In the most literal sense, the word ‘wandering’ means to travel or walk around aimlessly, without any particular destination.
When I starting hitting the road frequently, I decided that I would wander as often as I could, and not fall to the usual travel routine/schedule of most backpackers and tour guides. That I would go to places, old and following only my own sense of wanderlust.
That wanderlust brought me recently to the city of Ljubljana, the capital and the largest city of Slovenia. You can be forgiven if you are hearing about this city for the first time. I too had a very limited knowledge about the place.
But after spending a few days in its hidden gem of a city, I can honestly say that it would be a major missed opportunity if you don’t visit Ljubljana at least once in your life.
Ljubljana is quite an unassuming city, that has everything you need for a fairy tale travel experience. Beautiful canass, awesome bridges, cobblestone roads, architectural highlights, and great food. It even has dragons. Yes, you heard that right.
Compared to other European cities, Ljubljana is a bit on the latter part of everyone’s bucketlist, but maybe not for long. Tourism in the city is steadily increasing and many travelers, wanderers such as myself are spreading the word about the city’s beauty and hopefully, that would translate to more visitors in the future.
And if you interested to come visit Ljubljana, here are some of the things you need to know about the city.
Where on Earth is Ljubljana?
Ljubljana is located at the heart of Slovenia. It’s no wonder that this charming city has become the economic, cultural, political and administrative hub of Slovenia. For its part, the beautiful nation of Slovenia is located in Eastern Europe, right beside Croatia. There are only two million people living in Slovenia so its not cramped and chaotic like some big Western European countries. You can easily fly to Ljubljana or take a bus from surrounding cities such as Budapest, Zagreb and even Trieste in Italy. Currency is not a problem since it uses Euro.
What can you see in Ljubljana?
For a city as small as Ljubljana, it is quite surprising to know that there are in fact a lot of great things to see here. You can start your wandering at the Old Town are, where a lot of interesting spots can be visited within a few steps or streets away from each other.
In the Old Town Area, you can go to the Preseren Square where you can see the city’s beautiful pink church. Around it, you will catch a glimpse of the city’s architectural wonders ranging from Art Noveau (see Hauptmann Square and Vurnik house) to Vienna Secession.
You will also see the famous Three Bridges designed by Slovenia’s most famous architect Joze Plecnik. The three bridges connect the older parts of the square to the newer ones.
All along the city’s main heartbeat lies the enchanting Ljubljana river, lined by cafes, restaurants and souvenir shops. I particular love the ice cream shop at the very corner of the bridge next tot he square.
High above the city stands the Ljubljana Castle. It is not as big or as impressive as other castles in Europe but it has a killer view of the city. You can walk/climb the winding roads towards the castle or you can take a funicular, which would cost some euros. Entrance to the castle is not free, but some areas can be seen without paying the fee.
My most favorite part of the city is the Congress/Town Hall Square where you can see the robba fountain or The Fountain of the Three Carniolan Square. The fountain is a lot similar to the Fountain of the Four Rivers in Piazza Navona in Rome. All around the square, there are restaurants where you can dine al fresco style, which is quite relaxing, really.
If you are feeling religious, you can spend a few minutes at the beautiful St. Nicholas Church. You just have to see the impressive ceiling and domes of this magnificent Baroque cathedral. The green domes depict hundreds/thousands of angels and it’s quite an experience to see. Before you event enter the church, the carved bronze doors made for Pope John Paul II’s visit in 1996, will captivate you.
Is there really a dragon there?
Of yes, ask any local from Ljubljana where the dragon is and they will easily point you to the famous Dragon Bridge. Built in 1901, the dragon bridge was built to commemorate the 40th year rule of Franz Josef of the Hamburg empire. Later on, the dragon has been incorporated to the coat of arms seal of the city, and almost every important signage.
What local delicacy can you try in Ljubljana?
Just like most cities in Europe, Ljujljana is a foodie’s playground. You will have hundreds of options for coffee, cakes, desserts and breads. The wines are great too.
You shouldn’t leave the city without having a hearty serving of cream cake, which is available in virtually any restaurant in the city. On the extreme side, if you are quite adventurous when it comes to food, you can try Slovenia’s horse burger. I know, I know. I didn’t try it though.
What I fell in love with is Ljubljana’s famous Klobasa or Carniolan sausage. This heavenly product of ground pork,salt and spices is just too addictive that I must have consumed 5 during my stay.
For a good klobasa, visit the Klobasarna in the Town Hall Square. If you visit at night, you’ll have the chance to enjoy some local musicians/buskers while eating your klobasa. There are a couple of benches where you can just sit down and relax.
What’s the hippest part of the city?
Definitely, the hippest part of Ljubljana is the Metelkova Mester, an alternative neighborhood developed from a former army barracks. Now, it is a lively, artistic commune frequented by hipsters, artists and free spirited youth. Even better, this hip hub has several bars and clubs where you can just unwind and party. Who says Slovenia’s can’t have fun?
Indeed, Ljubljana packs quite a punch for a small city. It has everything for everyone and is definitely worth a visit. Yes, I totally wandered into Ljubljana and didn’t know much about the city before I set foot. A few unforgettable days spent in the city however, has turned me into quite a knowledgeable visitor. Because quite frankly, a beauty such as this city, is not easily forgotten.