Visiting Ljubljana, Slovenia: My Experience

Filed Under: Travel

I’ve just wrapped up a couple of days in Ljubljana, Slovenia, which is a city that I had heard great things about. I wanted to share my brief impressions of the city in this post.

First, a warning…

We didn’t even have two full days in Slovenia. We arrived late at night, had the entire following day, and then departed the following day at around noon, so had one full day and then a morning.

On top of that, we had absolutely awful weather. It rained for the entire first day, and wasn’t much nicer the next morning. Obviously weather can hugely impact impression of a place, and this was no exception.

Ljubljana is incredibly charming

In general I prefer smaller cities over mega-cities, and Ljubljana is simply lovely. The city has a cute old town along a river, so it almost feels like a mix between Riga and Amsterdam.

The architecture is beautiful, and the castle on the hill has beautiful views over the city.

Not surprisingly there was a “vibe” missing while I was there, given the rain, as there were very few people out and about. I’m sad I missed getting a sense of that spirit, since I’ve heard it’s quite a vibrant city. I was even there on a Friday, when they apparently have a cool open kitchen food market, though it was canceled due to the weather.

So I’m afraid all I can really say is the town looked beautiful and I really want to come back when the weather is nicer to get a better sense of the vibe of the place, because that was missing.

It’s awesome how many things are near Ljubljana

What’s even cooler perhaps than Ljubljana is how many things are near the city. Slovenia is known for having gorgeous countryside, and you have several cool sites not far from the city.

For example, Lake Bled and Bled Castle are just a 40 minute drive from the city, so we did that our last morning, on the way to the airport, since the weather forecast was best then.

Unfortunately even with the best forecast during our short time here, this is what the views were like from the castle there:

Fortunately things cleared up a bit, but it wasn’t quite as picturesque as I was hoping.

We didn’t have a chance to visit Predjama Castle, which is also not far from the city, but in the opposite direction.

The city felt safe, easy to navigate, and didn’t have many tourists

Since this is something I know many care about, I should note that Slovenia felt incredibly safe. And I don’t think that’s just a “feeling,” because the country is often ranked as one of the safest in the world.

Everyone we interacted with was friendly and helpful, and getting around was easy.

I’d also note that there were virtually no tourists. I’m not sure how much of that was a function of the weather, but even so, I feel like most European cities are usually filled with tourists starting in the spring.

That’s a huge reason to go here, in my opinion. While I’m sure there are more tourists in summer, Ljubljana is still fairly undiscovered, at least when you look at the places that American tourists go, for example. I’m sure it’ll be a “hotspot” soon enough for American tourists (as Prague has become in the past few years).

The InterContinental Ljubljana is awesome

While I’ll have a separate hotel review, I’d note how awesome the InterContinental Ljubljana was. It’s the city’s first five star hotel, and is beautiful. I cheated on Marriott to stay here, as their only property is a Four Points by Sheraton that doesn’t have a great location.

This hotel is a Virtuoso property, so I paid 160EUR per night, but that came with an upgrade to a junior suite, restaurant breakfast, access to the club lounge, and a $100 food & beverage credit. The Virtuoso benefits here are insane.

Bottom line

I had a great time in Slovenia. I wish the weather would have been better, but that gives me all the more reason to return. I’d highly recommend a visit to Ljubljana, especially since it’s not yet overcrowded with tourists, and given all the cool attractions near the city.

If you’ve visited Ljubljana, what was your experience like?

Comments
  1. I love this town a lot. We visited in September last year and it was not crowded at all. The weather was nice and there was outdoor concert by the park. We also visited lake Bled and hiked to the castle. I really enjoyed the food, it was good and so very reasonable. We bought their famous honey and forgot to check-in as a result it got confiscated, err so mad to myself. All in all, if I go back to Eastern Europe, this will be on top of my list to revisit.

  2. I was in Slovenia in the fall of 2007.. stunning blue skies with autumn leaves, hiking in the julian alps, gorgeous country with nary a tourist. Sorry you had awful weather.

  3. I am going to Slovenia in 5 days for my 35th birthday in a few weeks. Also going to Montenegro after seeing your reviews on Aman. Very excited!

  4. This city was beautiful in February and the Intercontinental is a great hotel with pool and spa and great Club Lounge. It is a few minutes walk from the railway station for a train ride to Vienna or Zagreb. Wonderful city to visit and easy to walk around and a funicular up to the castle!

  5. This is one of the loveliest and tourist friendly cities of Europe. I’ve seen them all, and this is my hands-down favorite. Intimate, friendly, clean, quiet, picturesque, modern, hip, and reasonably priced. It will not sleep forever!! Go Now! The Slovenes have a sweet spot.

