A ljubly day in Ljubljana


As part of my planning for a day in Ljubljana, Slovenia, I read many, many stories, guides and suggestions for what to see and what to do while in town. I’m quite certain that none of the people writing those guides were ever in Ljubljana in the winter. Suggestions like “enjoy the evening breeze of the river at one of the many outdoor café/bars” doesn’t work nearly as well, for example, when it is below freezing outside. Putting aside those flaws in the reference material I had available (as well as perhaps the flaws in my brain for believing January was a good time to visit), I managed to still have quite a good time.

Ljubljana was the second stop on my multi-day “direct” trip from Stockholm to Istanbul. My flights were timed such that I had about 22 hours on the ground, plenty of time to see what the center of town had to offer. I was also somewhat fortunate that the show started even before getting into town as the views of the mountains surrounding the airport were stunning.

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I booked into a small hotel right in the heart of the old town which was incredibly convenient and very reasonably priced. I was just a block off the river, giving me easy access to the bulk of the sights.

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And, despite my rant above, the cafes were mostly open, though also very sparsely populated. There were some die-hards out under the heat lamps enjoying their afternoon or evening, but nothing like what I’m sure the party scene is once the weather warms up.

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The old city area contains a number of landmark architectural structures, as well as a few bridges crossing the river. It is a pedestrian zone so there are no cars to dodge as you wander the streets and alleys. The lack of cars also makes it quite pleasantly quiet. And, as the sun went down the river and the adjacent buildings lit up, creating a wonderfully beautiful scene.

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Dinner was uneventful and not particularly good and, as noted above, there weren’t too many folks out enjoying the nightlife on a winter Monday. That let me turn in somewhat early and catch up on sleep. It also meant I was up pretty early the following morning. I had hoped this early rising would leave me well positioned to explore the market and the castle before heading back out to the airport. I also wanted to go for a ride on the funicular that makes the run between the market and the castle. Alas, I was too early.

Most of town doesn’t really start up until 10am it would seem. Normally I wouldn’t complain about that and just sleep in but my timing for this trip didn’t give me a lot of wiggle room. I missed the funicular ride and didn’t have time to tour the interior of the castle. That said, my timing did force me to walk the trails up the side of the hill on which the castle is perched, resulting in some beautiful views of town.

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By the time I made it down the hill from the castle the market was mostly up and running. There are a few indoor shops, mostly selling breads and cheeses, while the outdoor stalls are all about vegetables (and one row on the end for “made in China” bits).

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I grabbed a couple snack bits from various stalls to tide me over as breakfast and then, once again, my time was up. It was back to the airport and back on a plane. Skopje was just a short flight away, and it was time to make that move for the next 22 hours of the trip.

Ljubljana was beautiful and certainly worth a visit. I just hope that next time it is a bit warmer and there are more folks out enjoying the city. The quiet night along the river was pretty, but also rather slow.

Read more of my EuroHopping adventure here.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

7 Comments

  1. Are you skipping Sarajevo? Very pedestrian-friendly, cafes open till all kinds of wee hours and a beautiful old city.

    1. I did have to skip Sarajevo on this trip. The whole thing was a series of 22ish hour connections on a one-way award ticket so that necessitated making a few sacrifices in terms of where to stop along the way. I definitely plan to get back to the region, hopefully soon, as it is still pretty affordable and it is also very compact and accessible in general which makes it great for hopping around city to city.

  2. Very interested in your trip. I am planning to do the same thing to maximize *A award redemption for my next trip, which would include stopping in stockholm and two other cities in Europe, so it is helpful to know how feasible it is for different cities based on the distance and ease of transportation from the airport to downtown. Any tips on booking process that would make this work ?

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