One Day in a City Itinerary – Ljubljana, Slovenia
Guest Post by Julie McNamee
Ljubljana may seem a bit off the grid when it comes to traveling around Europe, however it’s actually pretty uneventful to get to – and well worth the journey to see this gorgeous, up and coming city in Slovenia. When you’re staying on the right side of the Julian Alps, Ljubljana isn’t far – around an hour’s drive will get you there in an easy journey down the motorway. Or if you’re traveling from Zagreb, Croatia, it’s just a 2.5 hour train ride away. Once there, your one day in Ljubljana can begin.
Starting Your Day Right in Ljubljana
First, start your day off with a delicious breakfast. Le Petit cafe will serve anything you’d expect to see in a Parisian cafe, as well as eggs, toast, yogurt, etc., and it’s frequented by locals so you can sit and try out your Slovenian phrases on your table neighbor.
Next, if you’re in the city on a Sunday and in the mood for some shopping, pay a visit to the flea market on the Cankarjevo Nabrežje embankment – it runs from 8am to 2pm on a weekly basis.
More in the mood for culture? Make a visit to the City Museum. Note that it, like other museums in town, closes on a Monday. It has been refurbished in recent years and is a very impressively designed space with a reconstructed Roman street in the basement and an atmospheric permanent sculpture exhibition called “The Faces of Ljubljana”. You may even be lucky enough to see this colorful guy in a corridor off one of the main rooms:
Another haven of culture to know about is the photographic gallery, Jakopic, which sometimes hosts exhibitions, complete with beanbags to chill out on while there. Check the gallery’s current events when you’re in town to see what they’re hosting.
Eating Fish and Playing with Dragons in Ljubljana
For lunch try the slightly upmarket fish van parked at the Open Market, near Dragon Bridge. You’ll be eating off a plastic plate with a plastic fork but you’ll be eating well and cheaply. You’ll also be eating in the presence of the dragons of Dragon Bridge. It has been declared that a tourist cannot leave Ljubljana without taking at least four photographs of one or more of the four dragons posted at each corner, who are said to wave their tales as a virgin passes across. But beware while you’re taking those pictures as the bridge is for vehicular traffic – it’s not unheard of for a distracted tourist to come into contact with a local automobile. (An added plus of hanging out this area? There is public loo ‘at your convenience’ near Dragon Bridge.)
Scaling Ljubljana Castle
After lunch, take a walk around the shopping areas of the old town of Ljubljana. This area of Ljubljana somehow has missed a chain store invasion and you’ll find some lovely pottery and knick-knacks in the gift shops, as well as antiques and products made with honey. Also take a look at the slightly strange Cathedral doors made to commemorate John Paul II’s visit to the town in 1996.
The castle that you’ll notice looming over Ljubljana is well worth a trip up in the ultra-modern funicular railway. Using your two feet to get you up the hill is also a possibility. In addition to the exhibitions related to the 15th century castle itself, Ljubljana Castle has art exhibitions hosted in the buildings and films shown in the open air on summer evenings. There is also a restaurant and cafe with seating in the courtyard – a very pleasant way to spend a summer afternoon.
Dinner in Ljubljana
In the evening, take a stroll beside the Ljubljanica river and admire the quirky sculptures and street art, such as this piece of sunglasses art:
Next, settle yourself at one of the many bars and cafes for a pre-dinner cocktail, then for your evening meal seek out the Julija and Marley and Me restaurants which are very conveniently sat right next to each other on Stari Trg. Pick the menu that suits and eat at one of their pavement tables, watching the world go by and the street lights come on in this stunning city.
Ljubljana Hotel Recommendation
City Hotel is a central, quite good value choice – but have breakfast elsewhere. Their parking charges are on the high side, but there seems to be a lack of inexpensive parking nearby so it’s probably worth biting the bullet.
This is a guest post by blogger Julie McNamee who tries to find the quirky in everywhere she visits. Read more about her travels at Quirky Travel.
Ryan @Treksplorer says
I really loved Ljubljana, too! It’s very underrated as a travel destination; I’m actually really surprised it hasn’t become the next emerging go-to city destination in Central Europe yet. Thanks for the tour, Gina; you brought back a ton of great memories!
The only one! Yes, you definitely should get there then, Kristin. 🙂
Camels & Chocolate says
I have always had this strange obsession with Ljublijana, and seeing as the only country I haven’t visited in Western or Central Europe is Slovenia, I feel like I need to get on that!
I like that one, too!
Glad you enjoyed it! Europe is a wonderful place. 🙂
Interesting sculptures and street art! I like the one of the three priests.
Thanks for the lovely tour of Ljubljana, Gina! Love the dragons and castle aspect…a bit Medieval looking but still so fun. I need to spend more time in Europe.
Nearly went to Slovenia two years ago Gina. At the last moment we swtiched to Bratislava in Slovakia. Your photos make me almost regret that decision… althouth Slovakia was grand as well. Nice article and some great photos!
Tricia A. Mitchell says
This post brought back fun memories of my long weekend in Ljubljana several years ago. I remember strolling the Dragon Bridge by night, spontaneously attending a concert (and nabbing a last-minute seat front and center), and exploring the markets by day. Later, my husband and I would return to Slovenia to see the beautiful Predjama Castle, set in a cave. Such a beautiful country – I hope to make it there again soon.