I heard so many beautiful things about the capital of Slovenia, before actually setting foot in Ljubljana. I heard that people are quirky, beer is cheap and the centre of the city is more walkable than a forest trail. Naturally, as part of our long drive in Europe, we decided to check out Ljubljana for ourselves. We had less than 24 hours at our disposal, so our schedule was quite tight. But what better way to explore the capital of Slovenia, but by wandering its streets totally aimlessly to satisfy our curiosity.
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Some of you might have read “Veronika Decides To Die” by Paulo Coelho. Young, beautiful and successful Veronika is a Slovenian woman who seems to have the perfect life on paper but decides to commit suicide. As a final note, she writes a letter to the press justifying her suicide, making everyone believe that she decided to kill herself because people didn’t know where Slovenia is.
The book happens to be one of my favourite, writings which truly inspired me to seek more information in regards to the capital of Slovenia, and find answers for myself: How is Ljubljana like? What is its vibe? What are the things to do in Ljubljana? I wanted to understand more about the fictional character and immerse myself in Veronika’s life…
Getting to Ljubljana
We started our Euro trip on the Eastern side of Hungary and drove all the way to the Algarve. We carefully crafted our path to ensure we get to see some new cities, Ljubljana being one of them.
Truth be told, we knew little to nothing about Slovenia, so we were rather excited to discover a new place. As we drove across Slovenia, it’s worth knowing that we had to buy a vignette in order to be able to use the motorways.
Purchase your vignette at any petrol station BEFORE driving on Slovenian motorways. The vignette for 7 days (the shortest period) costs 7.50 EUR. Make sure you follow the instructions and fix sticker properly on your windscreen.
Driving in Slovenia was fine for us. I read before that drivers get tailgated in Slovenia. Well, luckily, it didn't happen to us. Slovenians were decent drivers and seemed pretty chilled. Of course, we drove on the motorway. Be careful because driving on small roads can be totally different.
Visiting Slovenia is a must because Slovenia is such a beautiful country and we had so many times we were so surprised to see how incredible and varied the Slovenian landscape is. We passed through wonderful valleys, elevated hills and had incredible views of forested mountains. We went up and down the mountain and enjoyed some spectacular natural beauty. It was then we realised we should have stopped in Slovenia for more than a week to properly explore this great country.
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Capital of Slovenia: Ljubljana
As we got into the capital of Slovenia, the traffic became a bit busier. Not much, though, we barely waited in traffic for 2 or 3 traffic lights. We found the roads to be good quality and signs to be well maintained. Ljubljana looked clean and nice at the outskirts. It was actually quite quiet for a capital city. We enjoyed that. We drove to our hotel and parked the car. We showered, changed and had some well-deserved food, before starting our afternoon exploring.
Before arriving in Slovenia, we read a little about what to expect from Ljubljana weather. We thought it will be relatively cold, with a maximum of 10-14 C. To our surprised, the sun was shining and the weather was pleasant, I could go out in a t-shirt and a shirt. I had a sweater with me for the evening, but overall, the temperature was lush. Depending on when you want to visit, I put together a little bit more info about Ljubljana weather for your ease. July is the hottest month in Ljubljana (approx 20C) and January is the coldest (around -2C). You can enjoy the most amount of sunshine in July and the most amount of rain in October. As you can tell, Ljubljana doesn’t have incredibly high temperatures, which makes the capital of Slovenia a perfect place to escape the unbearable summer heat from other European countries. Even in March, we didn’t get disappointed but rather enjoyed the temperature.
There are several Ljubljana hotels we would recommend. For a starter, we would advise that you find something close to the city centre, or within a 20-minute walk. Prices are reasonable in Ljubljana and hotels are pretty decent.
If you are on a budget, we strongly recommend adding Ljubljana to your itinerary or on your list. For a European capital, prices are crazy good. If you can afford to spoil yourself, it’s nice to know that Ljubljana has plenty of great hotels, at lower prices than other destinations which offer similar amenities, but much higher price tags.
When it comes to finding great Ljubljana hotels, we recommend having a look at booking.com. This is how we found our accommodation. Have a look at this options which covers a large spectrum from budget to luxury.
Epic things to do in Ljubljana
There are quite a few things to do in Ljubljana but since we had limited time to our disposal, I’m going to first walk you through what we did in our short time. We mainly walked around the city centre. We really liked it, as we found various building styles with so many intricate details. We passed the natural history museum which was sadly closed. Maybe next time!
Once we reached the heart of the city, quaint, intricate streets revealed to us. There were rows of colourful buildings, which had so much charm and added character to the city. In a way, these streets reminded me of a perfect combination between Copenhagen and Transylvania. I got you intrigued now, haven't I? There were so many coffee shops around the city centre, but even more ice cream parlours. Of course, I bought an ice cream and savoured every single bit of it.
