Two weeks ago, I got the lovely chance to visit the beautiful city of Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia. Why you may ask (because I actually got this asked a lot) and I will tell you why. The fairly small city, which inhabits 280,000 people, is just the right size to see enough of it on just a weekend. Looking for info on what to do in Ljubljana during a weekend trip? Read on!
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I thought it was quite entertaining that every second person I told I would be in Ljubljana for the weekend was followed by the question “why?”.
I think it is vital to get out and travel somewhere outside your comfort zone and the usual suspects. Whilst my friends suggested Paris, Rome and London, which are all fine, it is sometimes also nice to go to a city that is not (yet) overrun by tourists. Or at least that’s how I would categorize Ljubljana. There are many reasons to pay it a visit, so here are some of my reasons, besides the fact that it is very close.
What to do in Ljubljana: Explore the town and the fascinating architecture
As already mentioned, only 280,000 people live in Ljubljana, which in my opinion, makes it quite a small city. Once you visit (or at least I hope you will visit), you will also notice that because the town is relatively small, it is also easy to explore. All the main attractions, restaurants and basically where the city lives, is within a very small radius that can be walked in 20 minutes.
There is a town square, with the Ljubljana castle looking right over it, a few interesting historical structures and many bridges. A stroll through the city centre gives you a better feel for the area. It is a very young city, with the average age being lower than, for example, Frankfurt in comparison. If you don’t feel like walking around too much, you can also rent a bike for a few hours or for the day. The prices are quite low.
It fascinated me to see that many old structures and buildings are preserved very nicely. The country’s history is definitely also portrayed in the architecture, with breathtaking older buildings and quite more poor-looking, standard buildings in the outskirts. The pre-war and post-war structures are very evident of their time.
What to do in Ljubljana: Taste the food
Ahh, yes – the food! For every foodie, the food scene is also just as important. What’s their cuisine like? What do the locals eat? Will I find something to eat that I will like? These are some of the questions you may ask yourself. But, have no worries, because I am sure that you will.
The food has a lot of influence from neighbouring countries, which is very evident when you look at restaurant menus. With Italy just around the border, there is a lot of Italian influence. Pizza? Pasta? Gambretti? Creeps up in the menus a lot. Risotto even seems to be a standard. Then, you also have the Hungarian-Austrian influence, with many cold-cut slices of meat, sausages and more ‘heavy meals’. This seems to be more of the national food.
However, if you are looking for a great date-night restaurant for fine dining, Valvas’or Restaurant in the heart of the city has got you covered. The food was delicious, the menu mouthwatering, and the wine impeccable. And yes, I mentioned everything is cheap, right? Yes, I did, but I thought I’d mention it again. When was the last time that two people paid 100€ for a three-course meal and a bottle of wine? Fear no more because here you can.
What to do in Ljubljana: Go to Lake Bled
One of the biggest reasons why I actually wanted to go to Ljubljana was because of Lake Bled, I must admit. I saw the fascinating lake’s pictures on a Travel Bucket List a while ago, and I knew I had to go there. The scenery is like one out of a postcard. The lake, the island, the nature – it is all fascinating! But how do you get there? Simple! First of all, any hotel or hostel you stay at will probably have information on how to get to Lake Bled. But if you want to do your research in advance, like me, here is how.
You go to Avtobusna postaja Ljubljana (the main bus station) and ask for the bus that takes you to Bled. It leaves every hour, on the hour, from 6 a.m. until 9 p.m. It takes about 1 hour and 20 minutes to arrive (yes, it is a little out of town), but so worth visiting. The bus ticket costs 6€ from what I remember for adults, one way. Also, on the bus ride over, you get to see more of the city and the surrounding countryside. Did you know, for example, that Ljubljana was the Green Capital of Europe in 2016? You will be surprised by how much green you will see on your ride out of the city. Nature is really impeccable!
Once you are at Lake Bled, you may be overwhelmed with what to do. It is nice to go and actually visit the island, but also to walk around Lake Bled. You can also rent a bike and you can also rent a boat and row yourself out to the island. I would not suggest this option unless you are sporty and good with rowing boats. Especially on a windy day! The day we visited was lovely and warm, but it was sometimes quite windy. I watched a man trying his best to row the boat out, only to proceed about 5 meters in half an hour. I felt sorry for him! The best thing is to probably go on one of the boats that take you to the island, especially from a point where the island is closer (as there are many points from which you can approach it).
We decided to rent a bike and cycle around the island. I can tell you that it was the best decision we had made on the trip. Once you arrive, you may be surprised by the lake’s size because pictures make it look bigger to the eye. When you arrive, it somehow looks smaller, but looks can be deceiving. A lap around the Lake is still about 6 km, which is not too shabby. A bike is a perfect way to explore and get some sport in, but much quicker. After all, you can take pit-stops anywhere you like with your bike too, for photo-ops. And yes, there will be many photo-ops because the island is just that goddamn beautiful!
What to do in Ljubljana: Conclusion
Have you fallen in love yet? I hope you have because I definitely did! What a superb trip to a splendid city. Ljubljana and Bled, you have surprised me! I will visit for a second part of “what to do in Ljubljana” tips!