Ljubljana

Ljubljana ("lyoo-blah-nah"), the capital of Slovenia, is a charming old city full of artists, museums, and galleries. In Roman times, it was called Colonia Iulia Aemona and was part of Province X "Venetia et Histria" of Italia proper. With a population of 300,000, it is one of the smallest capital cities in Europe. Ljubljana is pronounced similar to 'ljubljena' ('beloved') in Slovenian, but it's not clear if the words are related.

Understand

Ljubljana has no world-famous attractions, which is just great: there's no need to hop from one place to another, taking photos and crossing off the items on your checklist. You have all the time to stroll around and enjoy the city itself. Ljubljana is noted as one of the greenest capitals in Europe; a pair of green hills, one of them sporting the city's major attraction (Ljubljana Castle) approach the centre like two opposing wedges, so forest with an extensive network of footpaths is literally across the street from the old town.

In the summer, its centre hosts a number of city sponsored events, from children's workshops and public playgrounds on the streets that get closed for traffic for the occasion, to Trnfest's off-beat street performances and musical events of all genres. In autumn it shows its academic face as it fills again with students of the state's largest university to whom the city owes much of its youthful character. Cold December days are warmed by thousands of lights, the New Year's decorations conceived by local artists, and by food and drinks sold from street stands on the banks of the Ljubljanica river. After surviving the boring grey remaining of winter, the city erupts again with spring flowers planted on its streets and crossroads.

Orientation

Ljubljana castle courtyard

The Ljubljanica river flows through the centre of town, past Baroque buildings and under the ramparts of the ancient castle on the hill. The new city and modern-day commercial core lies to the west of the river, while the old city and the castle are located on the east side of the river. Many bridges cross the river, the most famous of which is the Tromostovje (triple) bridge, designed by architect Jože Plečnik.

Get in

By plane

Jože Pučnik Airport (commonly referred to as Brnik Airport) IATA: LJU is located 27 km north of Ljubljana. Airport facilities include parking, a bank, money exchange, ATMs, a post office, an information desk, free Wi-Fi in the terminal, a general store, duty-free stores, a self-serve restaurant, bars, and cafes. The following airlines operate service to/from Ljubljana: Adria Airways (Amsterdam, Belgrade, Brussels, Copenhagen, Frankfurt, Istanbul-Atatürk, London-Gatwick, Moscow-Sheremetyevo, Munich, Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Podgorica, Prague, Priština, Sarajevo, Skopje, Tel Aviv, Tirana, Vienna, Warsaw, Zürich), Air France (Paris-Charles de Gaulle), EasyJet (London-Stansted) Finnair (Helsinki), Jat Airways (Belgrade), Montenegro Airlines (Podgorica), Turkish Airlines (Istanbul-Atatürk) and Wizzair (London-Luton and Brussels-Charleroi). There are regular public buses (€4.10, 50 min) and minibuses (€5, 30 min) from the airport to the main Ljubljana bus and train station, located next to each other in the city centre. Alternatively, a metered taxi from the airport to the Grosuplje will cost €40-50; However, the following companies offer cheaper options:

Alternatively, there are several airports around Slovenia with more budget flights that are now well connected to Slovenia by one of many shuttle companies, though you can also use public transport. Look especially for flights to northern Italy: Trieste, Venice (Marco Polo or Treviso), Bologna, Bergamo, Milano-Linate/Malpensa, but also to Munich, Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest, Rijeka, Pula, Zagreb.

By shuttle bus

They are primarily designed for airport transfer, but most can also to drop you off at a central railway/bus station or even provide door-to-door service, sometimes for a small additional fee, sometimes free. The biggest and best organized is GoOpti; however, it can be relatively cheap only if you book enough in advance. On short notice better check some others, here's a nice list.

By train

The Ljubljana bus and train stations are located next to each other at Trg Osvobodilne Fronte ("Trg" means square in Slovenian). The two stations are located just north of the city centre and a short walk from most hotels and attractions. The train station has a tourist information centre, currency exchange, and left-luggage service.

Ljubljana is the hub of Slovenia's rail system. Local trains run throughout the country - no point in Slovenia is more than 3 hours away. Direct international connections include Zagreb (2 hours), Rijeka (3 hours), Graz (3 hours), Salzburg (4 hours), Pula (4 hours), Vienna (6 hours), Munich (6 hours), Belgrade (9 hours), Frankfurt (10 hours), Zürich (11 hours). Getting to Trieste by train is slightly easier than it had been in recent years (although 10 years ago there were frequent connections to Italy). There are now 3 trains per day between Ljubljana and Villa Opicina (an Italian town just above Trieste). From Villa Opicina you can take the bus or taxi into Trieste and from there onwards to anywhere else in Italy. Alternatively there are many services a day to Sezana (the last Slovenian town before the border) and again taxis or buses to Trieste are possible. Expect to pay about 10 euro and it is highly advisable to pre-book the taxi, as none will be waiting.

