Photograph by kasto80, Getty Images
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A church overlooks Prešeren Square in the center of Ljubljana, Slovenia.

Photograph by kasto80, Getty Images

Everything to Know About Ljubljana

Here's how to plan the best possible trip to the capital of Slovenia.

One of Europe’s up-and-coming destinations, Ljubljana is a surprisingly hip and creative city with a lot of energy. The recent redevelopment of the city center along the Ljublanica River has turned the area into a hot spot of cool cafes, trendy restaurants, and numerous outdoor vendors selling unique and affordable crafts. Set against the historic red-roofed buildings dating back hundreds of years, there’s incredible beauty to be discovered in such a small city.

When to Go

Ljubljana’s high season is during the summer months when the festivals are on and the riverside comes alive with outdoor cafes, bars, and restaurants. Visiting during the shoulder season (in May and September), it’ll still be warm and sunny thanks to the southern European climate, but much less crowded.

Celebrate

Because of Ljubljana’s picturesque street life along the riverside, Ljubljana celebrates a number of great summertime festivals for the outdoors. The biggest is the Ljubljana Festival which takes place throughout the summer from June to September and features local and international performers across multiple creative fields in music, opera, ballet, theater, and visual arts.

What to Eat

Slovenians take a lot of pride in their local cuisine, which is only beginning to be recognized as a cultural highlight. Slovenian pastries such as štruklji (a type of strudel) and potica (a rolled pastry) are popular treats from Ljubljana’s many cafés and bakeries. Though both baked goods are customized with a variety of fillings, the most popular ones are baked with tarragon spice for that unique Slovene flavor.

Souvenir to Take Home

The best option for those who want to take a piece of Ljubljana with them is to wander around the many flea markets and explore the vintage objects displayed there. Of course, buying art from one of the local craft artists is both a way to support the emerging art scene and also an opportunity to get a unique item. Slovenian wine, which isn’t exclusive to Ljubljana, is a product with a tradition that goes back some centuries, and many vineyards are committed with environmental causes and bio or organic production—without compromising the quality of the wine.

Sustainable Travel Tip

Considering that the city is relatively small, and as a way to appreciate all the architecture and its integration with the surrounding nature, it’s highly recommended to stroll around the streets, particularly the Ljubljanica riverside walk where you can discover the city’s ancient embankments and legendary bridges. Renting a bike (or using the city service BicikeLJ) is perfect for those who want to explore the outskirts of the city where you’ll stumble on ancient ruins and larger green spaces.

Instagram-Worthy View

Ljubljana’s most beautiful views are alongside the Ljubljanica River. Colorful buildings line the riverside and the city’s central square (Prešeren Square) serves as a main focal point, especially with the iconic Triple Bridge which crosses at the square. Just a few blocks up the river is the legendary Dragon Bridge with its iconic four dragon statues. From the northeastern side of the bridge, it’s possible to get a great view of the dragon in front of the Ljbuljana Castle in the distance—especially beautiful at sunset.