Ljubljana: The City You Can’t Help But Love

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Listen closely, because I'm about to share a secret with you.

But you have to promise not to tell too many other people.

The secret is about a place.

And the place is Ljubljana, Slovenia.

Ljubljana, Slovenia

Actually, my secret isn't much of a secret if you've actually been to Ljubljana. Because, if you've been there, you'll already know that this city is beautiful, friendly, laid-back, and an amazing place to just BE in Europe. There's a reason that the word “love” is in Slovenia, I'm convinced.

Because my secret is that, if you go to Ljubljana, chances are you will never want to leave.

Ljubljana, Slovenia

I've fallen in love with quite a few capital cities on my travels — Wellington, Budapest, Reykjavik, and London, to name a few. And I now have to also add Ljubljana to that list.

As far as world capitals go, this little city of less than 300,000 isn't the trendiest or most modern. It isn't the most well-known or most connected to the rest of Europe. But damn, does it draw you in.

Ljubljana, Slovenia

With colorful buildings, wide streets, outdoor cafes, and willow-draped riverbanks, Ljubljana is easily one of the prettiest cities I have ever visited. Sure, it's not perfect. But it's that lack of complete perfection that makes it beautiful.

Ljubljana, Slovenia

I only spent a brief 3 nights in Ljubljana, but it's nevertheless a city I think back on often.

Why, you ask? Because of…

The Color

Ljubljana, like many of my favorite cities in the world, is very colorful. No, it's not quite as bright as, say, Sighisoara, but it has enough pops of pink and yellow to catch the eye.

Ljubljana, Slovenia
The Franciscan Church of the Annunciation
Ljubljana, Slovenia
A market outside St. Peter's Church

Ljubljana, Slovenia

Ljubljana, Slovenia

 

The Ljubljanica River

Cutting through the city in a canal-like fashion, the Ljubljanica River is one of my favorite parts of this city. The river itself isn't very special, but it allows for a couple of amazing things to exist — like Ljubljana's great bridges, dozens of riverside cafes, and plenty of romantic-looking scenes with willows drooping over the riverbank.

Ljubljana, Slovenia

Ljubljana, Slovenia
Ljubljana's love lock bridge (officially known as Butcher's Bridge, ironically)

Ljubljana, Slovenia

Ljubljana, Slovenia
The Dragon Bridge

Ljubljana, Slovenia

 

The Friendliness

Ljubljana is friendly to just about everything, from tourists to cyclists to the environment.

Ljubljana, Slovenia

Ljubljana, Slovenia

Ljubljana, Slovenia

 

The Atmoshpere

I visited Ljubljana in July — the height of tourist season. And, while the riverside cafes were usually busy, nothing felt as crowded or rushed there as in other parts of Europe. It was such a laid-back and welcoming place that I could have easily spent a few blissed-out weeks there doing absolutely nothing.

Ljubljana, Slovenia
Walking over the Triple Bridge
Ljubljana, Slovenia
Look at that empty square!

Ljubljana, Slovenia

Ljubljana, Slovenia
Ljubljana Castle on the hill

 

Ljubljana is still relatively undiscovered as a summer tourist destination. I doubt it will remain that way for long, but it certainly is the case now. Which is why it's a secret that I wanted to share with you.

Ljubljana, Slovenia

Go to this place, and go now. Go before the rest of the world gets clued in to the fact that you can't go to Ljubljana and not fall in love with the place.

——

Is Ljubljana on your must-visit list?

 

*Note: Big thanks to the Slovenia Tourist Board for hosting me in Ljubljana, and for Hotel Park for putting me up for a few nights. As always, though, opinions are my own.

"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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64 Comments on “Ljubljana: The City You Can’t Help But Love

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  1. I’ve heard so many good things about Ljubljana. I almost visited when in Europe last, but it didn’t work out. I feel like I have to get there now before everyone else. Beautiful post!

      If you get the chance again to visit anytime soon, definitely take it! I highly doubt somewhere this lovely will stay so unnoticed for very long!

    I absolutely loooooooved Slovenia and Ljubljana was just like a travel Disneyland to me! The people were nice and friendly, the buildings were colorful and pretty, it was affordable and the food was good… and it just had good vibes! It was fun to read through this post; your observations were many of the same ones I made and I enjoyed my time there so much! 🙂 Good memories!

      “A travel Disneyland” — I like it!!

      I don’t think I’ve talked to ANYone who disliked Ljubljana. Which is always a very telling sign!

    Steph talks really highly of Slovenia. Looks beautiful!

