If you want to experience a city that genuinely cares about the environment, it is time to visit Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia and the European Green Capital for 2016. You will enjoy spacious parks, car-free city center and bike lanes. Fresh air and the view of the surrounding mountains is where your family can have a rest from everyday life.
PLACES TO VISIT
The Ljubljana Castle makes the skyline of Ljubljana recognizable. The former medieval fortress probably constructed in the 11th century is standing on the Castle hill above the city. Many cultural, historic and entertaining events take place there all year round.
Dragon Bridge with famous dragon statues is a road bridge across the Ljubljanica River. It is a unique creation constructed at the beginning of the 20th century.
The Triple Bridge is a unique architectural gem in the pedestrian center of the city consisting of three parallel bridges with impressive stone balustrades.
You can’t miss Prešeren Square, the central city square in the pedestrian zone where festivals, carnivals, concerts, sports and political meetings take place.
Ljubljana Cathedral is a Roman Catholic cathedral with the baroque interior. It is devoted to St Nicholas. Visitors can easily find it with its green dome and twin towers.
Another important home of prayer is the Franciscan Church of the Annunciation on Preseren Square. This 17th-century Franciscan church has pink façade and the interior with ceiling frescoes.
Metelkova Mesto, an alternative music and art center that used to be a military object, today is an autonomous place and home to clubs and art events – performances, exhibitions and festivals.
Congress Square is one of the central city squares and a popular meeting point. Many events take place at this historic square with a bronze statue, shade trees and music pavilion.
LJUBLJANA FOR FAMILIES
There are many family-friendly attractions in Ljubljana. When going to the Ljubljana Castle, visitors can take the funicular, which is a great way to give the kids a feeling of adventure especially if stories about dragons are included. Dragon is the symbol of the city and can be spotted in many places.
If you want to show your kids that a lot of things depend on the way we look at them, take them to the House of Illusions. You will find more than 40 exhibits, including the anti-gravity room, the Vortex tunnel and mind games. It is a great adventure for the whole family.
The House of Experiments or Hisa of Eksperimentov is a great place for kids based on the principle: do it yourself. Science and learning through actively doing experiments will occupy kids’ attention. The experiments cover subjects from biology to mathematics and computer science. (Open on weekends and for groups during the week).
When you feel like having a break, it is the time to visit the spacious (5 kilometers across) Tivoli City Park, a lot of open space for kids to explore plus a playground. West from the main park you will come across the small Ljubljana Zoo where kids will enjoy watching animals.
The biggest exhibit of a mammoth skeleton will probably draw the children's attention at the Natural History Museum and they will have fun and learn at the same time through exhibitions from light to evolution.
You needn’t worry about not understanding Slovenian if you want to want to go to the Puppet Theatre because the performances focus on music and mime and they are the perfect place for toddlers and preschoolers.
A great place for kids to learn and have fun at the same time is one of the oldest Europe’s Botanical Gardens (over 200 years old). The shady paths are great in the summer and the Tropical House in the winter.
If you are looking for some indoor activities, the Minicity Ljubljana will be a great place to take your children, especially 3 to 12 years old. It is really a mini-city, with a police station, hospital, TV studio, bakery and other objects where kids can play. It is around 30 minutes’ drive from the center, but it is worth it.
MUSEUMS & GALLERIES
Art lovers can take a stroll through Ljubljana’s museums and galleries: the National Museum of Contemporary History, National Gallery, Slovenski Etnografski Muzej, Railway Museum, the City Museum Of Ljubljana, the National Museum Of Slovenia, the Modern Gallery and others.
Visitors can stay in hotels with family rooms (cribs and infant beds available), in apartments and hostels. Many of them are close to the city center, so there is no need for transportation.
WHAT TO EAT
The most popular Slovenia’s food is Kranjska Klobasa (sausage). Visitors will also enjoy Potica (a dessert made of dough and filled with various fillings), Prekmurska gibanica, Kraški Pršut (Prosciutto, the centuries-old tradition of salting and drying meat product), Štruklji (dough with different fillings), Žganci and many others.
· Visitors can rent a bike at an affordable price. Ljubljana is a bike-friendly city.
· If you want to try authentic local food, dine where the locals dine.
· Between March and November, on Fridays from 10 am to 11 pm visit the Open Kitchen Food Market in Pogacarjev Square to try Slovenian small plates.
· At the Ljubljana Tourist Information Centre next to the Tromostovje, visitors can get a Ljubljana card with free entry to the top attraction, free city bus travel, access to the WiFree Ljubljana network and other discounts.
TIME TO VISIT
The best time to visit Ljubljana is from April to May and from September to October. It can be cool, but still comfortable for sightseeing and the prices are more affordable than during the peak summer season.
Stara Elektra, a former power station, is a place that houses different arts-related activities. It is over a hundred years old and offers walks through an impressive entrance hall and the main hall with a large stage.
Dobra Poteza, the first board game café in Slovenia opened in 2017 has 350 games to choose from. They also serve great coffee, nice sandwiches, cakes and beer.
The most Ljubljana-like hidden place is the Abandoned Plants Sanctuary, a volunteer-based initiative, where dying flower-pot plants from Ljubljana streets are saved as well as the plants that owners don’t want any more. You can even adopt a plant there.
If you are a music-lover, visit Prulcek bar hidden among high blocks of Prule. They perform classical and acoustic music, jazz, blues and rock. You can also find exhibitions, bazaars and art fairs there.
Lucky Shoes or Cevlji na zici in Truberjeva cesta are dangling on several wires across the street, following a tradition that a shoemaker began – hanging up her shoes. After that, her shop started doing better and it is now believed it brings good luck.
In the city center, you can simply walk as it is not big. You can also rent a bike and use the City Bus System or a taxi at affordable prices. Getting around the area outside the city is easy with buses, trains, GoOpti transfers, taxis and car rentals.
Ljubljana is an excellent city for family visits. It is not overcrowded and it is safe, with a lot of open spaces and kid-friendly attractions. Many places of interest at a short distance from the city (the Bled Lake, the Postojna Cave, the seaside city of Piran) are easily reached and they are full of activities for the families.