Ljubljana, Slovenia – The Little City That Packs a Big Punch!

Slovenia is a small country in the heart of Europe in the magnificent Julian Alps. It is bordered by Austria to the north, Italy to the west, Hungary to the Northeast, and Croatia to the Southeast and has a small patch of coastline on the Adriatic Sea. Despite it’s small size, Slovenia packs a big punch when it comes to gorgeous and diverse landscape. With a large national park to the north, views of the majestic Alps overhead, over 11,000 karst caves, and beautiful coastline – it’s impossible not to love SLOVEnia!

The capital city, Ljubljana (pronounced “lube-li-ana”) is compact, clean, pedestrian-friendly, and is filled with gorgeous Baroque period architecture and bizarre statues. Wander the cobblestone streets of the old city, ducking into the cute shops and cafes that line the pedestrian walkway and then head up to the castle that looms over the city for breathtaking views. The banks of the river that runs through the center of the city is lined with darling little outdoor restaurants and cafes – perfect for a lazy day spent sipping coffee and reading a good book in the sun. Make sure to spend a few days in this lush, green, livable city!

Ljubljana, Slovenia by Wandering Wheatleys

Know Before You Go

  • Slovenia is a member of the EU and their currency is the Euro. It is also a member of the Schengen Agreement.
  • Ljubljana is the capital of Slovenia and is also the largest city.
  • The predominant language is Slovenian (which is quite similar to the languages used by other Balkan countries) but you’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone who doesn’t speak English.
  • Peak season is June to August when temperatures are in the 80’s. If you’re not a fan of crowds, plan your trip during shoulder seasons; April – May and September – October. Temperatures are a bit cooler but you’ll have an easier time reserving hotel rooms.
  • A 10% tip is commonplace when dining out but make sure that gratuity hasn’t already been added to your bill.
  • Tipping taxi drivers is also common but just round up your total.
  • Slovenia is an incredibly safe country. However, 90% of all crimes reported involve theft so take your usual precautions that you would anywhere else.
  • Tap water is 100% safe to drink everywhere in Slovenia.

Sleep

The Grand Hotel Union is an absolutely stunning hotel located right in the heart of Old Town. It combines old world charm and hospitality with modern luxury. Grand spiral staircases and intricate stained glass are commonplace around this historical masterpiece. You’ll be welcomed by a friendly and helpful staff before checking into your lavish room which is equipped with every amenity you could wish for.

Grand Union Hotel, Ljubljana, Slovenia by Wandering Wheatleys

Start your morning with their delectable breakfast buffet which features a wide selection of meats and cheeses, warm breakfast entries, pancakes, yogurt and muesli, freshly baked bread, and other mouth-watering treats. Be sure to grab a glass (or 2!) of the sparkling wine and some freshly squeezed juice for a morning mimosa! When you’ve had your fill of exploring the city, head to one of the gorgeous bars, restaurants, or comfortable private seating areas in the lobby.

Also by the Wandering Wheatleys:  5 Awesome Alternatives to the National Parks

Swimming Pool at the Grand Union Hotel, Ljubljana, Slovenia by Wandering Wheatleys

The hotel also offers a fitness center with weekly classes, a wellness center with a variety of relaxation massages and treatments, and an absolutely stunning indoor pool and sauna. Spend an afternoon swimming in the inviting pool-with-a-view and pampering yourself in the gorgeous and relaxing spa!

Spa at the Grand Union Hotel, Ljubljana, Slovenia by Wandering Wheatleys

With all that luxury and convenience at your fingertips, you may never want to leave the hotel! If you do decide to venture out, check out a few of our favorite spots…




Imbibe

The craft beer scene in Ljubljana will probably take you for surprise! While many countries in Europe offer only a few (usually bad) beers on tap, Ljubljana is serving up IPAs and crushing the radler scene! And with prices on par with a cup of coffee, it’s impossible not to day-drink here…

