Ljubljana, The Prettiest City in Europe

Ljubljana, The Prettiest City in Europe

 Ljubljana: The Next Great Thing on the Tourist Trail?

Ljubljana-Pink-Building

Ljubljana historic center is Baroque and beautiful!

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We arrived in Ljubljana towards the end of our train trip through Eastern Europe.  We had been on really nice trains and we had been on dilapidated trains.  We had been in some beautiful cities and we had been in some cities that weren’t so beautiful, cities that were re-inventing themselves, cities that had new cafes while at the same time many reminders of past wars and hardships.  We were tired.  We were hot.  We were done.

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Ljubljana is truly the prettiest little city in Europe!

Ljubljana, The Prettiest City in Europe

You don’t have to get to far from the center to see there’s still work to be done

Ljubljana, The Prettiest City in Europe

We dutifully disembarked our train, and found our way to our hotel. We had just booked it the night before as was common on the trip, and we were gobsmacked at the price. It was one of the most expensive nights of the trip, and there just didn’t seem to be any choice. Even in that hotel, we’d picked one of the cheapest rooms. After all we were trying to be the ideal budget travelers. The first thing we noticed was that it was really a budget traveler’s place, and even though it was clean and sleek, it had an air of hostel about it. However, we were eternally grateful for the air conditioning and the shower. We’d come from Belgrade and we were a little dusty, to say the least.  

Ljubljana, The Prettiest City in Europe

Ljubljana has its share of statues and green spaces

Ljubljana, The Prettiest City in Europe

Street art still leaves a little to be desired

After a good night’s sleep in the cool air, we were ready to explore the city of Ljubljana . We’ve been enjoying Slovenia little by little the last couple of years,  and one of the most memorable trips was a short jaunt in to visit the Skocjan Caves which are a UNESCO world heritage site not far from the border of Italy, and since we’d stopped so many places on our trip we really hadn’t researched much about the city at all. We were just going to see how it went.

Ljubljana, The Prettiest City in Europe

An art installation in the center. Rain even on a sunny day.

We also love eating and what we’ve had has been delicious. If you are interested in reading more here is a good article about Slovenian food and a cooking lesson.

Ljubljana, The Prettiest City in Europe

Many of the buildings in the center have been restored. It really is one of the prettiest cities in Europe!

Ljubljana is the capital of Slovenia, and the very first thing we noticed as he headed into the center of town was how beautiful it is. We idled down to the first square we came to, which just happened to be where we would be taking the elevator up to the castle. We went to buy tickets and hopefully avoid the crowds, but the office didn’t open for two more hours at 10:00 AM, so we just kept walking and the city opened up to us.

Ljubljana, The Prettiest City in Europe

Ljubljana, The Prettiest City in Europe

The city has focused their restoration efforts along the banks of the Ljubljanica river which runs right through the middle of the city.

As we walked by beautiful art deco and baroque buildings all painted in bright colors and patterns, we gawked at the quaint little shops and the many amazing eateries, the pristine cathedrals, and the many statues that adorn the downtown area. We enjoyed the river walk, the colonnade with its many vendors, and stopped to have a great coffee sitting outside with the other tourists as well as many locals.  e were there on a Sunday, and there was a small second-hand market along the river where we enjoyed a great little breeze.

Ljubljana, The Prettiest City in Europe

Ljubljana, The Prettiest City in Europe

We noticed again how much more expensive everything was in comparison to the other cities we had recently visited. Even Budapest was a cheaper option. However, it was also obvious that the Slovenians are putting all that extra money into infrastructure. We watched the garbage men collecting the separated trash and their trucks were state-of-the-art.  The roads are clean and smooth. Well done, Slovenia, well done.  

Ljubljana, The Prettiest City in Europe

 

After wandering the downtown area, we ambled into the the old Town Hall where the free walking tour was just about to take place. We passed on it, but overheard a few words and the guide was speaking great English. Inside was some artwork. From there we made our way back to the fortress which had a long line, so we decided to hop the tourist train to the top for 4 Euros. We were glad we did, because we not only enjoyed the breeze, but it was a pretty ride to the top looking at the trees and gardens. Once at the top we found the view of the city was wonderful, but unfortunately the castle itself is all rebuilt and is one big tourist trap with souvenir stands and pricey restaurants. There was a “library in the castle” event where the local library brought a bunch of books and people of all ages were lounging around reading, but overall I found the castle a bit disappointing.

