Tag Archives: ljubljana

Explore cool spots off the beaten track in Ljubljana, Slovenia

(Guest post from Lidiya Petkova)

The Slovenian capital, Ljubljana, is a hidden gem well worth visiting, that will charm you immediately. Along with its famous castle, city museums, cozy little restaurants and riverside cafes, here are some local recommendations that are well worth exploring.

Shmarna Gora

If you want to enjoy a more active experience, there is something for you only 20 minutes from the centre, by bus or car; the 669 meters high Shmarna Gora hill. This is a good way to recharge and see Ljubljana and its surroundings from different perspective.

It is fascinating how many people are up for running or hiking the hill early in the morning, just when dawn is beginning to break, before the busy day starts. It is no surprise Ljubljanians look so fit.

On a clear day, from Shmarna Gora, you can even spot Triglav, the highest peak in Slovenia. The hike up the hill takes only 30-40 minutes and is with average difficulty. There are about 15 trails you can follow to reach the hill.

Near the top is the St. Antony’s bell. If you ring it once it can fulfill your wish. That is a pretty good motivation to reach the top, isn’t it? On Shmarna Gora hill stands an interesting gothic church. Just beside it, you can recharge in the Ledenik restaurant with delicious Slovenian soup and apple strudel. Also, there has been a longstanding tradition (since 1979) to organise an international run every year.

Two teas on top of Shmarna Gora

The muddy path up Shmarna Gora on a wet day

In case it is rainy, it might be quite muddy, so make sure you bring old shoes with you. Bus number 8 from Monday to Saturday and 1b goes to Shmarna Gora every 20 minutes from the city center.

Metelkova street

Metelkova street, the alternative and creative heart of Ljubljana, often compared to Copenhagen’s Christiania, is a must see spot. View the creative sculptures and graffiti by day and enjoy the diverse social scene at night. It is well hidden but easy to reach, only 10 minutes walking distance from the train station and main city square.

The area is comprised of seven clubs, live music spaces, art galleries, art studios, and a former prison, functioning as a hostel nowadays. A lot of cultural and social activities are going on and for those looking to experience something completely unique Metelkova is the place to be. It is a creative paradise, you can lose yourself in. At night it offers a wide range of music from hardcore and jazz to dub and techno.

Don’t miss it, and importantly, don’t fail to support this communal, creative space.

Metelkova, Ljubljana

Metelkova, Ljubljana

Hire a city bike

A good way to explore Ljubljana is to grab a city bike. There are about 31 stations in a close proximity from one another.

Here is the website where you can subscribe directly online using a credit card to be able to use the city bikes: http://en.bicikelj.si/. The annual price is 3 euros once you acquire the Urbana bus card. It costs €2 and can be purchased at any bike station. It allows you to use both, buses and city bikes.

Tivoli hill

Tivoli park and hill is another beautiful place to walk or run in the middle of the city.

Learn Slovenian

Learn Slovenian Online an online course for learning Slovene

If you feel like immersing deeper in Slovenian culture and learning the basics of the language, I recommend the course Learn Slovenian Online.

The Slovenian Experience: Part I

The end is still ways off, but I want to record the highlights and recommendations of my short time living in Ljubljana so far. I moved here in February this year.

Ljubljana

I nominate Ljubljana as one of Europe’s hidden gem cities. It’s beautiful, particularly the centre. I love the gracefully aged faces of buildings, antiquated, but still alive; the street lighting at night, walking along the river Ljubljanica, and how willows weep over the river walls. Cafes add outdoor seating which hugs riverside footpaths and fill with life when the weather is good.

Ljubljana street at night Ljubljana street at night Locks on a bridge over the Ljubljanica

Capital Market

For Lidiya and myself, the most anticipated event of the week has been a visit to the capital market on Saturdays. It hosts a section dedicated to organic products, many of which are locally produced; a fish market, with a mix of wild and farmed fish; a massive fruit and veg market; souvenir stalls; as well merchants of nuts, dried fruit, grains, seeds, dairy and even organic meat, for those inclined.

Capital market, Ljubljana Capital market, Ljubljana Capital market, Ljubljana

Even on damp days the market is bustling. Buskers are dotted around the centre and add to the atmosphere as you peruse the wears on offer, while enjoying a veggie pie, made freshly in front of your eyes, from buckwheat flour in wood fire stove.

Busker in Ljubljana

Local and Organic = Happy and Healthy

There are several milk vending machines around the city, the first place I’ve seen or heard of. You insert coins, receive a bottle and fill it as desired with raw, unpasturised, unhomogenised milk. The milk is delivered daily from Slovenian and Italian producers. I don’t drink milk, but appreciate having it available it’s raw form. It’s illegal so sell in many parts of the States, I’m not sure what the law is in Ireland, but I’ve never come across it in stores. The health benefits of raw dairy products are discussed here.

Even in the local supermarket chain Mercator, they have their own, reasonably priced, organic range. It’s a joy to live somewhere where local, organic produce is valued.

Sustainability

Equally valued is the environment. From what I’ve seen and heard of their nature, it is immaculately preserved. A friend, and fishing-lover, told me that the rivers there are home to the best fishing in Europe. Fishing licenses are quite expensive in monetary terms, ranging from €20-€80 per day, but good value in environmental terms, if that is the cost for taking care of the waterways and it’s inhabitants.

Places to visit

This is a very short list, as I haven’t done much moving around yet.

  • Lake Bled, is as beautiful as it’s reputation would lead you to believe.
  • Lake Bohinj is near Bled and home to Slovenia’s first eco hotel, Eco Hotel Bohinj
    Bohinj Park Eco Hotel
  • Shmarna gora is a hill, about a 30 minute local bus journey from Ljubljana. The 25 minute climb to the top offers great views of the city.
    The view from Shmarna Gora
  • Metalkova, a very interest place; an autonomous social centre in Ljubljana. Similar to Copenhagen’s Christiania.
    Metalkova

Rock Climbing

Climbing gear is really well priced. I’ve picked up new equipment from Iglu, which have a few stores in Ljubljana. You get a 10% discount there is you are a member of Stena climbing club. Stena has a really nice, and challenging, boulder wall. The average climber there is really good. (I was mezmorised recently by an amazing climber doing a full dyno on a 45 degree overhang to a pinch, a hold I would struggle with on a vertical wall). I’m consistently the weakest person at the wall, which I mean in a matter-of-fact, rather than self-defeatist way. It has put a lot of positive pressure on me to improve.

The weather has just picked up, and soon we’ll make our first outdoor climbing trip.

Language Learning

I started learning the language too. Slovenian study courses, and even in person classes, are in short supply. I met Valentina, who studies in Ljubljana, through MyLanguageExchange.com, a fairly suspect looking website (the design looks a little late 90’s) for finding language exchange partners. She has been teaching me twice a week.

After a few lessons, we had both mentioned how surprising it was that there is hardly anything available online to learn Slovenian. So we decided to do something about it and will shortly be releasing the online self-study course, Learn Slovenian Online. Our aim is to create, not only the first online Slovene language program, but to craft it into the best resource for learning Slovenian on the web. To hit that target we will regularly gather learner feedback to update and improve the course.

If you are interested in learning the language and would like an early invitation to try out the course, in turn for sending some feedback, let us know: info@learnslovenianonline.com.