Me and hubby got back from our 2-week Slovenia road trip just over 2 weeks ago. We kicked off our Slovenian adventure with 2 nights in Ljubljana as the airport is a mere 15/20 minute drive away.
Ljubljana (still no idea how to say it… maybe loo-be-ah-na?) is the capital city of Slovenia, and also the largest. It’s tiny though really. The city centre is car free and located along the Ljubljanica river so is a delight to wander around.
In this Ljubljana city guide I’ll let you in on everything I learnt about this pretty little city including where to stay, what to see, where to eat and where to stock up on those all-important road trip supplies.
I thought I’d break tradition and actually get on with the million blog post ideas I’ve got swirling around in my head! Just a side note, if you are interested in Iceland, Scotland, Rome, Florence, Sorrento or Venice I’ve got a million and one posts to write on these as well so keep an eye out (or subscribe to my email list at the bottom of this post).
But right now lets get into it…
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Ljubljana City Guide – everything you need to know
Where to stay
We picked up our hire car from the airport so we would be road trip ready as soon as we left Ljubljana. As I mentioned earlier the city centre is car free so the accommodation in the centre doesn’t have its own parking. This does mean you will have to park in a local car park and then trot on over to your hotel.
We stayed in Old Town Rooms and Apartments in the upper floor one-bedroom apartment (number 2). It was a beautifully clean apartment and the bed was super comfy! We didn’t actually use the kitchen as there are literally so many restaurants right on the doorstep. The apartment was an absolute bargain at £150 (172 euros) for 2 nights.
The owners helpfully emailed us a PDF of nearby parking options (including prices) before we left the UK. We chose the most expensive but most convenient and secure option. A covered, underground parking garage (Komenskega ulica 28) which has a maximum daily rate of 15 euros. As we were not going to use the car at all we could just leave it there and pay 30 euros on the way out.
It was very secure with full roller shutters on entry and exit to prevent pedestrians entering and all doors back into the parking garage only open with a parking card, so tom, dick and harry can’t just walk in off the street.
The walk to the Old Town Rooms took about 5 minutes. There is a closer lot just across the road but it’s an unofficial looking gravel car park with limited spaces.
What to see
You would think 2 days wouldn’t be enough to see a capital city, but you would be wrong. You can easily do Ljubljana in one day. We actually only had a day and a half as we arrived in the afternoon on our first day and we even managed to retrace our steps on the second day to get better photos (Don’t ask…!).
If you are staying at Old Town like us head out of your apartment and turn right. You will see the dragon bridge right there, in fact I hope you saw it on the walk to your apartment as it’s pretty obvious. There are 4 large dragon statues on pedestals, 2 on each end. Knock yourself out taking selfies with the dragons but mind the cars as this isn’t a pedestrian bridge.
Head back towards the apartment and keep walking straight on you will see the more modern looking butchers bridge. This is a pedestrian bridge covered in love locks and decorated with strange mythological bronze sculptures. This bridge connects the market area with the restaurant filled Petkovšek Embankment.
Keep walking along past the restaurants and you will reach a large square with three stone bridges on your left. This is the aptly named triple bridge. The original bridge, in the middle, built in 1842 was enlarged to include the two outer pedestrian bridges in 1932 to stop it becoming a bottleneck.
Cross the triple bridge and continue walking alongside the river until you come to Cobblers bridge. Another concrete bridge decorated with Corinthian pillars.
Franciscan Church of the Annunciation
Yes, this is the famed pink church. Although they call it red. You were waiting for me to mention it I know. Cross the cobblers bridge and walk alongside the river back towards the triple bridge. There at the head of Prešeren square sits the beautiful baroque style church. It is the parish church of Ljubljana and if your unlucky like we were they will be actually using it when you decide to visit meaning you’re not actually supposed to go in (which we did by accident!). Oh well stand outside and take photos instead, it was the pink I was interested in anyway..
Cross back over the triple bridge and head straight on along the street in front of you. You will come face to face with Robba fountain in the town square. Inspired by Bernini’s fountain of the four rivers in Romes Piazza Navona (yes I’ve seen that too!) but this one is actually a replica. Why they felt the need to move the original fountain to the National Gallery I don’t know.
Ljubljana town hall
From the fountain look right you will see the white building with the clock tower. This is the town hall.
St Nicholas’ Church (Ljubljana cathedral)
From the same fountain, now head left towards the beautiful church in front of you. It seems a shame that it is now somewhat boxed in by the surrounding buildings. The inside of the church is simply stunning do not miss it. The bronze side door features pretty cool, albeit a little strange, head sculptures. Apparently of the 20th century bishops of Ljubljana.
To get to the castle you can take the funicular both up and down or you can opt to walk up instead. To save time and our legs we took the funicular. I’d probably start your day with this one as the queue for the funicular can get rather long. The ‘castle’ was originally a medieval fortress, today it’s not much to look at to be honest as it’s been modernised quite a lot. There is a large courtyard with a restaurant where you can grab some food and drinks. For panoramic views of the city you should climb the tower. There is also an exhibition of Slovenian history and museum of puppetry if that is your thing.
If you like street art head over to Metelkova, a short 15-minute walk from the city centre. Metelkova is a former military barracks which has been squatted since 1993, now home to artist studios and nightclubs it is a self-proclaimed autonomous neighbourhood. During the day its rather quiet and you can wander around enjoying the street art. Apparently at night it really comes alive. A word of warning, I wouldn’t have felt comfortable visiting this area alone. There were a few shady looking characters around clearly on some sort of drugs.
Where to eat
Fany and Mary
Literally 2 minutes’ walk from the Old Town apartments their burgers are delicious! We even went back the second night and had the pizza.
This is a desert restaurant and everything looks amazing. We went before dinner so we just had drinks. I tried a hot chocolate, banana, cinnamon concoction and it was absolutely disgusting, but I’m sure the other things on the menu are nice.
Where to stock up on road trip supplies
If you want to get a head start on your road trip you can stock up before you leave Ljubljana. Just remember you have to be able to carry it all to your car.
If you cross over the dragon bridge and turn left a short walk up the road will bring you to a Hofer supermarket, it looks like the Slovenian version of Aldi. There is also a Spar next door but this was shut when we went.
You might also want to look up the Slovenian translations of staples such as milk (mleko) before you go or you will be googling in the shop like we were. (Also on the subject of milk let me just tell you they don’t do skimmed, semi-skimmed or whole milk like we do, the fat % is on the bottle and for example semi-skimmed is about 1.5%.)
If you found my Ljubljana city guide useful let me know in the comments below & don’t forget to share it with your friends!
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