I’ve just returned from a mini European backpacking trip, where I crammed a LOT into just under three weeks. It was intense, exhausting and absolutely amazing – I had the best time and loved every second! Considering we have so many wonderful places practically next door, I’ve been really neglecting Europe on my travels. This stops now!
To kick off the trip we took a flight to Ljubljana, Slovenia, and then travelled overland to Bled, Zagreb, Belgrade, Budapest, Prague, Berlin and then back to London. Yeah, I told you we squeezed in a lot. I feel like I need another holiday to recover from this one!
So, first stop: Slovenia. Let’s start off by saying that Slovenia is a ridiculously beautiful country. If you drive or take a train through it you’ll be amazed by the rolling green hills, crystal clear lakes and streams and fairytale cottages that you’ll spot just about everywhere. It’s enchanting! Lake Bled alone is enough to make me pretty sure I’ll return, and I’ll definitely visit some of the less-touristy parts of Slovenia if I do. But on this occasion I only had time to visit Bled and capital city Ljubljana. Here’s what we got up to on our first stop…
One day in Ljubljana
We arrived in Ljubljana at 10am and only had one day to spend here, which was okay as it’s such a tiny city and everything is walkable. Plus, like most visitors, we were really there for Bled!
Ljubljana is super chilled – there’s not heaps to do and see, it’s more a city for exploring slowly, taking in the beautiful buildings and sipping coffee on the riverside. Fine by me!
We started in the Old Town, which is even prettier than it looks in photos. Pastel pink, yellow and orange buildings, cobbled streets, leafy trees overhanging the river and quaint bridges – I couldn’t put my camera away! The first thing we did was stop in a traditional Slovenian restaurant for some local cuisine – a spicy sausage stew with heaps of bread, perfection on a miserable grey day! We also had our first pint of Slovenian beer – it was probably way too early but we’re British and it was the first day of our holiday, so what else were we supposed to do?
There’s a really laid-back feel and a café culture in Ljubljana, with outside tables and chairs everywhere, especially around the river. Take your pick of where to grab a drink with a view and get ready to enjoy some of the best, cheapest wine in the world (if you don’t drink wine you’d better start now)! Slovenia is famous for its wine, it’s made all over the country and is insanely cheap. Most places do a glass for around €1, even prosecco! I had heard Slovenia was pretty expensive so this was a big surprise!
Other things to do in Ljubljana Old Town include spotting all the bridges the city is famous for – don’t miss the iconic dragon bridge or the cool triple bridge that splits over the glittering Ljubljanica River. An absolute must for foodies is the Odprta Kuhna or Open Kitchen, a big food market in the middle of the Old Town on Fridays. There’s loads of food vendors cooking up traditional Slovenian and international dishes, plus a bar and live music – the perfect summer afternoon!
For something totally different, you need to pay a visit to Metelkova. This is a now autonomous district of Ljubljana that was started by squatters in an old army barracks. It feels like another city. It’s covered in amazing street art and quirky sculptures created by the residents and there’s this total sense of freedom and creativity. It’s definitely worth visiting during the day to check out the art in daylight, but there’s likely to be no one around which is really eerie (but great for photos)! On a warm evening, this area turns in to one of the coolest nightlife spots in Ljubljana, with makeshift bars inside the buildings and loads of locals and travellers drinking outside.
There are a few hostels in Ljubljana – we stayed in Sax Hostel which is in the back of the city’s iconic Sax Pub that has live jazz bands at weekends and a cute beer garden out the front. It’s covered in bright blue and purple graffiti so you can’t miss it! There’s also a really famous hostel in an old prison called Hostel Celica which was sold out on our dates, but looks amazing and is in a cool spot in the middle of Metelkova.