On her recent tour of Croatia & Slovenia, Senior Copywriter Courtney was captivated by the city of Ljubljana. Here, she shares highlights from the day she spent in this quaint Slovenian capital.
One word comes to mind when I think back to the time I spent in Ljubljana: lovely. Everything I saw and experienced in this charming city made me smile. Relatively undiscovered compared to other European capitals, Ljubljana (pronounced “lyoo-blee-yah-nah” if you were wondering) is an under-the-radar spot that’s worth a visit.
The best way to see Ljubljana is by foot, so it was fitting that my group took a leisurely Sunday morning stroll with a local guide to get familiarized with our surroundings. After a full week of exploring the Adriatic coast, it was the perfect way to cap off our trip.
We left our hotel and walked along the winding cobblestone streets, learning about the small capital’s history as we made our way to the central Prešeren Square. Here, a statue of the famous poet France Prešeren looks longingly across the square to where another statue of his muse and unrequited love, Julija Primic, stands. From there, we continued along along the Ljubljanica River, passing by stores, restaurants and bridges. One had many padlocks attached to it, which reminded me of the famous “love locks bridge” in Paris, and another striking one was the Dragon Bridge, featuring the symbol of Ljubljana.
The picturesque city was quiet when we first set out, but locals began to fill the streets as morning turned to afternoon. Bikers rode by and street vendors set up stalls to sell roasted chestnuts and other seasonal specialties. The center of the city was closed to cars, so it felt as though the area was truly ours to explore. With this pedestrian-only center and protected green spaces, Ljubljana is recognized as the 2016 European Green Capital.
Outdoor markets and small shops are some of the most inviting features of the city. The usually bustling open-air Central Market was closed since we were visiting on a Sunday, but there was a flea market happening along the river. Interesting antique items, including everything from old postcards and clocks to silverware, were on display. After browsing and listening to the locals bargaining at this unique market, it was easy to find many opportunities for picking up other local souvenirs. Slovenia is known for certain products like honey, intricately-designed ornaments, handmade goods and chocolate, all of which can be found in the city center.
In my free time, I decided to pay a visit to the Ljubljana Castle, which sits high atop a hill overlooking the city. Inside the centuries-old citadel, there are several different museums to enter and even restaurants to try. There are a few different ways to reach the castle. The easiest is to take the funicular, which runs frequently from Krek Square. If you’re feeling energized and up for a bit more of a challenge, another way up is a walking path with wooden stairs. Whichever way you choose to make your way to the top, I’d highly recommend getting there! The views of Ljubljana below were stunning, and I could even see mountains in the distance.
After a day of exploration, my group of travelers shared memories of our adventure over a traditional dinner. Along with a hearty sausage and potato dish, we were treated to a delicious mushroom soup in an edible bread bowl—one of my favorite flavors tasted during the trip. As we walked back from the restaurant that evening, the buildings along the Ljubljanica River were beautifully illuminated. It was hard to say goodbye to such a lovely place, feeling there was still more to experience there. I’d love to return to this city in the heart of Slovenia and discover what else it holds.
Have you ever visited Ljubljana? Share your experience in the comments below.