Ljubljana, Slovenia’s capital city, is one of the hidden gems of Europe. The city’s rich history, beautiful architecture, green surroundings, and friendly people astounds more visitors every year. The streets of Ljubljana are filled with cafes, bars, and restaurants where visitors can explore the cuisine of the country and meet the locals. Though there are countless reasons to visit, here are 10 of the best reasons to visit Ljubljana at least once in your lifetime.
Ljubljana is a city with an outstanding history. It was 2000 BC when the Ljubljana Marshes was first inhabited by people living in pile dwellings. Later Ljubljana (then called Emona) was one of the most important cities in the Roman Empire. Artifacts from the era when Romans ruled this part of the world are still found to this day. The narrow streets and the architecture in the old part of Ljubljana city center, exhibit remnants of medieval times. It appears as if traces of history are shown in every part of Ljubljana.
Ljubljana’s central location makes the city a great headquarters while visiting Slovenia. From Ljubljana, most if not all tourist attractions in Slovenia can be reached by just a short car journey. A dip in the Adriatic Sea is only an hour and a half away. In the winter it is just a two hour drive from Ljubljana to Kranjska Gora Ski Center which offers beautiful ski slopes. Even traveling all the way to Murska Sobota in the eastern part of Slovenia will not take more than two hours with a car. Bled, one of the most recognizable Slovenian tourist attractions, is only half an hour drive away from Ljubljana.
Ljubljana is a city of music. Any day of the week and any time of the year, there is always a musical event happening in the city. Kino Siška, a center of urban culture, hosts contemporary musicians from various genres. Križanke is a unique venue in a building that used to house a priests convent. Those who enjoy classical music should attend an event in Ljubljana Opera House or Cankar Hall. In Metelkova Mesto, several small venues organize alternative concerts for smaller crowds. Alongside the music venues, small intimate concerts in Ljubljana’s bars also assure that there is never a shortage of music in the city.
The food in Ljubljana is known to be delicious and diverse. Stopping at one of the traditional restaurants will give visitors a chance to get familiar with dishes like Kranjska Klobasa, Soča Trout, Deer Goulash, and Kremna Rezina. Though most restaurants offer a vegetarian option on the menu, there are also many restaurants in the city that specialize in serving vegetarian and vegan food. The selection of restaurants offering food from different parts of the world is becoming more diverse every year and anything from Indian, Mexican, and Brazilian, to Middle Eastern, and Japanese cuisines and more are served in Ljubljana.
Ljubljana parks are the green oases of the city. Tivoli Park is the biggest and most popular in Ljubljana. In the city center, Zvezda Park is favored among the students, who like to hang there with friends. Throughout the city, there are several smaller parks like Park Tabor, Memorial Park Navje, and Hrvaški Park, where locals and visitors can stop for a moment, sit on one of the benches, and take a minute to relax. A short walk out of the city center, Ljubljana Botanical Garden contains more than 4,500 different species and subspecies. A walk through this park, established in 1810 is a must for nature lovers visiting Ljubljana.
Ljubljana city center is full of shops offering local and international brands. Fashionistas can find trendy wear in the luxury department store Galerija Emporium, or in one for the boutiques owned by local fashion designers. The thoughtfully arranged windows of small shops in Ljubljana are inviting and offer something for everyone. Handcrafted souvenirs, Slovenian food delicacies, unusual gifts, books, natural beauty products, art, and jewelry are just some of the goods you can find in charming Ljubljana shops.
Ljubljana architecture is a mix of various styles. Though the buildings sometimes look very different, they complement each other and work well together as a whole. Buildings and alleys in the old part of Ljubljana’s city center still show signs of medieval architecture. The predominant architectural styles in the rest of the city center are Baroque and Vienna Secession. Many important buildings and structures in Ljubljana were designed by Slovenia’s most famous architect Jožef Plečnik. The famous Triple Bridge in the middle of Ljubljana, The Central Market, The Slovenian National Library, and The Ljubljana Cemetery, are just a few of his most outstanding designs. Since WWII, different architects have added a modern touch to Ljubljana’s city center by incorporating contemporary style into the existing one.
Ljubljana is a bicycle friendly city. Though the city has very efficient public transportation, ever year more and more locals decide to make the bicycle their primary mode of transportation. Well marked bicycle paths around the city make cycling in Ljubljana very convenient and safe. BicikLJ, Ljubljana’s bike rental system, played a significant role in promoting bicycling in the city. Renting stations are located all over the town and are easy to use. Visitors are encouraged to rent a bicycle and see the city from a cyclist point of view.
Slovenians love drinking coffee and it is no different in Ljubljana. The city is full of cafés where locals meet with friends and enjoy a cup of coffee while they chat. Meeting for coffee is the most popular way to meet with friends in Slovenia, and a catch up can sometimes last for hours. Many cafés in the city are located on the picturesque Ljubljanica river bank. The outside seating area is a perfect place to sit down, enjoy a cup of coffee, and soak in the energy of the city.
Museums and galleries
Museums and galleries in Ljubljana offer an excellent way to explore Slovenian culture, history, and tradition. The National Gallery hosts the best Slovenian art from the thirteenth century up to the first half of the twentieth century. Visitors can admire works of most prominent painters like Ivan Grohar, Ivana Kobilica, and Rihard Jakopič. The Modern Art Gallery presents its exhibitions at two separate locations. Kapelica, a small gallery, hosts international contemporary investigative art, in forms of spatial set-ups, live art events, and theoretically-reflective lectures. The National Museum of Slovenia and the Slovenian Museum of Natural History are located in the same building near Tivoli Park. These are just a few of the more than eighty museums and galleries that welcome the guests in Ljubljana.