A Weekend in Ljubljana, Slovenia

Ljubljana (pronounced lube-lee-AH-nah) the capital of Slovenia, is a charming city full of artists, museums, and galleries. With a population of 300,000, it is one of the smallest capital cities in Europe. It has no world-famous attractions and there’s no need to hop from one place to another, taking photos and crossing the items on your checklist. In saying that, there is no reason for you not to visit this magical Eastern European gem! It’s a beautiful city to stroll around and enjoy and definitely worth a visit.

As I’m currently enjoying my last month of living in Vienna I am also trying to see as much as possible close to here in case I never get the chance to make it back! This was the perfect little mini-break from my nannying job! A few people have been asking me about the trip, what I did, where I stayed, where I ate, etc. so I’ve decided to put together this little mini-guide with a few tips.

Ljubljana

Getting There

Bla Bla Car saves the day again! If you haven’t heard of this awesome ride-sharing website, I suggest looking into it if you’re planning on doing any European travel! They even use it on other continents too!

It’s safe and affordable, often costing much less than other ways of getting there! Check out the video of how it works here!

My trip from Vienna to Ljubljana set me back 20 euro and took about 4.5 hours. By train and bus not only was it going to cost me a lot more, it was going to take me a lot longer!

Where I stayed

If you’re planning on staying in a hostel on your trip to Ljubljana there is only one place worth staying – Zeppelin Hostel. Ideally located in a historical building in the city centre, 5 minutes walk from the main train station, Zeppelin Hostel Ljubljana is a small, bright and spacious hostel run by a young team of experienced travelers. They offer private double rooms and comfortable dormitories at affordable prices.

Zeppelin Common Room
Cosy Common Room

What makes this hostel so great is the staff! They’re so friendly and get everybody interacting together. It’s a small hostel but it makes traveling solo so much better as you really do make a lot of friends there.

This place is clean and modern with nice rooms, comfy beds and a cool’n’cosy common area to hang out in! They have computers to use for free, a book exchange and a tv and comfy couches to watch movies. They offer a free self-serve breakfast which includes cereal, toast, juice, tea, coffee and there are plenty of ingredients to make other things like omelettes and pancakes… if you’re lucky the awesome manager Polona might even make you some strawberry pancakes!

I stayed in the 10 bed dorm which was nice and clean. Each bed has it’s own bed light and there are loads of power outlets around the room with extension chords, etc so you can charge everything by your bed.

This place was incredibly safe and it honestly felt like I was staying at a friends place. The other guests became new friends (A.K.A the Zeppelin Family) very quickly and we bonded cooking together in the kitchen.

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New friends cooking lunch together on a rainy day in Slovenia!
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Bonding over drinking games in the evening with some of the guests

Where I Drank

1) Sir Williams Pub – Tavčarjeva ulica 8a, 1101 Ljubljana, Slovenia

This place is great! You can get more than 120 different beers from Ireland, England, Germany, Belgium, Slovenia and other countries. Not to mention 30 different wine and whiskey brands. For me it is also a more peaceful environment, and not so ‘clubby’.

Their specialty is the monthly organized beer tasting. It is an extraordinary occasion occurring every last Monday. It costs €16 to taste 6 different beers, listen to the explanation about the origin, brewing process and taste, etc.

Tip: Ask the barmen for their recommendation, because they’ll never let you down.

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2) Orto Bar – Grablovičeva 1, 1000 Ljubljana

Known for its hard rock, hard drinking and hard bodies, Orto Bar is one of Ljubljana’s leading live music venues. Downstairs is a red velvet lounge with a popular foosball table that dashes any inclination towards decadence, while upstairs is a swarm of sweaty wristbands, thrashing hair, cigarette smoke and ear-splitting delineations of punk and rock music on weekends. A bit beyond the city middle, Orto is a nice halfway point between the sometimes sketchy or spacey nearby Metelkova scene and the smart society of the centre. At Orto the clientele isn’t too alternative to talk to you or create a friendly atmosphere. Daily 18-23 happy hours help.

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3) Metelkova

Metelkova City is an autonomous social centre in the centre of Ljubljana, located on the site of former military barracks. This place is super cool! It reminds me of a slightly less-scary version of Christiania in Copenhagen (although that’s debatable, some people agreed with me on that and some didn’t!). This seems to be the place everybody has heard about and wants to go drinking. For me, this was all a bit too clubby for me. I went and I enjoyed myself but I really just enjoyed walking around there and checking out all the graffiti and stuff. Very cool vibe! The thing is with this place too, I went on a Thursday and also went back on a Friday and the difference was immense. There are a number of different places to go here all around the same area but my advice would just be walk around and go check it out. We had some awesome Couchsurfing friends, Heidi, Tadej and Uroš (pictured below) that lead the way for us.

