While on holiday in Trieste two weeks ago, my parents, my husband and I decided to drive across the border to Slovenia and explore its capital city of Ljubljana. Only one hour and a half away from Trieste, it was the perfect destination for a day trip.
My aunt warned us that Ljubljana would be a few degrees colder than Trieste and that is because the city is located in a basin surrounded by the Alps and Dinaric mountain ranges. We left the sun and a balmy Italian weather behind us and drove through a thick fog until we reached Ljubljana.
The mist around the weeping willow trees by the Ljubljanica river created an eerie atmosphere, while the Christmas decorations, lights and mulled wine stalls gave the city a cheerful and festive feel.
Ljubljana's major meeting point is the recently renovated central square, Prešernov trg. From there, cross the Triple Bridge to the charming medieval Old Town: a cluster of narrow streets with quirky shops, Baroque townhouses and stately churches wrapped around a castle-topped hill.
After a visit to Mestni trg, the Town Square, we walked back along the river bank to Vodnik trg where a food market is held every day. We bought a bag of delicious apples for less than two euros (and later wished we had bought more!). On Saturday, the market square is a popular place to gather, to meet people and "be seen".
We stopped in one of the restaurants on the square, the Vodnikov Hram, and had a warming and satisfying meal of local food. I ordered the Ljubljanska, a fried veal steak stuffed with ham and cheese, with a side of pan-cooked potatoes. It was incredibly heavy, but equally delicious!
For dessert we shared a Gibanica, a traditional Slovenian cake made with poppy seeds, walnuts, apples, raisins, and dry curd cottage cheese layered between filo pastry.
Afterwards we took advantage of a short spell of blue sky and took the funicular up to the Ljubljana Castle. Even without buying the ticket to the viewing tower, we could still enjoy a spectacular (and free) view of the city from one of the castle fortified walls.
On our way back to the city centre we stopped at Ljubljana's only specialty coffee shop, Cafe Cokl, where we managed to find a small table to seat and drink a very good macchiato (they also make filter coffee on Aeropress and Chemex).
We walked back to the Town Square where the Baroque buildings were beautifully lit with Christmas decorations.
I fell in love with Ljubljana and I hope to explore more of Slovenia soon (Lake Bled is already on top of my list)!