We spent the last two days of our Slovenian trip in Ljubljana. Ljubljana is a compact city with most of the sights located in the fully car-free old city center, so it can very well be seen in one day. We spent the first morning in Ljubljana by sleeping in as we’ve had a pretty intense beginning of our trip. We had booked a food tour with Ljubljananjam, which started at 11:30, so that guaranteed that we get some food during our first activity in the city.
As I mentioned, we stayed at Hotel Lev and it was about 15 min walk to old town, so very doable although a bit boring walk. 🙂 Ljubljananjam had three different tour available, one was about wine tasting, one about craft beer, and the one we chose was called Ljubljana Essentials and had a bit of everything.
The first stop was at a restaurant, then we continued to the food market (it was a Saturday, so the market was very busy) and our guide bought us some Slovenian cheese to try, then we visited a cafe/art gallery Dobravaga for a glass of wine and a sandwich, then sat down outside near the market to try some of the traditional Slovenian dishes, after which there was another restaurant with three different dishes we shared, then we stopped for amazing gelato at Gelateria Romantika and we finished the tour in a collaborative space Ziferblat, where you can do whatever you want in their “living room” and pay not for what drinks you consume, but for the time you spend there.
Ljubljananjam guide spoke very good English and gave us an interesting glimpse into Slovenia and its food culture. As we walked around the city center, she pointed out some sights, but also good restaurants, and answered any questions we had. I have participated in a few of these kind of tours in a handful of countries and I find them very interesting. It’s like getting a glimpse into the country’s culture and traditions via their food. This time I would also never have had spotted e.g. the funny drinking fountain in one of the tiny side streets unless the guide had pointed at it. Unfortunately some guests can really derail the tour and the conversation. For example in our tour there was a couple, who didn’t have any good travel plan for Slovenia and they kept asking questions and making the guide shift the conversation to them and everyone else basically helping them to decide where to go during the next couple of days and what to do.
The tour cost 65€ per person and it included food and drinks. It was also possible to choose the tour without drinks for 55€, so all you got to drink was water.
When we started our trip, I looked at the Weather app and it was supposed to rain every single day we were in Slovenia, but the weather so far has actually been very nice. It had rained a few of times here and there, but we were either in the car or it was just a light drizzle.
Our luck had to run out sometimes and it happened around the end of the tour. We stopped for ice cream at Gelateria Romantika, which I cannot recommend enough, and it started pouring down and just would not stop. We waited for a while and then basically ran to Ziferblat, which was the final point of our tour. We spent some time there, but then we decided to leave as the rain showed no signs of stopping.
So we decided to walk around some more albeit under an umbrella and then bought some chocolates, sushi, and a bottle of wine and decided to go back to our hotel. We wanted to watch the finals of Eurovision Song Contest, but apparently it’s not a big thing in Ljubljana and we couldn’t find any bars, which would show it, so we opted for a night in and watched it on an iPad. 🙂
The next day we had breakfast at hour hotel, which was really good – great selection and the food was good. After that we had planned to participate in the Free Tour Ljubljana. As you know, nothing in life is free, and the guides work on tips. What most people don’t know about Free Tours is that the guide pays provision to the company for every participant and gets to keep only what is left over from tips after that fee. A few years ago in Amsterdam that fee was 2,5€, so make sure that you tip the guide at least 5€ per person, so they don’t work for free.
Usually these tours are quite good value for money as the guides really try to keep you entertained. This time we saw a lot and the tour was moderately interesting, but the guide made a bunch of awkward jokes for cheap laughs (e.g. something about the dragon’s tail moving if a virgin crosses the Dragon Bridge, but it has never happened hehehee… and some others in the similar vein). We did get to see most of the old town though and the guide managed to point of some interesting things.
We also saw a milk machine of which our food tour guide spoke the day before. Apparently milk “straight from the cow” (i.e. unpasteurised) is very popular in Ljubljana and is sold into your own bottle by the liter.
Ljubljana Cathedral was difficult to capture in a photo, but it had the most amazing doors. There was an ongoing service this Sunday morning, so we had to come back later to see how it looks inside.
After the tour was over, we decided to walk to the Ljubljana Castle. Well, ok, walk a bit AND take the funicular up to the castle. 😀
Ljubljana castle ended up being more a place for events, to hang out, and to eat in a restaurant. It was restored in a really cool way mixing modern glass with stone walls, but this is not a castle in traditional sense.
The entire visit took just around 30 min, so there isn’t a lot to see unless you stay for coffee at one of the cafes. After we got down, we decided to grab lunch before heading to the airport. We chose restaurant called Robba, which was quite good and it was nice to enjoy our lunch out on the terrace watching people go by.
When we were booking the taxi at our hotel, we were assured that the Ljubljana airport is very small and that we really don’t need to be there earlier than one hour before. What the reality was is that because the airport is so small, it cannot handle volumes of passengers. In addition to this, like five different flights were leaving within half an hour of each other, so apparently 5 p.m. is the rush hour.
So when we arrived at the airport and saw a huge line of people all standing in a very long line to check-in counters, I just knew I was going to miss my flight. There were absolutely zero self check-in machines and checking via app was also not possible. Thank you Adria Airways! So my friend, whose flight was about 50 min later than mine, went to stand in line and I was frantically looking for solutions. Suddenly I saw the info counter where it said something about “Passengers with Carry-on Only” and amazingly enough it was indeed possible to get my boarding pass at the info desk and there were only three people ahead of me! It was by no mean evident that you could do it and my panicky brain could have missed it completely. This is the only thing that saved me from missing my flight as by the time I was holding my boarding pass, my friend has still about 3/4 of the line left to the check-in counters.
The same thing went for security control, which was rather slow and chaotic, but finally I was at the gate something like 20 min before my flight was about to leave. So yeah, I suggest you should be at the airport way earlier than just one hour before to avoid this kind of situation. 😀 I had a generous layover in Copenhagen, almost 2 h, which turned to be closer to 4 h because the plane from Copenhagen to Stockholm was almost 2 h late. Apparently it’s impossible to get to Slovenia or from Slovenia without an incident, but it is totally worth it. 🙂 I was completely surprised by what Slovenia had to offer and I would expect that there would be much more tourists visiting this country.