During our Road Warrior travels, we often don’t have enough time to spend in one place to be able to see everything we want…so it’s not surprising that we only had about…A Day in Ljubljana, Slovenia. While we were visiting Venice, Italy, for a week, we knew that the small country of Slovenia was just a few hundred kilometers away. As such, we couldn’t resist hopping on a train to see yet another country on our long list of places we wanted to visit!
The tricky part was finding transportation direct from Venice to Ljubljana. In fact, at the time we were traveling, there was only one direct train each day from Venice to Ljubljana, but it arrived at 1 am in the morning! We opted to take the direct route, despite the inconvenient arrival in the early hours of the morning. This train ride took just under five hours. For those who don’t wish to follow in our footsteps and want to avoid the early morning arrival, the best way to do this is by a combination of train, tram and taxi. From Venice, there are various trains travelling through the day that go to Trieste, a border city in Italy. Once arriving in Trieste, you will need to take a tram from Trieste to Villa Opacina and then a taxi from Villa Opacina to Sezana (a city in Slovenia). From Sezana, there are local trains that can take you to Ljubljana. Surprisingly, despite the transfers, because the frequency of trains that run these routes you will only add about an hour to your itinerary. So, in about six hours you will have made the trip from Venice to Ljubljana.
We didn’t know much about Slovenia before planning our visit. It’s a relatively small country – only about 7,800 square miles in size with just over 2 million people. The capital, Ljubljana, is the largest city and has just over a quarter of a million population. Crossing over the border into Slovenia, you realize you have definitely come to an eastern european country by the change in architecture. It was part of the former Yugoslavia until the early 1990s, when it split off and became its own independent country.
So, what did we do with only a day to spend in Ljubljana? Here is our itinerary, to give you an idea of what you could possibly do if you had very little time to spend in this colorful capital of Slovenia. We had a wonderful time and definitely wouldn’t have changed our short visit in any way (except, obviously, to have more time to spend in this great country!):
1. Explore Old Town – The old part of the city, known as Old Town, is full of culture and history, with a sprinkle of contemporary “new” (for instance, the interiors of many of the restaurants and cafes are surprisingly modern!). It is a beautiful place to take a long afternoon walk, with the impressive old architecture of the buildings and the city’s castle, flanked by the banks of the beautiful Ljublanica River.
2. Stroll through Preseren Square – This is a pedestrian only square that is architecturally beautiful! It acts as the main link between the center district of the capital city and the Old Town. Its name “Preseren” comes from the large monument of poet France Preseren. The square is nicely framed on one side by the beautiful River Ljubljanica, arched over by the Triple Bridge or Tromostovje, with stairways leading down to the terraces that run along the Ljubljanica River.
3. Take a quick visit to the Franciscan Church – This church is modern by most standards as it was built in the 20th century (in the 1600s) by one of the most famous Slovenian architects named Joze Plecnik. If you’re in Old Town, it’s hard to miss this church as it has a very orange/red exterior with large columns that are beautifully lit during the night. Tourists are welcome to explore the interior, which is incredibly grand. The frescoes on the ceiling of the church have been refurbished due to an earthquake that struck in 1895, so these paintings were recreated in the late 1930s.
4. Hit the Cafe Culture – We were surprised at the very bustling cafe culture of this city! In almost every street in Old Town, there were tables lining the streets and people enjoying socializing with a coffee or beverage. Some of the most popular places are found along the Ljubljanica River, such as on the opposite banks of the river on Cankarjevo Nabrežje and Petkovškovo Nabrežje. But, there really is no shortage of great options, and people watching here can be a wonderful and engaging afternoon past time!
One of the things that we didn’t have the opportunity to do (but we’ve heard amazing things about!) is to head to the Mediterranean coast and visit the city of Piran, which is well-known for its amazing Venetian architecture. If it is anything like our quick visit to Ljubljana, we know we won’t be disappointed and definitely have it on our list of places to visit in the future.
From our journeys here at the Road Warrior, we wish you happy travels and look forward to our return to Slovenia.