General Loveliness is not a leading character from Slovenia’s historic struggle for independence in 1991 but a description of the remarkable city of Ljubljana and the reason why it is on an increasing number of people’s Bucket Lists. But what is there to see in Ljubljana?
OK so the Wikipedia stuff first!
Ljubljana is situated right in the middle of Slovenia and is the country’s capital. Slovenia used to be part of Yugoslavia but before that was part of the Hapsburg Empire and, before that, the Roman Empire. It is now bordered by Italy, Hungary, Austria and Croatia and has an itsy-bitsy bit of coast at the top of the Adriatic sea, just close to Trieste and its Italian border.
Due to an earthquake in 1895 Ljubljana’s baroque architecture mixes with more contemporary buildings. This fact and its large student population help to give the city a fresh, vibrant feel and, because its centre is so small (it is one of the smallest capital cities in Europe) it is easy to walk around when exploring, giving it an even more informal feel. It is also one of Europe’s safest capitals.
Coming from England it is a bit warmer in the summer and a bit colder in the winter. It is always a bit drier.
The currency is the Euro and pretty much everyone under the age of 35 can speak at least a little English.
So what is it like? What do you do in Ljubljana? What is there to see in Ljubljana?
The locals sit around in the park, in the cafes on the side streets (most of the centre is pedestrianised), or soaking up the river “scene” whilst drinking good wine or eating great food, chatting and listening to itinerate musicians.
They relax in the cafe’s, the markets, the city spas or just walking in the city’s parks.
If they want culture – they hit the museums, the galleries, the theatres and the concert venues. If they want to dance they go to the nightclubs.
As a visitor you will obviously like to do much of this yourself too, but in addition you will want to do a little more sight-seeing.
Fortunately there is no particualar one thing to see and do in Ljubljana that you can’t do elsewhere, although there are many places you should try not to miss! As I said earlier, it is the general loveliness of Ljubljana that is what is so special.
So if, at the end of your stay here, you find you have spent so much time relaxing in this beautiful city that you haven’t managed to visit the castle or the parliament building or the zoo, then you won’t be too sad.
So this is more a list of some of the places you will come across as you stay in Ljubljana. You can pick up a free map from the Tourist Information centre so you wont get lost.
IMPORTANT HINT: Whilst you are at the Tourist Information centre also buy an Urbana Card. Like London’s Oyster card this will give you discounts on travel and other attractions around the city.
The old and new of Ljubljana is split by the Ljubljanica river with the new on the West and the old on the East.
Cross it by one of the cities many bridges or just sit beside it in one of the area’s outdoor restaurants and bars.
Triple Bridge is probably the bridge people back at home will ask if you saw, but also check out Butchers Bridge – especially if you are enjoying a romantic weekend – to leave a Love Lock to celebrate your relationship.
Metelkova City (its not really a city) used to be an area popular among the homeless and down and outs but nowadays it is a fascinating artistic centrepiece for the city, full of alternative artists, youth subculture, bars and cafes – at this point it may be a good time to tell you that Slovene for cheers is ‘na zdravje’.
Central Market is a must for the shopaholics amongst you and any of you who just want a bit of “a nose” to see what is for sale in Ljubljana.
Tivoli Park is the main city park. You can sit down on a park bench and enjoy the sun or hike through the woods to Rožnik with its views over Ljubljana.
Finally Atlantis is worth a mention. A huge water and spa complex, which is a destination in its own right. Relax and shed your worries along with your clothes (as in much of Europe, spas in Ljubljana are done naked) to experience a range of therapies from warm air to molten chocolate.
It is maybe here that the difference in the cost of living is most obviously demonstrated. Add the cost of a flight onto the cost of a couple of treatments and a day spent in Atlantis in Ljubljana and the total can be compared favourably to a day spent at Champney’s – and Champney’s don’t do the thing with the chocolate!!!
You can find out more about the general loveliness of Ljubljana at ljubljana-slovenia.com/
Images courtesy of http://www.ljubljana-slovenia.com/
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