  • If you are a craft beer connoisseur then you’ll love Pop’s Place. They have the best selection of draft and bottled craft beer in town!
  • If you’re the fancy cocktail type, try Kolibri. They have a short list of delightful and unique cocktails that they specialize in but if none of those suit your taste you can always order off the menu.
  • If you want a good old-fashioned, reasonably-priced draft beer and a lively atmosphere, try Union Pivnica. Their homemade goulash with a pretzel on the side is the perfect snack to accompany your beer!
  • If you are looking for a lively sports bar, Fany & Mary offers both indoor and outdoor television sets and it is a favorite among the locals.
  • If you want spectacular views of the city, head up to Skyscraper for a coffee or a cocktail at sunset and soak it all in.
Skyscraper Cafe, Ljubljana, Slovenia by Wandering Wheatleys
Views from Skyscraper Cafe

Grub

Serving up classic Slovenian dishes as well as favorites from all over the world, the food scene in Ljubljana is sure to satisfy every tourist. Bring your appetite because with this many mouth-watering options, you’re going to want to try everything this city has to offer!

  • If you’re looking for a quick but healthy afternoon snack, then you’ll go crazy for Back Werk. It’s also the only place in town we’ve found where you can get an extra large coffee to go! Grab a wrap or a fresh pastry before your walk around town!
  • Not only does Pop’s Place offer a large selection of craft beer, they also have burgers that are melt-in-your-mouth-delicious and giant salads if you’re looking for something on the lighter side.
Hamburger at Pop's Place, Ljubljana, Slovenia by Wandering Wheatleys
Pop’s Place serves up a mean burger! Try our favorite – “The Boss”
  • If you’re looking for a lovely outside seating area for prime people watching while you take an afternoon break from sightseeing, you must try Le Petit Cafe. Try a glass of the rose and the olive tapenade and tomato on toast for a snack.

Le Petit Cafe, Ljubljana, Slovenia by Wandering Wheatleys

  • If you’re tired of Slovenian food and want to change it up, both Asian Bistro OSHA and Abi Falafel are quick, reasonably priced, and delicious!
  • If you’re looking for an upscale dining experience in a beautiful rustic setting, try Atelje which is located right outside of the Grand Hotel Union. The suckling pig is absolutely to-die-for!

Sweet Treats

There is no shortage of delectable desserts and gelato around Ljubljana. But with so many options at your fingertips, picking the perfect after-dinner sweet treat can be a challenging decision. We conducted endless research to bring you our favorites… 

  • Vigò Ice Cream – try their namesake ice cream, it just might be the best gelato we’ve ever had!
  • Cacao – they offer a wide selection of gelato flavors as well as a huge case of irresistible desserts. You can’t go wrong no matter what you choose!



Also by the Wandering Wheatleys:  10 Epic Bucket List Adventures

Opt Outside

After you’ve filled up on a lavish breakfast spread at the Grand Hotel Union, you’ll be ready for some fresh air. Good thing Ljubljana is a pedestrian-friendly city filled with amazing sights!

  • The Ljubljanski Grad (Ljubljana Castle) is a beautifully restored masterpiece that looms above the city and can be seen from the square below. It’s a short (but very steep) walk from the old city or you can opt for the funicular railway for a small fee. You can see most of the castle for free but if you want to see any of the exhibits or venture to the top of the clock tower, you’ll need to purchase a ticket.
Ljubljana Castle, Slovenia by Wandering Wheatleys
View from the clock tower at Ljubljana Castle
  • Walk along the river to view the picturesque Tromostovje (aka “triple bridge”) from all angles. Three pedestrian bridges cross the river within feet from each other in this area of the Old Town and it’s worth a stop for a beautiful photoshoot.
  • Take a relaxing afternoon stroll around Tivoli Park which stretches right into the center of the city and is Ljubljana’s largest and loveliest park.

  • Peruse the Central Market for locally made artisan crafts and yummy local snacks!
  • Check out the darling little boutiques in the cities main square.
  • Check out the Museum of Modern Art which houses a permanent collection of 20th century Slovenian art as well as hosting exciting new temporary exhibitions.

No doubt that you’ll have such an amazing time in Ljubljana, you’ll never want to leave!

riding in a luggage cart at the Grand Hotel Union in Ljubljana
Goofing off at the Grand Hotel Union!