      It IS really beautiful! Natural beauty on-par with New Zealand and Iceland, in my opinion! And cities that might be even prettier.

    Good call! I lived there for a summer. I wrote part of my book about Eastern Europe there. 🙂

      I imagine it would be a fantastic place to call home for a summer!

    There’s quite a few great travel bloggers taking beautiful pictures – but I think you’re one of the very best! Love the dragon bridge and all the color in this city.

      Wow, thanks for the great compliment, James! It really means a lot to me that you love my photos!

    Oh, I loved Ljubljana – I’ve only been there for a super short layover (like two hours) and I could already feel that atmosphere you described here… I will definitely go back some time. Such an adorable place! Lovely photos!

      “Adorable” really is an appropriate descriptor here. I hope you get to go back someday and truly experience Ljubljana!

    I’ve been 3 times to Ljubljana: in 2002, 2009 and 2011. The first time I was there it was just yet another Central European city that you have quite a lot in this part of Europe. And then over these 7 years between my visits something has changed there, I guess it went through massive renovation as it suddenly became so pretty! No wonder you liked it so much, it really is a hidden gem of Europe!

      Let’s hope it stays hidden for at least a little longer!

    Wow what great photos, I especially like Ljubljana at night photos, the lights are just beautiful. This one is definitely going on my bucket list!

      It is a very bucket-list-worthy city, for sure. Glad you liked the photos!

    I’ve heard so many wonderful things about Ljubljana–I’m really hoping that I’ll be able to explore more of Eastern Europe, particularly Slovenia, soon! Lovely photos, and adore the color–I think I’d have such a grand day just wandering around taking pictures 🙂

      I could absolutely see you loving Ljubljana, Christine – so many little details! Definitely get yourself to Eastern Europe ASAP!

    I have visited Ljubljana several times and like you have fallen in love with the city. It’s a great place to visit and seems to have been bypassed by so many. I am looking forward to my next visit to Slovenia’s boutique capital.

      I have no clue why it gets bypassed by so many people, when it’s relatively close to other popular destinations like Italy and Croatia. Not that I’m complaining, of course… I’d love for it to continue to be kept a secret for a little longer!

    What a nice city! After this post it is in my list for sure. Thank you.

      Great to hear! It should definitely appear on more peoples’ lists.

    Looks like a fun city – haven’t been there but I continually hear great things

      Yes, I had heard so many good things about Slovenia before my trip to Europe that I added it in, even though I originally was going to be nowhere near the country! So glad I did.

    I have only heard wonderful things about Ljubljana! The city has been on my list but every I read something wonderful about it, I can’t wait to go. Why are there so many fantastic places to visit in the world?

      Good question, Debbie! I suppose it’s so that travel-lovers like us never run out of amazing places to dream about traveling to!

    Yes I would love to go there, on account of the blogs which have featured it over the last few months. And a year or so ago I don’t think I’d heard of Ljubljana! (Though I still can’t say I know for sure how it’s pronounced!)

      Well if you hadn’t heard of it a year ago but have been hearing about it a lot lately, then we are doing something right! 🙂

      (And it’s pronounced “loob-lee-ana” more or less.)

    I’ve actually never thought of visiting Ljubljana and now it seems that I’m really missing out. I can assure you this is going on my ‘to visit’ list.
    I was wondering: how are prices over there?

      If you ask me, you are definitely missing out! 🙂

      As for prices, Slovenia IS on the Euro. Because of that, it’s not super cheap – but it’s far less expensive than Western European cities!

        I thought about going to Romania but Slovenia sounds great although more expensive. How much should I expect to spend a day (hostels or cheap room on Airbnb, food, transportation.) I am a 53-year old, woman planning to go for 2 weeks at the end of June. Also, leaving from Montreal, is it worthed to fly to Italy (Venice) or Croatia (Zagreb) to safe money?

          Slovenia is indeed wonderful! It will be more expensive than Romania, yes, but still much cheaper than some other parts of Europe! It’s been a few years since I was there, so prices may have changed a bit. But hostels usually run $15-$30 per night, and a quick search shows Airbnb rentals in Ljubljana for around $60 per night on average. As for where you should fly to, I have no idea – I would do some flight searches to see if you can save some money! If you do fly into Zagreb, you can get to Ljubljana easily by train.

    Like so many others, this was not on my “list” but now is, for sure. Photos are great, too. Happy Thanksgiving!

    Let me just say some things as a local.

    First of all photos really are amazing! You’ve done a very good job on them!!!

