Slovenia is a small country in Eastern Europe. Until last week I knew almost nothing about it!
So here goes…Slovenia is a small country (only 2.5 million) and has only had independence since 1991. The people we have met have excellent English, are really willing to help and are very friendly. They are very proud of their country, especially the clean, green aspect and the beautiful landscapes. Understandably they seem to feel like they are the small cousin to their surrounding big brothers in Europe. I understand that being from New Zealand! Slovenia has a fascinating history and it has been great to spend some time here. First stop Ljubljana.
Ljubljana is both the largest city and the capital and is located in the centre of Slovenia providing access to most parts of the country within a couple of hours drive. It’s quite a cool little city – very clean, a bit edgy and kind of alternative. It is strange to see a beautifully clean city riddled with graffiti. There is also lots of street art (which I love) but the tagging was seemingly everywhere.
We were lucky that we were able to rent an apartment pretty close to town. The old town is all pedestrianised so getting somewhere close to town when you have a car is not that easy. They have a great system where you can sign up to rent bikes from racks on the streets. It is really cheap and you just put them back at the nearest rack to where you are going. A great way to get around town.
In 48 hours, this is what we did…
We did a free walking tour around the city which explained the history of the town and many of the architectural features.
There are a number of boat tours that go through the central city via the river. These are worth going on and take about 45 minutes. You can pay anything between 5-8 Euros to go. There doesn’t appear to be an audio guide or anyone explaining anything but it is pretty to look at and is an enjoyable time.
Ljubljana has little squares at intersecting streets, where small numbers of market stalls seem to cluster. When we were there, there were two art ones scheduled, a flea market and then Central Market which is the main one. We were also lucky enough to be in town on a Friday evening when the Open Kitchen Market was on. If you are in town at this time, it is well worth a visit. Chefs from local restaurants cook up amazing food for people to try. It is a really bustling atmosphere and a nice evening out.
The Old Town
It is relaxing to walk around the old town and take in some of the sights, grab a drink by the river and wile some time away. You can visit the castle and a number of museums. While the castle is well rated on Trip Advisor and in other reviews, we were completely underwhelmed as it has been restored so much it is hard to see much of what it was. There are lovely views from the top and from that point of view it is worth a visit.
The communist walking tour
This was a really interesting tour which cost 10 Euros. It was 2.5 hours long and really gave a good insight into the history of the country and Ljubljana specifically. The guide was knowledgeable and was able to speak from his own perspective about growing up during the communist era and the impact on him and his family. If you are a history buff, this is a goodie.
Rent a bike from the city
We rented bikes and biked around town, down the river and into some of the more hidden areas. We managed to visit the hostel that used to be a prison and Metelkova which is next door. Metelkova is located on the site of former military barracks (the Slovenian headquarters of the Yugoslav National Army) and has been occupied since September 1993. In Metelkova City a range of activities are run including an art gallery, bars, artists studios, space for designers, offices of cultural organisations and concerts featuring different types of live music. It’s also a great spot for taking photos.
Some of the incredible artworks.
Enjoy any of the cafes and bars along the riverfront.
There are loads of bars and cafes to try and just as many ice cream shops. While we were there, there was a heat wave so this was a great activity!
Ljubljana would be a great destination for a long weekend or a stopover.