Ljubljana, Slovenia (stats courtesy Wikipedia):
Pop City Proper: 279,756
Metro Pop: 537,712
Municipality: 163.8 km2 (63.2 sq mi)
Density: 1,708/km2 (4,420/sq mi)
Elevation: 295 m (968 ft)
Weather: Cold, short winters, mild summers
Warm: April – October
Summer: Low 80’s
Language: Slovene, English is very common
What’s so special?
This area has breathtaking landscapes, magnificent architecture, and unforgettable castles. Rolling green hills, shimmering lakes, even caves and a dramatic gorge to explore. Truly, a hidden gem you will want to come back to again and again. Be sure to scroll through all of my Slovenia journals as they are all close to Ljubljana.
Ljubljana – Lover’s Town
As you can see from the header at the top, it’s not a large city, especially by capital city standards. And, mind you, this is the largest city in Slovenia. But this is the truly classic, romantic European town. There are so many great things to see in this area that a lot people just use Ljubljana as a central base camp. But this works to your favor as it is not over run with tourists. We found it to be very laid back and easy.
The town has done a marvelous job of entwining itself around the Ljubijanica river. It is no hard task to grab a cozy table overlooking the river to enjoy a glass of wine or a cappuccino. While there was more than enough to see and do, it isn’t chocked so full of famous tourist attractions that you feel you have to rush around to take them all in. It’s an easy town. Pull your lover close and enjoy the richness of this old place as you explore the shops, bridges, and cafes at a slower pace. And by the way, the first part of Ljubljana, ‘Ljub’, means “to love” in Slavic. Just sayin’.
One place you definitely want to visit that will take you back in time is Klobasarna. You get a fresh cooked, sliced local sausage on a paper plate. Oh yeah, simple man here just loves stuff like this! But I am glad I got the half, its a good bit of meat especially if you’re intending to have dinner later.
The whole town is full of places like this. And there 15 or so bridges crossing the river in the area, and almost all of them have ornate statues highlighting their entrance or medieval carvings all along their length. One such bridge was dedicated to the dragon, which is also the town symbol. I’ll let you learn that legend on your own, but here’s a hint, you may want to keep a wary eye to sky.
Towering over all these cozy cafes and shops is a castle. Look closely at the picture below. It’s actually two pictures. The one on the left is me looking up at the castle from the city. The one on the right is me looking down at the city from the castle. The big street in the center is the same one I was looking up from!
It’s a pretty decent hike up to the castle, and since we were so full from the sausage, we took the funicular up – wait, what? Ha, it’s basically a cable car and was kind of fun. But we did hike back down. And when we saw how steep it was, we were glad we didn’t walk up.
The castle gives the most spectacular views of the city, and will make anyone look like a professional photographer. The interior is remarkably modern. This castle has a very interesting story to tell. And you should know by now, my job isn’t to tell you those stories, but to let you discover them on your own. But suffice to say this castle does have a unique history and has at times been more than a castle. It’s been a fortress, a prison, a residence, and more!
We stayed at the Vander Urbani Resort. Primo location right off the main road that parallels the river, and centrally located for exploring the city on foot. The prices were competitive with other hotels in the area. We paid around €180 per night during what is considered prime season (early May).
As with most European hotels, the rooms were small. But the style of our room was particularly structured in such a way that there was no privacy for anything, I mean anything while in the room. So make sure you are really really intimate with who you are staying here with.
We only ate the free breakfast in their restaurant, but it was cozy and nicely laid out. The main guy that ran the area down there seemed always stressed out even when the place wasn’t crowded, so we didn’t feel inclined to party there. Besides, ten paces and we could be sitting outside right on the river.
The rest of the staff was polite and friendly, always eager to help. Everyone spoke good English. I would stay here again.
Venue: I’m going to tell you straight up here, the food in this place is pretty fancy. Casual attire, although I would have felt a little better if I had worn my suit jacket. Very cozy setting. I understand it used to be a house and was converted. It does have a homey feel to it. Considering how fancy the food is, and how good the service was, the prices were very good. Everyone spoke good English, and they had English menus available
Menu: It’s the first place I ever went to that served horse (which I did NOT eat of course). Venison with blueberries. Octopus. Hmmm. Also some great fish selections. But they redeemed themselves by having several beef selections, including T-bone steak.
Drinks: Great selection of local wines. We just love the Slovene wines. We actually got the Malvasia which, believe it or not is actually an orange wine. I know, but we like it! Reasonably priced, maybe a bit on the high side.
My recommendation: So the JC Simple Man rating is not so good, but I will give this place high marks on Trip Advisor because the overall value for most people is top notch. If I was out on my own looking for dinner, I would not come back here, but for my friends who I know like this type of venue, I would highly recommend this place to them.
Marley and Me
Venue: Definitely casual, laid back and relaxed. Somewhat small inside, lots of seating outside. Prices were very reasonable, between €10 and €20 for most main dishes.
Menu: Some pretty fancy pasta dishes, good salmon and sea bass selections, but a surprisingly good selection of beef, pork, and chicken.
Drinks: Good selection of local wines and a pretty good deal on the prices. We had a local cab and it was excellent.
My recommendation: I ordered the hamburger. As with most European restaurants, I asked for it med-well, and got rare. I can’t really fault them for this. Since I know this is what they do, I should not order a hamburger unless I’m willing to accept it, which I am. Overall though, I would recommend this place and I would come back here again.