Quite a combination of syllables rights 😉 Ljubljana! but not that tough to pronounce as it is to write. It is pronounced as Lu-Bliana. Simple. But of course, when I read the itinerary, I was jubla what?! 🙂 When I visited this funky town I was completely taken aback at how cool this town is. So, I visited Ljubljana in 2012 and these people were already living like decades ahead in terms of city layout, construction, paved roads, garbage segregation. There was so much to take away from this town which we have still not done. Before talking about the places to visit at Ljubljana, I really want to write one para just praising about it.
Contents - Read all the way though.
- Ljubljana – The Futuristic Town
- Best Things to do at Ljubljana
- How to Reach Ljubljana
- Where to Stay at Ljubljana?
- For your Pinterest Board
Ljubljana – The Futuristic Town
I do not have pictures of the streets of Ljubljana but it is still vivid in my memory. Cos, it was the time when I was still buying plastic water bottles from shops instead of refilling. And here as I walked down the streets there were six colored dustbins. Nothing spilled out, nothing yuck about it, nothing stained around. It has six colors and the level of segregation was to such minute levels. There were bins for paper, plastic, food, e-waste, broken glass on the street! The citizens swipe a card against the dustbin, the bin opens and they drop in the segregated waste. And then there was a separate lane for cycles and tourists can hire cycles and commute around the city in that. Not just that, there are free charging points for electric cars almost on every street. This level of cleanliness, abiding citizens and futuristic town, I was watching it for the first time. And we are still struggling to segregate waste at our homes!! Now that I feel satisfied writing about Ljubljana let us walk through the town.
Best Things to do at Ljubljana
Preseren Square is where every tourist hangs around, the reason being there is the Franciscan Church of the Annunciation right there and then there is the Triple Bridge and then the statue of the man after whom the square is named, France Preseren. France Prešeren was a 19th century romantic Slovene poet and his most accomplished works have been translated to other languages. But that is just not about the reason why the statue is.
Have you read Veronika Decides to Die by Paulo Coelho? That book is based on Ljubljana and Bled and has reference to this Preseren statue. It has a romantic story behind it like Romeo Juliet and Laila Majnu. Preseren was in love with Julija Primic, daughter of a rich merchant. But she is rich and he is shy and he never really had the courage to share his feelings with her. France Preseren would come every day to stand by the bridge, by her house and keep looking at the window hoping she would come by. He adored her so much and it is said that Julija was the muse for many of his romantic poems. But the romance never matured into anything as he just kept watching and writing poems while she got married to someone else. Eventually, Preseren moved on but even on his deathbed, he mentioned that he never stopped loving Julija.
As the story gets narrated, my mind wanders away and my eyes keep looking at the Preseren statue and the window. As though hoping they would come alive and the love story would turn into something true. The statue of Preseren looks so real, especially his eyes. Was it sulkiness or sadness or longing for Julija, I don’t know. But that was one heck of a story that got me carried away.
Triple bridge is right behind the Preseren square. You can see it side by side. The first thing that would come to your mind when you see is, “Why?” Why do they have three bridges side by side cos it makes no sense, it doesn’t even connect different sections of the road. Apparently, one was built as a replacement of the previous wooden bridge and now a motorable road. The other two were built for the pedestrians to cross. The place though is full of people walking and hanging around the park. I could not see any vehicles. By the way most of the people in Ljubljana cycle their way through streets and there are bikes that you can rent to ride and drop off at points.
What is a Europe city without a lover’s bridge that is heavy with locks? So Butcher’s bridge is filled with locks. Interesting are the quirky sculptures around with locks put on them.
Okay don’t give up on reading because it is about one more bridge 🙂 But the symbol of Ljubljana itself is Dragon, so how can we not have a bridge for the dragon. Dragon is even part of their emblem. The dragon bridge is the prominent one and you can see many sculptures of dragon at other parts of the city too. That is because Ljubljana was once a big swamp and the dragon had occupied the swamp. And Jason, the Greek hero passed through the Ljubljanica river along with his group of army called Argonauts. Since it was winter they all decide to camp by the river. But Jason spots the dragon occupying the marshland around and along the river. Jason defeats the dragon and occupies the land making him officially the first citizen of Ljubljana. With that dragon has become the mascot of Ljubljana now and you can spot the dragon symbol everywhere.
