Red carpet treatment in Ljubljana: Travel Slovenia

Ljubljana, the hidden tourist gem of Europe, is such a treasure I’m almost hesitant to share its magic. The capital city of Slovenia, Ljubljana (AKA “Dragon City“) is filled with good food, good wine and plenty of green (it’s the European Green Capital of 2016).

We drove to Ljubljana from Austria on our road trip at the end of my husband’s hockey season in Slovakia. Once we entered Slovenia, we noted the hills, hops farms and vineyards splattered throughout the countryside.

Ljubljana is divided into two parts (the old side and the new side) by the Ljubljanica River, while notable bridges such as the Triple Bridge (Tromostovje) and Dragon Bridge (Zmajski Most) connect the two sides.

Picture by Brooke (Native Gypsies): Dragon Bridge (Zmajski Most) Ljubljana, Slovenia
Dragon Bridge (Zmajski Most) Ljubljana, Slovenia Photo by Brooke (Native Gypsies)

The castle (Ljubljanski grad) towers over the city, and it lights up at night in vibrant colors that will make you think you’re in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Anywhere in the city is within walking distance; we especially enjoyed the paths along the river and stumbling upon different food spots. Our top restaurant choice was Gostilna AS (AS Cafe) on the new side.

Gostilna AS

My friend and her fiancé (also an American hockey player in Europe) were in Ljubljana prior to us, and she had high praise for the restaurant and their accommodating waiter. She said they felt like they “rolled out the red carpet” for them. We were hopeful the restaurant would live up to its reputation, until we almost didn’t find it at all.

When we reached the street address, there was only a large locked entry door. Matt called the restaurant, and a man told him to stay put and he would come and get us. I’ve never had a business offer to come and get us when we’ve called to ask for directions. Dressed in a suit, he appeared from around the block and introduced himself. We walked around the block and downhill to the back of the building. The backyard revealed a bustling patio, leading to a large, packed restaurant.

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Photo: Gostilna AS

It was a Tuesday, and it was completely full. Even without a reservation, our suit-donned rescuer had the beautiful, young hostess find a seat for us immediately. We guessed him to be the owner or manager, and the rest of the wait staff was as professional, courteous and hard-working as him.

Our waiter gifted me a flower in honor of Women’s Day, but he added that I should be treated like it’s Women’s Day every day. Later, he also gave Matt a flower and said “this is for you to give to her, because you are with the most beautiful women in the place.” I laughed and told Matt, “oh, he’s goooooood.” They know how to charm. The Slovenian wine Marjan Simcic was as fantastic as our meal (salads, pasta and seafood), and very modestly priced in comparison to an American restaurant of its caliber.

Night Spots

We spent the rest of the evening wandering cobblestone streets, stopping by bars and restaurants for a taste of the city. Movia wine bar offered wines of their own label and wine from other Slovenian vineyards.

Movie wine bar (Ljubljana, Slovenia)
Movie wine bar (Ljubljana, Slovenia) and tulips from Gostilna AS

Nearby, Cafe Romeo was our first Mexican food in two months (after living in a hotel the previous months). Their menu was filled with unique cocktails, and they cater to a younger crowd. 

Hotel

Our hotel, Antiq Palace & Spa, made the trip in itself.

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Antiq Palace (Ljubljana, Slovenia) Photo by Brooke (Native Gypsies)

The hotel receptionist walked us up to our room, which ended up being an oversized three-room suite with a whirlpool tub for two. “We upgraded you; I hope that’s ok,” he said in his Slovenian accent. Yes, sir! He educated us on the building, a former 16th century palace, and pointed out the near-original frescos on the walls. For an antique lover like myself, it was bliss; not to mention that we’d been cooped up in a Slovakian one room hotel for the last two months! My husband booked the hotel and insisted it was priced much lower than an average American hotel.

Breakfast

The next day, we had an incredible breakfast at the French-inspired Le Petit Cafe (on the new side a couple a few blocks from Antiq Palace). “Where would you like us to sit,” I asked when we entered, and the barista immediately responded, “where YOU would like to sit.” Again, Slovenians are incredibly hospitable!

Le Petit Cafe Ljubljana, Slovenia
Photo: Le Petit Cafe Ljubljana, Slovenia

Slovenian Food

Strolling on the old side, we stopped by a street market booth for homemade kraut and ate a snack at Vodnikov Hram (Eastern European food). This restaurant seemed to cater to students (special menu for university students). As another option for local traditional food, our friend highly recommended the nearby Julija Restaurant.

River Patio

Makalonca was the perfect mid-afternoon lunch spot to sit on the river patio and enjoy a burger.

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View from Makalonca of Triple Bridge (Ljubljana, Slovenia) Photo by Brooke (Native Gypsies)

*Note, most restaurants and bars have free wifi if you ask for the password. Nearly everyone has an English menu, and most workers at restaurants and shops speak English.

Metelkova City (Metelkova Mesto) is not to be missed if you’re in town. Check to see if they have any music events going on at this former army barracks and squatters quarters turned art and social center. Your head will be spinning looking at all the quirky art and color in this city within a city.

For more ideas on what to do and see in Ljubljana, visit LjubljanaGuide. Enjoy a romantic city, first-class treatment and a lot of value for your money.

Only 45 minutes from another magical city, Lake Bled.

The Guardian (Lake Bled, Slovenia)
Photo: The Guardian (Lake Bled, Slovenia)

If you’ve been to Ljubljana, comment below and let the Native Gypsies community know what to see, do and eat!

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Ljubljana Love Photo by Brooke (Native Gypsies)

See more from our European travels in Native Gypsies Travel + Home.

Budapest

Graz

Vienna

Slovakia

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About Brooke

BrookeZiegler.com ↞ Farm girl with a gypsy heart. Life-long obsession for junking and all things vintage. Working on upcycled fashions, DIY beauty, colorful salads and a healthy earth. ↠ Read About BrookeRead more posts by Brooke

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