The first impression of Ljubljana was the best of any first impressions of any European cities I have ever visited. And in five weeks it didn't even fade much; it's now my number one recommendation for a short city break in Central Europe. I hope I've managed to capture the reason in the photo gallery below.
It's probably not the first choice for anyone who's number one priority is to visit as many well-known attractions, museums etc. as possible in a few days and then head back home.
But if you just want to relax in the most beautiful surroundings, have long lunches, even longer dinners, sit in cafes by a deep green river and watch the world go by, do some shopping, then stop for ice cream, drinks, etc. Then forget about Vienna, Prague or Budapest - and go to Ljubljana.
After a day of strolling around the city you have pretty much seen it all, that's the downside of Ljubljana. But if you get bored, Slovenia is a small country, and it's easy to go to the Alps in an hour or to the Mediterranean in two.
Lake Bled is highly recommended. Slovenia's international airport is located between Ljubljana and Bled, so it's easy to combine the two of them and have a multi-center holiday.
Where to stay in Ljubljana
The old town is an obvious choice, and that's where all the pictures were taken. Although it can be noisy in the summer, especially during the Ljubljana Festival.
The second choice would be the area between the old town and the train station.
The distance from the train station to the main square Prešernov trg is about 900 meters. And on the map the distance between the pictures 6 and 7 is just over one kilometer. So it's not a big city.
Things to do in Ljubljana
Ljubljana Castle up on the hill right next to the city centre is visible from most parts of the town.
It's not a long walk up from the old town and the paths begin at many places around the hill. There is also a funicular operating from Krekov trg.
The castle itself isn't very big, but it's has a cozy inner yard, images: Castle 1, Castle 2.
Most places at the castle are are free for everyone to visit. The only places that require a ticket are: Virtual Castle, Permanent Exhibition of Slovenian History, Penitentiary, Chapel, Viewing Tower, Museum of Puppetry.
For more information: ljubljanskigrad.si
Tivoli City Park is a large green area on the north-west side of Ljubljana. It is easily accessible from the city centre, the best way is to walk to the end of Cankarjeva cesta and through the underpass.
There are wide grass areas that are suitable for a picnic. As well as:
- University Botanic Gardens (image on the right)
- International Centre Of Graphic Arts (image)
- Open air photography exhibitions on Jakopič Promenade (image)
- Museum of Contemporary History
- Playgrounds for children, mini golf, etc.
While there seems to be a lot to see at Park Tivoli, I wouldn't still put it on the top of the list for Ljubljana. Not unless you are interested specifically in the museum or the Graphic Arts Center. But if you are in Ljubljana for more than a day or two, then why not. Especially since it's within walking distance from the old town.
There are at least three cafes in the park. One beside the Botanic Garden in the south-east corner, one in the middle in the International Centre Of Graphic Arts, and Mini Cafe Golf in the north-east corner.
- Clothes: Most of the stores are spread around the old town, so there are no streets in the city centre that could be named the main shopping streets. Some international brands, such as Benetton, Zara, Mango, H&M are found around the crossroads of Slovenska cesta and Čopova ulica. There are many small boutiques (like the image on the right) on Stari trg.
There is also the BTC City only a few kilometers away south-east from Ljubljana centre, which according to their website is one of the largest business, shopping, entertainment, recreation and cultural centers in Europe. And there is a shopping center CityPark.
- Groceries: For fresh groceries, and much more, the place to go is the Central Market, that is located between the Triple Bridge and the Dragon Bridge on the south side of River Ljubljanica. There are marketplaces inside and outside and the whole area is full of life, especially at the weekends.
Images: everyday marketplace, Plečnikove arkade (market hall), Open kitchen market at Pogačarjev trg.
- The best supermarket for groceries is found on the ground floor of the department store Maxi (between Plečnikov trg and Trg republike). It's right next to the old town, but easy to miss, if you don't know what you are looking for. Mercator on the ground floor offers almost anything needed for cooking, and completes what you can't find at the Central Market.
On Sundays there are at least two grocery stores open, both very close to Prešernov trg and Triple Bridge. The larger is Spar City on Čopova ulica, it's open until afternoon. The smaller one is Mercator on Stritarjeva ulica right by the bridge, and it's open until evening.
From the airport to Ljubljana
There is only one international airport in Slovenia, Jože Pučnik airport in Brnik. It is only about 26 kilometers away from Ljubljana, and often called Ljubljana airport.
There is no railroad from the airport, but bus is a good option. Timetables: alpetour.si. Choose Letališče Brnik = Airport and Ljubljana AP = Ljubljana Avtobusna Postaja = bus station.
The bus station is right next to the train station, it's marked on the map.
Weather in Ljubljana
Before I went to Ljubljana I was a little worried about the fact that there were so many rainy days in the summer. And now when I look back the month of June when I was there, there actually was 16/30 days that it rained. And it didn't feel like it rained at all.
It was usually clear skies in the morning and noon. In the afternoon sometimes it seemed that it might rain, maybe there were a few drops. And towards evening it was clear skies again. So I wouldn't worry about the weather in Ljubljana in the summer, even though there might be a raindrop icon in the weather report.
The temperature is usually around 28-32°C in the afternoon in the summertime.
Pictures were taken: June 2017.
Information updated: July 2017.