Tip: Definitely make friends with locals and let them show you the places to go!

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Tadej, Heidi, Uroš – Awesome Couchsurfing Friends!
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Gala Hala – One of the clubs in Metelkova
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Metelkova, Ljubljana
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Metelkova, Ljubljana

Foods to Try

Cremeschnitte – A vanilla custard and cream cake with puff pastry base and top – popular in a lot of Eastern European countries. Not sure if I really loved this but I’m not a huge fan of cream. I think you definitely have to try it while you’re there! It was also pretty big and I was lucky I was sharing it with a friend…although we still didn’t finish!

Tip: If there is a napkin underneath, take it out from under it before you start tucking into it.

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Cremeschnitte

Burek – Although originally a turkish dish, in Slovenia, burek is one of the most popular fast-food dishes. It is made from layers of dough, alternating with layers of other fillings in a circular baking pan and then topped with a last layer of dough. Traditionally it may be baked with no filling (prazan), with stewed minced meat and onions, or with cheese. Modern bakeries offer cheese and spinach, apple, cherry, potato, mushroom, and pizza burek as well.

Tip: Pizza Burek is awesome on the way home from a night out.

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What I Did During the Day

I was on a pretty tight budget and also didn’t have a lot of time to explore as I was only there for a few days. I’ve found that doing the free walking tours that most cities offer is a great place to start on your first day. The guides are great and very knowledgeable and the tour gives you a great overview of the city. Basically, the guides work on tips and you’re expected to pay what you think the tour is worth but it is definitely worth it. I decided to pay a fiver for this tour. The way I think of it is, if every person pays 5 then they’re doing pretty well for a few hours work! The Ljubljana Free Tour runs in English 7 days a week and they meet at the pink church in the main square in the city. Look for the guides wearing yellow! I definitely recommend this!

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The Pink Church

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Lake Bled Half-Day Trip

If you visit Ljubljana there is NO way you can miss going to Bled! This place is just amazing and so close! I originally stumbled across this place in Lonely Planet years ago and said to myself “one day I will visit that place!” I was originally planning on spending the entire day there, leaving Ljubljana early and getting back late at night but unfortunately the entire time I was in Slovenia, the weather was miserable! Most people even told me to skip Bled all together because the weather was bad but I’m so so glad I didn’t. I did the free walking tour in the morning, went back to my hostel for a bit and then got a 2pm bus to Bled. It was really easy to organise it myself instead of doing a tour. You just go to the main bus station and ask for a ticket to Bled which will set you back about 6 or 7 euro. Don’t worry about booking it before or anything, it’s simple enough to do on the spot and busses leave regularly!

It takes about an hour and a half to get to Bled and it’s a pretty scenic drive, even on a rainy day!

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On the bus to Bled, Slovenia

When we arrived, my awesome new Canadian buddy from the hostel, Sean, and I went to get some local food. After walking around for a while we came to a winner, went inside, took off our coats and sat down, only to find we were in a Serbian restaurant and not a Slovenian restaurant. We didn’t mind, we just wanted food and beer and to get out exploring!

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Sean the awesome Canadian!
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Serbian food in Slovenia. Whoops!

After our food and beer we went for a walk along the lake and made our way up to the castle. The whole place was just incredible! Pictures do not even do this place justice! With immense natural beauty, Bled, together with its surroundings, ranks among the most beautiful alpine resorts, renowned for its mild, healing climate and thermal lake water. The beauty of the mountains reflected on the lake, the sun, the serenity and the fresh air arouse pleasant feelings in visitors throughout the year, guaranteeing an ideal base or a relaxing break or an active holiday.

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The lake surrounds Bled Island. The island has several buildings, the main one being the pilgrimage church, built in its current form near the end of the 17th century. The church has a 52 m (171 ft) tower and there is a Baroque stairway from 1655 with 98 stone steps leading up to the building. The church is frequently visited and weddings are held there regularly. Traditionally it is considered good luck for the groom to carry his bride up the steps on the day of their wedding before ringing the bell and making a wish inside the church.

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Lake Bled was one of the most picturesque places I have ever visited and I can only imagine it would be a thousand times better in the summer. If there is one place to visit in Slovenia, this should be it !!

So that was my quick trip to Ljubljana and Bled in Slovenia. I traveled there alone and left with a whole bunch of new friends. I met the most incredible people and had the most incredible weekend!

If you have any questions or need some more tips or advice, feel free to reply in a comment below of self me through an email – gidget.gallaher@hotmail.com

Also remember to check out our Wanderlust Facebook page!

Happy Travels 🙂 x

10409443_10152654558361879_2011009453995469829_nBy Gidget ‘Gigi’ Gallaher

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