I am sitting down to write after what seemed like a never ending and extra busy week. I have never yearned for the weekend more ; to sit down, sip some coffee (and wine), stroll around the neighbourhood and just unwind.And that is exactly what Ljubljana is- It is the weekend of your otherwise busy and packed Eurotrip week.
Located just a few hours away from Venice, Croatia and the Alps along Austria, this is your place to stop and rejuvenate before you scurry off to your next destination. Also, Ljubljana is Europe’s Green Capital so Hello! Fresh, Clean Air.
While there is no limit on how long you should stay here, a one day around the city is good enough to appreciate what the city has to offer and get your gears up and running again.
Read on for my One Day Guide to Ljubljana.
Boat Tour on Ljubljanica
The best way to explore the city is to take a boat tour on the river Ljubljanica that runs through it. It takes you through the heart of Ljubljana and lets you take have a glimpse of Joze Plecnik’s work of art. (Joze Plecnik is the Architect of Modern Ljubljana). If you are lucky, you might get the fun, cheeky and well-informed guide, Urban (which I figured is a very common Slovenian name). He did an amazing job of telling us about the city, its folktales and legends.
Disclaimer: I must warn you that everything below on the city’s history is as quoted by Urban.
The Dragon Bridge
It’s easy to see why the bridge gets its name. It has dragons flanking both ends. This bridge was built by the Austrian Emperor Franz Josef to test out the strength of reinforced concrete. They felt the losses were lesser if tested in Slovenia rather than Austria.
The bridge has certainly been able to stand the test of time and the weight of the pedestrians who walk on it each day.
There is also a local belief that the dragons would move or wag their tail when a virgin crosses the bridge. No luck so far and I guess it’s safe to assume there aren’t any in Ljubljana.
The Triple Bridge
Quite obviously, this is a group of three bridges across the Ljubljanica River. Instead of expanding the older bridge, our smart architect suggested 2 more bridges on either side to allow for the higher pedestrian traffic. Yes, this is just a bridge but nevertheless, an iconic part of the city.
Butchers and Cobblers
The Butcher’s bridge a.k.a Cobbler’s bridge is Ljubljana’s own Love Bridge. You can find a number of padlocks with names of lovers etched on it. Now that the Pont des Arts in Paris doesn’t allow these love padlocks, this bridge can help you ensure your love is eternal.
In case you are wondering why a romantic bridge would be named after butchers, this bridge used to be where butchers set up shop and hung their meat (to keep it cold, thanks to the river). As you can imagine, this started to stink up the city and the shops had to be shut down. The name, however, stuck.
You will also find on this bridge, statues of Adam and Eve shamed and banished from Paradise. Ironic that they placed this on a Love Bridge.
Ljubljana Castle is a medieval fort with a lovely view to the city and the far landscape bordering the city. Walking around the castle is free, though you would need to pay for the tickets in case you wish to enter the museum. I am not much of a museum buff, so I spent my share of money on a nice warm cup of cocoa at the Castle’s café.
The castle is located on a hill and you can reach there by walking or taking a funicular. The funicular sure saves time and the view of the city at that angle makes the 5 EUR ticket worth it.
Cafes, Pubs and other things
Previously home to military barracks, the Metelkova district has been brightened up with quirky graffiti and is now home to art galleries, bars, artists studios, space for designers and concert halls. You are sure to find a local band playing Free Jazz, Rock or Techno here -makes for a fun evening.
You will also find a number of alfresco cafes and pubs along either side of the river. We spent our time in one such pub downing beer and wine all night.
Have put together a map marking everything you need to see. It’s all within a 10KM radius and its best to stay close to one of the bridges making it easy to walk around. We stayed at Urban’s place from Airbnb https://www.airbnb.co.in/rooms/13440415.
I must mention that Urban picked us up at 5 o clock in the morning from the Bus Station. IMO anyone who can wake up early for someone else is way too kind.
Ljubljana is still not on the radar of most travelers and hence you can be sure of peace and quiet here. But do plan your trip before the world discovers the secret that is Ljubljana.