When we arrived at Ljubljana by train from Vienna and walked just 10 minutes to reach the city centre, I was really impressed by how nice and calm this city is. Even though Ljubljana is the capital of Slovenia, it’s surprisingly small and quaint with fantastic Roman and medieval history to discover.
On entry to the centre of Ljubljana, we arrived at the Dragon Bridge, named due to the large dragon statues which dominate the four the corners of the bridge. This is a fantastic landmark, taking visitors over the Ljubljanica River. The dragon is the symbol of the city, meaning power, courage and greatness, and can be seen on the city’s coat of arms and flag. Make sure to check out local souvenir shops where you can get a variety of dragon themed memorabilia.
Explore the City
The city itself is built on either side of the river and we found it very easy to navigate. They do run city tours if you want to find out more about Ljubljana, however, exploring at your own pace is a great way to really get a feel of the city too.
Ljubljana is such a beautiful city and I’d recommend just crossing the many bridges and going for a riverside wander. There are lots of cafes, restaurants and bars to visit with gorgeous views. You can also go on a boat ride up and down the water.
I absolutely loved the main high street. There are lots of unique clothing stores, galleries and gift shops, plus street-side cafes and restaurants along the cobbled road. It was really bustling especially around the daily market stalls, where you can get fresh fruit and veg, fish and meat and also souvenirs and clothing. Around the city, you can also find free water pumps to top up your drinks bottle- it’s really cool and fresh.
At night, the city is vibrant and wonderfully lit up. We went for a long walk around all of the streets, admiring the river views, the architecture and enjoying the street performers on one of the bridges.
Visit Ljubljana Castle
Overlooking the city centre is the Ljubljana Castle complex, a key feature in the city. Situated high on Castle Hill, the castle was originally a medieval fortress used as a defence structure, however, after being rebuilt many times, it’s now a cultural venue.
There are some lovely walks up to the castle from the city below, through the greenery of Castle Hill. We chose, instead, to take the funicular to the top. This was reasonable in price and included the entrance to the castle itself. Whilst wandering the castle complex, make sure to check out the dungeons, gunpowder stores, panoramic terrace and climb the tower.
Atop the castle tower, the 360 degree views of Ljubljana below are awesome. The city is actually larger and greener than it seemed, sprawling away from the river. In the distance, we could see outline of the Julian Alps (our next destination). It was just stunning to see from that height.
Within the castle complex, there are a variety of galleries and exhibitions, showcasing local artists and embracing the history of the city. As mentioned earlier, the symbol of Ljubljana is the dragon and this is very present within the castle.
Our favourite exhibition had to be the dragon hall, displaying models, drawings and stories associated with this mythological beast.
Sample The Cities Food & Drink
Ljubljana has a plethora of bars, cafes and restaurants to choose from, lots especially along the cobbled high street and river side. On our first night, we found this really fab place for dinner called Gostilna Pri Kolovratu along the main high street. Although they did have lots of seating on the street, they also had a courtyard, where we chose to sit. It was really nice inside and the food equally as good. I had this traditional Slovenian sausage and mash and Vicky chose their ravioli. Then, for dessert, we tried the famous Slovenian potica- pancakes filled with cottage cheese (it was a little like bread and butter pudding). All in all, a very tasty meal.
When we returned to Ljubljana after our mountain adventure, we were really spoilt for choice, but opted for an Indian called Namaste. They seated us really quickly and the staff were very friendly. The food was tasty, everything you’d expect from a good Indian restaurant. It was the perfect setting for dinner as well, right by the river.