Slovenia is wild and beautiful, with tall mountains and dark caves, warming dishes and endless vineyards, ancient cobble stone cities and a welcoming buzz that sweeps up visitors wholeheartedly. While there is so much to see and do in Slovenia, Kai and I spent a few days touring around Lake Bled and the mountains, and another day exploring Trieste, an Italian seaside town almost entirely bordered by Slovenia. While visiting Lake Beld was top of my must-do list, we’d heard that spending a few days in Ljubljana was practically obligatory when visiting Slovenia, and wow, and I glad that we did!
Ljubljana is the capital of Slovenia, known for its sprawling green spaces, the peaceful and winding Ljubljanica River, and as home to a jewel box of colorful architecture.This time around, Kai and I took full advantage of my Booking.com discount (Booking.yeah!) and stayed at a cute and clean Best Western hotel smack in the city center. Our room was spacious, the bed was comfortable, and the hotel had a big continental breakfast buffet with pastries, fresh bread, eggs, sliced meats, cheeses, fruits and vegetables that we fully took advantage of each morning. I think it was around €110 a night which was pretty reasonable for two people and the quality of the hotel. To top it off, the hotel was located right across from a city bike rental rack that we hit up every day! We used the bikes two or three days in a row, and I don’t think we spent more than €10 on the rentals in total, so it was quite a steal and by far the best way to see the bike-friendly city.As per usual, I did a lot of online digging before we arrived in Ljubljana. I was excited to find that similar to Amsterdam, Ljubljana is very bike friendly, and so we decided to rent bicycles for our city explorations. As mentioned, the rental scheme was very reasonable. The first hour is free, and once you sign up, you can opt to rent a bike for a whole week or only $1! You can read more about bike rental inLjubljana here. Once on our bikes, we made sure to cycle up to the castle, which had outstanding views of the city and offers a good workout.We also biked to Metelkova, which is an autonomous social centre in the heart of Ljubljana, with awe-inspiring graffiti, and a slew of art galleries, bars, artists studios, and music acts. Go during the day if you fancy a cheap beer in the sun, surrounded by hungover hippies and outdoor art.The food part of Ljubljana was probably my favorite (who am I kidding, it’s always my favorite!) While Slovenia is home to a vast wine country, let it be known that the local brews are also outstanding. While on our trusty peddled-steeds, we cycled to Pivnica Union, which had a big outdoor terrace, a lively atmosphere, amazing beers, and delicious snacks to boot. Although the beef tongue, smoked trout, and goulash came highly recommended, we each opted for a beer tasting (which was also high on the have-to-try list!), some pretzels, fried chicken, and house-made chips. Please don’t judge us, but this was definitely consumed for brunch at around 11.30am. And off what a scrumptious brunch it was!After our beer and snacks in the sun, we cycled through Tivoli Park, which was a bright and relaxing oasis. As the day wore on, we knew it was time to hop into our evening attire and check out one of the many outdoor cafes that are scattered along the Ljubljanica River. Our hotel concierge had recommended a special Slovenian beer we HAD to try (so sorry, do not recall the name), and so we sought out a sunny watering hole, and watched boats flat along the river as we drank the local mead. As night fell, we both got excited, as it was time for yet another meal. On this particular evening, we had not one but two dinners – one accidental dinner early in the evening as the sun set, and a second seated meal later in the evening. We didn’t plan on having two dinners. In fact, after our beers by the river, we had a few hours to kill before our later dinner reservation, and so we decided to stroll around for a bit, camera in hand.Ali and Kai :)However, after walking around for approximately 30 minutes, we stumbled upon a glorious, buzzing night market. Apparently this market only takes place on Friday between 10am-11pm, and is THE place to be every Friday evening. And so we really hit the jackpot with this one! After some desk research, we discovered that the market is called The Open Kitchen and features more than 50 different local chefs – what a way to sample to local fare!The atmosphere was jovial and lively, with people sitting everywhere, packed in front of stalls sampling small plates, laughing with friends, and sipping wine. And so although we already had a dinner reservation for later in the evening, we knew we were going to have two dinners that night!We had a few small plates to share as well as some prosecco, and roamed around until it was time for dinner number two! Our second dinner was at Spajza. We’d heard this haunt was a great stop to sample slightly upscale Slovakian food, with a romantic terrace outside.Our meal started with a small amuse-bouche on the house, followed by a steak tartare to share. For dinner, Kai had a plump, juicy steak and I had monkfish cheeks (one of my favorite seafood dishes!)The meal was lovely, and accompanied by a bottle of wine, we were absolutely spent, after a day of cycling, boozing, and exploring Ljubljana! v v The last drunken photo of the evening!I wish we had more time in Ljubljana, as there were a few restaurants we didn’t get to try that came highly recommended. Vinoteka Movia is a great wine bar to check out in the Old City if you’re interested in sampling Slovenian wines. Kralj Zara BBQ Restaurant has amazing Slovakian BBQ. They’re closed on Sundays so stop by any other day of the week to try the burnt ends, burger, ribs, or steak, all of which are raved about! Le Petit Cafe is a cute brunch spot, and Klobasarna serves quick and delish Slovenian sausage!