Ljubljana Castle above the City

Lovely Ljubljana

Journeys » Lovely Ljubljana

July 27, 2023: Lovely Ljubljana gets our vote for the most enchanting capital in Europe, with its uniform architecture and lively evenings on the river.

Slovenia, the only country with ‘love’ in its name.

sLOVEnia Tourism Campaign

We’ve visited some fascinating cities so far on the Central Europe TripPrague, Krakow, Budapest, Zagreb, Bled.  Each had fascinating history, important historical landmarks, and poignant history.  Ljubljana… some, but not so much. 

So why was it our favorite?

Early evening on the banks of the Ljubljanica River
Early evening on the banks of the Ljubljanica River
Ljubljana New Market Square
Raising a glass at Ljubljana’s New Market Square

Enchanting Evenings

While Ljubljana (Lyube-lee-yah-nah) didn’t have those things, it was the most charming.  An early evening here along the river with a glass of wine, just watching the people stroll by, was the best yet.  

Night and Day on the River
The river by day…
Night and Day on the River
…and by night

Our second evening was even better.  After strolling the river, we stopped on a park bench with locals and listened to live jazz drifting out from a local pub in our neighborhood.  Nice.

Neighborhood Nightlife
Wednesday night neighborhood jazz

A Small Capital

Ljubljana is the cultural and political center of Slovenia, its largest city, and a college town.  But it is one of the smallest capitals in Europe, with a population of less than 300,000.  It feels much smaller.  There are tourists in the city center, but they didn’t seem to outnumber the locals.  There are sights to see – an old castle, a few museums, a park.  But as long as you stroll the riverfront in the evening, it doesn’t matter if you get to any of the rest.

Symbol of the City
Symbol of the City
Ljubljana's makes its own weather
Ljubljana’s makes its own weather
New Market Square Evening
Evening on New Market Square

Architecture and Ambience

In 1895, Ljubljana was rocked by a powerful earthquake.  When Emperor Franz Josef came to see the destruction, the locals sensed an opportunity.  They propped up sound buildings and knocked over ugly old houses – all to make the damage look even worse that it was.  As hoped, the emperor took pity and allocated funds to rebuild.  Local architect Jože Plečnik took the lead and recreated the city center in his own unique art nouveau style.  A century later, his work still resonates.

The Triple Bridge
The Triple Bridge

A Run and a Market, of course

With all of that beautiful architecture, an early morning run along the river was a must-do. I tacked-on Tivoli Park also, a pretty green space near the center, and enjoyed the shady paths and sculpture. This too comes from Plečnik’s vision for his city. Well done sir, well done.

Tivoli Park
Tivoli Park
Sluice Gates
Even the sluice Gates…
Sluice Gates
…are handsome!
Dancers at the Art Center in Tivoli Park
Dancers at the Art Center in Tivoli Park

And as you might expect if you read these posts occasionally, Jean hit the city’s produce market while I ran. It is on the river near the Dragon bridge, a big open square fringed by more of Plečnik’s buildings.

Love Locks on the Ljubljanica
Love Locks on the Ljubljanica River near the City Market
Daily produce market
Daily Produce at Market Square
Trinkets at the River Market
Trinkets along the river at the City Market

So Ljubljana is not the place for big sights or deep lessons. But it is a lovely place to visit, and perhaps just to live. 

Our next stop – back to Croatia to revisit Rovinj.

Flower Power / Boots
Yellow Boots

More Bytes from The Central Europe Trip

The Dragon Cave

Centuries ago, monks carved the fantastical Dragon Cave reliefs high above the sea as they hid in from pirates and invading Turks.

Summer in Bol

We have seen some beautiful places in our travels, but we come back to summer in Bol again and again. It remains our second favorite place!

Baška Voda

Baška Voda is stunning, with hyper-saturated blue skies and water, and the Biokovo Massif looming overhead.  Do we maybe have a new second favorite place?


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