Ljubljana is like a city-sized village. Or was it a village-sized city? Whatever, the point is that it’s manageable. People know each other, say hello, aren’t always in a rush like in so many other cities… Even though it’s always getting more popular with tourists, there are still a lot of local spots waiting for you.
Whether you’re just visiting for a city trip or passing through on a longer trip, Ljubljana is worth a stop. We selected the perfect spots to spend some of your time out on a sunny day. It’s never too hot for delicious ice cream and a rooftop terrace, right?
Coffee on top of the world (or Ljubljana) at Nebotičnik
This is a unique experience in Ljubljana: drinking coffee on the terrace, 50 meters above the streets, in the first skyscraper in this part of Europe. The café on the top of Nebotičnik finally reopened its doors in 2010.
It was the center of the social life in the past. Each person has its own memory of the place. Older ones think about all that jazz on the top at nights, while younger ones still fancy a strawberry juice with whipped cream. Sadly the place shut down in late 90’s and we almost forgot that this existed in Ljubljana.
I remember the first time I went for a coffee after the renovation. It was cloudy and somewhere in the middle it started to rain, but I didn’t care. The view from the top is spectacular! — Jošt Derlink
Go hiking on the edge of Ljubljana at Smarna Gora
Smarna Gora is a hill at the most northern part of Ljubljana. It’s a butte and looks like two humps of a camel. You can reach it with city bus number 8 (Gameljne). The bus drives in 10-20 minute period.
There are many ways to reach the top of Smarna Gora. There are paths that are a bit steep but take only 20 minutes. There are also more gentle paths, which are most of the time full of climbers, especially on Sundays. But if you are not walking on the main paths, you can relax and enjoy the fresh air.
Smarna Gora has two peaks. Smarna Gora and Grmada. The first peak is the popular one and is full of guests. On this peak you will also find an inn called Ledinek. Here you can buy some typical Slovenian dishes, a cup of tea or a beer. It has a nice view on Ljubljana, especially when the weather is nice. Grmada is a located a bit higher and only has a bench on the top, so it doesn’t have so many visitors. It’s better if you would just like to relax, read a book or study. — Jošt Derlink
River views and ice cream at Cacao
Be grateful if you find an empty seat on a sunny day within 5 minutes of waiting. Cacao is one of the best ice-cream parlors in Ljubljana for a reason. While I can’t say much about the coffee, except it’s freakin’ expensive for the city’s standards, the sweet stuff is amazing. The prices are in general above average, but if you are a quality-over-quantity kind of human, you have found the right spot. Almost every summer they mix in new flavors and play with the existing ones. The staff is fast and nice (it always depends on who you run into, though) and always willing to explain the ingredients of a menu option.
If you catch the right time of day, you get the privilege of observing the slow setting of the sun over the riverbank skyline, absorbing the changing colors of the sky’s reflection on the Ljubljanica river. The joint is a 30 seconds’ walk from the Prešeren statue, so you have no excuse not to visit them both. — Jože Slobodnik
Relax at the riverside in Prule
The Prule district is an amazing mixture of a modern-day city and the remnants of a forgotten era. Bourgeois architecture, a handful of bridges crossing Ljubljanica, statues of dragons and tall churches are basically just the half, the non-industrial half, of Ljubljana’s face. There have been countless times when I pictured a first date with a special girl on a warm autumn day with a bottle of white cold wine, put to cool in the portable blue cooler after the glasses were filled with the ecstatic fluid.
These ideas most often crossed my mind when I was returning from a rough day at work, sitting in the traffic jam, slowly moving through the bridges we talked about earlier. Oddly, despite living a 10-minute walk from the beauties of the Prule’s riverbank, I still haven’t managed to realize such an appointment. It is cemented into my bucket list and it’s only a matter of time before I take a selfie to prove to myself it happened. Just when tourists think this city cannot get any nicer, boom, this hits them right in the face. — Jože Slobodnik
Perfect ending to a perfect day at Metelkova
I think that nobody should leave Ljubljana before seeing Metelkova, because it shows an important side of Ljubljana. Old military barracks transformed into autonomous culture center with clubs (Gromka, Gala Hala, Channel Zero etc.), bars (Jalla Jalla), galleries (Mizzart, Alkatraz), libraries, non-government organizations, hostel (Celica), art studios etc.
It’s also packed with street art – graffiti, sculptures and all kinds of installations. I would say that it’s one of the best public spaces in Ljubljana. I think that if Jane Jacobs, deceased urbanist, would see the place, she would love it because it’s exactly what she used to say: old buildings – new ideas. She knew that if you want life in a district, it needs a certain amount of old buildings. I hope Ljubljana urbanists will keep that in mind in the future.
Metelkova can get really crowded in the evening and it’s a great experience just to hang outside. In Jalla Jalla you can also get the cheapest beer in Ljubljana after 21:00 and at Bizarnica pri Mariči you can get Drina cigarettes. — Jošt Derlink