Ljubljana, Slovenia is the cutest little capital there is and also the first foreign place we have been together as a married couple! We were instantly charmed as soon as our plane landed and our taxi driver asked us if we were familiar with John Wayne. Even more interesting though, Ljubljana is incredibly rich in history as it was first settled around 2000 BC and has a strong tribal history with the Celts, Romans, and Slavs. The old history and the small town charm of the capital of Slovenia makes Ljubljana extremely lovable. The city square is void of cars by law, and we found ourselves easily able to occupy all of our time with museums, restaurants, and shops by the Ljubljanica River. If you go to Slovenia, I hope you love it as much as we did.
This is our 48 hour guide to Ljubljana, Slovenia (after some random tourist photos, of course 😉 ).
ACTIVITY GUIDE TO LJUBLJANA, SLOVENIA
This is a great central location to get to anywhere in the historic city with beautiful buildings! Preseren Square is right next to the Three Bridges, a view of the river, and a view of all of the restaurants. This is a great place to sit down and people watch day or night.
Triple Bridge (Tromostovje)
The Triple bridge is exactly what it sounds like- three different bridges. The central bridge was built first, but soon became very crowded. Two bridges were built very closely on each side to help divert pedestrian traffic; all three have really beautiful architecture.
Cathedral of St. Nicholas (Stolnica Sv. Nikolaja)
On a very small side street, we saw people shuffling into a building. The exterior of the building was plain and hard to see because of the narrow streets. We didn’t even recognize it as anything special, but THEN WE WENT INSIDE. This was one of my favorite cathedrals because it was such a huge surprise.
Take a boat ride
We knew before we went to Europe that we didn’t plan on taking an over priced gondola ride in Venice, Italy, but as soon as we were seeing boat rides on the Ljubljanica River for under $15, we decided it was definitely something we wanted to do. This was such a fun way to see a lot of the city we wouldn’t have otherwise seen!
This bridge originally was proposed to be built in the 1930s, but remained on pause because of World War 2. The bridge ended up being built in the last decade and is adorned with padlocks as well as biblical and mythical statues (they’re pretty gory). The floor of the bridge is clear so you can see the water!
Dragon Bridge (Zmajski Most)
Ever heard of a guy named Jason and his group the Argonauts? Well, part of his mythical journey led him through the Ljubljana marshes to defeat a dragon before returning the golden fleece. The dragon is a huge part of Slovenian pride! This bridge is a tribute to the myth.
Slovenian Museum of Natural History/ the National Museum of Slovenian History
These museums are housed in the same building. The Slovenian Museum of Natural History has the norm: animals, birds, and reptiles and we went quickly through this section as it wasn’t the biggest interest of ours. However, the National Museum of Slovenian History was really interesting. A lot of the exhibits had limited English, but my favorite exhibit was Roman headstones and their explanations- it was truly fascinating. I also loved just learning the overarching history of Slovenia which was so much more expansive than we realized it would be.
Sitting above the city in Ljubljana is Ljubljana Castle. We took the funicular (though there are incredibly steep biking and walking paths) up to the site. It was amazing to see how huge the castle grounds were! The hill has been settled since 1200 BC and was likely a Roman military lookout after the Illyrians and Celts. The fortress itself was probably built in the 11-12th century and was massively overhauled in the 15th century. In the 19th century, it was used as a penitentiary. We took a self-guided tour.
Location: Jamska cesta 30, 6230 Postojna, Slovenia
The Postonja cave is about 1 hour by car or a short day trip by train (which is what we took) from Ljubljana. Devin always loves to see caves and this one is the second largest cave system in the country. This day trip was such a refreshing break as it had been extremely hot on most of our trip and we were so grateful to be able to hike in the cave. Shockingly, people were not prohibited from touching the cave walls!! The cave was interesting and there are fish tanks in the cave to see the very rare olm salamander ; this salamander is only found in caves in southern Slovenia.
RESTAURANT GUIDE TO LJUBLJANA, SLOVENIA
Restaurant: Zlata Ribica
- Location: Cankarjevo nabrežje 7 1000 Ljubljana
- Price: $31.77 for both of our breakfasts; this was a pricey meal for us, but it was one we definitely remembered!
- This restaurant had a beautiful view right on the river. The waitress was so nice and the breakfast was delicious as you can see below! The bread served before breakfast was delicious enough, but then the meats, cheeses, and scrambled eggs came out. We were so full, and it was the perfect fill up before we boarded our plane to head out. In general, Europe just knows how to do breakfast.
- Location: Ciril-metodov trg 15, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia
- Price: 4,90 € a person for the Soup with Carniolian sausage
- We were so lucky to find this restaurant just walking around because it is actually featured on Trip Advisor as well as many other websites. We wanted something that was very authentic, hopefully affordable, and we were kind of starving so we really lucked out because this place is quick! We loved the soup so much that we ended up coming back here twice, but Devin would have gladly eaten here every meal. The soup had white rice with mixed vegetables and sausage. It was very delicious!
Restaurant: Hood Burger
- Location: Jamova cesta 105, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia
- We’re guilty as charged of grabbing an American burger in Slovenia. I spoke to the owner and was surprised to find out that he was American. The burgers were large, juicy, and topped off with cheese made in Europe; needless to say, they were delicious!! The location is excellent and central to site seeing and this is a great option for when you’re craving something that sounds familiar 🙂 .
Restaurant: … there are gelato stands everywhere
- I’ll be honest, we went to five countries in Europe and our favorite gelato was definitely from Slovenia. The gelato seemed a lot creamier here. We went to a restaurant for the picture below, but we honestly thought the gelato stands had better product; the scoops were mounding and single handedly the reason why we gained weight in Europe while walking 8-10 miles everyday. My favorite flavor?? Definitely the one that had ferrero rocher in it!
HOTEL GUIDE TO LJUBLJANA, SLOVENIA
Hostel with private apartments: Viva Rooms
- Location: Miklošičeva cesta 14, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia
- Price: 65 EUR/night for 2 (as of this post)
- The location was right near the city center and within a decent walking distance to the train station. There wasn’t air conditioning (which wasn’t really needed when we visited in July), however, it did mean that we were woken up every morning by delivery trucks very early since our windows were open for air. The facilities were clean, the kitchenette was nice, and everything was very comfortable! The internet connection was excellent as well. There isn’t breakfast on site since the apartments are private. The hostel has airport pickup, but we didn’t use it.
Hotel: Hotel Lev (Union Hotels)
- Location: Vošnjakova ulica 1, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia
- Price: $108- $140 per night for 2 (as of this post)
- Hotel Lev is a 4-star hotel within a 15 minute walk to the train station and to the city center. The hotel was dated, but the air conditioning and internet worked very well. The furniture was comfortable and the location was quiet. What I loved best though? The amazing breakfast buffet! There was so many different times of meats and cheeses, fruit, yogurt, eggs, and anything else we could want. The Hotel had a shuttle transport to the airport that we used- it was nice!
We absolutely loved our time in Ljubljana!! The city was quaint, colorful, and now what my day dreams are made up of. I may have trouble spelling the name of the city, but we found ourselves looking up international assignments to live there as soon as we had been there for a few hours. This city has a special place in our hearts and wonderful memories from our time spent here. I would love to come back and visit again- and hopefully, someday very soon.