What makes Ljubljana such an amazing city, to visit or live in? Many visitors of Ljubljana spend much of their time visiting the “must-sees” like the architectural buildings, beautiful bridges, castles, crowded restaurants with nice views and the great museums that this city of Slovenia has to offer. Nothing wrong with that of course, but you will spend much of your time queuing with fellow tourists.
According to our Spotters: the charm of the small city with its green areas and bike-friendly streets; it’s that Ljubljana still has some hidden areas that remain untouched by tourists just waiting to be discovered; it’s the kindness of the locals and their willingness to help. Here are some of our picks for some of the most unique, locals gems in Ljubljana, in the words of our very own team of Spotters.
Old mixed with modern
Stara Elektrarna is an old power station, that nowadays is a technical monument! It was built about one hundred years ago and remained active until after WWII. In the 80’s and 90’s the building was discovered by artists, and ever since then, it has been housing all sorts of arts-related activities.
Walk through the gorgeous entrance hall, which doubles as a museum, and you will find a large stage in the main hall. The shows hosted here are very varied, anything from modern dance to theatre to lectures.
Here you can see part of a big chimney, turbine and some measuring tools that were used in the power plant — Tjaša Janovljak
Good old fashioned fun
Dobra Poteza is the first board game café in Slovenia. The place opened up in 2017 in Ljubljana, and the concept is (you guessed it) playing board games! They have 350 games to choose from, you only have to pay 2 euros per person and then play any game you want.
They serve great coffee, only fair trade or direct trade coffee and they have nice sandwiches and cakes for when you get hungry from playing all those board games.
Dobra Potexa has a great beer menu, offering over 60 different types of beer! The majority is in bottles, but their tap beer offer is very interesting as well, as they have mostly craft beers from Pelicon brewery, like their Out of China, 3rd Pill or Yess, boss! — Tjaša Janovljak
Save the plants!
The Abandoned Plants Sanctuary started off as an art project and turned into a great and very cute initiative. The sanctuary is volunteer-based, and the volunteers rescue dying flower-pot plants from the streets of Ljubljana before its too late! They usually find these plants next to dumpsters of flower shops and malls because the plants are no longer attractive to customers (not pretty enough).
They also take in plants of which the owner doesn’t have the time or means to take care of it anymore. They nurture the plants back to health and then pass them on. If you want to adopt a plant you have to sign an adoption agreement, in which you promise to take proper care of the lovely new plant. The idea behind the project is to realize that plants are living creatures, and therefore shouldn’t be treated as objects.
They are an important part of our environment and not merely a decorative element of our homes — Jošt Derlink
Swap till you drop
Izmenjevalnica (“swap shop”) is a project realized by a group of creative volunteers. It is hosted every third Friday of the month at the Red Cross. Here you can donate imperishable food items or hygienic products, for each item you bring you get a coupon. With the coupons, you can get some nice clothes!
This way you are getting rewarded for helping others in need. Check their Facebook page for the exact dates.
Have you ever thought about buying a second-hand shirt with a few cans of vegetables or shampoo? — Jošt Derlink
Hidden music bar
Prulček Bar is hidden away between high blocks of Prule, but could not stay unnoticed due to their amazing music program. On Mondays you find great classical and acoustic music, on Wednesdays they have jazz jam sessions and on Thursdays they have blues and rock music. And on the weekend you can find exhibitions, art fairs, bazaars and different types of music at this bar.
Next to their great music they also have a large assortment of beers for good prices. During the day you can also stop by for a nice cup of coffee in their garden.
Although the bar often gets very crowded, the dedicated and heartwarming staff take care you get what you want when you want it and this makes you come again and again — Miha Poredoš
When walking along Truberjeva cesta in Ljubljana make sure to look up every once in a while for a fun surprise. Here you can find multiple wires spanned across the street, filled with shoes dangling from them. Of course, this is quite a strange sight, luckily our Spotter did some investigating for us.
So it turns out that a shoemaker on this street started the tradition, she hung up her shoes and then her shop started doing better! Then a lawyer gave it a try, and got his first job the next day! And the tradition continued from there on, worth a try!
As for me, I once hung a pair of my worn-out sneakers and left barefoot. For the time being nothing has changed yet, but you never know — Miha P0redoš
Secret city oasis
Boschtiz Bar is located in the middle of an industrial zone, make it a great little hideaway. The bar is easily accessible by taking the city bus. They have great, refreshing beers for summertime and they also have trampolines!
A cool bar with a cool name, nowhere near a tourist attraction, right in the middle of an industrial zone (imagine that) — Jože Slobodnik
Street artists united
Ljubljana sports some great pieces of street art, many of them made by Slovenian artists leaving their mark on urban spaces. 1107 klan from Šiška quarter is a group of street artists that stand out from the crowd. They have been very active in the graffiti/street art scene in the last few years and keep on improving their work.
You can find their works at Metelkova, Roga and their tags are spread throughout the city center. One of their biggest, and most impressive, works can be found at the pedestrian underpass in Šiška, their local ground. They often overpaint their old works, keeping the observers on their tippy toes waiting for a new piece.
If you are a graffiti and street art lover this place full of colorful murals, which changes all the time, is definitely worth seeing and taking a walk through this underpass under the Celovška street is a must — Mankica Kranjec
Let your inner scientist loose
In the core of Ljubljana, you can find Hiša eksperimentov (“House of experiments”). This place is based on one rule: do it yourself. It promotes science and learning through actively doing it yourself, experimenting. Experiments are done and everyone can participate, hands-on!
They cover many subjects from biology to mathematics to computer sciences. Every year in the last week of May they also organize a festival of science, Sciencetival.
Being surrounded by young, older, young at heart people gave off strength, confidence and showed me that science can be much fun when discovered and experienced by your own hands and mind — Miha Poredoš
Not your average cinema
Kinoteka can be found on the Miklosiceva Street, between a train station and Preseren square. The movies they show are mainly from Europe but don’t be surprised when they screen a movie from Japan or America as well.
They play films from all types of genres, think of dramas, black comedies or thrillers. Since the place is relatively small and not commercial they only show 2 films per day. If you want to see a film they’re showing make sure you go, as they only show each film once.
I guess that we are lucky and I’m really glad, that I can spend some nice evenings in nice old cinemas with interior from the 30’s — Jošt Derlink
Ristanc is a shop owned by Mrs. Sašek, a lovely lady who works in this shop and TOjeTO, another cute shop in the same street. All the toys and games that are sold are mainly made of wood. Wooden puzzles, cars, dolls, swings, Jenga, skipping ropes and much, much more!
Not only is this just a super cool concept (and great to look at), it’s also better for the environment than many other plastic toys. Even if you don’t buy anything here, it is still a great place to browse around and take some pictures.
I used to come here as a child. I was amazed, staring and gazing at all this wonder — Miha Poredoš
A toilet worth visiting
Although a toilet might not be the first thing you think of when you think about art, this toilet in Ljubljana is actually quite artistic. The toilet at Kino Šiška Centre for Urban Culture features an exhibition project created by Multipraktik and ZEK creative crews. This conceptual, visual art consists of more than 70 drawn key figures from Slovenia’s urban scene from the past 30 years.
Through this exhibition, the artists have found a great way to show how a simple visit to a public space can be something fun and unexpected. Sprayer Jurij Lozič drew images of people waiting in line for the toilet.
What a simple but absolutely effective idea and probably the coolest graffiti exhibition venue I’ve seen around – and trust me, I’ve seen many! — Mankica Kranjec