Slovenians seem chilled, having conversations over a cup of coffee. Having seen so many coffee shops around, it made me think that perhaps Ljubljana has an upcoming coffee culture.
No great stories start with a salad, but most of them start with a great glass of wine and a bunch of freshly made seafood. I wanted to go with the flow and simply go visit a Ljubljana restaurant which looked good then and there, as opposed to checking through review websites. I found that 9 out of 10 times I find a better restaurant, with better food and prices than when I specifically search for the ‘best in the area’ on review sites. In fact in Barcelona and Japan, I went out of my way to go to these places which were in fact horrible. How they got 5 stars from 14k travellers… I don’t know. But that’s a story for another time.
Back to my beautiful seafood restaurant. We were walking around the centre, shop hopping, buying lots of snack and chocolate when we stumbled across this seafood place which advertised freshly made seafood. The concept was very simple: sit down, check the menu, order and the lady prepared the food in front of you. This restaurant had amazing quality food and very cheap prices. We ended up having some wine for something like 1,30 EUR per glass. Crazy, right? I also bought a sauce from the shop, which I LOVE so much.
Once we finished eating, we continued our journey towards the famed Dragon bridge. We got there late at night so we enjoyed the quiet and solitude. I know many people say this is busy with traffic, but maybe it will be good to visit after hours like we did. There were no souls around. We continued our quest, on the side of the river. We found a cute bridge called the Butcher’s Bridge, with a glass bottom and lots of lockets all around. We were really inspired by the unconventional art we found in Ljubljana. The statues and sculptures, in general, were quirky, different than what you normally see in a city. Ljubljana was home to a darker art scene which I personally loved. Monsters, creatures, half human half beasts, were the predominant displays dotted all across the centre.
Our time didn’t allow us to take a trip to the castle? We could see how it sits majestically on the cliffs, overlooking the centre of Ljubljana. This is something we would definitely recommend that you do on your visit to Slovenian capital.
Here are a few more things to do in Ljubljana:
- Tivoli City Park - Large park full of gardens, paths and picnic areas.
- Ljubljana Cathedral - Beautiful cathedral with a baroque interior.
- National Museum of Slovenia - This is Slovenia's oldest museum.
- Museum of Modern Art - Collection of Slovenian art plus modern exhibitions.
- Slovenian Museum of Natural History - Permanent and temporary exhibitions.
- National Gallery of Slovenia - This is Slovenia's main art museum.
- Mount Saint Mary - Also known as Holm, is a beautiful part of a mountain located in the north of the capital.
- International Centre of Graphic Arts - Established in 1986 full of excellent art.
- Slovenian Railway Museum - Train and history lover, visit the Slovenian Railway Museum.
- Ljubljanica - Beautiful river where you can take a boat trip and explore the canal on the water.
- Metelkova - This is an autonomous social centre located in the capital city. Explore the alternative side of Ljubljana.
- Congress Square - One of the main central squares in the capital of Slovenia.
- Robba Fountain - 18th-century fountain with an obelisk, pool & 3 sculpted figures holding jugs.
- Ljubljana Botanical Garden - This is the oldest botanic garden in Southeastern Europe.
- Prešeren Monument - A late Historicist bronze statue of the Slovene national poet France Prešeren.
- House of Experiments - A science museum full of special events.
- Ljubljana Central Market - The Ljubljana Central Market in the capital of Slovenia was designed by Jože Plečnik in 1931–39.
- Tromostovje - Triple Bridge
- Republic Square - Also known as the Revolution Square is the largest square in the capital of Slovenia.
- Museum of Illusions - Collection of optical illusions for some afternoon fun.
Flights to Ljubljana
We drove to the capital and through the eastern part of Slovenia from Hungary. We tend to prefer land travel as we find it more relaxing. Besides I love driving so naturally, I will prefer it, as I am in control of my breaks, luggage size and privacy. I actually much prefer driving than flying, but this is not always possible. There are daily flights to Ljubljana from all major cities in Europe as well from other continents. For low-cost flights to Ljubljana, you might want to check Easyjet. Kiwi, Expedia and Momondo.
Check flights to Ljubljana
- Kiwi offers incredible flight deals.
- Expedia is a great tool for travellers hunting for flight + hotels deals.
- Momondo is a great flight booking site which has great rates.
You can expect to pay as little as £45 per person per flight. This, together with those cheap Ljubljana hotels, you are guaranteed to have a reasonably priced adventure, right in the heart of Europe.