Ljubljana - Europe's Hidden Gem
While planning a three-week vacation to Eastern Europe, my daughter insisted we go to Ljubljana. To be honest, I had never heard of the place and cannot spell or pronounce it even now. Ljubljana is pronounced as lyoo-blyah-nuh, ‘J’ is silent. Ljubljana is the capital and the largest city of Slovenia, but it is a compact quaint town that will captivate you with its vivid charm.
We reached Ljubljana on the last leg of our three weeks vacation in East Europe. Ljubljana is connected well by train, car, and flights, so reaching it was not a problem. After visiting such enchanting locations of Eastern Europe like Prague, Budapest, Vienna, and Lake Bled, I reached Ljubljana without many expectations. I was in for a pleasant experience.
If you are one of those, who travel to tick attractions off their list, Ljubljana is not for you. There are not any famous attractions which are a must-visit. Ljubljana is all about culture, atmosphere, and experiences. The Ljubljanica river flows through the heart of the pictorial town where cars are restricted so that there is ample space for pedestrians, cyclists, cultural events, and open-air shops. The restaurants and cafes spill into the cobbled pavements and serve excellent fresh food, vintage wine, and lip-smacking desserts.
Ljubljana is a very vibrant and colorful town, and the main reason is its student population. There are about 50,000 university students here which gives the town a very peppy, young, and friendly feel. The whole town seems to be in a holiday mood. They infuse life and zest in the entire city. You can witness an amalgamation of old-world charm and values with modern ideology.
What makes Ljubljana different from other European cities are its festivals and events that take place in the Central Plaza. There are concerts, sports events, and street performances all through the summer and the charming town is in perpetual celebration. We also witnessed a boat race on the river flowing in the middle of the town, with hordes of pedestrians cheering and encouraging the participants. During major events, everything is closed and local people come and join the festivities along with tourists. Roaming the streets, shopping, enjoying events, and live music, eating delicious food is a delightful experience. And the friendly and jovial locals and the perfect weather elevate your mood. Because of the abundance of bars and clubs, the nightlife is also buzzing.
Ljubljana is a very European town with its historical buildings, medieval architecture, and beautiful bridges and museums. It reminds you of Prague. You can take the funicular ride to the Escape Castle for the picturesque views of the town or walk to the castle entrance. Ljubljana has lots of bridges and they are very artistic and photogenic. There are the customary cathedrals and museums which you can visit if you have time.
The Central Market is such a charmer after the overhyped and staid mall and supermarkets. You can shop at leisure for fruits, vegetables, flowers, freshly baked bread and souvenirs, designer clothes in such a lively romantic setting. Locals gather here not only to shop but also to meet and chat with friends. A couple of days is enough to explore the scenic tiny town. If you go to the outskirts, you will see lush greenery and enchanting hills. Ljubljana is rightly called the hidden gem of Europe.