We loved our visit to Ljubljana, Slovenia so much! We aren’t sure why but we were so comfortable there even though we had never been before. The food was delicious, the views were beautiful, and the people were really friendly.
Few facts before we get started: Ljubljana is pronounced Loo-Blee-On-Ah. Slovenia has its own language and uses the euro. It was part of Yugoslavia so it is a “young country” politically but has a long history dating back to medieval times. Ljubljana was given the title of European Green Capital 2016 and is one of the top 20 greenest capitals of Europe. The symbol of Ljubljana includes a dragon, but the reason for this differs based on who you ask and the legend they believe!
We’ve written a guide all about the 10 things you can’t miss in Ljubljana, check this out here!
Arrival in Ljubljana
We got off our 4+ hour bus ride at Bus Station Ljubljana excited for this new destination. It was a lot chillier here than in Venice, so we had to put on our hats and gloves.
For lunch, we walked 10 minutes down the street to a place called “Bobu Bob” (more about this place and others in our Vegan Guide to Ljubljana coming soon). We split the gyro and cheese fries, both were amazing!
The weather that afternoon was cold and rainy so we took the time to grab some groceries to cook in our kitchenette, plan our next few days, and for Ty to work on schoolwork (he’s taking online classes while we travel).
For the most part, the language barrier here was not an issue because most people not only speak Slovenian but also English and some German.
However, grocery shopping was a bit different because most things are in Slovenian. Luckily, Google Translate has a camera function so in order to read some of the labels we used that.
Our First Day Exploring Ljubljana
The next morning, we got coffee and headed to the meeting point for our walking tour.
These free tours are so cool because they offer so much information and are based solely on tips! This tour was another great one and we learned so much about the city. Our tour guide did a wonderful job giving a short but detailed history of Ljubljana and Slovenia as a whole.
We learned about the different architectural styles, like baroque, and the famous architect, Jože Plečnik. We visited some of the major structures such as the bright pink Franciscan Church (pictured above left) and the Dragon Bridge (statue from the bridge pictured left). Our guide also shared some of the legends about why the dragon is the symbol of Ljubljana, including one about a dragon that lived here long ago.
Delicious + Traditional Vegan Food
Our tour guide also had great food recommendations. So, right after our tour, we headed to the vegan restaurant she recommended, Güjžina.
OH MY GOODNESS, this restaurant is absolutely delicious. This place serves veganized traditional Slovenian food. How cool?
One thing about being vegetarian/vegan and traveling is sometimes we miss out on trying the unique local cuisine. Well,Gujžina gave us the chance to try some. On our first visit, we each tried a local beer, and split a traditional stew “bograc” and potato dumplings “dödöle”. YUM!
After lunch, we walked around the city some more on our own, along the river, and outside the Old Town.
A Busy Second Day
Visit Central Market
In the morning we started with the market. We walked around Central Market and the produce looked amazing. This market was huge with a ton of produce vendors, homemade and local products, and a few food trucks.
Biking + Hiking in Ljubljana
Next, we rented some bikes from Ljubljana’s BicikeLJ rental (more about this in our list of things you can’t miss in Ljubljana). We rode around Tivoli Park and heard music playing (cue: What a Wonderful World). Free concert in the park? Or so we thought. We headed towards the music and when we got there, we found a crowd and a public speaker. We tried using Google Translate but it stopped translating every couple of sentences, so we missed too much to figure out what was going on.
We continued our journey by bike before hiking a trail up Rožnik Hill. The climb was a bit steep and, since we had layered up for the chilly day, by the end of it we were very warm! On top of the hill, there was the Church of Virgin Mary’s Visitation (a small pink church) and a cafe. There was also an incredible view from the hill that overlooked part of the city!
Arts, Views, and Eats
We ate lunch at Barbarella Juice Bar and had a bowl of creamy vegetable soup and a sandwich. Slovenia really has some delicious soups! After, we crossed the street to the Nebotičnik building. We took an elevator 12 floors up to a 360 degree viewing terrace of Ljubljana. The terrace is free to visit and even has a bar/cafe!
The view was beautiful, though Sam was a little shaky looking down. Seeing the castle sit above the rest of the city was really special (honestly cooler than our visit to the castle itself).
After the rooftop view, we headed to the Metelkova Art Center. This is a small area full of graffiti and murals, a short walk away from the main pedestrian center. Each wall was completely different and all of the pieces were so detailed! It was such a cool little spot in the city. We wandered through it back and forth taking pictures of all the fascinating artwork before heading back to make dinner.
Music in the City
The next morning we slept in a bit because the weather forecast said COLD and rain. However, when we got up, it wasn’t raining (we really can’t ever trust a weather forecast I guess). We walked through the city and took some pictures in the colorful streets like the one pictured below. Isn’t it beautiful?
As we were exploring, we came across a band playing music in one of the squares. We stopped to listen for a while and recognized most of the songs, including music from ABBA. Even on a chilly day, this place always seems to have something interesting happening!
After listening for a bit, we headed to the town hall to see the courtyard (something recommended by our tour guide). Inside we came across another musical performance, children were singing individually in front of a crowd. It was really odd that we came across this right after the band in the square but an interesting surprise.
We found out later it was a final performance for a famous singing school in Slovenia! They sang songs we recognized like songs from Olivia Rodrigo and The Greatest Showman.
After this, we were ready for lunch and because it was Sunday, most things were closed (something to remember as we continue to travel in Europe: Plan ahead, because most things are closed on Sundays).
Luckily the amazing restaurant we went to two days ago was open, Güjžina. We split a sandwich, millet turnip soup (way better than it sounds), and the dessert recommended by our tour guide, called Prekmurje Gibanica (in the picture).
Our Final Tour
Later that afternoon, we had one more tour planned in Ljubljana. We took the free tour of the Old Town and Castle (castle entrance pictured above right). This tour was all about medieval times, what the town was like hundreds of years ago, and how the castle was used. Some of the streets still have the original names based on what type of craftsman lived there. We walked through the Old Town before heading up to the castle. Turns out, the castle is more like a military fort and never held a royal family!
That evening we packed our backpacks again because the next day we were heading to Lake Bled! We can’t wait to share all about our time in beautiful Bled!
For anyone interested in how COVID affected our trip to Ljubljana:
Before getting on our bus to LJ we had to provide proof of vaccination with our CDC cards. We also had to have it accessible for our accommodation if needed and it was checked before participating in the free tour. Masks are also worn indoors by most people, however, some staff did not have masks on.
Interesting in visting Ljubljana? Check out this post for the 10 things you can’t miss!