Ljubljana can be translated as ‘beloved’ or ‘loved one’. If I was to use three words to sum up the capital of Slovenia, I’d say it’s pretty, compact and charming. I think that complements the translation pretty well. Here’s what happened on my latest city break:
On our first day, we took a trip to Lake Bled. I’d seen stunning pictures on Instagram and friends had been and raved about this place. I couldn’t wait to see it for myself. We took the bus from Ljubljana bus station, which took about 80 minutes and cost 12 euros return. Upon arrival, I wasn’t disappointed. Although there was low cloud and initially, it was pretty grey, it was truly magical. Reflections shone off the lake lighting up the buildings that edged it on one side and the autumnal colours of the malting trees looming overhead were beautiful. We walked the 6.5km around the lake’s edge stopping every 2 or 3 minutes to take photos. Bled Island, which stands in the centre of the lake and only accessible by boat, is an instagrammer’s delight! We finished the day off by trekking up to Bled Castle at the top of the hill, around 45 flights if my Fitbit is correct! It was a tough walk up but the views were more than worth it at the top! I also got to make my own bottle of red wine in the castle’s cellar.
I could easily include this in my Lake Bled paragraph above but being one of the most delicious cakes I’ve ever tasted, it deserves the limelight all on its own! Made to a secret recipe, the best place to enjoy it is at Park Kavarna. As we sat down, the waiter knew exactly what we had come in for and brought us each a giant slice of the famous Bled Cake. Similar looking to a cream slice, it’s made up of the lightest layers of flaky pastry topped with a layer of light-as-you-like custard and then cream finished with more pastry layers. Although quite epic in appearance, it was light and fluffy and not at all sickly. It fast became one of my favourite ever cakes!
Ljubljana old town
Boasting influence from both Austria and Italy, Ljubljana old town is oh, so pretty. Closed to traffic from 10am in the morning, it really is the perfect city for exploring by foot – or – by bike as the locals do. Cobbled streets make up the centre with a bar and restaurant lined street edging the narrow river that runs through the middle. We did the free walking tour and highlights included the Cathedral with a beautiful ornate ceiling, Three Bridges, Butcher’s Bridge and Dragon Bridge, and the square that’s home to the university administration building and one of the country’s oldest music institutions.
The focal point of Ljubljana, the Castle stands atop a hill with fine views over the old town. Tired from our march up to Bled Castle the previous day, we cheated and opted for the funicular instead. Just 4 euros for a return ticket, the views at the top were fabulous and from up here, you can see just how compact the city centre is.
Pivo and Burger Fest
We arrived on Sunday evening just in time for the final night of the Pivo (beer for you and I) and Burger Fest taking place in the central market of Ljubljana old town. It was a craft beer lover’s heaven with stalls lining up pulling pints of Slovenian brews. Down the other aisle, the scent of burgers literally made us drool! Although dinner was booked for just 2 hours time, we couldn’t resist sharing a burger and opted for the ‘Holesterol’. One of the best burgers I’ve ever tasted!
Ljubljana old town is packed with restaurants and cafes, it was hard to decide where to eat and drink. We weren’t disappointed with our choices though. On the first evening we went upmarket and ate at AS Restaurant where the service was impeccable. Other highlights over the three days included Marley and Me for a really cosy atmosphere and home style cooking, Vigo for seriously mouthwatering ice cream flavours (and super cheap too), and Pop’s Place for the second best burger of our stay (and more craft beer too)!
I’d seen pictures of this place online before our visit and was expecting to find one colourful mosaic tile covered building. Instead, we found a mini village on the site of former Yugoslavian army barracks that represents an autonomous community. Each building was unique and covered in amazing, colourful street art. Weird and wacky structures filled the gardens and outside area and wall murals lined a deserted basketball court. This was one of my highlights of our visit and I’d thoroughly recommend you go here. Head for the train station to find it and it’s about a 3 minute walk from there.
I spent three nights in Ljubljana in late October this year. I was expecting a lot of rain and cool, icy air. Instead, I got a little bit of drizzle and mild temperatures, mild enough to not even wear a coat at times. Very pleasant, indeed!
We stayed at Central Hotel, which as the name suggests, boasts an ideal location close to the old town. While the hotel itself could do with a spot of modernising, it was comfortable enough and very convenient for exploring on foot.
We flew with Easyjet from London Stansted. Flight time is just under 2 hours.