Before we start, the Oxford Dictionary suggests you pronounce it Lyoo-blee-AR-na!
The Ljubljana Dragon, which sits astride the Dragon Bridge in the heart of Slovenia’s capital, is a sign of power, wealth and greatness – appropriate descriptors for a city whose history is dominated by its influential role as a midway settlement on the strategically important trade route that linked the Danube with the Adriatic Sea.
Since 1991, Ljubljana has been the administrative capital of the small republic of Slovenia, boasting strong cultural traditions, a rich heritage and eye-catching scenery that make it a worthy, if not unusual, city break destination. With a relaxed atmosphere and small-town attitude, but all the modern facilities you would expect of a leading European capital city, Ljubljana never fails to deliver and yields some pleasant surprises along the way.
Time to relax…
With average summer highs of 24C – 26C (75F – 79F), Ljubljana escapes the more stifling heat of the Mediterranean cities, but the ambient temperature sustains long enough to make a late autumn break a distinct possibility, with a pleasant daytime high of 16C (61F). Rows of tables spill out of the numerous cafés that line the Ljubljanica River, offering visitors and residents the chance to relax while absorbing the picturesque alabaster bridges that span its width.
Limits on traffic in the city centre make a gentle stroll through its streets a delightful experience, enabling you to appreciate the highly photogenic scenery that is dominated by graceful architecture and beautiful squares. Among the highlights that simply have to be captured for posterity on your camera are the stunning Prešeren Square (Prešernov trg), the salmon-pink Franciscan Church of the Annunciation, and the narrow cobbled streets of the Old Town.
Stunning sweeping views
A popular starting point for many visitors to Ljubljana is the dominant medieval fortress that sits atop Castle Hill, a remnant of Habsburg rule that started in the mid-14th century. An energetic hike from the Old Town is one way to reach the summit, but alternatively you can enjoy a short trip by tourist train or a glass-walled funicular.
Entering the castle courtyard is free, where you can enjoy a relaxing coffee and cake, visit one of the many art exhibitions that are staged in the vicinity or peruse a selection of traditional Slovene handicrafts. While a tour of the castle will reveal more about its long history, undoubtedly soaking up the sweeping views of the city from the summit is one of the favourite pastimes of visitors.
A city break for every budget
Ljubljana is well-served by a wide variety of restaurants offering traditional Slovenian fare, as well as dishes that boast strong Mediterranean and Asian flavours. Accommodation is available for every budget, from high-class boutique hotels and spas to budget outfits and hostels. With a flight time from the UK of only two hours, Ljubljana is a friendly and inspiring city break destination on the doorstep of Eastern Europe.