It has a medieval fortress and a scary dragon, but do not be afraid Slovenia's capital is a safe, lovely, amazing place in which to relax and have fun. Ljubljana is sophisticatedly pretty, with its candy-coloured baroque and ornate Secessionist architecture. There are decorative footbridges over the willow-shaded river, a romantic hilltop castle and cobbled lanes, streets, piazzas filled with a lot of café and restaurants tables. It feels like its austere, northern geometry has been tempered by sunny, southern joy of life. :-)
WHERE TO STAY
GRAND HOTEL UNION
In terms of location and architecture, this is the only place to stay.
It is a magnificent Art Nouveau building dating back to 1905, about 50 metres from Presernov trg and the Triple Bridge. It has been substantially refurbished in the past decade, and although its interiors have an international business-hotel feeling, the bedrooms are spacious, light and comfortable with slick granite bathrooms. Superb wifi. The swimming pool on the top floor is simply breathtaking with a great view. The staff is very helpful and all the time ready to help and assist. Wonderful breakfast; they have a nice and easy car park that is very convenient and...they do accept pets!
Perfectly located in the heart of Ljubljana, Adora hotel is a small and cozy hotel that combines old charm with modern comfort and convenience. At the Adora hotel they strive to make your stay as pleasant as possible, 24 hours a day, and help shape your stay in Ljubljana and Slovenia memorable. In a friendly family environment of a renovated town house, guests can choose between ten modernly equipped rooms. The hotels location, just out of reach of the hustle and bustle of the city, makes in a perfect place to relax and get a good night's sleep. In the morning a delicious self-service breakfast is available to every guest.
WHERE TO EAT
When you think of Cad, you think of cevapcici (grilled minced meat) and pleskavice (patties), which they are famous for. But stopping at that, you miss all their true culinary surpluses - their tack stake melts in your mouth and anything they do with mushrooms (great for vegetarians) is something you dream about for days on. A must try is theirir Sarma
What makes the whole experience even better is their staff - always smiling and with a joke in their sleeve to make you smile as well :).
The portions are big and you never leave the house feeling hungry.
Whether you visit in summer (you seat in their garden, under the trees) or in winter (next to their big fireplace), it is a must stop when being in Ljubljana.
It's not often you find a restaurant where the menu consists largely of one item, but when the famed Kranjska Klobasa is the dish in question then that's really all you need. Taking its name from the city of Kranj, this hearty sausage was at the centre of so-called 'klobasa wars' between Slovenia and Austria (and later Croatia) over the rights to the EU-protected name. History and politics aside, this trendy takeaway opposite the Cathedral is the best place to taste what all the ado is about. They also serve the traditional Slovene dishes jota and ričet, hearty stews that go great with the famed sausage.
Nominated for Best International Interior in the Restaurant and Bar Design Awards, Lolita Café is located in a former warehouse in the central historic district. The sleek yet feminine space delights the eyes with a palette of greens and pinks, restrained use of opulent silks and velvets and an extraordinary mural on the suspended ceiling featuring an old-fashioned lace-trimmed handkerchief with a portrait of a lady in the center. With high ceilings, exposed brick walls, lovely views through huge plate glass windows and comfortable seating, this riverside café leaves little wanting – it even smells delightful thanks to abundant bouquets of freshly cut flowers placed at the entrance. Delectable-looking cakes are displayed in purpose-built cases, and gourmet chocolates and teas are also on sale.
Druga violina specialises in good locally grown produce, a simple short menu of Slovene classics and a top location in the city's old town, but there's a twist in the tale with the 'other violin' (as the English translation of the name goes). It's actually a project for people with disabilities, who produce much of the food on a farmland near Ljubljana and also work as waiting staff in the restaurant itself. Come and see what it's all about, while enjoying one of the fresh local dishes either in the rustic dining room or on the delightful cobbled pavement outside, voted Best Restaurant Summer Terrace 2014 by In Your Pocket readers.
Situated between the central post office and Kongresni Trg on the city's main thoroughfare, once you get inside it's quite warm and cosy. The thick leather covers on the menus portend the ample selection of grilled meat dishes within, although vegetarians have a handful of a pastas and salads to choose from as well.
The Kavarna Union café, open since 1905, when the Grand Hotel Union was built, has a long tradition of serving coffee, tea, snacks and a fine choice of cakes prepared to well-tried recipes. In the evenings it hosts theatre, cabaret and variety shows. It has a lovely atmosphere and is the place to relax after a long walk or a busy day of work.
WHAT TO SEE
Ljubljana owes much of its beauty to the Slovenian architect Jože Plecnik (1872-1957), whose work defines the city just as Gaudí defines Barcelona and Haussman defines Paris. His genius lay in the way he replanned the city, opening up vistas and creating open spaces. A former colleague of arch-Secessionist Otto Wagner in Vienna, he worked in Prague remodelling its castle before returning to his native city in 1921. Here he began transforming the city, a backwater of the Austro-Hungarian empire for 400 years, into the Slovene capital it had become at the end of the World War I, when the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (which later became Yugoslavia) was created. He built bridges (most strikingly the Tromostovje - or Triple Bridge - that has become a symbol of the city), churches, the superb university library and a cemetery, all in a distinctive and strikingly original, neoclassical-meets-Art Deco style.
