Importing English drunkards intent on farewelling their singledom with a blowout is a mere sideshow, however, to the real charm of the petite Slovene capital. In the warmer months, the cafés and markets lining the river Ljubljanica come alive, while the cosy bars are a perfect winter warmer – and an even better excuse to sample the cracking local ales. For a post-booze snack, you can even tuck into a nice hot horse burger instead of a dodgy kebab. It mightn’t sound Mr Ed-ible, but when in Ljubljana …

Legend has it that the foundations of the city were laid by Jason and the Argonauts who fled with the fabled Golden Fleece from the Black Sea to the Adriatic. Ljubljana was ruled by the German Habsburgs from the 1300s to the end of World War I, apart from a quick stint by Napoleon in the early 1800s. At the end of World War II, the city became a province of Yugoslavia until 1991 when it declared its independence. Slovenia joined the EU last year.

Dizzying heights
It’s worth getting a window seat when flying into Ljubljana. The city is about 50km from the foot of the Julian Alps and surrounded by stunning forested hills. Half an hour away is pristine Lake Bled, a favourite summer getaway for locals which has a few small ski runs in the winter. If you’re heading for the snow, you won’t have to travel far. Krvavec is about 15km from the airport, while the bigger resorts, like Rogla, Kranjska Gora and Maribor, are a few hours in a car.


Simply wandering the streets of Ljubljana is a cracking way to take in the ecletic mix of Italian baroque, medieval and art nouveau buildings and bridges. The beauty of the city is enough to impress architecture rookies or travellers a bit over ‘cobbled streets’ and ‘medieval layouts’. The Old Town, with its squares, antique shops and cafés, is the prettiest by day and the liveliest by night.

Dragon Bridge
Featuring in nearly every tourist photo of the city, the bridge is guarded at each end by dragons which are said to waggle their tail when a virgin crosses over. Since the influx of hen and stag nights, the dragons haven’t been particularly busy of late.

Vodnik Square
Bordered by the colonnaded market building, this square hosts Monday-Saturday markets that are the heartbeat of the city. Budget travellers can stock up on fresh food and goodies as well as pick up a present for mum.

Bedding down
Celica Hostel
No, you won’t be staying in a Toyota car. Try a former prison instead. With each of the ‘cells’ designed by different artists and still retaining the original bars, Celica rocks. Strangely, cigarettes and pornos aren’t accepted as legal currency inside the walls. See

Bonus points for: Being gorgeous and manageable.
Loses marks for: Horse takeaways.