Ljubljana

Ljubljana, Slovenia’s biggest city, also happens to be one of Europe’s greenest and most liveable capitals. It’s conveniently set up for visitors too – most of the city’s top attractions are clustered in a compact pedestrianised area around a bend in the pretty Ljubljanica River, perfect for casual wandering. Its river banks are filled with great restaurants, and chic bars popular with visitors and locals alike. The town boasts the most relaxing atmosphere of all European capitals and offers endless cultural events and excellent quality of life. Ljubljana is a relatively small place, so soon you may feel like taking a day trip. Ljubljana is burstling with the cultural entertainment for its people and also enjoyed by tourists where the language is not a barrier. During the summer, the streets of Ljubljana are daily changes into small markets, street theaters and concerts venues. There is a number of cinemas, galleries and museums to keep you entertained all year long. The centrepiece of Ljubljana’s wonderful architectural aesthetic is this marvellous square, a public space of understated elegance that not only serves as the link between the Center district and the Old Town but as the city’s favourite meeting point. The square itself is dominated by a monument to the national poet France Prešeren. Immediately south of the statue is the city’s architectural poster-child, the small but much celebrated Triple Bridge (Tromostovje ). The original Špital Bridge (1842) was nothing spectacular, but between 1929 and 1932 superstar architect Jože Plečnik added the two pedestrian side bridges, furnished all three with stone balustrades and lamps and forced a name change. Stairways on each of the side bridges lead down to the poplar-lined terraces along the Ljubljanica River. There’s been a human settlement here since at least Celtic times, but the oldest structures these days date from around the 16th century, and were built following an earthquake in 1511. It’s free to ramble around the castle grounds, but you’ll have to pay to enter the Watchtower, the Chapel of St George and to see the worthwhile Exhibition on Slovenian History. There are several ways to access the castle, with the easiest (and for kids, the most fun) being a 70m-long funicular that leaves from Old Town not far from the market on Vodnikov trg. There’s also an hourly tourist train that departs from south of the Ljubljana Tourist Information Centre. If you’d like to get some exercise, you can hike the hill in about 20 minutes. There are three main walking routes: Študentovska ulica, which runs south from Ciril Metodov trg; steep Reber ulica from Stari trg; and Ulica na Grad from Gornji trg. There are several admission options available; some include the price of the funicular ride, while others include a castle tour.