Lovely Ljubljana is young by European standards, having become Slovenia’s capital only in 1991. As such it has a youthful outlook on life, and its large student population helps give the city an air of contented prosperity. But it’s also a historic, cultured town, with a wealth of Baroque buildings and an imposing castle keeping watch over the red roofs and green Ljubljanica River below.
Here’s what not to miss.
Ljubljana’s Old Town
Mosey round Ljubljana’s Old Town where you’ll find cobbled squares and handsome red-roofed Baroque buildings. Pause at the statue of poet Preseren, before heading to the bustling market square.
The nightlife of Metelkova
Get a feel for Slovenia’s socialist past in the ghetto of Metelkova. A former barracks for the Yugoslav army, the area is now an alternative venue for live gigs, art studios and bars.
The funky Museum of Modern Art displays edgy works in a classical building. Also stop by the National Gallery or catch a performance at the opera house or open-air theatre.
Get the camera out
Take the funicular railway (€3 return) or the tourist train up to the ancient castle. Walk along the walls for sweeping views of the tranquil city below and the mountains looming in the distance.
Eating and drinking
Most of Ljubljana’s eating and drinking is done on the riverside Cankarjevo Nabrezje or on the cobbled Mestni Trg.
Slovenian food is high quality and good value. Try Most on the river for a long, lazy lunch and (confusingly) the Lunch Café on Mestni Trg for an excellent evening meal.
For food on the hoof, pick up a horse burger (yes, really) from the Red Hot Horse fast food joint. For more conventional fare try a slice of pizza.
Out of town
Most of the country’s major tourist spots can be visited on a day trip from Ljubljana.
Head into the Karst region for awesome limestone caves; visit the Lipizzaner stud farm at Lipica, where the world-famous stallions are bred; head for the coastal resorts of Piran and Portoroz on the deep blue Adriatic; kick back with a glass of quality vino in one of the wine regions; or go north to the Julian Alps and spectacular Lake Bled for summer hiking and winter skiing.
Slovenian beer and wine
Slovenian wine is fabulous. Look out for the red Refosco and white Malvasia varietals, both grown locally.
The local beers are Lasko and Union – both have a light, tangy taste. Borovnica (blueberry schnapps) is a fiery local tipple commonly served as an aperitif.
WHEN TO GO: The city is pleasantly warm from May to September. Temperatures fall to about 0°C in January.
GETTING THERE: Fly direct from London to Ljubljana with EasyJet (easyjet.com).
VISAS: Aussies and Kiwis don’t need a visa. Saffas need a Schengen visa.
CURRENCY: Euro. 1 GBP = 1.15 EUR.
LANGUAGE: Slovenian, but everyone speaks English.
GETTING AROUND: Hire a bike for €5 a day, or walk. Buses cost €1 a journey.
GOING OUT: A beer costs about €3.
ACCOMMODATION: A dorm bed costs about €20 a night, a double in a basic hotel starts from €55.
GET MORE INFO AT: slovenia.info