 

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22 Comments Add yours

  1. We were there not long ago! Loved Slovenia, just loved everything about it, such a great country. We used a few AirBnb s and stayed in farms and wineries, so cheap and a great experience. This city hotel looks lovely too! We will most certainly be back as it’s right on our doorstep, living in Romania

    1. Valerie Wheatley says:

      We also loved it so much! We are sad to leave. I’m glad you were able to go before it gets too crazy packed with tourists!

  2. Rhonda Albom says:

    We visited much of Europe back in 2012, but we didn’t make it to Slovenia. It looks beautiful. It reminds me a lot of countries like Austria. And the huge coffee at Back Werk sounds like my idea of a great afternoon.

    1. Valerie Wheatley says:

      It is a bit like Austria! Although, I have to admit, all of the European countries are running together a bit in my mind. Time to head to Asia!

  3. Indrani says:

    A good guide on Ljubljana. I have plans to get there some day soon. The grub choice seems good.
    Noting down the stay options for future.

    1. Valerie Wheatley says:

      Good to hear you’re headed to Slovenia! I hope you have a great time!

  4. Hi Valerie,

    Looks like fun.

    I knew little of Slovenia before reading your post. Funny, but knowing that tap water is 100% safe to drink in Ljubljana impresses the heck out of me. This is not the case in many big or small cities around the world, let alone here in America. Glad things are a bit more green over there.

    Amazing beauty and pictures too. I have gone red meat free for a minute, but would have to dive into one of these burgers, which look beyond delightful.

    Ryan

    1. Valerie Wheatley says:

      Thanks for reading Ryan! I was on an all veggie diet for a while and felt so great – I’ll bet you do as well! It’s so hard to avoid meat in Europe, sadly. Hope you make it to Slovenia someday soon!

  5. Red Nomad OZ says:

    HHHMMMmmm… anywhere with such a great combination of eating, drinking, scenery and sightseeing opportunities sounds too good to pass up. Especially now that Ljubljana has the added drawcard of being a Eurovision hot spot – that’s a compelling reason to actually leave the hotel, haha!

    1. Valerie Wheatley says:

      Ha! True – it would be a shame to stay in the hotel and miss all of that delicious food and beer!

  6. You have packed in everything here! All the necessary info in a short yet informative way! Love the goofy pic in the hotel 🙂 Never been to the city but it looks like a perfect blend of architecture, good food, natural views and history! Thanks for sharing all the tips:)

    1. Valerie Wheatley says:

      Of course! And thank you for reading!

  7. Holly says:

    Great tips! Good to know that English is widely spoken. Also great to know that the tap water is great to drink.

    1. Valerie Wheatley says:

      Thanks for reading Holly!

  8. Ljubljana looks quite fascinating. The pristine landscapes, architecture, and o.m.g. the food. I’d try the beer. Loved the article. Would consider adding Slovenia to the list of countries I would love to visit. 🙂

    1. Valerie Wheatley says:

      Thanks Johann! And yes – the food in Ljubljana is out of this world! I hope you get there someday soon!

  9. Meg Jerrard says:

    I’ve been hearing great things about Slovenia recently – and would love to visit Ljubljana. Thanks for the recommendation on Grand Hotel Union – we always try to book in historic hotels where-ever we go. The views over the city from the Skyscraper Cafe are stunning – I love how charming and picturesque everything is! That burger at Pops place looks amazing – what a way to feul up before exploring the Ljubljanski Grad. Thanks for sharing about your time here!

    1. Valerie Wheatley says:

      Yes I had heard so much about Slovenia before our visit at well – and it was just as amazing as everyone said it would be! Thanks so much for reading!

  10. I was in Ljubljana. 2 months ago and loved it. You are right about the views from the castle….. they are spectacular ! What a great post!

    1. Valerie Wheatley says:

      Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment! We sure appreciate it!

  11. Absolutely loved your article on Ljubljana. We visited in winter of 2015 and instantly fell in love. Coincidentally we also stayed at the Grand Union and had an amazing stay there. Can’t wait to go back in warmer weather and again enjoy that incredible view from the Clock Tower looking out towards the Julian Alps.

    1. Valerie Wheatley says:

      How funny! It is a lovely city and a beautiful hotel – so glad you got to experience it! Thank you so much for reading!

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