Top Reasons to Stop in Ljubljana on an Internal Trip
Ljubljana is the capital of Slovenia and a very underrated destination to visit. This is a modern city which is clean, colourful, friendly and eclectic.
Leona Duff from the UK recently went interrailing during her gap year in Europe with friends and Ljubljana turned out to be one of the highlights of their trip.
Here she shares her experience and gives an insight into the city and what to do to enjoy the perfect nightlife experience.
Arriving in Ljubljana
Whenever I’ve referred to my interrail trip to Ljubljana, I am often met with confusion: ‘Where’s that? Ljub-what?’ But I can guarantee that this is one city not to be missed. Whether you are interrailig, or just fancy a weekend break away, Ljubljana is somewhere you need to include in a weekend Slovenia itinerary.
The capital city of Slovenia, and on me and my best friend’s route to Croatia, this seemed like a perfect place to return, having passed through briefly the previous year for an overnight stay. This time, our schedule allowed us literally 15 hours here (that was the plan anyway) after arriving at 6pm and we intended to make the most of it.
Arriving in mid-July, we were met by relaxed vibes, with the temperature sitting at a lovely 25 degree heat. As a couple of sun-worshippers, we were instantly impressed!
Stay at Hostel Celica
We had heard a lot of positive reviews of our hostel – Hostel Celica – a renovated prison in the heart of the colourful cultural centre of the city, Metelkova (Avtonomni kulturni center Metelkova mesto in Slovenian) - and so had booked up for a night on a recommendation by a friend.
However we didn’t realise just how pleasant a prison could be! Look the hostel up to find out more about the overall project and the surroundings, which are truly unique and unlike anywhere else we visited. Friendly staff, great food, generous drink sizes.
Join a Pub Crawl
After leaving our bags, we decided we’d best see Ljubljana in its evening glory by conducting our own pub crawl. From the hostel, we set off through the lazy streets, taking in the Metelkovan surroundings and relaxing vibes as we first set off. The street graffiti here is amazing, and we later found out that as a former site of the Yugoslav army barracks, targeted by Nazi skinheads in the 90s, this area has a vibrant history to its name.
In Metelkova City a range of activities are available, including art galleries, bars, artists studios, offices of cultural organisations and live music. One building particularly intrigued us, covered in corpses (fake ones!) and grungy decorations, which we later discovered to be one of our favourite clubs throughout our travels.
Walking through Ljubljana, we passed through the beautiful streets which actually reminded us a little of Glasgow’s West End mixed with Boston suburbs, and we passed the hostel we’d stayed in on the previous trip – which, incidentally, is also amazing – and which our friend had described as being akin to Narnia.
And so our bar crawl began. First, we visited a strategically placed bar literally right on the river, down below the bridge and placed within what looked like an old set of dungeons. Sitting with our very reasonably priced drinks, we relaxed next to the clear river with a few boats driving past every so often, taking in the beautiful old-fashioned architecture of the old city – a massive contrast from our area of residency – but just as admirable!
Enjoy the Views at Top Bar
After a while, we moved up to the pretty cobbled streets, and joined the locals in a few bars on the riverside as it began to get dark and livelier. We asked our young-looking waiter where was best to go, and were advised to go to a bar/club called Top, which we could find by looking for a high-reaching glass lift.
Accepting the challenge, we found it almost immediately and shot straight up to the 11th (I think) floor to one of the best views you’ll find in Ljubljana. The side area of the club is open to the city (but for the safety-conscious, guarded by netting!) with no walls blocking the sensational views of the city, and by candle and star light, we had a stunning view of Ljubljana’s castle.
Taking this in, we were quickly greeted with free Jäger shots. After only a few hours in the city, we had quickly gathered that the locals and tourists alike were all incredibly friendly and eager to socialise, and this was confirmed when a girl and her boyfriend requested to have their photo taken with us –we still don’t know why!
As we continued to enjoy the brilliant company and views at Top, it suddenly dawned on us that we had just hours left in the city, and uncharacteristically decided that perhaps sleep would be the best option at this stage, so we got a taxi (very easily and cheaply, might I add!) back to the hostel for a few hours of sleep. It was 3am and it was bed time… so we thought.
The Party Never Stops in Ljubljana
Wandering up the hostel’s corridor towards the stairs, we heard a faint, but very familiar and lovely sound of heavy bass coming from a building outside. Asking the cleaner what this was, he responded, ‘techno?’, to which we couldn’t say no.
Just one minute’s walk away, we found the door leading to the noise, which was part of the building covered in corpses (and photographed on the bottom right of the photos above). Again, we quickly made friends with both local ladies behind the bar and tourists visiting the area from all over the world, and our new friend (who we sadly only know as far as being saved in my phone as ‘Andy Slovenia’) bought us all shots of the local rakija, of which I still don’t know the actual content, but was assured that we must try them as they were amazing.
Amazing they must have been, as we soon realised it was 7am and we had a train to catch in two hours! Again, with sensible intentions, we attempted a quick ‘nap’, and ended up waking in our comfy beds at 11 to realise we’d missed our train. But really, this was no disappointment.
Go to the Lakes if You Have Time
We spent the day in our sunny Ljubljanan surroundings, once again standing in awe looking around us at the Metelkova buildings, very happy, despite our 2 hours of sleep! In the hostel, we’d noticed numerous leaflets for trips to the gorgeous looking Slovenian lakes, and we contemplated missing another few trains to stay for longer, but unfortunately it was time to leave.
Hopefully the third time we go, we’ll manage to fit in more, but until we do, we’ll keep returning! We loved Ljubljana, and we are sure you will too. Also be sure to check out Europe backpacker tours a lot of which include Slovenia in the itinerary.
By Leona Duff