48 Hours in Ljubljana

48 Hours in Ljubljana

Ljubljana. So beautiful, so hard to pronounce.

When we started to organize this journey to Slovenia, we planned to skip Ljubljana,  focused on exploring the dramatic countryside instead. But as we booked flights and a car rental for the week, we found it to be a better value to stick around the city for a few days.

After our 48 hours in Ljubljana, we are so happy we did.

48 Hours in Ljubljana

48 Hours in Ljubljana

The core of Ljubljana is around the Ljubljanica River, which meanders through the historic part of town. There are dozens of bridges that connect the two parts of the city, each unique and different. Cafes and restaurants line the river, and a warm late spring sun drew the crowds outdoors to enjoy a coffee or a cocktail in the abundance of riverside seating.

We arrived to Slovenia during the shoulder season, that magical time of year when the nice weather has arrived but the hoards of tourists haven’t. The streets were active, but not crowded. The main square, Prešeren Square, wasn’t packed and there was no issues with snagging a table for dinner, even at some of the best dining destinations.

The weather cooperated as well, granting us much needed sunshine from our normal backdrop of gloomy London.

48 Hours in Ljubljana

48 Hours in Ljubljana

Ljubljana is best explored by foot, which was exactly what we did. Unlike other eastern or central European cities, the historic core consists of wide boulevards and sidewalks, rather than tiny, narrow alleys and sidewalks that barely fit one person. We noticed clear influence from all of the empires that have controlled this area of the world at one time or another – decorative Viennese architecture, Roman pillars and colonnades, and practical Communist buildings, no frills to be seen.

To get the best overview of the city, we took a trip up the hill to Ljubljana Castle. The vantage point from the tower is spectacular, providing 360 degree views of the city and the surrounding mountains. While many places like this in other cities are almost purely a tourist trap, we saw tons of locals with their kids enjoying a picnic or riding their bikes up the hill from city centre. You can enter the castle grounds for free, so it makes it an ideal spot to relax.

We took advantage of the Ljubljana Card, which, for €27 for 48 hours, allows for free admission into 15 museums around the city, as well as free bike rental and boat tour along the Ljubljanica River. After a long day walking around the city, we used the Ljubljana Card to ride the funicular to the castle, a brisk minute or two of increasingly stunning views. Entrance to the castle tower and onsite Slovenian History Museum was also included on the card.

48 Hours in Ljubljana

48 Hours in Ljubljana

48 Hours in Ljubljana

The food of Ljubljana could best be described as eclectic. Given its position near Italy and vast region of Central Europe best known for hearty wintery cuisine, we got to try pastas, and light bouillabaisse, alongside bear ravioli (yes, that really exists) and braised meats.

The highlight of the region is an abundance of truffles, which grow everywhere and are literally available on every menu and on the most random of dishes.

We made a point to have truffles with most meals and we still aren’t sick of them.

48 Hours in Ljubljana

48 Hours in Ljubljana

48 Hours in Ljubljana

48 Hours in Ljubljana

We like to talk about where we would bring all of our family for an all expenses paid holiday (the one we’re planning when we win the lottery, complete with charter planes and luxurious decadence) and we’ve decided that Ljubljana is now high on the list, alongside Austrian wine country or Richard Branson’s private Necker Island.

We found Ljubljana to be a great jumping off point to our exploration of Slovenia and the Istrian coast. For those who don’t explore Europe often, Ljubljana is easy to navigate and English is spoken widely. The long and storied past of this area of the world is fascinating to anyone with even the slightest interest in history.

We’ve heard from other travelers that Slovenia surprises and delights – it’s an unexpected gem in the heart of the Alps, with a fairytale sensibility.

We heartily agree, and we’ll be putting down the deposit for that ridiculous family vacation as soon as we grab that winning lottery ticket.

48 Hours in Ljubljana

48 Hours in Ljubljana

Have you been to Ljubljana? What was your favorite part?

Pin it!

48 Hours in Ljubljana

FANCY A DRIVE WITH US?
SUBSCRIBE TO RECEIVE OUR MONTHLY NEWSLETTER AND OUR AWESOME EBOOK, “52 ONE WEEK VACATIONS”, WHICH SHOWCASES FABULOUS TRIPS THAT CAN BE DONE IN ONE WEEK!
  • April 23, 2016

    What a beautiful city. I love when you can get a pass to visit the museums and it looks like you had beautiful weather… your pictures are stunning. I’m definitely considering trips to this area and will add this to my list!
    Tonya recently posted…4 Other Things that Make You a Distracted DriverMy Profile

    • April 25, 2016

      Highly recommended. Actually, the whole country was spectacular and is now one of our favorite countries in all of Europe!

