McKelvie’s Cities – Ljubljana

| January 3, 2016

I’ve long had a soft spot for a seriously underrated city I first visited in 1992 as it emerged from its war of independence. Since writing the first English language guidebook for Ljubljana (for Bradt) I’ve been back regularly and write monthly updates for easyJet. For me the bijou Slovenian capital is a sort of greatest hits of many of Europe’s other great cities, which reminds me in part of many Italian cities, elsewhere of Prague and Riga too. I’ve not met anyone who has been who has not liked it. Enough said.



Midday – Check into the Vander Urbani Resort. This slick member of Design Hotels sports Italian designer furniture and a rooftop swimming pool offering views of the surrounding old town.

1pm – On Fridays the Slovenian capital’s atmospheric Central Market hosts stalls from many of the city’s bars and restaurants, offering taster dishes and a chance to try Slovenia’s seriously underrated wines.

3pm – Ljubljana overflows with remarkable architecture – enjoy baroque on Gornji Trg, art nouveau on Miklosiceva and the work of seminal modernist Slovene architect Joze Plecnik across the city.

8pm – Spajza in the old town is a cosy old timer where you can savour the likes of scallops from Slovenia’s Adriatic, followed by a horse steak laced with black truffle. The wine list is excellent too



9am – Take the funicular up to Ljubljana Castle and admire the city’s mountainous setting before checking out the exhibits, which really open up the castle and Ljubljana’s rich history.

11am – Pop on the graceful hand crafted boat for a cruise along the city’s lifeblood Ljubljanica River, admiring some of its finest buildings en route. Once a month a gourmet cruise option is available.

1pm – Pop back into the Vander Hotel for a filling and tastebud tingling ‘deep dish’ lunch option with a one course feast stuffed with local produce.

2pm – Slovenia’s National Gallery and Modern Art Gallery lie handily next to each other with a wealth of domestic and international talent. Alternatively the green lung of Tivoli Park lies across the road.

9pm – AS is all things to all people with a relaxed bar area, a traditional restaurant serving authentic Slovenian specialities and a bright, airy new terrace with a suitably bright and creative menu.



9am – The banks of the Ljubljanica come alive on Sunday mornings with a flea market. Highlights at this colourful extravaganza include old socialist-era memorabilia.


Best For  Broad spectrum, from romantic couples and city slickers, and on to adventurous families looking for more than a beach holiday. Stag and hen parties please avoid as I love it and it’s not Prague! Budget travellers will find it wallet pleasing too.

McKelvie’s Cities Rating – 17/20. The Europe in Miniature clichés ring true in a gorgeous wee city that offers many of the best bits of other cities rolled into one pedestrian friendly whole.

Read More From Me – Cover story on Ljubljana for Wizz Air.

Getting There  – I flew with easyJet from Edinburgh, via London Stansted. Fly with them and you can see my Ljubljana city guide in their in-flight magazine.

I travel a lot and have used 100s of websites. One kills it for me with flights – Skyscanner. I’m not just saying that because like me they are based in Edinburgh! I love that they charge no commission and search budget and scheduled carriers. See for yourself by clicking below.

Tourist InformationLjubljana Tourism.

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