Ljubljana City & Surroundings
Ljubljana City & Surroundings Introduction
Ljubljana, named by Forbes as the 5th most idyllic place to live in Europe, and European Green Capital 2016 and World Travel & Tourism Council's "Tourism for Tomorrow" winner 2015 is situated on an important European cultural crossroads where the Germanic, Latin and Slavic worlds collide. All off these worlds have contributed to making today's Ljubljana : a delightful city – vibrant, great to look at and with a population of only around 300,000 people, small enough to get to know in just a couple of days. The Ljubljanica River dissects the city and in the last ten years a lively café and bar culture has sprung up along it its banks. The centre of town is full of elegant squares, pretty churches and lovely baroque and Hapsburg architecture. At the core of the city is the enchanting “old town”, lying between the river and the castle hill with its crenellated castle and clocktower offering spectacular views of the city and the Alps beyond. Cultural highlights include the newly renovated opera house and at the other end of the scale the Metelkova alternative music and arts "autonomous cultural centre". Ljubljana is increasingly well endowed with first class hotels, shops, restaurants and nightlife and being situated right in the centre of the country it makes a fantastic base for exploring the country - with the Alps, the lakes, the coast and a host of other attractions less than 90 minutes drive away.
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Emona, Laibach, Ljubljana
Evidence of dwellings in the Ljubljana area dating back to 2000 BC have been discovered, but the first permanent settlement on the site of today's Ljubljana was a Roman garrison called Emona. Laibach, the German name for Ljubljana was first recorded in the 12th century and in fact was the official name for the town until the end of the first world war, during much of which time the town was the Capital of the Austro Hungarian province of Carniola, which occupies a large part of what is today Slovenia. Origins of the name Ljubljana are unclear but many still claim that its similarity to the Slovene word "ljubljena" or "beloved" cannot be a coincidence!
TOP 10 MUST SEE
Take a trip to Ljubljana Castle and admire the views of the city stretching as far as the Kamnisko Savinjske Alps. Accessed by foot from the centre of the old town, by road the back of the castle hill or by funicular from close to the Dragon Bridge, the Castle offers a great restaurant, guided tours of the inside of the castle and spectacular views from the viewing tower.
Wander the lovely ancient streets of the old town and discover some of the city's best eating, drinking and shopping
Experience the atmospheric "Ljubjana Beach" - a strech of outdoor bars running along the South side of the Ljubljanica River and packed in Summer most evenings
Feel Ljubljana's passion for sport at the Stožiče Stadium, an impressive new architectural development in the Bežigrad region comprising a football stadium and a multipurpose arena (used for basketball / concerts etc)
Pick up a bargain at the flea market which is on the banks of the Ljubljanica River every Sunday
Explore Ljubljana's counter culture at the Metelkova "Autonomous Cultural Centre" a large squat close to the railway station on the site of an army barracks occupied in 1993 and which has become a centre for music and art.
Enjoy Ljubljana's ever improving restaurant scene with a meal at any number of its excellent and often great value restaurants, many of which are located in the old town or along the Ljubljanica River.
Wander around the colourful outdoor fruit and vegetable market, just a stone's throw from the centre of town and overlooked by a beautiful riverside arcade built by Slovenia's most famous architect - Plečnik.
Love it or hate it, the renovated opera house with modern extension tacked on to a beautiful neo renaissance buildings dating back to 1890 is open for business once again and well worth a visit.
Ljubljana's Christmas lights and markets lining the banks of the Ljubljanica River make it a wonderful town to visit in December.
ACTIVITIES & THINGS TO DO IN LJUBLJANA CITY & SURROUNDINGS
HIKING: There is some lovely walking in Ljubljana itself, with Tivoli Park being the highlight, but Golovec hill being a very accessible and wilder alternative and Rožnik hill also highly recommended, not least due to the excellent restaurant on its summit! Outside of Ljubljana Šmarna Gora in the Šmartno district north of the city is a fantastic walk with very rewarding views of the alps. Please see in biking section below for info on the Ljubljana "Pot Spominov".
