Walking the calm streets of Slovenia’s capital city, Ljubljana, is a bit like taking a stroll through a modern-day fairytale. The stoic stone castle perched above the river-laced city sets the tone for sure, but it’s the calm, cobbled streets, sunflowers, pinwheels and flower pots that sunny-up the scene and urge the body to skip merrily through the city.
It really is just a little too pretty to believe. Willow fronds drape the walled river banks, drawing ripples in the glassy liquid. Sleek bridges connect the city over the Ljubljanica, and cafes dress the upper banks with a casual brand of riverside relaxation.
I channeled my delight in Ljubljana into happy-snapping, so here are a few shots from my visit.
Tips for Ljubljana adventures:
Make time for the markets in the city centre. Artisan wares are sold in stalls along the river bank, largely between Tromostevje and Mesarski most. Produce markets and other miscellaneous stalls occupy the market square at Vodnikov Trg. Unlike many city markets, those in Ljubljana sell more treasures than junk, and the vendors proved more than eager to talk about how and where their goodies were made.
Check out the castle events program. Ljubljana Grad, the hard-to-miss castle plonked bam-smack in the middle of the city, is not only awesome for being a castle, but also for hosting a delightful suite of events within the castle grounds. We took advantage of the evening cinema screening of Carnage (which was in English with subtitles) and enjoyed laughing until we cried under the Slovenian stars. Ask at the tourist information centre in the middle of town (castle side) as they have programs and sell tickets.
Hire a bike if you please. Now, I have to admit that I didn’t ride a bicycle in Ljubljana, but I did have full intention of doing so… until I was distracted (on multiple days) by the markets, cafes and parks found on my way to hire bicycles. The tourist information centre rents out bikes for the day and if they run out, will direct you to the backpackers in town that also rents out wheels.
Take a spin through Tivoli. Running the edge of the train tracks and sprawling out into a part-woodland, part-manicured garden space, this park is where locals exercise, dogs frolic and picnics can be held.
Taste regional dishes and drinks. I really enjoyed my meal at Gujzina: The Soul of Pannonia, which is located in one of the main restaurant and shopping strips, Mestini Trg. There, me, my fella and my sister enjoyed modern Slovenian food from the north-east region, including the award-winning Prek Murski Borjac (goulashy deliciousness), wild boar with plum sauce and a buckwheat porridge… followed by local varieties of schnapps, of course. Restaurant details can be found at www.prekmurska-gostilna.si. On a more modest budget, also try Moto Trade, which sits beside the river, opposite the big market square, and serves a big bowl of traditional vegetable stew for only a few Euros.
Mix street art and wine for a good time. Wandering along Stari Trg. looking at the boutiques and restaurants was lovely enough, but then I turned the corner into Gornji Trg. to see cute wine bars and a rainbow twine and pinwheel art installation that made my heart skip. I also enjoyed buskers, shoe sculptures and street art throughout the city centre, which is clearly all for embracing creativity and fun.