    Second…to all of you who said you’d like to spend a season in Ljubljana make sure it’s everything but summer because in summer the city is empty. There is a lot of students living in Ljubljana during the rest of the year but in the end of June they all go home or to spend their summer on the coast somewhere. The best season in my opinion is spring because everytihing is blooming but you do have to take a risk of having a week or two of bad weather. It is also very nice during winter if there is some snow. With all the new years decoration lights it can be very beautiful.

    And third…I don’t want to sound too pedand but Europe as an opose to US is a bit more colourfull and not just black and white so we don’t devide it only into East and West. Now Slovenia is in transition between Central Europe and Balkan which is South-Eastern Europe…but it is by no means a part of Eastern Europe! I know it may sound completely insignificant but the fact is that culture and architecture in Eastern Europe for example are completely different to those in either SE, Central or any other part of Europe.

    Otherwise it really is nice to read good things about your own country specially as sincere as the things in this blog and not something from the media…some of them I didn’t even manage to see myself anymore and I thank all of you for opening my eyes again.

    I wish all of you many more safe travels!!! 😉

    Lep pozdrav iz Slovenije!

      Thanks so much for the great comment, Mataj! And thanks, too, for the tip on when to spend some time in Ljubljana – I will definitely keep that advice in mind for next time!

      I’m glad you feel like I was able to capture your city and country well in this post! 🙂

    I keep hearing great things about Ljubljana but never have the time to head down there, it is a must for me next time I head east. Great photos by the way, that dragon looks tough!

      Definitely make your way down there if you can! If you’re already in Europe, it’s a no-brainer!

    […] Bled, Slovenia By DangerousBiz On November 26, 2012 · Add Comment After spending three days falling in love with Ljubljana, I wasn’t sure Slovenia would have anything more up its sleeve to charm me […]

    Definitely on my list of places to visit and climbing higher after reading this article. Hopefully a 2013 trip is on the horizon for me.

      I sure hope it is! I hope another visit is on the horizon for me in 2013!

    […] An Adventure on the Emerald River By DangerousBiz On November 28, 2012 · Add Comment Picture-perfect cities with dragon bridges and castles. Fairy-tale-like lakes. And now a body of water known as the […]

    […] turns out that this country is amazing, with a gorgeous capital city, a stunning resort town, all sorts of adventure activities, and some really lovely people. But the […]

    […] to the most this summer — and it did not disappoint. I fell in love with the capital city of Ljubljana, relaxed in the resort town of Bled, oogled some caves and castles, and went on a full-day […]

    Slovenia is awesome, love the people, love the nature. Can’t wait to explore more of it, and ljubljana seems great.

      Ljubljana is indeed great! Definitely worth an extended visit!

    Fab photos of Ljubljana! I’ve longed to see this city for while.

    […] If you haven’t been to Slovenia yet, what the hell are you waiting for?? Seriously, though, this little country tucked between Italy, Austria, and Croatia is probably one of my favorites in Europe — as is its capital. Filled with bridges, pretty buildings, and laid-back people, I find myself often dreaming of Ljubljana. […]

    Llubljana is a stunning city. I loved it there even though I was only there for the day, the brightly coloured buildings, the stunning river through the city centre and the amazing riverside cafes…Perfection!

      Glad you got to appreciate it, even if only for a little while!

    sLOVEnia is the number one reason for wanting to visit Europe. Let me just be clear, I have at least 100 reasons but this beautiful country is at the tip top of the list.

    You’ve captured it beautifully and have made me even more excited to visit!

    In terms of things to do, are there any highlights you would recommend? Or is it just best to soak up the beauty and see how the experience unfolds organically?

    Either way, I can’t wait!

    Thank you for sharing 🙂

      Ljubljana is gorgeous! (As is all of Slovenia!) In Ljubljana I really enjoyed going up to the fortress (it has some great views), and then just wandering around. There are so many cute sidewalk cafes along the river.

      And as for the rest of Slovenia, I loved Lake Bled and and Triglav National Park! (Look up the Emerald River Adventure if you haven’t already!)

    Wow, it looks beautiful! What are the vegetarian options like over there?

      I can’t say for sure since I’m not a vegetarian and I also visited Slovenia quite a few years ago – but Europe in general has plenty of vegetarian options, so I’m sure there would be some!

    I moved to Ljubljana from a smaller town and I also adore it and feel very priviliged to live here. I am also amazed when I host my international friends and they are al amazed by Ljubljana. As I always say: the more I travel, more I am falling in love with my own city! How did I get so lucky to live here?! ?

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