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MOUNTAIN BIKING: In addition to all the locations in the hiking section above, running around the town is a 30km path - The Pot Spominov - commemorating the barbed wire cordon which surrounded the city under occupation during the second world war and which is excellent for cycling and a great way to experience a 360 degree view of the city.
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KAYAKING: Surprisingly some of Slovenia's most challenging kayaking is found just outside the capital rather than in the high mountain areas of the Julian Alps. The Tacen area on the Sava River just north of Ljubljana has been developed to create an olympic style kayak slalom course for expert paddlers. Dont worry there are courses for beginners held too!
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PARAGLIDING: Just half an hours drive from the capital is Krvavec mountain which is home to some of Slovenia's best paragliding.
SWIMMING: The two best places to swim in the capital are the excellent and extensive Atlantis Water Park in the BTC shopping center in the Moste district of town and the "Ljubljana Resort" which offers great outdoor swimming and sunbathing in Summmer months on the main road from the Bežigrad district to the Črnuče district of town.
GOLF: Ljubljana's Golf Club Trnovo is open to everyone who would like to experience the game. This is a nine hole course just south of the city, between the Auto fairground and southern bypass.
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HOT AIR BALLOONING: Regular hot air balloon trips are organised via the main Ljubljana tourist info centre. A fantastic way to experience unforgettable panoramic views of the city and the Alps in the distance.
ARCHITECTURE & HISTORICAL SITES: Ljubljana's most obvious historical monument is Ljubljanski Grad (Ljubljana Castle). The whole of the centre of the city is architecturally beautiful with lots of Hapsburg era and Art Nouveau buildings, streets and squares, not to mention the work of Slovenia's most famous architect Plečnik who designed much of the city. Whilst the old town either side of the banks of the Ljubljana River is the most obvious target for most visitors, be sure not to miss the area around Presernova Street and the city's main museums which is home to some of the city's most impressive architecture and the start of a lovely walk to Tivoli Park Manor House. Also don't miss some of Ljubljana's lovely bridges including the Dragon Bridge and Triple Bridge.
FESTIVALS: As Slovenia's capital, Ljubljana certainly has its fair share of festivals with more than 10 international festivals including The Ljubljana Graphics Biennial, The Ljubljana Jazz Festival and the Liffe Film Festival. Of most interest to visitors however will be the Ljubljana Summer Festival running annually during July and August (dating back to 1953) when the streets and stages of the city come alive with all manner of cultural and arts events, focusing mainly on music, dance and art.
FOOD & DRINK: Ljubljana is home to Slovenia's widest range of restaurant types and is the focus of international cuisine in the country. It is also home to a wide range of resturants serving traditional and modern Slovenian cuisine to suit every taste and budget. The restaurant scene in Ljubljana is developing quickly and indeed has changed beyond recognition in the last 15-20 years and now offers a genuinely, quality culinary experience for visitors. In 2010 Ljubljana's JB restaurant was voted as one of the top hundred restaurants in the world. Food lovers should not miss the charming "tržnica" (open air market) in the centre of the city.
MUSEUMS & GALLERIES: Ljubljana is home to the largest concentration of museums and galleries in Slovenia, notable amongst which are the Ljubljana City Museum, Museum of Architecture and Design, Slovenian National Museum and the National and Modern Art Galleries. These museums are all small relative to the national museums of its larger European Neighbours, but nonetheless offer much of interest to visitors.
NATURAL ATTRACTIONS: Tivoli Park as well as Rožnik Hill and Golovec Hil are the best places to catch some great outdoors within the city. Outside the city the characteristic Šmarna Gora hill is a great place to walk for stunning views of the Alps just a 15 minute drive from the centre of town.
SPA & WELLNESS: The Atlantis Water Park in the BTC shopping area in the Moste area of town offer the city's most comprehensive spa and wellness facilities with a wide range of recreation, relaxation, beauty and health treatments. There is an Ayurvedic treatment centre in the Trnovo area of town just outside the centre of the city and there are also sauna facilities and swimming pool at The Grand Hotel Union.
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SIGHTS & ATTRACTIONS IN LJUBLJANA CITY & SURROUNDINGS