When you enter Ljubljana, even if you are just in simple and Soviet style suburbs, you sense that the world around you has changed. You can’t grasp what’s that, but something special is in the air. Something that you can’t frame into words or symbols.. You just look around with more and more curiosity, losing patience and almost jumping out to see, if there behind the corner you’ll see that mysterious something that creates this strange feeling of something special…
You arrive to Ljubljana downtown, and here you understand what was that something special that you were sensing.. You realize that you are in a fairy tale. The fairy tale town of your childhood books.
You’ll walk along the river lazily laying in bed made of stone and marble. You’ll cross all these cute and romantic bridges, some are always full of jolly crowd, others are more calm. relaxed and romantic.. You’ll hear music of forks, cheers and happy chattering, these sounds are spread all around by a cheerful breeze from the river..
You’ll stroll through crooked cobble stone streets running between beautiful medieval and romantic style houses. Some buildings will remind you of Austrian royal architecture, of Vienna.. Every once in a while your eyes will catch something unique cute and funny, like a little mouse shaped fountain or a kangaroo with a tap water.. or.. just keep your eyes wide open:)
Head up and you’ll see a fairy tale sweet castle hiding above you at the top of a hill. You might think why Slovenians like to live high on the top of hills & mountains.. Maybe because of the stunning views?:) Of course, you know the pragmatic reasons for choosing locations for castles & fortresses.. But in case of Slovenia you rather think about beautiful landscape..:)
Finally you’ll sit down at some open air cafe. Having a delicious apple cake. Listening to live music. And feeling: “I’m at home in my childhood. I’m in a fairy tale.”
What to see & do in Ljubljana:
- Walk along the river between Dragon bridge and Cobblers bridge:
- Inner side of the river is for fun shopping at open air markets and marble stoned galleries.
- There are plenty of cafes along the river. Indeed, it feels that the river front is the true heart of the city. The outer side of the river is for eating & drinking out with a view over the old town and the castle.
- The Must see bridges:
- Fairy tale Dragon bridge: you’ll see the dragons protecting a princess. Now, where’s the prince?:)
- Cheerful & artistic Butchers (Mesarski) bridge full of love padlocks and fun bronze sculptures. Give more time to this bridge: Some sculptures are not big and not so easy to find..
- Marvelous & vibrant Triple bridge always full of crowds of curious tourists and relaxed locals. This is a royal bridge – the gate to the city, bringing you from impressive Preseren square to the city center, to the Town Hall.
- Romantic & musical Cobblers bridge.
- Go to Ljubljana castle.
- Walk there through Gornji trg / street full of unique artistic boutiques, souvenir shops and small cafes and coffee shops. At the end of this street you’ll need do a bit of “climbing” up to the top of the hill. Not an easy exercise, but the stunning views (like the photo for this post) are your reward! And the walk gives you really an amazing feeling of immersion into the medieval fairy tale..
- Ljubljana castle is not as grand and not as impressive as German massive medieval fortresses. It is a small and cute castle. But it gives you gorgeous panoramic views over the city and there is a lot of entertainment in the castle. You can learn a lot about history of the region from 3.5M years ago to nowadays. There are unique and very nice arts exhibitions and cute museums and workshops. Check if there is something interesting going on, like Open air Film festival etc. Have a beautiful dinner in medieval atmosphere.. This castle is more than just a museum. It’s a part of normal city life. Hence, it’s open really long hours. Admission is free to major part of the castle.
- Take a funicular down to the city center. And continue exploring the city. You’ll find something cute and cool already next to the funicular stop:)
- Spend more time strolling through the narrow cobble stoned streets of the Old town. Peep into between the houses and check what’s there behind the arcs. Keep your eyes open. I guarantee you plenty of cute and funny discoveries are waiting for you, including some unique museums and galleries which are not marked in tourist maps, e.g. Tobacco museum.
- A little bit behind the Preseren square (Triple bridge) you’ll find an elegant Art Nouveau street – Miklosic street. What a joy for your eyes!
- Walk just a bit away from river, from its outer side – to Congress square which is full of cultural and historical points of visit: Museum of illusions, Archaeological parks, Slovenian Philarmonic, Slovenian School museum..
- If you continue walking along the river away from Butchers and then from Cobblers bridge you’ll pass City Museum of Ljubljana – MGML. It’s a good way to learn how the city lives..
- Further away from the Dragon bridge there is a very cool and unique arts place – Ghetto Sculpture. Check Trubarjeva street 72.
- Another great destination for artistic people – Metelkova mesto / an Autonomous Cultural Center. It’s amazing to see how former army barracks were transformed into a central point of artistic practices and events in Ljubljana.
There are many more other fantastic places to visit in Ljubljana, e.g. Tivoli park, National gallery, National museum of Slovenia, Museum of Modern arts etc.
Plan more time to explore and to enjoy this fairy tale town!:)
Feel free to comment or ask questions about Ljubljana!:)
Read more about travel in Slovenia: Things to see & do, Travel practicalities.
Read about the Emerald of Slovenian Alps – Lake Bled: Things to see & do, Travel practicalities.
Earn 15 euros when booking an accommodation at Booking.com. Use this link: https://www.booking.com/s/0fa1b1f3 . I’ve got this offer because I have done lots of bookings for my Balkans Travel marathon:)