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top five guide: ljubljana, slovenia

Updated: Oct 5, 2023

Colorful Buildings Architecture Ljubljana Slovenia Old Town 2022

You heard it here first: Ljubljana is one of Europe’s best kept secrets. This laid back capital city feels just as idyllic as other, more popular destinations like Lucerne, but is a third of the cost. The architecture, walkable streets, natural beauty, affordable prices, and friendly, easygoing people made me instantly fall in love. Perhaps more people don’t visit because they aren’t sure how to pronounce it? (It’s LOO-BLEE-ANA, by the way).

Here are my top five tips for a trip to LJUBLJANA:

Triple Bridges Ferry River Ljubljana Old Town Slovenia 2022

1: wander old town

I’ve said it once and I'll say it again: city centers built around small rivers are simply superior. Even more superior are those that also have pedestrianized streets along both sides of river. Lucky for us, Ljubljana has both. Spend some time wandering along the water, being sure to cross the picturesque Triple Bridges and admire the architecture of Jože Plečnik. Whenever your feet need a rest, pause to enjoy an al fresco beverage of your choice along the riverbanks and ponder why this place is so damn pleasant.

Lake Bled Castle Blue Waters Slovenia 2022

2: day trip to bled

Slovenia’s best kept secret is its natural beauty. Though it has a mere 30 miles of coastline (Italy and Croatia really are bullies), it makes up for it with rolling green hills, snow-topped mountains, and bright blue lakes. Just 35 minutes from Ljubljana is Lake Bled, an absurdly picturesque spot known for shining turquoise water and a small island with a picture-perfect 15th-century church. Take a short uphill hike to Mala Osojnica to enjoy the view from above, or rent a paddleboard to visit the island and climb the church bell tower yourself (don’t forget to ring the bell for good luck!).

Tivoli Park Castle Ljubljana Slovenia 2022

3: tivoli park

Visiting parks is one of my favorite ways to get to know a city and its local culture. Tivoli Park is Ljubljana’s most prominent park, and it is a fantastic place to spend a sunny afternoon. You'll definitely get your steps in, as this park is quite large. Engage in some entertaining people watching and don't miss a stop by my favorite spot: the fountain outside Tivoli Castle.

TOZD Coffee Bar Ljubljana Slovenia 2022

4: tozd bar

There are plentiful cool cafés and restaurants in the city center to choose from. Remarkably, not a single one of them gave me that icky, tourist-trap vibe (admittedly, an impressive feat for a European capital). One spot I particularly loved was TOZD, a laid-back, all-day cafe with the best ambiance for a latte by day or a local beer or wine by night.

Potica Cake Ljubljana Slovenia 2022

5: diverse eats

While we admittedly didn't sample much Slovenian fare during our stay, one thing we did try was potica (pictured), a yummy treat that resembles a mini bundt cake. Try one at Le Potica, and be sure to get the more traditional and unique tarragon flavor. The reason we didn't have much Slovenian food is because there is a great diversity to the cuisine in Ljubljana! You can try a bit of it all at the Open Kitchen street food market on Fridays. Also, we randomly had some of the best South Asian food of our lives from Babus Asian Street Food. The owner and chef is the cutest. Must visit!

You can't always do it all, so one thing we didn’t do but wish we had:

Explore more of the surrounding nature. Slovenia was one of our favorite surprises of our Europe trip, and there is quite a lot of natural beauty packed into such a small country. We absolutely plan to go back someday to see more of it.

Have a great trip! Feel free to leave a comment with your own favorites. You can also find these recommendations (and more!) in map format by following me on the Out of Office app.

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