Why is everyone talking about Ljubljana?
It’s small, it’s green, it has historical architecture and trendy shops; Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, has it all. And that makes it the perfect destination for an original city break! It is a manageable city: take a day trip from your campsite and you will be able to fit in many famous attractions, such as the Dragon Bridge and the castle. But of course it is much more fun to stay a bit longer and enjoy the pavement cafes, parks and markets like a real local. So practice saying this wonderful tongue-breaking Slavic name a few times (‘lyoo-BLYAH-nuh’) and discover why Ljubljana is the city of choice for a relaxing city break.
A baroque atmosphere
We have written about it before: Slovenia is on its way to becoming a very popular holiday destination. I myself was pleasantly surprised when five years ago I arrived in the country from Austria without any great prior knowledge. I found a beautiful Alpine country; green, friendly, well cared for and not too touristy. That the capital Ljubljana is now known as a trendy destination for a city trip does not surprise me at all. You may associate Slovenia with its socialist history, but the country’s appearance, certainly the cities, has been influenced more strongly by Austria and Italy. In Ljubljana you can see some fine examples of baroque and Art Nouveau architecture, such as the Dragon Bridge and the colourful Vurnik House.
Lively student city
Ljubljana has only been a capital city since 1991. It was in that year that Slovenia became independent. With fewer than 300,000 inhabitants, Ljubljana is quite small for a capital. This feeling of smallness is reinforced by the fact that the old city centre is car-free. In other words, cyclists and pedestrians can roam free. An additional advantage is that the air quality is excellent. In 2016, Ljubljana was even named European Green Capital. The inhabitants of Ljubljana appreciate their city and have created a nice atmosphere. Ljubljana has a university and an art academy and you can tell that it is a student city by the cultural offerings, creativity, hip cafés and outdoor life in the parks. Especially in the warmer months there are plenty of musical and culinary events. For example, during the summer there is an art market every Saturday on the banks of the river Ljubljanica, which runs through the city centre.
Local food and trendy boutiques
The Central Market is a treat for the senses. Here you will find a wide range of culinary products such as vegetables, olive oil, cheese, honey, wines, sausages and numerous preserved products. Enough to treat yourself to a delicious picnic, and then go back again and stock up on a little extra for at home or at the campsite. The town centre of Ljubljana is not very suitable for extensive fashion shopping, though. If it is clothes you want, it’s better to visit one of the larger shopping malls outside the city centre, such as BTC City. What you will find in the old town however are cute boutiques by young designers. If you are looking for something original, then you should definitely spend an afternoon here.
Discovering the area around Ljubljana
If you are staying at a campsite near Ljubljana, then you can explore in all directions. Slovenia is not very big and the roads are good. Ljubljana is a perfect base to discover the culture and countryside of Slovenia. In an hour you can be at the famous lake of Bled, and the lesser known, but just as beautiful lake of Bohinj is a little further on. Feel like going up into the mountains or rafting on the Soča River? In an hour or two you’ll be in the middle of the mountains of the Triglav National Park. An hour’s drive south of Ljubljana you will find the fairy-tale stalactite caves of Škocjan.
Suncamp holidays-campsites in the area
5 things to do in Ljubljana
- On your first day in Ljubljana, you should of course visit Ljubljana Grad Castle, from where you will have a beautiful view over the city. Take the cable car to the castle, or climb up the steep footpath yourself.
- Rent a bike – it is the ideal way to get around in Ljubljana. The car-free centre is a safe place to cycle with the whole family.
- Take a Food Tour through the city. Slovenians are proud of their culinary specialities, and here’s your chance to find out why!
- Stand up paddling on Ljubljanica river. After just a short introduction everyone is able to discover the river on a stand-up-paddle board. Or you could take a boating trip. A little less active, perhaps, but just as beautiful!
- Reading in the park. Ljubljana has beautiful parks, such as the Tivoli Park and the Botanical Garden. In the summer, books are available at various locations; an initiative of the Library under the Treetops. Or bring your own book, magazine or game with you for a relaxing afternoon.
Have you ever been to Ljubljana and have tips for other campers? We’d love to hear them!