I spend a nice chunk of my life living in Ljubljana, so I'm excited to write the city guide about this beautiful city. It was nice to return after a couple of years and spend some quality time there in July this year.
We didn't stay the whole month, as we were headed to my home town, but enough to feel the vibe and experience it from the perspective of a digital nomad. Ljubljana has a lot to offer; it's a small city which gives you a great opportunity to explore it by walking or using a bike. It's a vibrant city, affordable and with many cool bars, cafes, cultural events, so you won't get bored.
If you are heading to Gran Canaria or Romania, check our entrepreneurial and lifestyle guide for Las Palmas or Bucharest.
Quick facts about Ljubljana and Slovenia
Ljubljana is the capital city of Slovenia, a country with a population of about 2 million, located between Austria, Italy, Hungary, and Croatia. Ljubljana is situated in Central Slovenia, between the Alps and the Karst. The population of Ljubljana is about 272k.
The symbol of the city is the Dragon. It is represented on the top of the tower of Ljubljana Castle and the Ljubljanica-crossing Dragon Bridge. It symbolizes power and courage.
Ljubljana was under Habsburgs from the Middle Ages until 1918. After World War II, Ljubljana became the capital of the Socialist Republic of Slovenia, part of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Slovenia became independent in 1991, and Ljubljana became the capital of the newly formed state.
As a lot of people doesn't know much about Slovenia, here are a couple of quick facts:
💧 Lake Bled, lake in the Julian Alps of the Upper Carniolan region of northwestern Slovenia, is the most popular tourist destination.
🌊 The Slovenian coast (by Adriatic Sea) is about 46km long.
🏔 The highest mountain is Triglav, with 2864 meters above the sea.
🌳 Forests cover 54 percent of the surface area.
🌰 Potica, a walnut roll, is one of the beloved and traditional desserts.
🍷 Slovenians like wine - there is a vineyard or a winery on every 70 people in Slovenia, and we consume 94% of the produced wine.
Best time to visit
The climate of Ljubljana is continental, with cold winters and warm summers. Like in most European cities, the best time to visit is spring/early summer and autumn. Ljubljana is a green city, so it's wonderful to see all the greenery in the springtime and the colorful leaves at the beginning of autumn.
Best areas to stay
We would definitely recommend staying close to the city center; otherwise, it can get quite boring. Therefore, we would recommend areas like the core city center, Siska, Bezigrad. From these places, you can easily reach everything on foot or by city bike.
The accommodation in all these areas can get quite expensive; basic Airbnb apartments average at 50-70 EUR per night.
Getting there and around
As mentioned earlier, Ljubljana is a great city if you don't have a car, as it's small and all the main points are easily reachable.
Ljubljana has one main airport, Letalisce Jozeta Pucnika, about 25km north of the city. The airport is quite small, and not many airlines fly there, so you must be lucky if you want to get a cheap flight directly to Slovenia. We recommend looking at flights to Vienna, Trieste, Venice, or Zagreb and a shuttle service to reach Ljubljana. You can choose from different shuttle providers; one of the most known ones is GoOpti.
When in Ljubljana, your means of transportation are public buses, which can get you anywhere, city bike BicikeLJ, taxi (there is no Uber), or your feet. To use public buses or city bikes, you will need to purchase a card called Urbana.
Ljubljana has a great location in the middle of Slovenia, and it's a perfect spot if you want to make daily trips to the seaside, Alps, or other cool places. Usually, you can get anywhere by using a bus or train or using a Slovenian version of BlaBlaCar - prevozi.org.
The cost of living in Slovenia is quite cheap compared to nearby Austria and Italy, but it's more expensive than most countries in Eastern Europe. Especially Ljubljana will cost you more than other cities in Slovenia.
The biggest chunk of your expense will, of course, go towards accommodation, which became way more expensive in the last couple of years (to my suprise as well) as the popularity of the city grows.
Here's a rough breakdown of our expenses and prices of the esentials:
Draught beer (domestic) - €2.65
A glass of local wine 0,1l - €1.5 - €2
Coffee with milk - €1.5
Water (0.33-liter bottle) - €1.5
Meal for 2 People, Mid-range Restaurant - €40
The official and national language of Slovenia is Slovene, a.k.a. Slovenian. The closest languages are Croatian and Serbian. Since Slovenian is my mother tongue, I'm not entirely aware of how hard it is to learn it, but Leo can confirm that's it's pretty hard. On the good side - the difficulty decreases with the rising alcohol level - so I've heard.
For now, the Slovenian language is not available on Duolingo yet, so it's making it harder to learn the basics, but there are some others that you can try, like Memrise, etc.
For the sake of fun, I have to mention a couple of hilarious Slovenian swear words to enrich your vocabulary:
Bog te nima rad! – God doesn’t like you!
Gromska strela! – Thunderous lightning!
Jebelacesta! – The road is white!
Križana gora! – Crucified mountain!
Krščen Matiček! – Baptized Matthew!
Mat kurja! – Chicken’s mom!
Naj te koklja brcne! – Let the hen kick you!
