History / Slovenia

Ljubljana: Old Europe in a Small, Beautiful Package

We were surprised at how different Slovenia is from Croatia and Bosnia. As the northernmost member of what was formerly Yugoslavia, Slovenia, like all the other former members, became independent in the early 90s. This is where the similarities stop.


The biggest difference between Ljubljana and the southern cities we visited is that it feels much more Western European. The architecture looks distinctly European, and we’ve experienced little or no Turkish influence here.


We have seen no mosques or heard any call to prayers. Slovenia was not war-torn and is much more prosperous than farther south, which impacts everyone’s life in a very positive way. We’ve also noticed a marked difference in the demeanor of the people who live here. The city seems modern, vibrant and upbeat, which is a contrast to what we have seen previously.


Ljubljana has an active cafe culture that loves to sit outside, drink coffee and beer, and socialize. The old town is fairy-tale scenic, and strolling along the embankment of the beautiful Ljubljanica River, which meanders through the historic area, is one of the town’s highlights. And of course, how could it be a proper fairy tale without a castle on the hilltop and a dragon standing watch.


We have a test of how well we like a place. First, would we come back, and second, could we spend a month there? In the case of Ljubljana, the answers to both of these questions is an enthusiastic yes. We will always be glad that we visited Croatia and Bosnia, but they fall into the “great exposure and learning experience” category. Ljubljana on the other hand, is just an easy, fun place to visit.

Happy Trails,


8 thoughts on “Ljubljana: Old Europe in a Small, Beautiful Package

    • Thanks Cheryl. The week before coming to Ljubljana, we had been in Sarajevo. Needless to say, it was a radical change and breath of fresh air after war-torn Bosnia. Ljubljana is an extremely pleasant place and feels more like Western Europe, but there are still Eastern Europe influences. They have a flea market along the river on Sundays, and the antiques and memorabilia that show up there make for great browsing. It’s a wonderful glimpse at the culture past and present. Try to catch it if you can. ~James

  1. This post popped up as a related post to your recent Serbia entry. We adored Ljubljana and for us, too, it followed time in Sarajevo, Croatia, and Montenegro, and felt so utterly different. My post on Ljubljana practically wrote itself; it was just a perfect delight. I also love your two questions and their answers, and mine would be the same – I’m dying to go back and I could stay a while! You may need a light Ljubljana fix after the somber scenes you are seeing in the Balkans this trip.

    • Lexie, these two questions are the litmus test for us for sure. There are so many new places to explore that we usually choose to go somewhere new instead of returning to an old favorite. But it does happen – like Bali, London. But having said that, Ljubljana would be a great base to explore the region. ~James

    • Thanks for the comment Ishita, and for dropping by the blog. Prior to visiting Ljubljana, we had spent a couple of weeks in Bosnia. So after Mostar and Sarajevo, Ljubljana was a very nice change. It’s a lovely small city. ~James

      • I agree James. It was quite a surprise for me. I wasn’t expecting much from it but it turned out real great! It was a pleasure checking yours 🙂

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