First things first – let me tell you how to say the damn place: Ljubljana is pronounced lube-e-ana – something I’m sure 50% of tourists don’t know how to say or spell before going!
A little intro to the country, Slovenia is below Austria and sandwiched between Italy and Croatia in Central Europe. You can imagine how beautiful it is now? My sister and I went for two days and two nights as a quick getaway and we loved it! Our first impressions getting off the plane were the greenery and mountains bordering every direction you looked and how wonderfully clean and fresh it is! We decided to visit Slovenia as it looked like an outdoorsy place with lots of choices for things to do and it was somewhere neither of us had heard of or visited before. I came across it through a friend who travelled across Europe a few summers ago and I was amazed at the beauty of his pictures. I had to go there myself!
It turned out to be a perfect choice for an inexpensive short break and was a really good balance for two people who have different likes – one being very sporty and one preferring city browsing, food and people watching. We flew early on Sunday morning and came back on Tuesday afternoon and it was definitely as long as we needed to experience everything as Ljubljana city is very compact.
DAY 1: We spent our first day wandering around the city (although almost everywhere is closed on Sundays – FYI), taking in Metalkova, an autonomous social centre in the centre of Ljubljana, at the former army barracks and headquarters of the Yugoslav National Army. The area has now been claimed by the locals and is an alternative, art and social hub that I imagine, and have heard, would be awesome on a Friday or Saturday night. We also hiked up to the castle and in the evening we found a small Indian restaurant a few minutes from where we were staying called Taj Mahal (no awards for originality here) but the food was very good. We stayed in an Airbnb (there are loads of options at great prices) by the castle in the east of the city centre and is was a great spot, around 10 minutes walk from the bus station that we used to get to Lake Bled and to the Airport, about 45 mins away.
I liked how the city is so small and full of quirky indie design, clothes and nik nak shops (think Oliver Bonas/ Kikki K) and loads of gorgeous cafes with outdoor seating, while the river’s lined with gelato stands and restaurants. The city is small but modern, with free Wifi throughout too! It’s also for one of the friendliest and cleanest cities I’ve ever seen – everyone has respect for the appearance and upkeep and that goes for the attitude towards health and hospitality also. The whole time we were there we saw runners and cyclists everywhere – there are actually no cars allowed in the city centre during the day and it is actively encouraging a healthy lifestyle. Ljubljana was awarded the green city of 2016 as they have cut emissions and waste to a minimum with underground waste collections and a pro-excercise way of life and it really shows in how laid back the city and the locals are and their way of life.
DAY 2: On our second day we took a bus to Lake Bled from the bus station (tickets were c.€11 return each) and my goodness we loved it there! It’s around 1.5 hours from Ljubljana and you could easily spend endless days there hiking, swimming, cycling or just taking in the amazing views. I’ll let some photos say the rest…
If you’re looking for your next weekend getaway in Europe I would definitely recommend Ljubljana ASAP (before the summer season properly starts) between June and September for a relaxing break in a stunning country. If I was to go back, I may well stay in Lake Bled and do a day trip to Ljubljana rather than the other way around to take advantage of the huge choice of water and outdoor sports there are available there. I would also like to take in the museums in Ljubljana that we didn’t get time to see and maybe do a SUP river tour as we saw this one sunny afternoon and it looked awesome!
A final roundup of the weekend costs for one person:
Flights: £80 WizzAir
Airbnb: £35 pn
Spending: £50 max