  6. *quick, lets run around and take some pics so they dont say we just spent all our time in the hotel again*

    And as for Ljubljana undiscovered – come back in July. Its been a hotspot for at least a decade.

  7. Have you ever calculated your carbon footprint? Why not stay one place for longer and cut that fuel emissions in half vs another short trip back.

  8. Visited last year. The whole country, and also Croatia, is beautiful. Would love to go back,

  9. I traveled through Slovenia over six months. Exquisite! Easily my fav European destination.

  10. Ljubljana seems so charming. I love the architecture. Hopefully you’ll be able to go back and experience it under better weather conditions.

  11. Visited last October for five days. It was wonderful as others have described to you. Interesting and beautiful architecture, sufficient people for an energetic vibe especially along the river and its cafes yet not over-crowded, friendly people, fluent communication in English, great food for excellent value, easy to navigate and yes, the honey liqueur was terrific. Fun corners to explore. Market was open and fun. Bled in the sun is spectacular. I plan a return.

  12. I visited last September just before going hiking in the Julian Alps. I was lucky to have perfect weather and to be able to partake in the open kitchen Street market they was mentioned. Great little city (and country)…and I did enjoy the Intercontinental as well…but I certainly didn’t get the Virtuoso perks.

  13. We visited Ljubljana in early October, 2018. It is a wonderful small city with interesting art, architecture, culture, and surprisingly outstanding food. More importantly, the people were welcoming and engaging. You should seek an opportunity to return in the “dry season.” The entire country was beautiful. We actually enjoyed it more than Croatia (and we like Croatia a lot!).

  14. Visited last May and spent time in Ljubljana, Lake Bled and visited the caves near Skocjan. Also, rented a vehicle and drove through the Julian Alps into Italy. One of our favorite trips/countries.

  15. My maternal grandmother was born near Ljubljana, but came to the US prior to WWI. No one in my family had ever visited, so before my mom and her siblings passed away, I decided to visit in May 2006. We spent 2.5 days there before traveling on to Croatia. This was before it became a hotspot.
    My husband was turned off when we walked through the fish market and the smell of rotting fish wafted through the air, but I thought the city was so interesting.
    On our morning out to Lake Bled we were able to take a pletna boat out to the island but it started to pour as we hiked up to the castle so we went for coffee instead. But the funny story was getting our rental car from the Union Hotel where we stayed. They offered a package of room plus 1 day rental of a Smart car that was LESS money than just booking a room. Say what? And when we went to pick it up at the rental desk, the person just handed us the keys – no asking for ID, license or anything! One of those indelible travel memories.
    Would love to go back and see more of the country.

  16. There is a lovely SPG property an hour away from Ljubljana just outside of Trieste, Italy called Falisia, a Luxury Collection. It’s pretty new and a beautiful property in a less travelled area. We stayed there and day tripped Ljubljana and Bled…very easy drive just need to buy the cheap vignette at the border. Sorry the weather wasn’t good. I really enjoyed hiking up and around Bled to get the beautiful vistas of the center island.

  17. It’s unfortunate the weather didn’t co-operate during your visit, although your photos of Lake Bled still seem magical.

    We were there just a few weeks ago for two nights and also had a great stay at the Intercontinental (thanks to Ford’s help booking the Virtuoso rate).

    If you have the chance to return, would definitely recommend a visit to Rovinj in Croatia. With few crowds during low season, beautiful scenery, and an excellent hotel on the town square, it was an amazing experience.

  18. You should give it a try on a sunny Friday when that open kitchen is in function.. It gets really vibrant with lovely evening outdoor performances in summer Next to the Bled, there’s Bohinj Lake also, lovely place to see also and hike around..

  19. @schar
    Ha ha ha…..good one. Ben doesn’t do night life and rarely dines outside of hotel restaurants

  20. I enjoyed Ljubljana when I was there and Lake Bled was incredibly gorgeous! We also went to Vintgar Gorge which isn’t too far of a hike from Lake Bled.

  21. I have several of the same pictures as you from my trip to Ljublana 10 years ago. LOL

  22. I have to say that even one weekend is too much for the city. Don’t know about the surroundings, but there is really not much in the “city” (village?) itself.
    And the prices are just incredible for eastern europe: 3.5€ für 0.2 Coke? Really? I don’t even pay that in Germany.
    Besides the prices there is really nothing special at all about Ljubljana, there was nothing I haven’t seen in 20 other cities.

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