Five Reasons To Visit Slovenia’s Capital Ljubljana

April 15, 2024

Beautiful Slovenia, a small and mountainous country in the heart of Europe, might not have the star power of its showy neighbours Italy and Croatia, but the breath-taking scenery, dreamy coastline and fairy tale capital make it an absolute gem. The capital’s pedestrianised old town stands elegantly on the banks of the Ljubljana River, with Baroque buildings lining the cobbled streets and weeping willows competing for space with café umbrellas. A generous smattering of dragon statues, countless picturesque bridges and a 15th century castle, sitting high above the town, complete the picture. It’s the perfect place to spend a few days. Here are just five of the many reasons to love Ljubljana.

Watch The Sunset From Ljubljana Castle:

The castle itself is a hodgepodge of styles due to the number of different occupants. The Habsburgs did the main grunt work, constructing a fortress to keep out the Ottomans. The castle later served as a military hospital during Napoleon’s stint in the area, and a prison during World War 1. The Nazis occupied the fortress in World War 11. After that it was used as temporary housing for the poor, until its renovation in 1970. Now, it’s a popular tourist destination with a restaurant that commands views of the city. A bar at the foot of the western wall, is the perfect spot to grab a glass of local wine and watch the sun disappear behind the Julian Alps.

Access to the castle, which sits 370 metres above the city, is via one of the three walking routes, that begin in the centre of town. If you’re not up for a walk, you can take a 70m-long funicular that starts near Vodnikov trg in the old town.

Dine At Julija, The Capital’s Most Iconic Restaurant:

The food in Slovenia is influenced by its neighbours – Italy, Austria, Hungary and Croatia, but the country is proudly holding its own on the gastro stage, with local chefs making an international name for themselves and winemakers right up there with them.  Julija is the capital’s favourite restaurant, serving traditional food in the beautiful medieval heart of the old town. Make sure to book if you’re hoping to dine there.

Hike, Row And Stroll Around Lake Bled:

Lake Bled, a 45-minute drive from Ljubljana, is one of the most picturesque lakes you’ll ever come across. The sparkling expanse of water is framed by mountains and a castle. Right in the middle of the lake, a Gothic church is perched on a tiny island. It doesn’t get more magical than that. The 6km path around Lake Bled is a popular place to stroll, but if you are feeling energetic, take one of the hikes on the western side of the lake. The trail is steep but offers an amazing view of Lake Bled from the top. Definitely worth the effort! You can also rent a boat, row to Bled Island and visit the Church of the Assumption of Mary. After that, you’ll definitely be ready for lunch and a piece of Lake Bled’s famous cream cake!

Spot A Dragon:

Dragons are a big part of Ljubljana’s identity. According to legend, the city was founded by Jason and the Argonauts, who fought and defeated a dragon in the nearby marshes. The beasty monster morphed into a protector of the Ljubljana, and features on the coat of arms, souvenirs, furniture and even drain covers. The most famous mythical creatures guard Dragon Bridge, which was built in the early 1900s after an earthquake destroyed many important buildings in the city. The architect planned winged lions for the bridge, but they were struck down in favour of the city’s much-loved fire-breathing protectors.

Spend A Lazy Sunday At The Antique Markets:

Sunday markets on the Ljubljana River are heaven for treasure hunters – with stall holders selling antiques, stamps, medal collections, soviet-era badges and communist trinkets.There’s not a single Bali sarong or Chinese toy in sight. Buy a souvenir, or just browse through the stalls and enjoy the atmosphere, then find your way to Le Petit Café for brunch. The small bistro on French Revolution Square is popular with students and tourists, and serves delicious, reasonably priced meals. Tuck into a croque monsieur and coffee that will set you up for the whole day!

Julie Fison is a Brisbane author and travel lover. Her debut novel for adults, One Punch, is a compelling contemporary drama that tells the story of two mothers facing impossible decisions after one life-changing night. When not at her desk, you can find Julie hiking a bush trail with her energetic border collie, exploring the outback, or chasing the perfect sunset. She is a committed traveller and enjoys sharing tips for midlife adventure –

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