Europe’s best-kept secret: Ljubljana

Ilse de Roo - Ljubljana - Best-kept travel secrets

Ljubljana is definitely one of the least explored and yet one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. So many European capitals feel overcrowded and bustling with inescapable traffic and locals in a rush to get wherever they are going. Ljubljana, on the other hand, feels like a small laid-back town that runs at its own pace.

With a pedestrian-only centre, a thriving outdoor eating culture, the tiny cobbled streets and so many green spaces, makes it Europe’s best-kept secret.

Enjoy street terraces along the riverside

The river is the pulsing heart of the city with a lively open-air cafe and restaurant scene taking over the boulevard either side of it.

Pull up a seat and while away the sunny afternoon with a coffee or wine and some snacks. In the evening you can settle into one of the many dimly lit riverside bars and have a cocktail or three amongst the lively student population.

Don’t miss a free walking tour

If you don’t know much about the city’s history or culture, a free walking tour is one of the best things to do in Ljubljana and gives an excellent introduction to the city. The standard route takes you to many of Ljubljana’s main tourist attractions accompanied by informative tales, free food samples and great recommendations for further eating spots and city explorations.

The tour lasts around 2 hours and leaves from Prešernov Square every day at 11 a.m. with a second tour at 3 p.m. during the high season. The tour is free but if you enjoyed the experience it’s nice to give the guide a tip in the end!

The once abandoned barracks in Metelkova Mesto

Metelkova Mesto is one the largest, and arguably most successful, urban squats in Europe. Sprawled across 12,500 sq m of an abandoned army base, the self-proclaimed city has become the leading centre of underground music and art in the region.

The walls of this alternative space are covered head to toe in all things kooky, including quirky and colorful mural designs, metal sculptures and some slightly disturbing figurines that look like Gollum and Dobby got together and had some seriously freakish offspring.

At any time of the day, locals can be found sprawled in the central tower playing tunes and having a pretty great time. Nighttime though, is when this place really comes to life. The individual buildings covered in street art are actually a mix of galleries and bars are an alternative place to dance the night away.

Taste the best traditional Slovenian coffee at Slovenska hisa

This one is not hard to find at all. It is located just by the river, right next to Prešernov square and Three Bridge. As a matter of fact perhaps almost every tourist, who has visited Ljubljana in the past couple of years, had coffee there at least once. So if you are addicted to coffee just like I am – my advice to you would be to start your visit at this lovely coffee place.

Cycle around in Tivoli Park

Did you know Slovenia is the greenest country in Europe? With a large park taking up a decent chunk of Ljubljana’s centre, it’s easy to see why. If you need somewhere to walk or cycle off all that food you’ll be eating or simply a place to relax in nature, Tivoli is a beautiful place in Ljubljana to do just that. The best way to enjoy the park is by bike. Bicycles are available for rent from various points throughout the park during the summer. You will need to leave ID as a guarantee you will bring the bike back.

The Ljubljana castle, a must-see attraction

The castle perched on the hill above the old town is one of Ljubljana’s must-see attractions. It is free to enter the castle complex and visit the viewing terrace and some of the smaller exhibits on the grounds. However, to climb the tower and get full access to the site you must purchase the entrance ticket. A little secret, the beautiful park right behind the castle is also a worthwhile place to visit in Ljubljana.

The amazing food and market scene

With so many amazing places to eat in Ljubljana, it’s hard not to plan your entire visit around where you want to dine. From melt-in-your-mouth pastries to hearty Slovenian specialities, refined international fare to flavor-packed organic street food, you’ll easily find something for every appetite, whether it be an afternoon treat or to fill up after a long day exploring the town.

Open Kitchen is a wonderful thing to do in Ljubljana and one of the city’s quintessential experiences that you won’t want to miss out on.

There are not a lot of things we love more than street food in the sun accompanied by excellent live music and a glass of local wine. Ljubljana’s Open Kitchen combines all these things with a selection of handpicked chefs to create a glorious Friday afternoon.


Hi there, my name is Ilse and I’m a travel enthusiast. When I travel to a destination, I like to explore the non-tourists areas and stumble upon hidden places and unknown gems. Follow my personal Instagram for more about me: @ilse.roo

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *