The picturesque Slovenian capital has now become a short-break favourite and it’s no wonder as it’s full of old-world charm. This is thanks, in no small part, to its fairytale castle perched high on the hill.
The people are welcoming and friendly, the food, drink and accommodation is very cheap and there are enough exciting sights to keep you occupied for the weekend. It does attract its fair share of stag and hen parties, but don’t let that put you off – you could always go mid-week.
Getting there, getting around Ljubljana
Budget airlines EasyJet and Wizz both fly from London and First Choice have introduced a charter flight from Gatwick. The town centre is 45 minutes away by taxi and there are public buses too.
Once you’re in the city, the best way to get around is definitely on foot. If you lose your bearings, just look for the castle on the hill. In the summer months it’s nice to hire a bike for exploring.
Sightseeing in Ljubljana
There’s only one place to start, so get hiking or take the mini train up to the dramatic thirteenth-century Ljubljana Castle and Museum. The panoramic views mean it’s a great place to get your bearings. Other nice pieces of architecture worth seeing include St Nicholas Cathedral, the ornate Dragon Bridge and the Triple Bridge and Cobbler Bridge.
Art lovers will enjoy the National Gallery and Museum of Modern Art and Preseren Square is the heart of Ljubljana, and full of street entertainers. If you want a bit of green space, head to Park Tivoli.
Family activities in Ljubljana
Although they’ll love the castle and the whole fairytale look of the place, Ljubljana isn’t really a top destination for kids. It tends to be better for couples, although there is one great family distraction. A huge new Water Park is also available.
It’s divided into four sections including Sauna Land with steam baths in an underground cave, and there’s also a thermal spa section with massage beds. Another section is strictly for children.
If you’re all good at in-line skating and are there in the summer or autumn, join the fun through the city’s streets.
Day trips from Ljubljana
Slovenia is very compact, so if you want to see more of the country than just the capital, it’s very straightforward. Beautiful Lake Bled is about an hour away and you can hire a boat in order to reach the island castle in the middle.
Or, about 50km away, hop on the electric train and travel through the illuminated caverns of Postojna Caves, the world’s second largest cave system.
If you’re all a bit adveturous why not head to the Savia River near the town of Medvode. Its rapids are only a few miles away from the city.
Eating in Ljubljana
The Slovenians love Italian food, so you’re never far from a decent pizza or pasta dish. You’ll also notice plenty of German influences and warming soups and stews, slabs of roast pork and roast potatoes are on the menus of most local establishments.
You’ll find McDonald’s if you need a fast-food fix, or you could sample the local version and indulge in burek, a heavy weighty cheese pasty. Those of a slightly squeamish nature should be warned that Slovenians eat horse and foal. You’ll see it on many menus and there’s even a fast food place called Hot Horse.
Nightlife in Ljubljana
The city’s not really cutting-edge when it comes to nightlife but there are enough clubs and bars, particularly in the old town, to keep visiting party animals fairly happy. There’s a selection of jazz and folk venues too.
Ljubljana does have a thriving cafe culture though and in the summer, every square is full to bursting. Enjoy some good local lager and a bite to eat before hitting the clubs. Those who enjoy a more cultured evening should check out what’s on at the National Opera and Ballet Theatre.
Shopping in Ljubljana
This isn’t the place to go on a shopping splurge but it’s not bad for souvenirs and the odd trinket. The pretty old centre’s your best bet, where you’ll find a good selection of shops selling silver filigree jewellery, crystal and lots of handicrafts.
Centromerkur, an old-style department store is a good place to stock up on souvenirs and local products such as Slovenian honey, cured meats and cakes, which are all delicious.