Ljubljana Journals

Ljubljana: Human-Scale Urban Delights

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A travel journal to Ljubljana by Luggage

Riverside Photo, Ljubljana, Slovenia More Photos
Quote: An introduction to the Central European delights of Ljubljana, the unpronounceable but thoroughly captivating pocket-sized capital of Slovenia.

Ljubljana: Human-Scale Urban Delights

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Overview

Winter Photo, Ljubljana, Slovenia
Quote:
If Ljubljana, Slovenia’s capital, isn’t quite the next Prague, it may be the stealth Prague; a vibrant, beautiful city for those who like to think a bit differently and not follow the crowds (such as, I’m sure, yourself). 'What a beautiful surprise,' the Ljubljana tourist board used to say in its promotional literature, acknowledging that their biggest challenge was simply to get the city noticed; after all, the charms of Vienna and Venice are both only a few hours’ drive away. Once noticed, though, the enticements of this modest city on the willow-lined Ljubljanica River are enough to carry it forward. The Prague comparisons probably stem from Ljubljana’s elegant, baroque, supremely walkable...Read More

Grand Hotel Union

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Hotel

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It isn't for the backpack-and-hostel crowd, but if you can afford to stay at the Grand Hotel Union and don't, you haven't made the most out of a trip to Ljubljana. The standard rooms are nice enough -- modern and comfortable, and reasonably spacious (the Union claims the largest hotel rooms in town). But it's what's outside the rooms that counts. Built in 1905 and completely renovated a few years ago, the four-star Union (pronounced 'oon-y'n') seamlessly blends the elegance of a vanished era with modern amenities business travelers expect, 'even' (ahem) in Slovenia. Unlike many luxury hotels in city centers, the Union doesn't seem disconnected from the everyday life of the city; in fact, it's ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on September 26, 2000

Grand Hotel Union
Miklosiceva 1
Ljubljana, Slovenia
(386) 1308-1270

City of Culture

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Story/Tip

Plecnik's work Photo, Ljubljana, Slovenia
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Anyone who comes to Ljubljana thinking of it as another Eastern European backwater deserves the eye-opener they’ll get. The capital, which calls itself the 'City of Culture,' has a population of only around 300,000 --- it’s Slovenia’s largest city by far -- and may have more artistic offerings per capita than anyplace this side of Bali. (Ljubljana dominates Slovenia’s cultural scene as Vienna does in Austria, or Boston does in Massachusetts.) By one count, the city boasts four professional orchestras; 53 galleries; 22 museums; ten theaters; 11 cinemas (not counting a 12-screen multiplex on the outskirts); and well over 100 general and specialized libraries. The old town is complemented by th...Read More

General notes on food and drink

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Story/Tip

Spice lady Photo, Ljubljana, Slovenia
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Everyone notes that Slovenia’s cuisine draws from the surrounding countries; Austrian wurst and sauerkraut are ubiquitous, but so are Italian pizza and ravioli these days. Slovenia does have a minuscule (25-mile-long) Adriatic coastline, and Mediterranean influences have also made their mark on Ljubljana’s cuisine. Do try Ljubljana’s inexpensive, excellent pizza at a place like Cerin (Trubarjeva 52), or Pizzeria Trta (Grudnovo nabrezje 21, just south of the old town, by the river). Every pizzeria has its particular specialties, which can get unbelievably varied and elaborate -- one place in town lists around 175 varieties on its menu -- but the seafood, or 'morska,' pizza with a small but whole crust...Read More

Ljubljana's architectural heritage

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Story/Tip

Winter coat Photo, Ljubljana, Slovenia
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Just about every visitor to Ljubljana pays a call at Ljubljana Castle (Ljubljanski grad), where the city began. (Walking to work, I always glanced up at the watchtower to see how many people were up there at the moment, looking over the town.) Renovations to the city's supreme cultural monument went on, if you can believe, from the late 1960s to 1997 (being made the host city of European Cultural Month finally gave City Hall the impetus to finish the job), and the end result isn’t exactly the best restoration that could have been. But the castle does have a good view and a festive air on nicer days (along with several weddings taking place on any given Saturday, followed by a procession of cars with ...Read More

A few more recommendations

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Story/Tip

Outdoor sales Photo, Ljubljana, Slovenia
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More must-dos in Ljubljana include wandering through the old town and along the riverbank. And do stroll through the romantic, student-filled Trnovo neighborhood just south of the center. I love the 250-year-old Trnovo Church, gray, twin-spired, out of a Charles Addams drawing (and the spot where future national poet France Preseren first laid eyes on his unrequited teenage love). The home of famed Slovene architect Joze Plecnik, now a museum, is directly in back of the church; hours are limited, but architectural buffs should inquire. (There's a helpful tourist info point at the foot of the Triple Bridge in the center of town, close to the market.) You shouldn't miss shopping, or just wanderin...Read More