Ljubljana was a complete surprise. From its legends to the delicious traditional dishes, it was the perfect stay for a lover of history, food, and walking. Here are a few things you should consider doing while in the capital of Slovenia.
(The House of the Dragon is out now – September 2022, so this blog about the City of Dragons was moved up on the list).
Paris, Madrid, Vienna or Budapest, this little capital has a lot of charm and happy people.
It even feels (for us) a little like Prague. And some hidden gems will make the trip worth it for a traveler. Especially because the legend goes like this for the city of dragons: Jason the Argonaut, the same one from the great greek miths, arrived here after stealing the golden fleece from King Aeëtes. They dismantled their ship in order to carry it overland to the Adriatic coast to be able to sail back to Greece. On their way to the coast, the legands says they stopped at a large lake in the marshes near the source of the Ljubljanica, where a dragon was said to dwell. And so Jason fought, defeated and killed the monster.
Jason has a book, but the dragon still has a following. Large and little dragons (dragon mascot Ljubo) are everywhere in the city to this day, and the figure is considered the protector of Ljubljana.
When the architect Giorgio Zaninovich drew up his plans for the Franz Joseph I Jubilee Bridge in 1900, his original design envisaged winged lion statues adorning the ends of the bridge. In the final design, however, the lions were replaced by the great statues of dragons that are today one of Ljubljana’s most famous sights. – www.visitljubljana.com
Fun fact: The city center and the picturesque part of this capital are small, so you’ll maybe take on the challenge to climb the start to the old fortress instead of taking the funicular there. We didn’t, : ) but it’s a thought.
Discover the city -Ljubljana with 10 Must Do Activities and Sights
- Go dragon hunting – with a camera this time, unlike Jason, make it so you can capture as many little dragons you can. In stores, in pictures, in graffiti and on bridges of course, capturing little Ljubo was a fun activity and became funnier as more and more figures appeared.
Church of the Most Sacred Heart of Our Lord.
In the heart of the old town, you can stand on the monument to the poet France Prešeren and admire both the innovative Triple Bridge and the pink facade of the Franciscan Church.
The Hauptmann House was my favorite sight and the Emporium Gallery has a beautiful entry perfect for a pic.
In the hot summer, they even installed a sprinkler to mimic rain in the market. For green surroundings visit Tivoli Park in the city center, designed by a french engineer (Jean Blanchard( and redesigned by the famous architect mentioned at point 1.
While here, you can try a famous Horse Burger from Hot Horse. Illegal in the USA, eaten as sashimi by Japanese connoisseurs, the Slovenians have made horse meat the star of a small fast-food chain.
4. Visit the House of illusions and Metelkova Art Center – photo opportunities and instagramable places you’ll find online searching for things to do in Ljubljana.
5. Discover the amazing food – I mentioned the popular local horse burgers, but we had some other favorites: the pizza burek at Burek Olimpija was absolutely spectacular comfort food. The burek is a Turkish or Bosnian food, but the interpretation here with the pizza ingredients is perfect. The Italian influences don’t stop here, as you can find lots of places that serve pizza and pasta. Another must-try is the sausage at Klobasarna.
Get a drink at the Skyskrapper, for the panorama or the city. And try the pizza rolls at the restaurant on Streliška Ulica 10, a reinterpretation of the pizza.
Fun fact: They have a thing for aprons, as they are a perfect souvenir in their shops and even on the streets, ready to be custom made to you.
Fun fact 2: I loved the Slovenian štruklji so much that I searched for it in Croatia. And it tasted different in Zagreb, having more cheese there. So try this one!
Tip> Don’t leave the country before buying 2-3 packs of 505 candy, a hard and fruity type of candies the locals love.
6. Walk the narrow streets and stop at the restaurants on the embankment – the streets leading up to the old market and near the City hall are amazing and while the triple bridge is in the middle, go out of the way to explore all the alleyways near at least 7 of the 17 bridges of the city, between Prule Bridge and Fabiani Bridge. Admire the Butches bridge, the Dragon Bridge of course, Trnovo Bridge, Cobblers’ Bridge.
7. Go up to the castle – Walk from Stari trg square (old) to the Gornji trg square (new), to get to the foot of Castle Hill. From there, you can climb to the Ljubljana Castle on foot or by funicular, with 4 euros just for the rie up and down or 13 euros for the access inside the castle. The views are great and inside you can enjoy food and drinks at the restaurants.
Traveler tip: Leave the car in the Parkings outside the city center (the one next to the train station is convenient) and for 6 euros you can leave it there for 5 hours. The transportation is bussed only in the city, and you have to buy a special card to load your tickets there. The card is 2 euros and the tickets are 1.30.
9. Take a half-day trip to lake Bled, an alpine resort renowned for the 1400 built castle, and the island in the middle of the lake with the Church of the Holy Mother of God. It’s an hour by car away from Ljubljana and definitely perfect in the autumn, with the spectacular colors from the surrounding Julian Alps.
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10. Take a half-a-day trip to Postojna Cave and Predjama castle – a must on the list for things to do while in Ljubljana, it’s an amazing adventure in trains and darkness, light, dragons and cold. Another hour trip outside the capital and you can be transported into another world.
The castle is further, so get there and take a Jackie Chan inspired pic, and then come back to Postojna for a trip of a lifetime inside the mountain.
Dubbed Queen of the Underground World, this cave is the only cave in the world with a train to take its visitors around its interior. And the train ride is amazing!
Walk next to amazing structures created in millions of years, and admire the magnificent five-meter-tall bright-white stalagmite called Brilliant, a symbol of Postojna Cave and the Slovenian Karst. See the baby dragons, or the endemic olm as they are scientifically called, the largest troglodytic amphibian in the world. The tour through the caves includes an aquarium with some olms in it.
The cave also houses the world’s only underground post office, so make sure to buy a postcard and send it from the inside, right before embarking on the train for the ride out.
More pics and travel tips on Instagram – click here.
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The GALs, Catalina&Florin
”We’re a couple in love with travel and research. We hope to give you some good tips from experience so that you can have the best of times.”
Decide on a trip to Ljubljana>
- Try reading the book about the legend of Jason and his golden fleece. Captivating stuff. From here.
- And a hat for the same magic feeling of this city. Try this.
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And a piece from Bojan Adamič, a contemporary composer known for his 170 movies scores and for being the first conductor of the RTV Slovenia Big Band to made the first public appearance in June 1945 as part of the reopening of the Postojna Cave.