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Beautiful Ljubljana, Slovenia is filled with gorgeous 17th – 19th century architecture. Lively sidewalk cafes and city squares, good museums, and a friendly, sprawling green park, all appealed to Philadelphia Traveling Mom Sarah Ricks. In the center of town, there’s a castle on a hill and a river. The Old Town is easily walkable. Nearby is the natural beauty of Lake Bled and its surrounding mountains. And these are just are some of the reasons to visit Ljubljana, Slovenia.
I visited Ljubljana for four days with my husband and college-age daughter. And I immediately fell in love with this gem of a Central European city with its relaxed Mediterranean feel. Here are some reasons to visit Ljubljana, Slovenia.
Reasons to Visit Ljubljana, Slovenia – Architecture
Gorgeous architecture is one of the best reasons to visit Ljubljana, Slovenia. I love Baroque and Art Nouveau details. I’m a sucker for the decorative swirls, gargoyles, and statues that stud the 17th – 19th century architecture in Old City Ljubljana. And since the streets are easily walkable, I had plenty of chances to look up at architectural flourishes. Even when my family wished I would stop taking so many pictures. Which was every day.
Ljubljana Castle on a Hill
In the middle of Ljubljana is a hill topped with a medieval castle. We enjoyed walking up the hill to the castle. But we also enjoyed riding the 30-second funicular up the hill. At the top of the hill, we visited the Slovenian history museum housed in the old castle, enjoyed views of the city’s orange tile roofs, and stopped at a café. One of my reasons to visit Ljubljana was we were never far from our next cappuccino or gelato. While we did not visit this time, the Ljubljana Castle also has a puppet museum and a swanky restaurant.
Reasons To Visit Ljubljana, Slovenia – No Car Needed
Ljubljana encourages walking. For example, some streets ban cars. Similarly, the lively river that slices through Old Town has some bridges limited to pedestrians and bikes. It’s fun to watch stand-up paddle boarders or small boats from the riverbank or bridges. Sidewalk cafes line the Old Town streets – fun for people watching. We saw families and travelers from all over the world strolling Ljubljana bridges, riverbank walkways, and pedestrian streets. One of my reasons to visit Ljubljana, Slovenia is no need for a car.
Tivoli Park in Ljubljana
My husband, daughter, and I enjoyed meandering the surprisingly big green park in Ljubljana, Tivoli Park. On a Sunday afternoon, we saw strollers, bikers, frisbee players, and even a live brass band. Families enjoyed the lily pond, the playground, and lounging in the shade. I was happy we visited during rose season, when the rose garden was blooming in red, yellow, and pink.
Reasons to Visit Ljubljana, Slovenia – Nearby Lake Bled
Even though it was a day trip to the mountains near Ljubljana, and we only had 4 days, I’d heard that Lake Bled was worth visiting. I’m glad we made the time. One of the best reasons to visit Ljubljana, Slovenia is beautiful Lake Bled.
In the middle of Lake Bled is a church on a tiny island. The island is accessible only by boat. Visitors climb into a small boat, and a boatman paddles to the island. The boatman position has been in the same families for generations. While the view of the church from the lakefront is lovely, so is the view from the boat, and from the island back to shore.
After the church, we stopped by the café on the island. I wanted to sample the café’s potica cake, a Slovenian specialty. Delicious! After the boatman rowed us back to shore, we drove further up the winding mountain roads to visit the castle at the top. The castle was first built in the 11th century. But my favorite was the view was looking down on Lake Bled from high up above it.
Lake Bled is in the mountains, about 2 hours from Ljubljana. While we did not have a car, that proved to be no problem. We booked our day trip with Roundabout Agency. In fact, once I saw the narrow twisting mountain roads, I was relieved we had an experienced driver. Our guide from Roundabout Agency picked us up downtown. We lucked out with a friendly and interesting guide.
Hiking Vintgar Gorge Near Ljubljana, Slovenia
I’d seen photos of the church on the island in Slovenia’s Lake Bled, so I was expecting the lake’s beauty. But I was surprised that the tour started with a beautiful morning hike. Before we visited Lake Bled, we hiked for a half-hour in the woods along a stream that feeds the lake. My husband, daughter, and I enjoyed the crisp, clear water and waterfalls in shades of green. If you go, wear comfy shoes.
Wine Tasting Tour of Ljubljana
We enjoyed a wine tasting tour of Ljubjana with our daughter, who is over 18. We booked the Ljubjana Wine Tasting Experience through the Visit Ljubjana website. This chatty three-hour walking tour of Old Town was a fun way to appreciate Slovenian wines, cheeses, and salami. We even got to visit the Castle’s private vineyard, tucked away on the hillside.
If You Go
We reached Ljubljana, Slovenia by an easy three hour train ride from Graz, Austria, where I am teaching for the summer. Since we did not plan ahead, on short notice we could not find a hotel room. But it was easy to rent through a private apartment through Booking.com. While it was a 4-story walk up, our apartment was perfectly located in the middle of the old city. And that walk upstairs helped work off the potica cake, gelato, and Slovenian wine.
Does Ljubljana’s Architecture, Walkability, or Nearby Mountain Lake Appeal to You? Tell Us About it in the Comments.