In order to “fit in” in Ljubljana you need to bike…and that’s just fine by us!
First things first!
How to pronounce Ljubljana –
Lub-liana. But it’s loob-lana to the locals.
Ljubljana is probably the most cycle-friendly city we’ve been to so far in Europe. It’s compact with practically no hills, which makes it a great place to explore by bicycle.
Results from the Copenhagenize Bicycle Friendly Cities Index 2017 report.
“Ljubljana, is the eight most bicycle friendly city in the world.”
In Ljubljana there are more kms of protected cycle tracks than in all of Canada and the city is pushing for more. There are 73 km of cycle tracks and 133 km of bicycle lanes.
Ljubljana’s bike self-service rental system BicikeLJ is very popular. It only cost us 1 euro each, for the week’s rental we were there.
I hate to go on and on (but I will) about the bicycle culture in this city but it’s certainly something that is big part of it, and WE LOVE IT! What is cool is that you rarely see any racing bikes. It’s all city touring bikes, with baskets to bring their groceries etc. Even the younger professionals come to and from work on their bikes. One thing we noticed is that there seems to be a bike designer fashion trend developing here 😊. You see all these beautiful bikes in an array of colours and they are gorgeous and probably cost a few euros! I love the nice pink one with the brown leather seat. Classy!
Ljubliana is the capital of Slovenia and has only 290,000 residents. It’s small and easily walkable as most of its city centre is for pedestrians and bicycles only. The saying in Ljubljana is, “small by surface area, large by quality of life”. You could probably whizz around the city’s sights in a day if you really wanted to, but it’s more a place to slow down and enjoy its charm. As we would say down home, “la ville est vraiment faite pour flâner”. It’s a pleasure to have coffee or a cocktail along its riverbank and enjoy the views of both Ljubljanica or Gradaščica rivers.
There is an incredible nice ambience in this city and we felt it instantly. It’s also very clean, has gorgeous architecture, great people and plenty of GREEN! Both with its tree-lined avenues and with their environment. In 2016 it was named Europe’s green capital .
There are tons of restaurants, cafés and bars where you can sit and do some people watching and enjoy a nice beverage. So yes, we admit we didn’t just bike in Ljubljana!
We did a bit of research before arriving to the city and of course it involved looking up eating venues, cafés and bars. 😊
We quickly found this little expresso bar called Črno Zrno. It’s literally a hole-in-the-wall with a bit of street space outside. The barista exclusively serves specialty Colombian beans, roasted locally. He also made us his own twist on a Turkish coffee.
The nice bar below, ŠUKLJE has a great selection of wines, drinks and great service.
We had some great homemade lunches at Druga Violina. It is a little restaurant employing several people with “special needs”. Every day it has three fixed menus to choose from. They use local products and serve traditional Slovenian dishes at a low cost. A lunch which consist of a main dish, salad , homemade bread and wine, comes to 14 euros, so about $20.00 CAN for the two of us.
When Bernard stumbled across pictures of the Lolita Cafe he instantly knew that I would love to try out this place. It’s sleek but not overboard. I guess the café was nominated recently for an International Interior Design Award. It’s basically a dessert shop but serves a great menu of varied cafés, wines and cocktails.
Attending Open Kitchen was certainly a highlight of our time in Ljubliana. Luckily we were able to attend it twice! Every Friday (assuming the weather is good), throughout most of the year in Ljubljana Pogačarjev trg Square, food and drink vendors throughout Ljubljana and across Slovenia set up outdoor kitchens, a concept known as Open Kitchen (or ‘Odprta Kuhna’ as the locals call it). It runs from 10am till late in the day. It certainly brings many people to the Square and they gather to try different foods and drinks. On one Friday Bernard was drawn to the smell of gourmet style liver & onions! I went for a chicken dish. What is wonderful is they serve wine, not in plastic cups, but in real nice wine glasses. Have to love that! We also had varied international cuisine. It must take them all night to set up. It’s an incredible food scene to see and enjoy.
This is the foodie + drinks place to be on Fridays!
There’s some cute little boutiques that just lures you right in!
We didn’t necessarily want to visit Ljubliana’s castle (see below, top of the hill) but we heard that it had some great views of the city. You can either take a funicular or go up through the “secret passage!”😊
You’re not that high up but it did have a couple of great views of the city down below.
You can take boat rides along the canal but we didn’t get a chance to do this. Did seem like a pleasant thing to do.We loved all the neat restaurant outdoor seating areas and the boutique storefronts. Great place to hang out!
Our Airbnb was more in the residential part of the city. It was a great apartment and about a 30 minute walk to the city centre. We biked and took the city bus in as well. We had a nice outdoor terrace to relax and eat some of great home cooked meals. Great setting for notre p’tite nappe champêtre. 😊
What we enjoyed about Ljubliana-
We could go on and on about what makes Ljubliana so great but basically its 100% up there with one of the best European cities we’ve visited so far. It’s clean, charming, small, has many young people, bike & people friendly. We agree with the locals it just seems to have everything that would provide you with a good quality of life. Slovenia also has a perfect mix between Germanic, Slavic and Mediterranean cultures.
What we didn’t find here –
Next destination✈️ Lucerne, Switzerland 🇨🇭