During my time in Ljubljana I found more than a few local residents were very quick to tell me how small their city is, as if this is a bad thing, when in many ways it is what makes Ljubljana among the best destinations for a weekend city break. With a population of 280,000, Ljubljana is a small city with a big personality and plenty of history, dating back to Roman times the city was called Emona and was one of the Roman Empire’s military strongholds.
The most obvious reflection of Ljubljana’s history is the castle that stands above the city. Originally a medieval fortress, over the following centuries, the castle has been added to creating a mix of different architectural styles. It is also where you can find the best views of the city and is a great place to start to get your bearings. To find out more about Ljubljana’s history you should head to the City Museum, where you can walk a section of a 1st century Roman road.
The rest of the Old Town isn’t short on history either with the centre of Ljubljana boasting some of the prettiest examples of Baroque style architecture in Europe, and once you’ve explored that you should head to the riverfront and watch the world go by with a coffee or glass of wine in hand. Those were certainly some of my fondest memories of Ljubljana, that and the time I spent at Open Kitchen, a street food market that is held every Friday in the main market square, Pogačarjev trg near St Nicholas Cathedral. It totally opened my eyes to how international Ljubljana was with dishes being served up from Senegal, Thailand, India and Turkey. Go hungry to try as many as you can, but also leave room for some of the traditional Slovenian delicacies available.
One of my other surprise discoveries about Ljubljana was how green a city it is, not just in terms of its parks and green spaces, but in terms of how eco-friendly it is. Named 2016’s winner of the European Green Capital Award, Ljubljana’s environmental credentials are very obvious to see around the city from the number of people cycling around to the numerous recycling bins scattered around and the availability – and delicious taste! – of it’s drinking water at several water fountains. There’s even an app you can download to find your nearest one!
Money Saving Tips
- Go on a free walking tour of the city with Ljubljana Free Tour. Over the 2.5 hour tour which starts every day at 11am in Preseren Square. Volunteer guides give you an overview of the city’s history, people and culture for free, though tips are welcomed.
- Musuems in Ljubljana are free entrance on the first Sunday of the month so you should time your visit for that.
Did you know?
- The dragon is the symbol of Ljubljana and you can find many of them decorating the city’s bridges, buildings and landmarks.
- Ljubljana is both less than an hour away from skiing in winter or swimming in the sea in summer.
My personal highlight
Ana Desetnica International Street Theatre Festival was definitely the highlight of my visit, not least because the stage the acts performed on was the cobbled streets, bridges and town squares of Ljubljana. The festival also coincided with Ljubljana Festival, a summer-long festival that sees outdoor music being played in Congress Square and Ljubljana Jazz Festival which sees some of the world’s best jazz artists come to Ljubljana. I was lucky enough to see