With another weekend, comes another new place. A country never been before in this case for us, Slovenia, new capital city, Ljubljana, and great nature and landscapes as we would visit on the following day after first enjoying a whole day at the capital. It’s been a while we were tracking some flights here but these were always quite over the budget we would generally pay for just a weekend trip anywhere in Europe. Although it’s true we keep increasing constantly this budget since the days of the truly low-cost flights are gone to certain destinations, but with Slovenia in general it was always still too much to even consider bearing in mind our crazy unstoppable bug for travelling most of the weekends in a year.
The city, although small, has a very beautiful and large old town in a great state of conservation. For a long time it’s been a great project of gentrification where the otherwise once decadent and crumbling historical buildings, have been completely restored to their former glory. And incredibly, for Secessionist lovers, the city boasts a very large collection of this architectural style all over, mainly due to the fact that the city was destroyed in the 1895’s earthquake, being the Vienna Secession the new architectural style at that time, the true origins of the Art-Nouveau.
How long you should plan here depends if you want to visit any other place, like the Lake Bled, or even go to Trieste across the border in Italy. In any case, you should not plan any longer than 2 days as you will run out of places to visit on the first day. We planned the day of arrival for visiting the city, the day after for Lake Bled, surrounding villages and other lakes; and reaching Trieste for dinner. As for the last day before taking the flight back we did still enjoyed a walk in Ljubljana, sitting by the terraces along the river and a nice lunch. 2 days and a half was perfect for us to see everything we wanted and even reaching Italy for dinner.
Why we did come to Trieste them?. That’s a good point to answer. We did not know what else to do after having visited everything! And we were not in the mood of having again another dinner back in Ljubljana. But what was supposed to be a quick drive turned to be one of the scariest adventures we’ve ever had. If curious to find out, check the Bled travel guide for all the information.
Places for food? Well, something by now we knew is that on any East European/Slavic country you can have great and inexpensive food at canteens especially around the university area. These are very simple eateries where food taste really like mum’s food, and you will only pay a fraction of the usual cost as if you would be on a normal high street restaurant. We found one of such great place by chance while sightseeing right next to the main University Building in Congress Square. Of course, I would not be able to remember the name, if any, but around that square you can find many others. They serve proper local food, and you can get to know, speak and enjoy the company of local students, they were really friendly to us.
For further information about Ljubliana check Wikipedia and Wikitravel sites. Slovenia’s currency is the Euro (EUR). Please note that any price reference is true as from when this guide was created, therefore check prices in advance as with the time they change.
What to see and do in Ljubljana
- Ljubljana Castle Built in the 12th century, with new additions until the 18th century, this Medieval castle has Romanesque, Gothic and Renaissance architectural styles mixed together. It’s located on a hill overlooking the entire city. The best way to access it is via the funicular railway between the old town and the top station.
- Town Hall Square At the foot of the Castle. One of the most historical squares in the middle of the Medieval area.
-City Hall Originally dating from 1498, it went through a Baroque Venetian renovation between 1717 and 1719.
-Robba Fountain A Baroque fountain symbolising the three chief rivers of Carniola. The current fountain is a reproduction of the original which is located at the National Gallery.
-Ljubljana Cathedral Construction started in 1701 with the dome finished in 1841. The interiors are mostly Baroque.
-Mestni trg Street The main pedestrian thoroughfare all along the medieval town, parallel to the river and completely surrounded in fascinating architecture.
- Vodnik Square Following the Mestni trg Street towards the northeast. It offers nice views of the castle, and it is the location of the funicular or path leading to its top.
-Dragon Bridge Regarded as the most beautiful bridge of the Vienna Secession style it is located to the north of Vodnik Square.
-Statue of Valentin Vodnik At the centre of the square.
- Prešeren Square One of the principal squares in the city located right across the famous Triple Bridge that divides the old town and castle and the new city.
-Triple Bridge Connects the old Medieval city and castle with the “new” one. Since 1280 a bridge is located in this spot, the current dates back to 1842, which in origin was a single arched bridge, but in order to prevent bottleneck, in 1929 were designed the footbridges at both sides.
-Franciscan Church of the Annunciation The Parish church of Ljubljana, built between 1646 and 1660.
-Prešeren Monument Dedicated to Slovene national poet France Prešeren.
-Central Pharmacy Building Beautiful for its history and architecture.
-Miklošič Street Running towards the railway station it is filled with Secessionist buildings, including the Urbanc House.
- Congress Square area Few meters south from the Prešeren Square, also by the west bank of the river. The largest in the city, with plenty of monuments and sights.
-Ursuline Church of the Holy Trinity Built in Baroque style, completed in 1726.
-Casino Built in 1837 originally as a high-society meeting place.
-Philharmonic of Slovenia With roots dating as back as 1701.
-University of Ljubljana Occupying the former seat of the Carniolan Parliament.
-National Library On the same street as the University building heading south from Congress Square. Designed in the 1930s by Jože Plečnik it is another landmark of the Vienna Secession. You must visit the inside for a much better appreciation.
- Slovenska cesta The main street in the “new” town, and major shopping area of Ljubljana.
–Nebotičnik Building Finished in 1933 at 13 floors was for a short while the tallest residential building in Europe.
- Republic Square Behind Congress Square, home to governmental offices and the National History Museum.
- Opera House A block north from Republic Square, among the embassy district.
- Hradecky Bridge One of the first hinged bridges in the world, the first and only preserved cast iron bridge in Slovenia. Very sleek and elegant. Located at the far south.
- Railway Station At the northernmost edge of the city.
Jože Pučnik International Airport is located some 26km north from the city centre. The cheapest option to the city centre are public buses which run between the airport and the main Railway/Bus station for 4.10 Euros per way. You can buy your tickets from the driver. Otherwise, the next, yet more expensive alternative are taxis.
Coming overland from other parts of the country or the many surrounding neighboring countries is easy and straightforward. Venice and Trieste in Italy are a relative short trip. The corridor towards Vienna along Klagenfurt and Graz is one of the most used, either by road or rail. The line continues farther and links with Bratislava. At equal distance than Venice, is Zagreb in Croatia, but a much faster route merely hour and a half. And east via Maribor, the second largest city in Slovenia, one can reach Budapest in Hungary.
Within the city you will not need any public transportation at all, unless for going up to the castle where you can opt for the funicular railway. Since distances are short and the Medieval area of the city is fully pedestrianised, you can easily walk everywhere.
There is a good choice of hotels in the city for everyone’s taste and pocket, ranging from luxurious to smaller properties for what finding a good deal should not be complicated. A good and reasonable point to start your search is by checking some of our preferred affiliate hotel search engine such as Hotels.com, Booking.com, Expedia, Otel.com, Agoda, Opodo, LateRooms or Ebookers.
We were extremely lucky to be at the top hotel in the city. The Grand Hotel Union in Miklosiceva 3. A beautiful Vienna Secessionist style building, 5* property. Not only that the rooms were incredible beautiful, comfortable and luxurious, the breakfast was also among one of the best ever, including champagne why not. Our luck was that the fares were really low on these days due to the refurbishment works being carried out on the annex building, meaning noise and dust, which even did not affect us at all for having different times and plans. Highly recommended, although I am sure a deal as the one we got will certainly be impossible to manage anymore.