The funny legend about this bridge is that it was believed that if virgins pass through this bridge, the dragon would wag its tail 😛 So the girls of Ljubljana named this dragon “mother in law” 😀
Quirky Sculptures of Ljubljana
Some have a love for street art and I have a love for sculptures. And I was carried away with many sculptures around Ljubljana. They are all quirky, modern art and sometimes looks like even disfigured but so much fun. And it is just strewn around. The small ones around the bridge are like as though you can pick it up and put it in your pocket.
The most recent ones are from Jakov Brdar and his famous installation of Adam and Eve can be found near the Dragon Bridge. Below is the sculpture. And they are crying cos Eve has consumed the apple and they have been chucked out of the Paradise 🙂
I did not visit the castle as I was there for a short time and spent it just walking around the city. But you cannot miss the sight of Ljubljana castle, for like Eiffel tower, you look up from anywhere in Ljubljana, you get to see the castle. The castle is atop a hill and a funicular takes you to the top of the hill. Funicular is like a tram. The website of Ljubljana castle gives various fun things to do apart from just touring the castle. They seem to have a escape room game where you need to solve puzzles and save the dragon in an hour. Their site always shows scheduled events that you can plan to attend. You can even plan your wedding there 😉 Can you see the clock on a tower atop the hill? That’s the castle 😀
Ljubljana Central Market
It is a huge market and what better way to explore a place than visiting markets, picking up local produce and buying local bites!! Went with many dreams to the Central Market at Ljubljana. But you know how these Europeans are no, they close their shops by 3 pm and start to party 🙁 So our tour group reached around 4 pm and there wasn’t a single soul in the market selling anything. But the market is huge. There is an indoor market as well as an outdoor market. To be honest, if you look at the central market indoor building, you might wonder if it is some kind of important building. Cos it is huge and even the market building has a fine architecture to observe.
Picnic by Ljubljanica River
The Ljubljanica river runs around the city. Thanks to it there are numerous bridges around the city. And also there are many places where they have given provision to sit and just watch the calm waters or have your own mini picnic. You can also go for a boat ride down the river.
Quirky buildings of Ljubljana
It might sound something really simple but it is fun. See this colourful building! It is Vurnik house aka the cooperative business bank building. Who would have thought a bank to be this colorful. Then there are cathedrals and churches to check out. Their parliament has sculptures of naked people all around it for no particular reason.
And then if you walk around the town hall, you are going to feast your eyes with buildings of Baroque architecture. Our tour group was walking around the town hall and it so happened that the Mayor of the city was walking by. Walking by! He called our tour guide and asked where were we from and he was like, take a picture with me! Am telling you Ljubljana is filled with chilled out people.. Totally totally chilled out..
Feast on some Seafood
With the river all around the city, don’t forget to sit down for a seafood meal. I opted for a seafood soup, this was the first time I was having it and it was so yummmm.. It had fish, prawn, squid and the bowl was super huge, came along with fresh soft warm bread basket by the side
Day trip to Lake Bled
Bled is about 50km from Ljubljana. So in about an hour or so you can be at Bled. Bled is known for its scenic Lake Bled with the church in the middle of the lake and a castle above the hill. It looks like straight out of a fairytale! They have these traditional wooden boats that are rowed by hand by Bled coachmen called Fijakaers. Legend has it that if you make a wish and ring the church bell, it comes true 🙂 The most beautiful view of the island is from the castle. Also, don’t forget to have their traditional 60 year old recipe, Bled Cream Cake. Called Kremsnita it is a vanilla sponge cake with a crusty layer on top. There are also many hiking spots nearby and thermal spas that you can relax at.
Well, I hope I gave you a good round trip around Ljubljana. While visiting Slovenia, it is good to start off with Ljubljana or have it as base and tour around.
How to Reach Ljubljana
Ljubljana has its own airport called Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport. So you can fly in directly. As for me, we had a bus for ourselves. And we were driving from Plitvice National Park to Ljubljana before proceeding to Salzburg.
Where to Stay at Ljubljana?
I don’t remember where I stayed at Ljubljana. But please use this link to make a booking and I will get a teeny tiny commission. Click here to book hotels at Ljubljana.