Imagine a city boasting a one-two-three cultural punch of Austrian efficiency, Hungarian hospitality, and Italian cuisine. That’s Ljubljana. This is a gem to visit, and here you can truly adventure in style.
Ljubljana’s Old City is centered between the Dragon Bridge (Zmajski Most) on the northeast and Cobbler’s Bridge (Cevljarski most) on the south. The main part of town is anchored by Presernov Square (Trg), the gorgeous Triple Bridge (Tromostovje, pictured above), and the cotton-candy-pink Franciscan Church. The streets in this area are closed to motor traffic, clearing the way for the pedestrians, cyclists, restaurant patios, and sidewalk cafes that fill this area during the day. The medieval center of the city is just across the Ljubljanca River on Mestni Trg. Nearby are the old Cathedral and the fantastically fresh Central Market. Ljubljana Castle sits atop a hill that overlooks this side of the river, while the green expanses of Tivoli Park are on the opposite bank just beyond the shopping streets.
This town is a particular treat for traveling runners deeply desirous of getting some good miles under their legs. The entire city center is asphalt, except for a few cobbled main streets in the center of town. With a population of only 300,000, traffic and pollution are not big problems. Cleanliness is, in fact, a huge highlight of the visit. Not only can you breathe when you run, but if you get thirsty, it’s safe to drink water from the fountains!
- Bicycles: Having benefited from the influence of Italian cuisine, the Slovenians unfortunately also were waved by their neighbors’ crazy road bike habits. Keep an eye out for these two-wheeled terrors. Ljubljana’s cyclists are just as unpredictable as the Italians next door.
- Street Congestion: There may not be a lot of people in Ljubljana, but if the weather is good they will all be outside. As the day progresses, so do congestion issues – the old city’s narrow alleys fill with cyclists, pedestrians, and strollers. Then, around 11 a.m., the patios of street cafes spill over into the street. At this point, don’t be surprised if walking across town requires a short wait in line. Just remember, you can always sit down and order a drink.
- In-Shape Slovenians: Austrian efficiency and a German training regimen. These people are fit, and when running up mountains they may fly by you.
In the mood to rent a bike? For two-wheeled city exploration, the Ljubljana Bike Rental Project rents out bicycles for one euro an hour. Ask the Tourist Information office for the nearest bike pick-up location
Did you know? Ljubljana was rated the world’s Most Honest City by Tourism Review in 2009. How were the rankings determined? In an experiment, journalists “lost” 30 cell phones. 29 of the Ljubljana phones were reported and returned to their proper owners.