As of December 2011 direct links to Venice and Budapest are no longer available due to contractual issues between the Italian Railways (Trenitalia) and Hungarian Railways (MAV-START). Direct links to Budapest have since been restored, but there are still no direct trains to Venice as of January 2015.

By bus

Ljubljana bus station (avtobusna postaja) is right next to the train station and has services throughout Slovenia, as well as to foreign countries. The station has several useful schedule search engines (also in English) for working out connections. Generally speaking, a bus can take you almost anywhere in Slovenia within a few hours.

Direct international connections: Trieste (2 hours), Venice (4 hours) , Banja Luka (5 hours), Bihać (6 hours), Bologna (6 hours), Munich (7 hours), Florence (8 hours), Tuzla (8 hours) , Zenica (8 hours), Belgrade (8 hours), Ulm (9 hours), Stuttgart (10 hours), Sarajevo (10 hours) , Niš (12 hours), Karlsruhe (12 hours), Mannheim (13 hours), Frankfurt (14 hours), Skopje (15 hours), Tetovo (16 hours), Sofia (16 hours), Pristina (18 hours), Copenhagen (19 hours), Malmö (20 hours), Gothenburg (24 hours), Linköping (28 hours), Örebro (34 hours), Stockholm (36 hours).

Ljubljana Budapest direct bus by Eurobusways

By car

Ljubljana is at the centre of the Slovenian road network, which means that if you're not driving towards the border, you're approaching Ljubljana. Traffic can be frustrating at rush hours, but is generally lighter than in larger European capitals. Huge jams can occur if there's an accident or road works, though, so consult the Traffic-information centre or listen to Radio Si which offers regular traffic information in several European languages.

There are several car parks throughout the city centre, and cheaper ones at the outskirts. Those offer day-long parking with return city bus ticket included in the price. Most car parks are operated by the Municipal company. Short-term street parking in blue zones is payable at parking meters scattered around (€0.7/h in the city centre, 2 hours max; €0.4/h further out, 3 hours max; Saturday afternoon and Sunday parking is free). Parking meters don't return change, but they also accept the Urbana card (see below).

Renting a car is also an option, especially if you are visiting remote destinations outside of Ljubljana.

By carpooling

The main website is Prevoz.org, click on "mednarodni prevozi" for international rides . The website is only in Slovene, but simple enough to navigate. The columns are "from", "to", "time" (of departure) and "cost", you can sort them by clicking on top row, or use the search engine on top. You have to register to see the phone number, you can use an existing account. Most drivers would speak enough English to arrange the ride. Note however that there is no rating system in place, nor any payment system – you pay cash to the driver. Generally the price is around €5/100-120km within Slovenia, usually a bit more abroad. If you're arriving in your own car and want to pick some passengers, you can of course also post it on the site.

Get around

By foot

The centre of Ljubljana is small enough to cover by foot. You can pick up a free city map at a tourist information centre or in the train station. Navigating or finding a street is easy as streets are clearly marked.

By bicycle

Ljubljana cathedral

Bikes are available for rent at the Slovenian Tourist Information Centre (beside the Central Market) as well as some of the hotels in the area (€2 for 2 hours, €8 for the whole day ending 7~9PM depending on season).

There is also a system called "Bicikelj" where you can rent bikes (first hour free, second hour €1, third hour €2, each additional hour €4). It is designed for short-term hire. It has 300 bikes on 30 stations around the inner city part and you can subscribe with a credit card online. For more information go to this site: http://en.bicikelj.si/

By city bus

Typical Ljubljana city bus at a bus station

The city's transportation authority LPP operates 22 bus lines, which are clean and run frequently (every 5–10 minutes, 15–30 minutes during the weekend and summer). Most bus routes operate 5AM - 10:30PM (Sundays from 6AM). Night routes are: N1 (10:30PM - 5AM), 2, 5 and 6 (3:15AM - midnight), N3 (9PM- 5AM) and N11 (3:15AM - 5AM). Saturdays and Sundays no service on routes 22, 24, 28 and 29. Sundays no service on routes 7L, 8, 18, 20, 21, 27.

To ride the buses, you must first purchase an Urbana card (similar to an Oyster Card in London). These can be bought at self-service stations ("Urbanomat") found at the larger bus stops across the city, LPP sales sites, Tourist Information Centres and newspaper agents for €2 and need to be loaded with an amount ranging from €1 to €50. Upon entering the bus by the front door, you need to position the card next to the reader to pay for the route. The confirmation is a quiet beep and an illuminated green light, while a negative response is a louder beep and a red light. After that, you proceed to take your seat / stand.