Pojdi se solit! – Go salt yourself! (English Get lost!)
Šmentana muha! – Damn housefly!
Tristo hudičev! – Three hundred devils!
Tristo kosmatih medvedov! – Three hundred hairy bears!
Vrag naj te vzame! – Let the devil take you! (English Damn you!)
Govedo neotesano! - You rude cattle!
Internet and places to Work
There are a couple of cafes that you can use for your temporary office. During our stay in Ljubljana, we were mostly working at home, but we would recommend these to try out:
Kavarna SEM lounge bar, Metelkova ulica 2, 1000 Ljubljana
My favorite place is located in a great area next to the Slovenian Ethnographic Museum with the awesome cultural vibe, great outside sitting area, chilled atmosphere, and a good place for meetings. The internet is solid; they have a great variety of coffees, snacks, and beers.
Tozd, Gallusovo nabrežje 27, 1000 Ljubljana
My second favorite place for work and my first favorite to grab a beer. It's located right on the banks of the Ljubljanica River. The interior and a big terrace under the trees and next to the river give you good ambient to sit down, work and have a great coffee. Internet is good, choice of drinks and snacks as well.
Pritličje, Mestni trg 2, 1000 Ljubljana
This place is located in the heart of Ljubljana. A good place to work during the day and an underground party place during the night. An LGBT-friendly place with a nice artistic atmosphere. Internet is solid, and coffee is good.
ČinČin Tobačna, Tržaška c. 2, 1000 Ljubljana
Apparently, this is the hyped place at the moment. We hadn't had a chance to visit it during our stay, but while doing my online research, it came up several times as a great place to work and chill. So it seems like it's worth trying.
Kavarna Rog, Petkovškovo nabrežje 67, 1000 Ljubljana
Besides being a great place to work in a cultural hub in Ljubljana, Rog serves great food, delicious breakfast options, and coffee. The staff is friendly and attentive.
Kavarna NUK Café, Turjaška ulica 1, 1000 Ljubljana
NUK Cafe is located in the National and University Library building, very affordable and great atmosphere. Solid Wifi.
Recommended bars and restaurants
You can find many charming bars and restaurants in Ljubljana. To name a couple of favorite ones:
Lajbah Pivnica, Grudnovo nabrežje 15, 1000 Ljubljana
If you love craft beers, LajBah is the place for you. They have about 23 beers in the daily offer, but the offer is changing seasonally.
Centralna Postaja, Trubarjeva cesta 23, 1000 Ljubljana
Located in the iconic Trubarjeva street, Centralna Postaja is a great place for a quick stop during the day or the start of your night out. Good music, drinks, and food.
Žmauc, Rimska cesta 21, 1000 Ljubljana
Zmauc is an iconic, colorful bar that offers a relaxing and unique vibe. They have a patio, too, so you can chill outside while sipping your drink.
Lepa Žoga, Celovška cesta 43, 1000 Ljubljana
Lepa Zoga is one of the legendary sports bar in the Siska area. For sure one of the most popular places for all sports enthusiasts. Other there are some small festivals, live concerts in the atrium at the back of the bar. Definitely worth a visit. Try their hotdogs.
Pivnica Union, Celovška cesta 22, 1000 Ljubljana
There are 2 major breweries in Slovenia, Lasko, and Union, and Union brewery is conveniently located in Ljubljana center. The bar offers a great selection of beers, good food that you can enjoy on a terrace or inside.
When it comes to restaurants, there is a lot of good food you can find in Ljubljana. There is a lot of fancy restaurants, restaurants with traditional Slovenian food, but here are a couple of my favorites that I usually visit when in Ljubljana:
Best falafel and Arabic food in Abi Falafel on Trubarjeva Street 40, best burek with yogurt in Burek Olimpija on Slovenska cesta 58, in Klobasarna on Ciril-Metodov trg 15 you have to stop for a traditional Slovenian sausage. For Mexican food I always visit Cantina Mexicana in Knafljev prehod 2, the food is good and the atmosphere as well, another Mexican close by is Joe Penas, also worth of visiting. For the best crepes stop in Cafe Romeo on Stari Trg 6, and great breakfast options in Le Petit Cafe on Trg francoske revolucije 4.
Best Running trail
The favorite running spot for many is Tivoli park, and we couldn't disagree. It's Ljubljana's largest and most beautiful park, stretching to the city center. Besides being a great place for sports activities, it's a perfect spot to relax on a blanket under the trees, between statues, and fountains. If you feel adventurous, you can go on a little hike on one of the many walking paths leading to 391-meter-high wooded hill Roznik.
During our stay in Ljubljana (in July 2021), the covid regulations were not that bad. Masks inside; in some places, they checked vaccination certificates.
Personally, the most annoying thing is wearing masks outside (like we had to do it on Gran Canaria), so as long as this is not a rule, I'm happy.
Gems that we found and liked
As you stroll around Ljubljana, you can find many great places. One of our favorites is Metelkova, "the beach" next to river Ljubljanica, park Tivoli, Siska neighborhood, etc.