Discovering Eastern Europe
Being French and having lived in Europe all my life, I was appalled that before going to Slovenia, I had never set foot in Eastern Europe. There is a small debate between friends whether Slovenia belongs to Central or Eastern Europe. That debate is now settled because i checked the UN classification and it must be right: Eastern Europe. Small detail.
How I came to visit this country was through an interesting method – I was browsing pictures on pinterest in Vietnam with my girlfriend, when we both caught sight of a photo of Lake Bled. “OH MY GOD WE NEED TO VISIT.” was what ensued and soon enough, we found ourselves flying to Ljubljana.
Already as our plane was descending into Ljubljana, we were stunned to have spotted Lake Bled from the sky. Before landing our plane circled around beautiful wild mountains, showing a small sample of Slovenia’s magnificent nature.
I’ll be honest, at first the primary reason we chose to visit Slovenia was Lake Bled, but Ljubljana clearly exceeded our expectations. By the way, dont be daunted by the complicated looking spelling, just pronounce the j’s like y’s or i’s and u are good to go! – “Lioo-bliah-na“.
A Quiet An Abode of Peace
Ljubljana is a very pleasant city with a charming and picturesque old town. In the old streets, the cars are not allowed and make way for pedestrians and bicycles. It is a quiet place where nobody talks louder than necessary or acts crazy. It might sound boring for some of you, but for introverts like me and my girlfriend, it sounds like a paradise.
Then what had to happen happened. A sneeze. 10 people stopped and looked. Yes, that’s how quiet it is!
In the streets, young people formed bands for play wonderful music and everyone gathered to watch them. Every morning, we would wake up to people playing the accordion on the streets. For me, it felt like we were thrown back in time in the old streets of Paris, the romantic Paris you see in black and white movies.
From the central Prešeren Square, you can spend hours just strolling around, looking at all the beautiful monuments, sitting at a cafe to have a drink and just enjoying the peacefulness of the Ljubljana. When you live in a big busy city, it feels like a therapy.
I could go on and on about how peaceful Ljubljana is but I will probably end up giving you the wrong idea… The city is quiet and “on a human scale” as visitors often say, but it is at the same time very lively! The streets can be quite crowded, there are tons of bars and restaurants full of people enjoying a drink. The atmosphere is not boring or dead at all.
Another thing I really enjoyed in Ljubljana is the markets. Selling food, colorful fruits, plants, or souvenirs, there is something for everyone. On our last day, we even had the surprise to see that a bric-a-brac market selling all kinds of antiques had been organised!
Ljubljana’s Historical Center is visited on foot. On the Prešeren Square you can’t miss the pink Franciscan Church of the Annunciation, one of the best known monuments of the city. Cross the Triple Bridge and explore the picturesque paved streets. You will have plenty of restaurants to choose from for lunch and dinner.
The green areas along the Ljubljanica River are also an ideal area for a relaxing walk.
One important monument I haven’t talked about yet is the castle. Perched on a hill overlooking the whole city, its visit is simply unmissable! You can walk up the hill from the city center. The most memorable part is when you go up the tower. The panorama over the orange roofs of the historical center and all the mountains on the horizon is fantastic.
Where to Stay
We stayed at a 2-star hotel call Hotel Emonec which had an ideal location. But there are many great options when it comes to finding accommodation in Ljubljana: hotels for all budgets, appartments… most of them located inside the historical center.
You can click here to see by yourself all the available options!
Ljubljana and its 300,000 inhabitants is one of the smallest capital cities in Europe. It reflects the atmosphere present in most of Slovenia – a preserved environment with a relaxed and peaceful yet lively mood. Visitors don’t always know what to expect (and it was my case!) but most people can’t help falling for the charm of Ljubljana and find themselves spending more time in the city than they had planned.
From Ljubljana, it is extremely easy to rent a car go explore Lake Bled and many other mind-blowing corners of this reasonably-sized country. A hidden gem in an incredibly touristic continent that more people should put in their bucket list.