The other great Plecnik building is the colonnaded Central Market along Adamic-Lundrovo nabrežje, which is open 8am-6pm Monday to Friday, and 8am-4pm during the winter months. Much of it is devoted to fruit and vegetables. A lot is imported from Spain and the Netherlands, but there is local produce too. Some stalls sell nothing but salad leaves, great sacks of rocket, frisée, lamb's and oak-leaf lettuce. There are displays of honey and beeswax candles, dried mushrooms, hand-made farm implements, baskets, hand-knits and sheepskins. On Sundays, there's an eclectic flea market running south from the Triple Bridge along the Cankarjevo nabrežje riverside walk, where there are usually café tables. Open 8am-2pm.
This is one shopping experience that you should not miss. Ljubljana's oldest department store occupies a magnificent Secessionist building dating from 1903 on Presernov trg, the city's central piazza. Its interiors, attitudes to service and, in some cases, stock don't appear to have changed since the 1950s. No newfangled ideas of helping yourself hold here (except, thankfully, in the food department); the unsmiling lady behind the counter will fetch what you want, always assuming, of course, that they stock it. (You'll spot discreet reminders of Communism all over the city if you look for them; there are hammers, sickles and red stars among the flower motifs on the Art Nouveau wall panels of the Križanke monastery church, now a cultural centre).
Open daily from 10am to 9pm off-season, and 9am to 11pm from May to September. The best way to get a sense of the town is to visit the castle, Ljubljanski Grad. After a steep hike through woodland carpeted in spring with wild orchids and violets. Climb the 150-step spiral staircase of the tower (open daily 9am-9pm) for a view stretching from the snow-capped peaks of the distant Julian Alps down to the terracotta roofs and lazy, green river directly below.
THE ORTHODOX CHURCH OF ST CYRIL AND ST METHODIUS
This splendid church has a dark interior, heady with incense and decorated with icons.
Formerly the pleasure grounds of a 17th-century stately home, the Tivolski Grad - which is now the city's graphic-art museum - Tivoli park has a zoo as well as acres of formal landscaping, bisected by a grand Plecnik promenade. Better yet, there are paths that climb the densely wooded hills protecting the western edge of the city. The air here is fragrant with pine and it may only be 15 minutes' walk from the centre of a capital city, but it feels a world away.
Metelkova is an internationally-renowned alternative culture community in the centre of Slovenia's capital, that often draws comparisons to Copenhagen's Kristiania. A self-declared 'Autonomous Culture Zone,' Metelkova Mesto occupies the former 'Fourth of July' military barracks originally commissioned by the Austro-Hungarian army back in 1882 and completed in 1911. The space consists of seven buildings and 12,500m2 - making it a sort of city within a city - comprising a former prison (now Celica Hostel), several clubs, live music spaces, art galleries and artist studios. Dedicated to organising social and cultural activities for the public, Metelkova has a nonstop events schedule and is arguably the best after-dark destination in Ljubljana for those looking to experience something wholly unique and unpredictable.
CHRISTMAS LIGHTS AND MARKET
Holiday spirit in Ljubljana will bring warm fuzzies to the die-hardest of Scrooges!
Each year in December, Ljubljana's Festive Fair becomes the centre of the city's social life. The fair, set up in the immediate vicinity of a major open-air venue for festive events held daily throughout December, is well known for its vibrancy and cheerful atmosphere. Festively decorated green stalls, designed specially for the fair, sell a fine choice of products suitable for giving as gifts.
For many years now, the Festive Fair, with its countless food and drink stalls offering mulled wine, tea, liqueurs, sausages, and various grilled dishes, has been considered to be a major venue for what the locals refer to as 'the merry December in Ljubljana Old Town' and see as a perfect opportunity to bump into friends and acquaintances whom they may not have seen for a while.
What to Do
Gibanica Cake. This is just a small sample of a fantastic food tour I have taken thank to Visit Ljubljana
The tour will give you an insight into traditional Ljubljana dishes, which are today mostly prepared using modern cooking methods and have recently been given a new life as part of the much-acclaimed Taste Ljubljana project. You will visit five different styles of restaurants and taste five different dishes as well as five selected drinks. The tour last about 3 hours, We walked with Karen and was a wonderful experience and mix of food, history, lifestyle, social etc insght Slovenian life
VISITOR SIM CARD
Using Mobile Data or Call abroad is always a problem I discover this service and is great, fast and reliable and their customer service is second to none!! Tourists can order Visitor SIM online at www.visitorsim.si, which is available in English, Serbian, Russian, and Chinese, and simply indicate where they would like it delivered. When they arrive in Slovenia, their 10 GB SIM card will be waiting for them at their hotel room or wherever else they choose. With Visitor SIM, tourists will no longer have to look for a cafe or bar with free Wi-Fi, and they can even use the state of the art LTE network wherever there is coverage.
For just E15, Visitor SIM gives tourists 15 days of internet access with a total of 10 GB of mobile internet data allowance, and you have a Slovenian phone number as well!
This post has not been partially sponsored but I did get media rates during my stay at Hotel Union and was Offered Ljubljana Food Tour by Visit Ljubljana . For more information, check out my full disclaimer policy.