Ljubljana: expectations exceeded!

Before I went, I knew Slovenia for its highly Instagrammable lake and not much more. I couldn’t even pronounce the name of its capital (loo-blah-nah FYI) but this was set to rapidly change in three short days. Not nearly enough time to see the country, but enough to leave us wanting more.

Our first impression of Ljubljana could not have been better. Bars and restaurants cram the river-side and by night are flooded with people. The Old Town is picturesque, and has a castle towering above. It is only small; no need for public transport, and the bus and train stations are only a 10 minute walk away. It doesn’t take long to feel fondly acquainted.

When exploring the Old Town, highlights include seeing the various bridges (Triple bridge, Dragons bridge, Butchers bridge), the stunning pink cathedral, and the streets running parallel each side of the river. We walked to the ‘Skyscraper’ (translated from  Nebotičnik) for a coffee and panoramic views of Ljubljana.

We also strolled through Tivoli gardens, and Metelkova, an autonomous district that used to be the military barracks. The graffiti was amazing, and it reminded me somewhat of a smaller Christianshavn in Copenhagen… slightly eerie. Lastly, visiting the castle grounds is free and so too is the walk up there, but there is also a funicular that runs regularly.

Eating and drinking in Ljubljana is fantastic. Finally, craft beer could make a decent appearance into our lives (Wellington, we miss you) with lots of Slovenian microbreweries in existence. In particular, we enjoyed Lockal and Petkovsek, but I’m sure any around there are good. The coffee culture is also more akin to that of New Zealand’s: we didn’t make it to EK bistro but they say it is worth the trip. We also enjoyed a lovely night out at Tokyo Piknik; with bao buns, fried chicken and ramen it was reminiscent of some of our favourite nights back home.

I think both Andy and I were taken by surprise at just how much we enjoyed Ljubljana. There was so much more we could have done if there was more time. If I go back, I will hire a car and see more of the surroundings, rather than basing ourselves just in loo-blah-nah.

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