljubljana? You can find references to dragons all over the city, and even on their coat of arms, but you can find this mean looking one on non-other than the Dragon Bridge.
4. Walk around the cobbled streets of the Old Town
Ljubljana’s Old Town is really easy to navigate and is not too big so you won’t get lost. The architecure is simply beautiful! It’s also a pedestrian zone so you won’t need to worry about sharing the road with cars.
5. See Ljbuljana’s alternative side
So if you Google Metelkova, you’ll probably find an array of images of graffiti and odd-shaped buildings, which is excellent for a photo-op. Our free walking tour guide told us if you were looking for drugs and alcohol, Metelkova would be the place to go. Well, if none of that sounds appealing to you, then go bright and early while it’s still quiet before it turns into one of Ljubljana’s hottest nightlife spots.
6. Enjoy the views from Ljubljana Castle
⇒ DOLLAR SAVING TIP: You don’t have to buy the tickets up to the museum or viewing points, cause there’s also a viewing point you can reach for free that offers pretty much the same views!
You get a really nice view of the city – minus the fog(!!!), but I think the fog added an air of mystery to it.
7. Come for the Christmas markets
If you happen to be in Ljubljana during the Christmas season, you’re in for a treat! Ljubljana city is already beautiful in the day but it transforms into a whole different kind of magical at night, especially with the Christmas decorations! As with most European cities, you’ll also find Christmas markets around the Old Square.
8. Head off the beaten path
So as I mentioned earlier, we budgeted 3 full days for Ljubljana, but we found ourselves done in 2! So we had an extra day to spare which is when we found this quaint little town called Škofja Loka (Skof-ya Loka). It’s an easy bus ride less than an hour from Ljubljana’s main bus station. You can purchase tickets on the bus and they only cost €3,10 per person!
It’s a sleepy little town where we could actually count the number of fellow humans we saw. It was a really nice walk around town, without having to shove shoulders with fellow tourists. It was actually one of our favourite towns on our trip! If you have the time, I would definitely recommend you take a trip out here and just take time to breathe. Plus, it’s a super easy journey from Ljubljana. I would budget about 2-3 hours here.
9. Visit more castles and caves
I guess they say no trip to Ljubljana (or Slovenia for that matter) is ever complete without visiting Lake Bled. We took a tour with Slovenia Explorer and were picked up at 8.30am. Our first stop was at the famous Postojna Cave (Poss-toe-eh-na), one of the most famous caves in the world, where you are taken into the cave by train!
Here we got to meet the super adorable ‘human fish’ or olm. So ADORBS I wanted to bring one home! (I did. A stuffed version though)
Next stop was Predjama Castle (Pre-deya-ma). It’s a castle built into a cave. Pretty neat stuff! It’s also one of the top 10 castles to see in the world. There’s a legend here about a noble knight’s who died on the toilet. Cool.
Chasing daylight, we rushed off to Lake Bled, where we stopped for lunch before exploring the island and castle! Don’t forget to try the infamous Lake Bled Cream Cake! You can find it all over the Balkans but apparently, these are the real deal.
It was a really great day, and a must-do when in Slovenia. Though, coming in winter meant that we had less daylight, so by the time we reached the Bled Castle, it was already dark and couldn’t see the island church, thus the lack of photos. Of course, you can’t miss being rowed to the island by a single rower on a pletna boat – don’t miss this! He rowed about 12 of us, using only the palms of his hands! His hands were huge.
What to eat
Ribji trg 6, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia
We had lunch at TaBar, which might I say was one of our favorite lunches of the trip. Probably nothing pleases me more than good charcuterie, a cheese platter, and wine! Try the patatas bravas – they were so good. The lunch cost us €53 which was pretty decent for 3 of us + wine and beer! I was pretty surprised by the wine prices – €1,50 per glass!
Mestni trg 19, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia
I read good reviews of this restaurant online, so we decided to try it. Goulash is a must-try in Slovenia and this place serves it in such a cute way!
Trg francoske revolucije 4, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia<
This was a quaint little cafe near our Airbnb that was highly recommended on Tripadvisor too. Bear in mind when ordering hot chocolate in Slovenia, that it literally is hot. chocolate. As in, they pretty much melt a whole block of chocolate and add a tiny bit of milk. So the texture is pretty much like fondue, except in a whole cup.
Grajska planota 1, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia
Located within the Old Castle walls, this one is a great place to pop by if you’re visiting the castle! The food is great although a bit on the pricey side.
Where to stay
Find the best accommodations here.
So, have you been to this little unpronounceable city of Ljubljana? If yes, what was your favorite thing about it? And if not, make sure it’s on your list! Reach me in the comments if you’d like more tips on visiting Ljubljana 🙂
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