Ljubljana, Slovenia Wishes You Were Here

This week’s Wish You Were Here post comes from Carla of The Globetrotting Texan. With a motto, “Because the world is bigger than Texas”, Carla has explored a number of places including the little country of Slovenia. She is an expat, traveler, writer and translator. Be sure to check out The Globetrotting Texan and follow her tweets at @caveniakoency.

Ljubljana (pronounced Lee-uh-blee-ah-na), the capital of Slovenia, hides beauty and charm behind its funny name, meaning “loved one” in Slovenian.

I have to be honest: when I was told that I was going to study abroad in Slovenia, I was sure I was headed to Slovakia- a common confusion for many people headed to this small country nestled between Italy and Croatia, or so I heard eventually. To make matters worse, before realizing my geographical mistake, I contacted friends in Bratislava to let them know about the good news, which I fear might have fulfilled certain “dumb American” stereotypes.

Dragon guarding the way to the castle.

But let’s get back to Ljubljana: the only capital city in the world in which you see people swimming in the main river that crisscrosses the city, the Ljubljanica, and in which instead of tornado warnings (like in my homeland of Texas) you have “bear-sighting” warnings on the news. These furry beasts just love to hang out at the central park, just a few blocks from my apartment I came to find out.

Ljubljanica River

The preferred method of transportation for this small and vibrant student city is the bicycle. Many of the streets in the old center are closed off to cars, making owning a bike de rigeur to get around easily. The preferred meeting spot in the old area is Prešernov Trg, or Prešeren Square for the rest of us (the š is pronounced sh, as in shock), a central location crowned by a view of the medieval castle, Ljubljanski grad, overlooking the city from atop the hill.

Prešeren Square

The statue of Mr. Prešeren, a famous Slovenian writer and the country’s pride and joy, has been sitting in this square for over a hundred years, before Slovenia was even a country. What you should also know about Prešeren, and Slovenia inherently, is that this good man wrote mainly poems and drinking songs. One of them “Zdravljica” (“A Toast”), was turned into the Slovenian national anthem, which not only talks about hot Slovenian women, but also incites Slovenians to unite, drink and be merry.

To this day, Slovenians are very good at this, and they demonstrate it with a wide array of nightlife options for such a small city. The best spot to start or end a night is Metelkova, the former Yugoslavian Army Head Quarters, that after being abandoned, was squatted by artists and turned into an “independent” part of the city. Art and an international crowd of like-minded individuals rule instead, making sure that there is something interesting going on every night. Bicycle parking is free.


  1. says

    I have never been to this city, but it is often the brunt of many jokes between a friend and I over the sheer oddity of its spelling and pronunciation, not to mention it’s a fairly obscure city in the world of travel.
    We like to say we’re just going to be headed to Ljubljana (pronounced in our heads as Joooblejonna) for the weekend flying Jooblejonna air, etc etc. You get the idea. 😉
    Thanks for sharing some actual info on this place. Maybe now I can take it more seriously!

  2. says

    A year and a half ago I took the train from Germany to Zagreb on my way to the Croatian beaches. Doing so, I crossed through Ljubljana twice, once in each direction. After seeing your pictures, I think I would stop there and take a few days.

  3. says

    I’ve wanted to go to Ljubljana for years. I have been to the airport but I suppose that doesn’t count. I love this kind of city, it’s so pretty, relaxed, lively. I actually was looking at apartments to rent last year as I was convinced it would be a great place to live. It’s probably just a bit too small for me though.

  4. says

    We just found a super cheap bus there from Florence so I think we are going to head there for a weekend soon! Apparently there is a really famous hostel there which is actually a remodeled prison?

    I was really happy to see this when Ljubljana just came onto my radar literally days ago! Sounds like we found a real treasure!

  5. says

    There is something magical about difficult to pronounce places that no one has ever heard of. I think this place looks charming without being boring. Love it.

  6. says

    Stayed at Hostel Celica (the remodeled prison) for three nights in September. It, like Ljubljana was amazing. It is just the perfect size city to explore and get to know. I will be back soon,

  7. Sam and Manja from LePA Skincare says

    Love the post! We’re a Slovenian day spa in Austin (and Texan-Slovenians) and it’s great to see other Texans enjoying our beautiful city.

    -Sam and Manja


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