Meet Ljubljana – Europe’s Greenest City

Angela Wood

Senior Contributor

Hard to pronounce Ljubljana, Slovenia’s capital, is becoming a new European holiday hotspot. This forward-thinking green city is one of the most sustainable in Europe with a high sense of environmental awareness, zero-waste directive and a car-free city centre. There’s much to see and do too, so even if you can only spare a few days, here are a few ideas to make them count.

Take a Car-less Tour Through the City

What is the best way to see Ljubljana? Any way other than by car! The city’s old town is pedestrianised, therefore a bike ride is a great way to get around. Take in Dragon Bridge, Mestni trg Square - the centre of the medieval city and cross the river to picturesque Krizevniska Street. The bars and cafes of Petkovsek Embankment are a great place to break for a drink or snack before ditching the bike and walking the steep trail to Ljubljana Castle. Alternatively, ride the urban electric train through the city, paddle board or hire a boat and cruise along the river to see beautiful Baroque buildings and bridges from a unique perspective! After you’ve done all that, the Skyscraper awaits. The Nebotičnik Café set on the rooftop of the tallest building in the country serves signature cocktails with incredible vistas of the cityscape.

Browse Fresh Produce in Central Market

You can shop like a local at Ljubljana’s famous Central Market. Set in Vodnikov trg and Pogacarnev trg Squares, this eclectic produce market is the hub of the city. A kaleidoscope of vegetables, fruit, meats and flowers are set out on display for you to browse and purchase. On Wednesday’s the market transforms into a themed Ecological event, serving cuisine from around the world, in particular, promoting healthy plant-based dishes and on Fridays from mid-March until late October, chefs from city restaurants frequent the market tempting you to sample their latest innovative creations.

Marvel at Vistas from Ljubljana Castle

It doesn’t matter where you stand in Ljubljana, you can’t fail to notice the impressive hilltop medieval castle overlooking the city. Built in the 15th century, the castle has had many lives, including being used as a prison and a military base. Today, it houses a museum showcasing 200,000 years of Slovenian history, with video presentations and even a puppet museum! The best way to reach the castle is not by funicular, but on foot. It takes around 15 minutes to walk the steep trails, but if you arrive at sunset you can enter Outlook Tower or walk ancient ramparts to see Ljubljana’s skyline illuminate. During summer months, open-air movies are held in the grounds and if you are planning a special event of your own, the castle boasts a nightclub, café and two restaurants which can be hired for art exhibitions, dancing and private parties.

Take a Romantic Stroll Through Tivoli Park

Tivoli – the largest and most attractive park in Ljubljana was designed by French Engineer Jean Blanchard in 1813. Extending over five square kilometres into the city, the verdant green space tempts you to escape the hustle and bustle and relax amongst nature. Grand mansions and ornate fountains are punctuated by evergreen borders, and deciduous trees sway in the breeze as dancing statues capture the attention of passers-by. Stay a while, stroll interconnected pathways to view outdoor galleries, glimpse rare flora and fauna of Slovenia and break for a picnic, feasting on tasty morsels you procured from Central Market.

Enjoy a Tasty Food Tour

There’s no better way to define a country than by its cuisine and a food tour of Ljubljana can help you do just that. Slovenian food is greatly influenced by nearby Italy, Austria, Croatia and Hungary and is heavily based on dairy, pork, fish, cereals and vegetables. On city menus you’ll discover lots of pasta, gnocchi and risotto, but if you’re looking for something more traditional try delicious Kranjska Klobasa (Carniolan smoked sausage) served with onions, horseradish and fresh bread. It’s Slovenia’s most popular dish and served at ceremonial events. Book a personal guided food tour of the city to discover traditional cuisine served in authentic Slovenian restaurants, learn about regional wines and meet other like-minded foodie travellers! 

Stay in a City Centre Hotel

In the heart of the city’s shopping area, Grand Hotel Union is just five minutes’ walk to the rail station and famous Triple Bridge. A structure of Art Nouveau, the exterior is an architectural gem with a distinctive dome roof and pale stone façade. The interior, although renovated in 2000, still manages to retain an old-world charm which harks back to 1905 - the year in which it was built. The grand lobby is a collection of marble columns and polished floors, while guest rooms are modern and airy, decorated with antique furnishings and mosaic bathroom frescoes. The hotel concierge arranges tours and hires out bicycles so you can get around easily and, on your return, the garden terrace restaurant welcomes you with creative dishes served alfresco beneath 100-year-old chestnut trees. In addition, the penthouse swimming pool and wellness spa in Grand Hotel Union’s adjacent sister hotel offers respite from a busy day of sightseeing, allowing you to indulge in a well-earned VIP pampering session as the sun sets over the city.

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