Ljubljana’s Ljubljanica River does not have the grandeur of the Danube, the Seine or the Thames but then most things in the Slovenian capital are in miniature. At the point where most visitors see the river it almost looks too small for boats and in twelve years of visiting I only ever saw one ‘party boat’ on the water in the city centre. Therefore I was delighted one Sunday this summer to see a pleasure cruise for tourists and with a couple of hours to kill before we had to leave for the airport we took our first jaunt on the Ljubljanica.
The tour leaves from the steps on the northern embankment of the river known as Hribarjeva nabrezje; if you’re there on a Sunday it’s near where the flea market starts. We bought our tickets from a friendly young lady and joined the queue to embark. On our sailing the majority of places were taken up by a tour group who were all in good spirits and clearly thought it was fine to talk over the commentary because the lady giving it was their own tour guide.
All of the seating on this boat is outdoor so unless you don’t mind getting wet, or you have an umbrella or waterproofs, this is an excursion for a sunny day. Ljubljana never gets really busy but this short river trip gives you a chance to relax and see the city from a new perspective.
On our trip the boat went first away from the Triple Bridge and up to the place where the river forks. You pass through part of the Krakovo district though not much of it can be seen by boat and then past some of the foreign embassies. At the fork we turned and went back passing our departure point and going under the famous Triple Bridge and past the Plecnik designed market and as far as the Dragon Bridge, my favourite of the bridges over the Ljubljanica. The dragon is a motif found frequently in Ljubljana and legend has it that when a vi crosses the bridge, the dragons will turn their heads.
There was a commentary during our trip but I couldn’t decide whether the guide belonged to the boat tour or to the group that was on the boat. She spoke almost adequate English with a strong accent and if she belonged to the boat then they didn’t recruit very well as I encounter many young Slovenians who could do this job brilliantly. The commentary didn’t really keep up with the scenery and while she did inject some interesting little asides about Ljubljana life, these were often at the expense of learning about some interesting building or other.
Refreshments are not served on board but passengers are permitted to consume their own drinks. This is not so much a cruise as a short jaunt. The boat is small so at busy times you’re packed in fairly tightly against your neighbours. Alas during our trip few people were interested in the commentary and chatted amongst themselves so loudly that we could hardly hear the guide.
This trip is a pleasant way to spend an hour though (unless you’ve so far seen nothing of the city) you’re unlikely to see anything new: it’s more a case of seeing things from an alternative perspective. We enjoyed our short trip but I can’t say it’s an essential must-do when in Ljubljana. Still, the price is not extortionate and as most attractions are within the city centre, or within walking distance, you don’t need to use buses and can save your money for a boat trip instead.
(Note – trips run only during the summer months. The boat is small and, due to being accessed by way of some steps, is not suitable for wheelchairs or pushchairs.)