Given the fact that Dan has been posted down in Carinthia for the last five weeks we thought we might make take advantage of being so close to the Slovenian border and pop over to Ljubljana. In true stereotypical fashion the train flew on time through Austria and then once we crossed the border slowed down to a crawl and was delayed by the time we arrived at the central station. Although we have both been to Ljubljana a long time back we had never been together and were excited to see the changes since either of us last visited, which was more than 10 years ago.
In recent years a lot of money has been invested in sprucing up the city and it is a very pleasant pace to wander around, with the banks of the Ljubljanica providing a central lcoation for the many bars, cafes and restaurants. The compact nature of the city means everything is in walking distance from hotels in the centre of town, including the main tourist attractions: Presernov Square (Prešernov trg), the medieval castle, Tivoli City Park, the triple bridge, the pink church and the central market.
The city has a vibrant nightlife and great character, with lots of music bars, sports bars, street musicians, quirky restaurants (The Cat Cafe for instance), variety of food and a lively scene; almost everything Austria doesn’t have (outside of Vienna anyway). Ljubljana is still relatively cheap compared to Western Europe and more tourists now visit as more budget airlines routes fly regularly to and from the former Yugoslav block.
The walk up to the castle from the city centre is really nice as it takes you through the central market and then up a winding footpath to the entrance of the castle (or a funicular for those who want to take the easy option). There is the option to pay for certain exhibits and collections in the castle but the majority can just be wandered around for free. There’s an interesting picture exhibition of the restoration of the castle which shows the massive transformation undertaken in recent years to get it ready for tourists.
As well as a hearty dose of good food we spent the rest of our time looking around the National Art Museum, exploring Tivoli Park and the art displays and admiring the typical central European architecture which is so different from Austria.
Ljubljana is a great weekend destination due to it being easy to walk around as the majority of the central town is pedestrianised, compact and full of interesting architecture while having the feeling of a small town wanting to go places and put itself on the tourist map.