  • April 23, 2016

    I love travel stories that take unexpected detours for the better. It sounds like that is what happened here. I am fascinated with less-traveled European destinations, and this article has piqued my curiosity about Ljubljana and Slovenia even more. How interesting that truffles are so readily available there. I sampled truffle pizza in Rome last December, and I am still deciding whether I like the pungent, earthy flavor. Enjoyed your photos, as always!
    Howard | Backroad Planet recently posted…Visit Historical Natchez, MississippiMy Profile

    • April 25, 2016

      If you want to try truffles, Slovenia and the Istria region of Croatia are the places to go. More affordable than areas of France and Italy, and the scenery is even a little more beautiful, if you ask me!

  • April 23, 2016

    Ha Ha I agree, it’s so difficult to pronounce Ljubljana! 🙂

    It’s very beautiful and your pictures prove that again. It has been on my mind since last few years. I know people skip it while traveling to neighboring countries but I am not going to do that.
    Thanks for sharing & supporting m y decision again.
    Nisha recently posted…A Dance Drama called BarongMy Profile

    • April 25, 2016

      Definitely don’t skip Ljubljana or Slovenia in general. Really stunning destination that should be visited by more people. Some of the most surreal landscapes I’ve seen in Europe.

  • April 24, 2016

    I often find places that are hard to pronouncr to be magical and mysterious. Ljubljana (sp?) doesn’t seem like an exception to that. I love places that are underrated. Those are exactly the kind I like to explore!

    • April 25, 2016

      Great job on the spelling! It is strange to have a word with two “lj” combos,,

  • April 24, 2016

    OMG! this is an awesome place to stay, very slow paced. Would love to visit it soon.
    Bernard recently posted…10 Attractions To Avoid !!!My Profile

    • April 25, 2016

      very beautiful city, that is large enough to offer a lot to visitors, but small enough to easily explore in a few days.

  • April 24, 2016

    I am planning to visit briefly in a couple of months time, so this was a great read! Thanks for mentioning the tourist card, as this is a great money saver, especially for someone who is a museum buff such as myself!
    Dave Briggs recently posted…Meteora Hiking Tour – Walking Through An Inspiring LandscapeMy Profile

    • April 25, 2016

      The Ljubljana is definitely worth it. Check out our site in the coming weeks, as we traveled all around Slovenia and will have more articles about the Slovenian countryside, which shouldn’t be missed.

  • April 25, 2016

    Sounds like a really charming city – we only passed through Slovenia, so I would love to get back. I was on a contiki tour and we did a stop over of a few hours on route and had a bit of time to explore. Would love to spend some actual time in the country though, and Ljubljana sounds like a great base to start 🙂

    • April 25, 2016

      Definitely a great base, as it is centrally located. Lake Bled is only about 45 minutes north and the extensive cave systems you can tour are only 45-60 mins away. A shockingly stunning country, with a truly charming capital.

  • April 25, 2016

    I bookmarked it just after seeing your photos, I love that dragon! Its always great to read of places like this, living in Singapore the architecture and energy is extremely different. I have to give Ljubljana a try sometime soon 🙂 (maybe just to get some of those strawberries)
    Mar Pages recently posted…Things to do in SayulitaMy Profile

    • April 25, 2016

      It is still a little off the radar, so there were few tourists around the city and countryside. You should go before everyone finds out about how beautiful it is!

  • April 27, 2016

    A country with a great abundance of truffles? Sign me up! I’ve never been to this part of Europe and I’ve been really curious on going to a Northern and Eastern European trip. I’ve seen pictures of the countryside and it is out of this world! Happy for you guys! More power to your travels!
    Trisha Velarmino – P.S. I’m On My Way recently posted…What a time to be alive in SiargaoMy Profile

    • April 29, 2016
      Julie

      We loved this area so much. Slovenia is a small country but has the small and lovely capital but then also mountains and more tropical areas. It is fantastic! Our only complaint is that they moved to the Euro before we arrived, which makes everything more expensive 🙂

  • June 22, 2016
    Jon Dunn

    I’m just back from 10 days based in Ljubljana and echo your sentiments. One of the finest cities I’ve ever visited, along with Zadar, in Dalmatia.
    It’s friendly, green, compact, affordable and vibrant, with loads going on day and night. I also got out to visit old towns like Kamnik, Skofja Loka, Bled – if in Bled, do try and get 4 km further to walk the length of Vintgar Gorge, which is absolutely incredible.
    Great pics and review, good luck with the lottery numbers 🙂

    • June 22, 2016

      Glad you agree! We tried to do Vintar Gorge, but hadn’t opened yet for the season. We are definitely going to head back to Slovenia again though, since we loved it so much. Next time, we’ll definitely do the Vintar Gorge!