If you are looking for the ideal destination in which to spend three days filled with all kinds of activities, Ljubljana is the right place for you. The city of dragons, as its inhabitants affectionately call it, offers its visitors fairy-tale streets and romantic promenades in the city centre, a handful of interesting museums, verdant parks and oases of alternative culture. Ljubljana has become an increasingly popular destination in recent years. It differs completely in character from the other capital cities in the Balkans due to the strong influence of the Habsburg monarchy on its appearance. All tourist attractions are concentrated within the narrow radius of the city centre, and the surrounding areas offer several opportunities for day trips. All this and more makes a visit to the capital of Slovenia the ideal opportunity for a short break between two working weeks.
Ljubljana is only an hour and 25 minutes away from Belgrade, with planes operating six days a week. Passengers can purchase their tickets quickly and easily through the Air Serbia website. By subscribing to the Newsletter you can keep up to date with discounted ticket prices and new departures.
Ljubljana - European capital and charming town in one
Ljubljana lies on the banks of the river Ljubljanica, which flows through it in a surprisingly narrow course. It is this narrow riverbed and its close banks that give the quay its intimate charm. However, a tour of Ljubljana should start from the centre, from Prešeren Square. Named after the famous Slovenian poet France Prešeren, it features a monument to him, and a Franciscan church from the 17th century. This central city square will take you to Tromostovlje, three adjacent bridges that are one of Ljubljana's major sights. The bridges are reserved for pedestrian traffic and are the work of the most famous Slovenian architect of the 20th century, Jože Plečnik. Ljubljana has many bridges - next to Tromostovlje, you can visit the famous Butcher's Bridge, where you’ll see padlocks strung up by couples in love and sculptures by Jakov Brdar, and the Dragon Bridge, with four dragons with outstretched wings that guard the entrances on both sides of the bridge.
The connection between Ljubljana and dragons is based on the myth that a dragon that lived in the vicinity of Ljubljana was killed by a hero of Greek mythology. Since then, dragons have been the protectors of the city, with draconic sculptures and motifs to be found at every turn.
Ljubljana has a number of beautiful parks. The main one of these is Tivoli Park, which houses Tivoli Castle, Villa Cekin and the Botanical Garden. Almost the entire city is a kind of monument to Jože Plečnik, who left his mark in the capitals of all the former Yugoslav republics. Many buildings in the centre of Ljubljana are his work, including the National and University Library.
One of the most visited tourist attractions in Ljubljana is its Castle, where you will surely spend a good part of one day. It is located on a hill almost in the heart of the city, and you can reach it on foot or by cable car. Over its lifetime this castle changed its purpose from the residence of the ruler, through a military hospital all the way to a prison. Today it is a museum where you can see prison cells, the famous Puppet Museum, a virtual castle, the Rustic Gallery and the Erasmus Tower, and finally climb the Lookout and enjoy the view of the Slovenian capital.
Get a real feeling of the spirit of the city
An excellent view of Ljubljana and its life can be found cruising on the Ljubljanica, since a good part of the city's hustle and bustle is concentrated here, and historical monuments can be seen from a new angle by sailing the river that weaves through the city. If you are more in the mood for a walk, Trubarjeva Street is the best place to mingle with the locals and have a late lunch at one of the many restaurants there.
After gaining independence, Ljubljana became one of the cradles of alternative culture in this part of Europe. For visitors who want to get to know this facet of the city, there are two unavoidable places. One is Tovarna Roga former factory of famous bicycles, and today a place where you can see the largest skate park in the Balkans, the works of the best Slovenian graffiti artists, muralists and other street artists. This is a part of the city that never sleeps, and interesting art installations can be seen here. Concerts of alternative music are held in Tovarna Rog, so it is a favourite place of young residents of Ljubljana and its visitors. Another unusual cultural gathering place is Metelkova mesto, a former military barracks turned into a space with two galleries and a club where musicians of various genres perform. These two spaces form the Autonomous Cultural Centre, an institution that began to be shaped in 1993.
To get to know the city completely, you have to try its cuisine. The gastronomic scene of Ljubljana looks like a delicious mix of the whole world. Traditional Slovenian cuisine, however, is based on marinated meat and vegetables in delicious sauces, so specialties of this type are unavoidable on the menu of every restaurant. Gourmets who visit Ljubljana between June and October can visit the Open Kitchen food festival every Friday, with the participation of the best restaurants, wineries and breweries from all over the country. All participants of the festival adapt their offer to street food, so you can try interesting specialties while relaxing on the quay. As for the cafes, you can't go wrong with any of them, but the greatest impression will certainly be left by the one on the top floor of the Skyscraper, Ljubljana's skyscraper, which at the time of construction in 1993 was the tallest building in Yugoslavia and the third tallest in Europe. Thanks to the influence of Austria-Hungary, Slovenians nurture the tradition of quality and authentic coffee, so in most cafes you will have the opportunity to try this drink in any form, classic or with the addition of different flavours.
Spots for a day trip in the immediate vicinity of Ljubljana
One of the reasons why Ljubljana is an ideal destination for an extended weekend is that you will be able to see its surroundings in such a short time. The central position of the capital and its good connection with the largest tourist attractions of the country allows you to escape with a short drive from the city to quieter places. Some of these could be lakes Bled and Bohinj, with lovely islands, churches and traditional architecture, the famous Postojna cave with spectacular cave decorations or small towns like Kranj and Skofja Loka. You can reach these destinations by rented car, organized tourist transport or public transport.
A slightly different experience can be provided by a wine tour - a tour of the wine region and the Vipava Valley. This tour starts from the town of Vipava Cross, once the smallest town of the Habsburg Monarchy. The history of this valley was marked by Turkish conquerors, Napoleon's soldiers, and even Leonardo Da Vinci. On the way through the vineyards, you cross the river Vipava and one of its many bridges, which is why this valley is called Slovenian Venice. Plečnik, a monument to fallen soldiers in the wars of liberation, and Villa Zemono, the best-preserved Renaissance building in Slovenia, stand out as some of the stops on the wine tour. After a tour with a guide, the wine tour ends in the basement of the castle, where you will have the opportunity to taste the highest quality Slovenian wines.