Ljubljana – A charming and mysterious surprise
September 14-15, 2014
In our previous post, ‘Once upon a time in Bled, Slovenia’, we highlighted our stay in the tiny fairytale like town in northwest Slovenia. Well it’s not just Bled that we fell in love with; Ljubljana was charming in its own right.
We arrived in Ljubljana around 5 PM after a six-hour, adventurous drive from Split, Croatia (Read about our road trip here: Driving in Slovenia – Lesson learned). The drive took us north along the coast, through the Dinaric Alps, through Zagreb and finally across the border into Slovenia. Despite a few downpours, the drive was beautiful as we drove parallel with the mountains, along the sea until we entered the network of tunnels that take you through the Alps and through inland Croatia. Yes, these are legit mountains and they line the entire coast.
We had the luxury of staying at the Four Points by Sheraton (which we booked using SPG points, click link for our review). The hotel staff were fantastic, providing directions and recommendations, and they genuinely cared that we enjoyed our stay at both the hotel, and in Ljubljana. I should also mention that they were patient as we pushed our late check-out until almost 4 PM!
The late checkout was a result of us trying to cram as much sightseeing into the approximately eight hours we had to tour the city before heading back to the hotel, grabbing our backpacks and hitting the road for Bled (our host in Bled was waiting for us!). Despite the limited time, we did manage to see a few things and get a taste of this awesome city, which by the way is one of the safest in Europe, and the world.
Ljubljana free walking tour
We joined our guide Tina and the rest of the group in front of the Franciscan Church in Preseren Square in Ljubljana’s city centre. You can’t really miss the church as its bright pink and quite different from most of the other churches we’ve seen throughout Europe.
The walking tour lasted about three hours and took us across the famous triple bridge, along the Ljubljanica River to Dragon Bridge, through the Central Market and Old Town and to the University of Ljubljana.
One interesting fact we learned from Tina was that in order to be considered a true Slovenian, you must successfully summit Mount Triglav, Slovenia’s highest mountain. Once you reach the summit, a short ritual takes place where you are whipped on the behind with a climbing rope by a 65-year-old Slovenian man. This is not just a tourist thing as local Slovenian’s are expected to conquer the mountain at some point in their lives. Tina had successfully climbed Triglav and if you click the link above you will see that it’s no walk in the park.
Cafés and restaurants
Ljubljana’s city centre is jam-packed with restaurants and cafés. From Petkovškovo Nabrežje on the north side of the river to Mestni and Ciril Trig on the south side, restaurants were full of locals eating on terraces and a tables in the centre of the street and the food looked delicious. Next time we’ll definitely try one of the restaurants!
We did eat though. With the help of Tripadvisor, we found a small hole-in-the-wall turkish eatery not far from Dragon Bridge. It wasn’t fine-dining nor did it have a creative name but Falafel was delicious and we’re still craving it! (Note: Falafel has a gluten-free menu and dinner for two came to around €7)
The Ljubljana Castle overlooks the pedestrian only, Old Town. Years ago, the Castle and the Ljubljanica River served to protect the Old Town from any threats. Now, tourists are able to climb to the top the castle’s watchtower for magnificent 360 degree views of the city below.
These are just a snippet of things to see and do in Ljubljana. Had we not had our accommodations booked in Bled, we definitely would have extended our time. Ljubljana was a pleasant surprise and we will come back for sure.
We’ve had a few readers e-mail about our photo’s so we will try to include more in our posts. A few extra’s from Ljubljana are included below.
jess + trickett