Ljubljana, The Prettiest City in Europe

Find a seat in one of the riverside cafes and enjoy a nice coffee in the late morning

Ljubljana, The Prettiest City in Europe

Some parts of the castle are original stone but most of it is refaced concrete.

We really enjoyed our day in the Ljubljana, and we think it’s a great place to spend the day while you are exploring some of the natural sights in the area, like Lake Bled and the various cave systems. Even though Ljuljana is one of the post Soviet bloc countries, it’s obvious that it is soon to become one of the most popular places in all of Europe. With its location so perfectly sandwiched between Italy, Austria, and Croatia and its amazing natural beauty and adventure tourism, I predict that before long Ljubljana will be on everyone’s tongue as a go to place.

Ljubljana, The Prettiest City in Europe

We finally found some interesting street art!

Ljubljana, The Prettiest City in Europe

Practical Tips:

We stayed at the Hotel Park, which was the cheapest option for one night (and last minute) that we could find.  It was still pricey and quite nice, though.

Ljubljana, The Prettiest City in Europe

Our hotel was right on the outside edge of the old town and a short walk to the center.

 

Have you been to Ljubljana? What was your favorite sight? Any tips?

 

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36 Comments

  1. We’ve been to Ljubljana…and can’t wait to return this summer! It is a beautiful city. We especially liked walking around the parks, enjoying views from The Skyscraper (free to go up, cafe at the top) and sipping on craft beers at riverside cafes.

  2. Nice post! Ljubljana is my home town and I always enjoy reading posts from foreigners, its interesting to read how they see our city:) Funny you were impressed by garbage trucks, however we are Green capital of Europe of 2016, looks like really with a reason.

    1. Nina, Ha! I love that I noticed it. Really I think your city deserves the title and has really done a fantastic job using the tourist money that is starting to come in. Congrats!

  3. I don’t know if I’d say Ljubljana is the prettiest city in Europe (there are plenty of hideous Communist-build monstrosities that detract from its beauty), but it certainly ranks among the best. Compact, scenic, positively lovely. I’d definitely go back! Thanks for sharing.

  4. This town looks lovely and quaint. I hope the restorations don’t spoil the old world charms that make much of Eastern Europe a hidden gem.

  5. I LOVE Ljubljana!! I agree with you, it is quickly becoming (or maybe even has already become) a city on the tourist route. I went with a Swiss friend and we had an absolutely fabulous time exploring and engaging the culture. I think it helped that we happened upon a warm weekend in early April because it was void of tourists but we still had great weather. We loved the Friday market with all the international food vendors!

  6. Ljubljana has a lot of potential I’m sure the restoration will bring it back to life. You can see it was once a great place. This is what happened in Riga and now the city looks great. I love your photos.

  7. Hi Corinne,
    We liked Ljubljana: clean, pretty, quirky with its statues. It IS however a little expensive and you’ll have seen everything there is to see in about a day (or stretching it, maybe 2). We were surprised by just how small and quiet it is. Arrive on a Sunday as we did and everything is closed – I had to walk back towards the train station to find a grocery store with basics.
    It doesn’t feel at all Balkan to us, it really feels Austrian. But really pretty place. BTW, totally agree with the castle which, apart for the views, really sucked.
    Frank (bbqboy)

  8. I agree that Ljubljana is a beautiful city. We stayed at an Airbnb place which we booked before hand. It is a beautiful city to walk around and close to Zagreb – only a couple of hours by train.

  9. Corinne, we were in Ljubljana in December and have to say did not notice it was expensive. We do come from Perth and cost of living here is quit high, or was it because we found it such a pretty place we didn’t notice the prices? Either way, we will definitely be returning as we were there less than a week and would like to spend more time there when it is warmer and green.

  10. I’ve heard a lot about ugly Eastern European cities (won’t name and shame) but I’ve recently seen lovely pictures of Prague, Budapest and now Ljubljana. Thanks for this great article! Would you say there’s enough to see and do to keep you occupied beyond one or two days?

    1. Michelle, I think one day would be enough, but there’s plenty to do within about an hour from the city so if you can get out there a few days would be great.

  11. You’re probably the fifth person I know who has been to Ljubljana recently. I hadn’t considered it as a destination before (to be honest, I didn’t know much about it), but now I really want to visit it soon, it’s so pretty and colorful!

  12. Sorry Corinne, I think you are a great writer and a great blogger, but I completely disagree with your article. Ljubljana is far from being the prettiest city in Europe. It is a charming, relaxing small town and I truly enjoyed my time there, but you cannot compare it to cities in Italy or even to Budapest or Tallinn or Stockholm.

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