An abundance of bridges, craft beers, a castle, an autonomous art region and a rooftop bar
Predjama castle and Postojna caves
Our final stop during our trip to Slovenia was Ljubljana. We drove from Piran to Ljubljana which took around 1 hour and 40 minutes but we stopped along the way to visit Predjama castle. The entrance to the castle is 14 euros pp. Alternatively, if you'd prefer to avoid the fee you can get some beautiful views of the castle from the platform above free of charge.
Predjama castle is only 15 minutes drive from the Postojna Caves or the Skocjan Caves. Postojna Caves offer an underground train ride taking you through the Subterranean World where you can catch a glimpse of the rare baby dragons. The dragons have translucent skin, 4 limbs and 10 digits. These unusual and very creepy-looking species can go without food for up to 12 years and live to 100 years. Tickets for the caves are around 40 euros pp for the full experience.
Our apartment was around 25 minutes from the centre of Ljubljana. Ljubljana is a buzzing city with plenty to do such as shopping, visiting museums, gazing at the impressive architecture and eating and drinking in the bars and restaurants by the Ljubjanica River. We strolled around the centre and crossed many bridges arching over the river such as the famous triple bridge and dragon bridge. The history behind the triple bridge is there was originally only the central bridge but this wasn’t wide enough to allow both vehicles and pedestrians to cross. The famous architect Joze Plecnik did not want to destroy this bridge so to resolve the issue he constructed two similar bridges either side. The centre of Ljubljana is now fully pedestrianised so all three bridges are now only filled with locals and tourists and pollution free. Since 2011 no vehicles are allowed except for ‘Kavalir’ electric vehicles which now attract over 1 million passengers per year. The service is free so if you’re travelling for a longer distance or your feet are tired from sightseeing, flag one down and hop in. The Dragon bridge is another main attraction in Ljubljana and it is said that when a virgin crosses over the bridge the 4 dragons at either end wag their tails.
Day 2 in Ljubljana began with a walking tour organised by “The Ljubljana Free Tour”. The tour began in Prešeren Square on the steps of the Franciscan Church of the Annunciation. In front of us was ‘the area with Ljubljana’s own weather’ which is a circle patch on the ground which makes it look as though there is one small rain cloud hovering above. It’s displayed extremely well and I did fall for it stupidly until it was pointed out to me there were sprinklers hidden within thin wires above.
We began the walking tour in the old town and our guide was extremely friendly and upbeat. We spent around 10-15 minutes in the town square as she pointed out the town hall, churches and hidden statues that we would have overlooked had they not been highlighted to us. She told many stories about the history of Ljubljana and described the love story between the poet France Preseren and Julija Primic which are both depicted by statues facing one another in the square.
During our tour we were led to the main attractions such as Butchers Bridge, Plecnik’s market and the St Nicholas’ Church, the Ljubljana cathedral. The cathedral is home to the most exquisite sculptured doors commemorating Slovenian history. It is incredibly detailed and we spent a while here learning about each section and admiring the art work. The walking tour was around 2-3 hours in total and it ended in Tivoli park where we learnt about the education system in Slovenia and became extremely jealous learning that university tuition in Ljubljana is free.
After the tour enjoy lunch at either Pop's Place for a craft beer and a burger or Druga Violina. Druga Violina sell traditional Slovenian food and the restaurant owners employ a diverse range of workers, including those with disabilities. For dessert head to Cacao to devour an ice cream.
The afternoon was spent revisiting points of interests which we’d picked up from the walking tour including Ljubljana castle. The tickets for the castle cost €13.00 per person for adults which includes the funicular to take you to the top of the hill where the castle sits.
We then headed to an unusual part of Ljubljana known as Metelkova. This is an autonomous art region within the city which hosts concerts and club nights. It is covered in impressive graffiti works with creepy figurines hanging out of the side of buildings. The police plead ignorance to the fact the buildings are illegally occupied here and alcohol is sold without a licence. There is also clear evidence of drug taking and inevitably the sale and supply of such. There were a number of others visiting Metelkova whilst we were there which put my mind at ease a little but it still felt as though we shouldn’t be there. We saw a number of, what sounded like, drunk and drugged up 30 somethings sitting in a precarious tree house. Metelkova is a strange place to visit and I didn’t feel too comfortable. Walking through it was sufficient enough to get a feel of the place and it wasn’t somewhere I wanted to spend more time than I had to.
Dinner and drinks
After a quick change we headed to Neboticnik Rooftop Cafe. There is nothing better than a rooftop bar as the sun is going down. We relaxed with a bottle of beer and a white wine watching the sun go down over Ljubljana.
Later we headed to our restaurant of choice this evening, 5-6kg. 5-6kg grabbed my attention during the search for a good steak restaurant. After delving deeper I discovered that the restaurant was even more famous for pizza than for steak. The restaurant has outdoor seating and although not the most picturesque view (a row of white houses), our last day of holiday was looming so eating alfresco was a must. We enjoyed one steak dish and one pizza with a glass each of chilled white wine.
After dinner we headed to Slovenia Hisa which I had researched as best to go for brunch. Unfortunately that hadn’t fit in with our other plans so we headed here for a nightcap-cocktail instead and a shot of Slovenian schnapps. The outdoor seating area was lit with drop down lights, canopies overlooking the river and candle lit tables adjacent to the cafe building. This cafe/brunch spot is highly recommended so make sure you head here during your trip to Ljubljana.
Our last day in Slovenia was upon us and we headed out for breakfast at Le Petit Cafe. We had vanilla lattes and croissants followed by cooked breakfasts.
Just before checking out of our Airbnb we enjoyed a final beer at the Union brewery. Union have a bar area where you can sample their beers and buy them to take away. They also offer a tour of the brewery for 14 euros pp.
If you enjoy a city break, Ljubljana is a magnificent city with sights, beautiful restaurants and bars and incredible architecture meaning you can wander aimlessly for hours. Make sure to take a trip to Lake Bled during your time in Ljubljana. Just 25-30 minutes away by car it's a must see for everyone. Slovenia is an absolutely breathtaking place and somewhere where the memories will be cherished forever.
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