Ljubljana is in Slovenia. Apparently (we had to Google it). But it looked pretty, and on the quest to book a city trip with my girlfriends with the task of visiting somewhere none of us had been before, well — Ljubljana won that challenge. It had been 12 years since I first met my girlfriends at the University of Northampton and until now we’d never been on a trip together. With Daddy-day-care in place, annual leave booked and bunny sitters organised, the 6 of us were travel ready and Slovenia bound!
We all live miles away, up and down the country, so get-togethers are infrequent but thoroughly loved. We booked a beautifully bright Airbnb located on the castle hill with a terrace made for sunrises / sunsets and wine! A perfect welcome to Slovenia.
Knowing that Ljubljana was small made searching for dwellings easy and our location couldn’t have been more perfect. On arrival, our taxi dropped us off in a nearby square (most of the inner city is pedestrianised!) and we dragged our cases through the cobbled streets and uphill to the apartment. Everything was so quaint and quiet… I couldn’t help but cringe at our echoing noise from our wheelie cases!
On googling Ljubljana before our visit we came across hundreds of photos of the river which flows through the city’s heart. Less than a 5 minute walk from us we ventured down to indulge in some cafe culture and sample some Slovenian wine. Everything was so luscious, we could understand why it won its Green Capital of Europe award! Blue sky definitely helped too… everywhere looks 100 x amazing in the sunshine ☀
The sights were delightful. The buildings had a Prague-esque feel to it — a colourful toy town and array of architecture styles, arched alleys and painted churches. An Instragrammers dream! 😉
To indulge in a bit of history we took the [steep] climb up Castle Hill, a medieval fortress with beautiful grounds and incredible views. Below us the orange rooftops and spires of the old town, then rolling hills and luscious forests with the Kamniške Alps as a backdrop. You really do get a sense of how small the city is! After the climb up hill, we took the funicular railway down from the castle to the market square (definitely should’ve done that the other way round!) to head towards the woodlands!
The entrance to Tivoli Park is excellently landscaped and inside there’s a botanical garden, fish ponds, swimming pools and the International Centre of Graphic Arts.
Living in London, we’re lucky to have so many lovely parks and I love escaping the hustle and bustle for some open space and fresh air. Ljubljana is different, as there’s no hustle and bustle to escape… yet just a short stroll from the cobbled streets of the old town and you’re met with the most idyllic woodlands and lake. How can you feel so far from city life but be so close?! Lake Koseze (a man-made pond which also turns into an ice rink at winter, how cool is that!) was so dreamy but we knew there was bigger lakes to see!
All aboard the tourist bus we departed for Lake Bled, an emerald green lake sitting 50km north of the city. Surrounded by the Julian Alps even the journey is fab and on arrival it’s picture perfect, the photos really don’t do it justice. It took us a few hours to walk the circumference, with coffee stops, lunch stops and ice cream stops! The ambient paths are idyllic for strolling and al fresco dining in the sunshine. Central to the lake is a medieval church on an island which can only be reached by Pletnas (their traditional wooden boats). I only wish we had more time to explore — hire bikes, boats or indulge in some water sports! Next time…
Ljubljana has made me wonder what other European gems are out there I’ve never heard of! It was the perfect place to meander and take time slow with the girls. Being a super small city there wasn’t tons to see or do which meant we could relax and wine and dine without missing out. Here’s a few notes incase if you’re tempted:
- You can cover the city on foot in a day, so 2 or 3 days is more than enough
- I would totally recommend a day trip to Bled, make that a full day!
- We went slightly out of season so the evenings were quiet and finding a late bar was difficult (especially on a Sunday!)
- Slovenian wine is yum
- We didn’t have time to visit but were highly recommended a trip to Piran on the coast. It looks beautiful…
- Sundays are flea market day, a chance to source some antiques or bric-a-brac
- Each September there’s a Biennial of Graphic Arts, worth researching!
- The city is small and compact, stay central to absorb all the delights