The top best things to do when visiting Ljubljana, Slovenia
Go. If you get the chance to travel there grab it. Slovenia became an independent republic in 1991 having previously been part of the Yugoslav Federation.Slovenia is a mountainous country with more than half its territory covered by forest. It also has plentiful supplies of good quality water and was the first EU country to include the right to water for its two million citizens.
There is a lot to see and do in this chilled and charming country. The Slovenian capital, Ljubljuna, was European Green Capital in 2016 and its pedestrianised city centre means it a joy to explore on foot. Make sure your trip includes a stay in the capital Ljubljana. It is great for a weekend break and a lot less crowded than Paris.
Take a Walk Around the City
Much of the architecture is the work of Jože Plečnik(1872-1957) who made a major impact on the city of his birth. If you are interested in architecture don’t miss hisNational and University Library, the colonnaded Central Market and the cemetery at Zale. You can’t miss thework he did at the Triple Bridge which is at the very centre of the city. Interested to know more about JožePlečnik visit the Plečnik House to learn more about how he lived and worked. For a break from the pavements stroll across to Park Tivoli which was laid out by French engineer Jean Blanchard in 1813. There is also more Plečnik here – the scenic Jakopič Promenade (named after the Slovenian Impressionist painter RihardJakopič) which ends at the bottom of the stairway leading to Tivoli Mansion and is now a popular outdoor exhibition venue.
Make Time for some Culture
Opera and ballet can be seen at the The Ljubljana Opera House which is the home of the SlovenianNational Theatre Opera and Ballet. This neo-Renaisssance building has been restored to its former glory in recent years with a modern extension (2007-2011) which divided opinion as to whether it was a good thing. I rather like the extension designed by Jurij Kobeand it is well worth experiencing from inside. Also worth a visit is Cankarjev dom (The Cankar Hall) designed by Edvard Ravnikar. Two large auditoriums plus a number of smaller performance spaces make this the City’s leading cultural centre offering a wide range of events and performances. To avoid the building being too tall most of the halls are built underground, not unlike the Barbican Centre in London.
Explore Galleries and Museums
Plenty of galleries – don’t miss the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Museum of Modern Art which hold regular events and special exhibitions. For those with special interests there is the International Centre of Graphic Arts (located in Park Tivoli with a terrace café giving good views across the park), the Museum of Contemporary History of Slovenia and the Railway Museum.
Ride up to Ljubljana Castle
Make sure you find time to go up to the Castle. You can walk the route, or take a train, but the easiest and probably most fun is to take the 70 metre long funicular railway. Find the ‘station’ in the Old Town not far from the Central Market. The Castle itself is a mix of architectural styles but if you make it up there do go up the Watchtower – the views of the City makes those extra steps worthwhile.
Visit Ljubljana’s first skyscraper Nebotičnik
For another good view of the City, on the other side of the River to the Castle, visit Nebotičnik, Ljubljana’s first skyscraper. When completed in 1933 this thirteen storey building was the tallest building in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and the ninth-tallest high-rise in Europe. Now housing shops at street level and several floors of residential accommodation the top three floors are used as a café, bar and observation deck offering amazing views of the City and the snow-capped mountains beyond.
Take a Leisurely Boat Trip along the Ljubljanica River
Offers a break from walking and an opportunity to view at leisure the bridges, baroque buildings and townhouses along the river. Boat trips start from a point close to the Triple Bridge right in the centre of the City.
Go on a Shopping Spree
A lot of the main European brands have a presence here as well as a range of local shops and jewellers. Watch out a lot of the shops close at mid-day on a Saturday and stay closed all day on Sunday.
To get a real taste of the City find time to visit the Central Market in the Old Town. The Central Market consists of an open-air market, a covered market located between the two squares, and a number of individual food shops along the river Ljubljanica, known as ‘Plečnik’s Covered Market’ as they are housed in a colonnade designed by Ljubljana’s famous architect Jože Plečnik. For locals it is more than a place to shop it is a place to meet friends and have fun.