The cost per journey is €1.20 and includes an unlimited number of free transfers within 90 minutes from the first entry to the bus.

Most lines operate at least once every 15 minutes. Timetables (in Slovene) only have departure times from first bus stop so you can use the webpage to obtain predicted departure times for next three buses from every bus stop.

By taxi

Taxi Ljubljana"http://www.taxi.jezakon.si/"Taxi Laguna (tel. 080 11 17), Taxi Metro (tel. 080 11 90) and Intertours Taxi (tel: 031 311 311) are considered the cheapest taxi companies. These are free numbers (all numbers starting with 080 are free in Slovenia), so you can use a phone booth to make a free call. Note that not all taxis charge the same fare.

While taxis ordered by phone are cheap, those waiting on the street will usually charge through the roof, and you can end up paying €25 for a short ride! Unless you're in a hurry, always order a taxi by phone!

Talk

The main language of the city is unsurprisingly Slovenian. Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian is also understood by everyone and usually spoken fluently by people over 30. Many inhabitants of Ljubljana speak English as well, especially people under the age of 30. Some of them also speak German, Italian, French and/or Russian. It's worth trying any major European language you speak.

See

The easiest and most pleasant way to reach all spots described below is by foot, except for the Zoo and the Architecture Museum.

The Triple Bridge at night

Museums

Do

Water parks

The front of the Opera and Ballet Theatre
Slovene National Theatre (Slovenska Drama)

Opera & Theatre

Shows are performed regularly throughout the year. The opera house is located just behind the Slovene Parliament. There are several theatres scattered all over the city centre.

Cinema

Learn

University of Ljubljana Palace

Student life in Ljubljana is very active and you will notice many young people on the streets when classes are in session from October to May.

Buy

Ljubljana's main shopping areas are the BTC City Shopping District (take bus 27), located at the north-eastern edge, and the Rudnik Shopping District (take bus 27) in the south-eastern edge of the city. However, several department stores such as Maximarket, H&M, Müller, Nama, are located in the city centre. Additionally, Čopova street and the Old town have a dense collection of small shops.

Eat

Downtown Ljubljana is full of trendy cafes (outdoor seating in the summer!) and high-quality restaurants. You can find local Slovenian food, and restaurants with ethnic food from many places around the world. Pizza in Ljubljana is of very good quality. Try a burger Slovene style with a horse burger at the Hot Horse! Cheap and good for returning from a night out.

Budget

A horse meat hamburger along with French fries and a cup of Coca-Cola, served at restaurant Hot' Horse in the Tivoli Park northwest of the centre of Ljubljana.

Mid-range

Splurge

Vegetarian

Drink

Philharmonic Hall

Most of Ljubljana’s bars tend to cluster on the streets running parallel to the river, radiating from Prešernov trg, which is the main square in Ljubljana. The more interesting bars tend to be on the backstreets, rather than directly facing the river. Part of the joy of this city is stumbling across these places, but these are few to start you off.

Cafes

Bars

Clubs

Ljubljana has several good nightclubs (discothèques). The clubs hold special events, they will play a certain syle of music on certain nights, etc. Some will also impose a strict dress code and age limits.

Sleep

Congress square with Uršulinska Cerkev (Ursuline Church)

Budget

Ljubljana offers several hostels and student homes that function as hostels in the summer.

Mid-range

Splurge

Around Ljubljana

Stay safe

Ljubljana is possibly one of the safest capitals you'll ever visit. Remarkably safe during the day and night, as a tourist you should have no problems, provided you are not desperately looking for trouble.

Even the rougher parts of Ljubljana, located far from the city centre, are relatively safe, if you don't flash your valuables. These areas, not commonly frequented by tourists, include Fužine, Rakova Jelša, Štepanjsko naselje and parts of Šiška, Moste and Šentvid.

Tivoli Park is generally safe and a very popular destination for picnics or taking an afternoon stroll for an average Ljubljanian, but just as anywhere in the world it is recommended that you don't put your guard down and avoid larger groups of teenagers hanging around in the park late at night, as thefts and sexual assaults have been reported. Avoid speaking English around the teenagers in the park as they are known to attack foreigners.

Connect

Internet

City center is covered with a Wi-fi network named WiFreeLjubljana that offers free access for 60 minutes a day. Service has just been launched, so coverage is not yet perfect, but is being actively improved.

Free internet access is also available at:

Check map of wireless internet (Wi-Fi) spots in Ljubljana (and nearby).

Almost free internet access is available at:

Internet cafes:

Cope

Embassies

Go next

Hills around the city

Farther out

Hitchhiking out of Ljubljana

Hitchhiking in and/or out of Ljubljana is possible and widely practiced, but take the usual precautions.

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Saturday, April 02, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.