Last March and April, I had decided to take a backpacking trip through the Balkans. After putting together an itinerary that included heading to Slovenia, Croatia, and finally Hungary, I was not sure what the tiny capital of Slovenia would have for me—especially since I was eager to get to Budapest. However, Ljubljana frankly stole my heart a little bit, and Slovenia remains one of my favorite places that I’ve ever been to. Here are some things you might want to keep in mind when traveling to this tiny center.
Slovenia is not Eastern Europe.
But it’s not really Italy, either. I was not sure what I was expecting when I arrived, but what I found was a conglomeration of cultures and national identities. Slovenia is definitely Slovenian, and they are proud of their unique heritage and their independence. While you’ll see essences of other places (I thought the food was a delightful mix of Italy and Austrian), you might want to keep in mind that the people here have fought hard to develop their own nation.
There are a limited amount of hostels available.
Because it is such a small city, you’re going to want to book in advance. All the most popular hostels tend to fill up pretty quickly, and the best thing to do is have a good idea of where in relation to the city center you want to be. Here’s a blog post of mine where I recommend some hostels in the city and what could work best for you and your trip.
Try the food.
The best thing I ever did in Ljubljana was to go into a restaurant and ask them to bring me their most local dish. Since Slovenian cuisine is a hodge-podge of different dishes from different nearby areas, you’re going to come up with something you might not expect at each place you visit. My favorite? Truffle-infused pizza dripping with delicious goat cheese.
Looking for a great view?
Head to the Ljubljana Castle. Though you have to pay for some of the activities (like the museum and staircase to the tower), the grounds are free to stroll on and you get some amazing views of the city overall. I spent a good two hours climbing the hill and walking around the area taking pictures and enjoying the overall scenery.
How many days should I spend there?
Depending on what kind of trip you are taking, I would recommend at least three days there. You’ll be able to see most of the city within a day if you want to, but there’s plenty to do and it’s fun to have a few days to relax and really get a sense of the place.