First impressions from Ljubljana, Slovenia

Ljubljana, Slovenia’s capital city, is exactly how I imagine European cities should be.

There are certain cities, such as Paris, Barcelona or Venice, and you know exactly what they will be like before you ever set foot there. You’ve seen so many photographs, or snippets on TV and heard countless recollections from starry-eyes friends who have returned from their weekends away there so you know exactly what they’re like.


But Ljubljana (pronounced Lub-li-ana) was a relatively unknown city for me so I wasn’t sure what to expect.  What I did know was that it had a traditional European feel so I was imagining narrow rivers winding between tall, narrow houses. There would be crumbling old buildings, tagged with teenage graffiti and hundreds of years worth of wear and tear. Beneath the worn façade you’d still be able to see that it was once brightly coloured and designed by a flamboyant architect with a love for grand structures and an eye for pretty detail. Ivy and bright flowers would climb up the walls and laundry would hang from the rusting balconies overlooking the narrow streets. Everyone would have a tiny dog that would sit in the basket of a creaking bicycle as their owners swerved along the bustling streets.

Cafes would serve strong coffee on the cobbled roads and people would sit beneath the shade of an umbrella while enjoying a sweet pastry dusted with icing sugar. There is no sign of takeaway paper cups because this is a time to relax and enjoy the moment.

There are churches that look, dare I say it?, almost bland from the outside. Then you step inside through a huge door decorated with iron heads and it’s so beautiful it takes your breath away. You feel like a child as you stare up at the ceiling with your jaw slack after it fell open in amazement. Intricate gold paintings dazzle your eyes as the flickering from the candles bounces off them.

Autumn in Slovenia

Bridges in Slovenia


The three bridges in Ljubljana

Statues in Slovenia

Slovenia Cathedral

Cathedral dome in Ljubljana

Inside cathedral in Slovenia 3

Slovenia cathedral ceiling2

Candals in Slovenia Cathedral

One of my favourite things about Ljubljana quickly became the castle that overlooks the entire city like a protective older brother. Even in this day and age, a castle on a hill makes me feel safe. It was built for that exact purpose, to look down on the people and protect them from intruders and any city that has a castle instantly feels like a welcoming haven.

The Travel Hack in Ljubljana

Views from the castle tower in Ljubljana

Castle square in Ljubljana

You’re whizzed up to the castle in a modern funicular and from the bell tower you can see the brightly coloured roofs that look like a child’s model town from the advantageous vantage point.  Stroll around the castle that has embraced the modern world with skillful style. Among the castle grounds you’ll find a bar that is buzzing with the hum of families and friends enjoying a Sunday afternoon catch up.  What better place to have your Sunday dinner than in a castle!?

Love locks on the bridge in Ljubljana

locks on the bridge in Ljubljana

Locks in Ljubljana

Kylie's lock on the bridge in Ljubljana

I visited Slovenia when I was on a cruise with Celebrity Cruises so I only had time to explore Ljubljana. I already know that I’d love to go back and see more of this beautiful country, especially to see Lake Bled. After speaking to the locals I found out that Slovenia is struggling to find it’s place for tourists. The country is surrounded by Austria, Croatia, Italy and Hungary so they’re still finding a way to stand out from the very competitive crowd. With such interesting countries on each side, Slovenia has managed to take a little bit of the culture from each country and make it its own.

Slovenian’s are very proud of their beautiful nature and their eco friendly values so I’ve been told that it’s likely it will become a popular place for nature lovers. It’s the only country in Europe that combines the Alps, the Mediterranean, the Pannonian Plain and the Karst so I have a feeling that it could be the next big country for activity holidays too. One thing I do know is that I’ll definitely be coming back to Slovenia to explore some more!


Monica is the founder and editor of The Travel Hack. She began the blog in 2009 when she left the UK to travel around Asia and Australia for two years. She's now a full time blogger and has travelled around the world in search of the best holidays. Monica lives in Wales with her growing family and now also blogs about travelling with young children!


  • December 2, 2013

    Wow, it looks lovely there 🙂 and I never really thought of castles like that! Love that ‘protective big brother’ concept 😛

  • Amy
    December 2, 2013

    I had a friend at Uni who was always going off and travelling around Europe, Ljubljana always sticks in my mind as the place she loved the most. She would rave about how beautiful it was, and I’ve wanted to go ever since!

  • December 2, 2013

    I was just thinking about Ljubljana and whether or not I should try to visit when I hit up Europe this summer. I’m starting to think I may have to sneak it in my plans (with a trip to Lake Bled as well!)

  • December 2, 2013

    This looks like a beautiful city 🙂


  • December 2, 2013

    Great post! I loved Ljubljana, too. It’s such a pretty city!

  • December 3, 2013

    Great photos, Slovenia is on my must-do list, which seems weird as it’s so far off many people’s radar! I agree with you, it would be lovely to spend time in Lake Bled as opposed to the main city. A Slovenia/Croatia trip seems like a great way to do it.

  • December 3, 2013

    I actually found Ljubljana a little disappointing. I think all the graffiti got me the most, as it seems such a shame to deface the city’s quaint beauty. However, I loved other parts of Slovenia, like Lake Bled and the Alps.

  • Anne
    December 3, 2013

    Yay! You have a photo of my purple padlock which we left last August! Lovely to see it again. Great blog.

  • December 4, 2013

    I’ve wanted to go to Slovenia for ages (and Ljubljana in particular) — even more so now I’ve read this post! Hoping I might get the chance to explore next summer!

  • Anita
    December 11, 2013

    Hi there! I’m from Ljubljana and I am thrilled that you like our town (Ljubljana – Ljubljena = Beloved). For complete information, you can look at the official site: When you’ll want to experience the most in our country you can call Gregor. He is a world traveler who will be happy to show you the beauties of Slovenia: Slovenia is waiting for you … with love 🙂

  • September 3, 2015

    I was pretty surprised on my first trip to Ljubljana. I expected it to be more like Belgrade or Zagreb and it turned out it has a bit of uniqueness in its appearance. Later, I was told that Ljubljana is also known as “Little Venice” because of all those beautiful bridges and streets along the river. Definitely a city everyone should consider visiting.


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