Despite being on the small size Ljubljana packs a pick punch, with a stately hilltop castle and idyllic river Ljubljana seems like something from a fairy tale. But don’t be fooled by the inspiring scenery, Ljubljana is also home to a thriving student community which ensures that the already outstanding selection of museums, cultural centres and picturesque riverside cafes are never in short supply. Ljubljana’s charming small-town style may also surprise you with its excellent selection of independent shopping boutiques and its high degree of national importance, as the economic, political and fashion capital of the country.
A raft of new hotel openings have rejuvenated Ljubljana’s once-stagnant hotel scene. Travellers looking to indulge should book the castle-like Antiq Palace Hotel & Spa (Gosposka ulica 10) – with only 16 opulent suites, each featuring high-ceilinged bathrooms, kitchens and dining rooms, rooms go fast. A sleeker option is Hotel Cubo (Slovenska cesta 15), set in a 19th-century building that’s been thoroughly modernised; the eager and accommodating staff are complemented by the perk of a free minibar and L’Occitane cosmetics. Trendy types on a budget will enjoy the stylish interiors of the Old Town’s Vander Urbani Resort (Krojaška ulica 6-8) – think mirrored surfaces and Italian marbles bathed in purple lights, plus a yoga studio for guest use.
Ljubljana is great for independent shopping with many boutiques clustered around the cobbled streets of the Old Town. For souvenir shopping, try Idrija Lace gallery (Gornji trg 23) with its beautiful examples of handmade lace. Traditional gingerbreads, painted eggs and carved wooden artefacts can be found at Galerija Rustika (Stritarjeva ulica 9) or the daily Central Market (Pogačarjev trg). On Sundays, head to the riverside flea market (Cankarjevo river embankment). Here you will find hidden gems, including old books, communist memorabilia and antique jewellery. Bookish types will disappear down the rabbit hole at Behemot Bookshop (Židovska steza 3), whilst fashion lovers can find fashion by young Slovene designers at Koda 386 (Tavcarjeva 4).
Start mornings off with breakfast at one of the delightful riverside cafés. Try Cafe Promenada (Petkovskovo nabrezje 9) for coffee and croissants, or head to the nearby stalls at the Central Market for fresh local produce.
Library under the Treetops
Recapture one of summer’s simplest pleasures with Ljubljana’s annual Library under the Treetops project. A random spattering of bookcases is dotted around the streets – pick up a book, relax in the nearby seating areas and simply return it when done.
Summer in Ljubljana is heralded by the start of the Ljubljana Festival, which presents a diverse programme of concerts and shows by some of the biggest artists in the performing arts. Classical music, opera and ballet are all well represented, with performances taking place all over the city.
Live Literature Festival
Celebrating the best of literature, the Live Literature Festival takes place in a small square, letting curious passers-by into a world of literary delights for one week in June. Children can attend workshops and creative writing classes, but the centrepiece sees foreign works read by their authors and translated into Slovene by young actors, backed with live music.
Film under the stars
Enjoy a night under the stars at this open-air cinema festival located within the magical setting of Ljubljana Castle. Films range from populist Hollywood fare to lesser known Slovene movies, attracting tourists and locals alike.
Founded in 1991, this summer festival is the city’s celebration of all that’s good in the worlds of art, theatre, dance and film in Slovenia. Catch free performances and workshops around Ljubljana during the summer.