Eastern Promises: The Rise And Rise of Ljubljana

When it comes to picking your summer holiday destination of choice, it’s easy to find yourself running through the same list of usual suspects. If you’re searching for something a little different, however, it’s worth venturing off the beaten path and discovering one of Europe’s most hidden gems. Ljubljana (pronounced ‘lyoo-BLYAH-nah’) is the capital of Slovenia, nestled in the heart of the region, and while its locals might wax lyrical about the place’s unique charms, very few foreigners have even heard of the city. All that is about to change, however, and once you take a look at what Ljubljana has to offer, you might find yourself whistling to a different tune on the matter.

Small enough to see over the course of a weekend, Ljubljana is a great place in which to make a stopover when you’re traveling through Europe. Offering up a range of hotels and hostels, the city is accommodating to every kind of budget, allowing even travelers on a shoestring to experience something utterly unique.

There are a ton of major tourist attractions within the city walls, each pointing to a different aspect of Ljubljana’s past. The most famous landmark might just be the local castle, which, sitting on a hill above the city, is hard to miss. While the building is an impressive relic of times past, it is the view offered by the grounds that is really worth the climb. Looking out onto the city and far beyond, Ljubljana castle shows just what there is to be enjoyed in the local area and will inspire you to venture further afield.

If food is your thing, you’re equally well catered for. And while you might like to dine at any of Ljubljana’s restaurants and cafes, the food market offers a truly local experience. Located in the southeast region of the city, the market has stalls selling anything from flowers, clothes, and fruit to local crafts. While it is open every day, it is at its best on Saturday mornings before crowds peak at 11am. Get in there while it’s still early and rustle yourself up an authentic breakfast.

Want to head further afield? Ljubljana is your oyster. While there are a number of quick and simple transport routes available, you can also try your hand at renting a bike for the day and exploring the city on two wheels. Small, flat, and cycle-friendly, Ljubljana is perfect for getting acquainted with by bike, and with a charming riverside path at your disposal, you might find yourself falling in love with the local sights.

While the city is at its most picturesque during the day, Ljubljana’s cultural atmosphere really comes into its own after the sun goes down. In the summer months, you can expect to find a whole range of city performers taking to the streets, each offering up their very own interpretation of Ljubljana city life. You would do just as well, however, to pull up a chair at any of the city’s bars and listen to a spot of local music. With many of these small businesses offering terrace seating, they give you the perfect excuse to simply sit and watch the world go by.

Ljubljana really is a gem in Eastern Europe’s crown and once you see it for the first time, you may never want to leave. Offering up a variety of nightlife spots, foodie hangouts and cultural treats, the city can open up your eyes to an entirely different pace, helping you to get accustomed with the quieter side of life.

Hannah Lamarque
Hannah is a freelance writer and copy editor living in Europe. She writes about travel, art, design and culture and loves discovering hidden places in the cities that she visits.

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