This December, I decided to take a winter break to Ljubljana, Slovenia, with my brother for a four-day trip. This was my third mini-break or holiday of the year. Even to me, that sounds a little crazy considering I have a full-time job and a slight obsession with spending money. But I somehow managed to do it – let me tell you all about it.
A pretty difficult city to pronounce and a country that I didn’t really know much about, my visit to Ljubljana was very much a spur of the moment decision after seeing a deal on Secret Escapes. One of my major goals for my 20s is to visit all of the main cities in Europe so this was just another to tick off my bucket list. Ljubljana is Slovenia’s capital and largest city but it has also been recognised as being one of Europe’s greenest cities, earning the title as the Green Capital of Europe from the European Commission in 2016.
Ljubljana city centre
Quite a small and relatively quiet city, you could easily cover the length of Ljubljana in a day. Considering the cities I’ve visited over the last 3 years, this was quite a weird phenomenon for me. You can walk quite freely in the city as car access is restricted, meaning that pedestrians and bicycle transport is prioritised. This has a major benefit for the restaurants who chose to create large seating areas in the streets, making the city seem like one big communal party.
On the first day, we braved the walk up the mountain to visit Ljubljana castle which dates back to the 16th century.With a castle built on the top of a 375m hill overlooking the city with Austrian inspired architecture, Ljubljana is definitely pretty to look at. This really isn’t a walk for people who despise heights or struggle with very steep hills. At some points, it felt like we were walking at a 90-degree angle which was extremely painful on my currently out of shape calfs. But when we got to the top, the panoramic view over the city was incredible and very photogenic. Even if you’re not majorly into history or castles, I’d recommend doing the walk just to see the view and if you don’t wish to walk, there’s a 70m-long funicular that leaves from Old Town near to the market on Vodnikov trg. Most of the castle was free to enter but there were a few places that required a ticket which cost €7, including a viewing tower over the city and a museum of puppets. For a lot of people, I don’t think it would be worth paying that money for what we actually saw. However, the castle was kept in wonderful condition and had a coffee shop and restaurant on site which was fantastic news for us after the long walk up.
Ljubljana Christmas Market
One of the things I absolutely loved about this trip was that when we visited, the Christmas market was in full swing with beautiful Christmas lights decorating the city. At night time, this all really came to life and it was a wonderful experience to help get you into the festive spirit, although I’m feeling pretty festive right now anyway!
Tromostovje (The Triple bridge)
One thing that I’d seen lots of photos of prior to visiting Ljubljana was the city’s famous triple bridge. This bridge is so popular because it connects Ljubljana’s old town with the new, modern capital of Slovenia. Since 2007, these bridges have been a part of the pedestrian-only zone in the city centre, meaning that we had to pass this almost every day and it seems to be a central location for all visitors or residents of the city. It’s located directly next to the central market and appears to attract street artists, competing for the attention of passers-by.
From what I experienced, Ljubljana isn’t as busy or jam-packed full of attractions or things to do in comparison to other European cities I’ve visited. However, I believe it’s a wonderful city break alternative, opting more for a quieter experience that doesn’t require you to take countless steps just to get across the city. I’m sure that there were lots of experiences we missed out on during our visit so I would love to go back to see more of the cultural scene that the city has to offer. If you get the chance, I would recommend visiting the city just for a weekend visit, just to see how beautiful it really is. This wasn’t an expensive trip so we were really lucky – in comparison to other major European cities, the food, drink and travel were all really reasonably priced. So, if you’re looking for a cheap city break, this should be one on your list of considerations!