A small European capital with a big throbbing heart
Cosy and compact is probably the best way to describe the Slovene capital. At just 163 sq kms in size and a mere 288,000 inhabitants, it may seem dwarfed by other European capital cities but therein lies its charm. It has everything you’d find in a large city but with the easy-going feeling of a big town. The city is packed with captivating sights and attractions, top class hotels, and restaurants, all seamlessly integrated into its fascinating history and the unique architectural designs of the country’s most celebrated architect, Joze Plecnik. Being compact in size, but packed with a diversity equal to that of its European rivals, the city can offer so much in just a few days. So if you are looking for a great incentive Ljubljana has it all, including dragons!
The castle at the heart of the city
Ljubljana’s most distinctive feature is without doubt the Ljubljana Castle. Sitting atop a 375-metre green hill, it forms the centrepiece of the city; almost like it is standing guard over the old town that sprawls out below. Its glistening facade and 19th century watchtower can be seen from all around. From the top of the tower you get the best views, not only of the city itself, but a panoramic view of the alpine mountains to the north and the Ljubljana Moors to the south. There is no better view in Ljubljana.
This medieval castle has been extensively renovated over the years. The beautiful courtyard is now host to regular events, and a unique dining experience is now available at the Archer’s Tower restaurant. We also organise special events in the castle estate hall.
There be dragons here!
On the castle watchtower flies the flag of Ljubljana. Upon closer inspection you’ll notice an image of the castle with a dragon sitting atop. This is the city emblem, and depicts Ljubljana’s protector. Scattered throughout the city you’ll find many more dragons in various forms. The dragon’s first mention was in the legend of Jason and the Argonauts, whose quest for the Golden Fleece led him to Ljubljana, or to be more precise, the Ljubljana Moors to the south. Here they setup a temporary dwelling to see out the winter, but soon faced the fiery monster as it rose out of a nearby lake to defend Ljubljana.
The dragon was first immortalised into the architectural features of Ljubljana in 1900, when the first reinforced bridge, and one of the largest bridges of its kind in Europe, was constructed. The Dragon Bridge is an iconic landmark of the city, containing a large green dragon on each of its four corners; wings spread and fierce-looking mouths open ready to protect the city.
To find the rest and see the city through a unique experience, try our Dragon incentive. Ljubljana will reveal its hidden corners as you solve riddles and unlock clues that will lead you to places you never knew were there.
The city is bisected by the Ljubljanica River, which cuts through the heart of some of the most interesting parts of Ljubljana. Much of the centre was designed by Joze Plecnik, such as the Triple Bridge, Central Marketplace and National Library. Our specially arranged boat trip will take you through the best of this. For a more active incentive, try our kayak or stand up paddleboard trips on the river.
A venue of all occasions
Just like all other capital cities, Ljubljana is packed with great venues for the perfect incentive. Nestled among its baroque churches and buildings you’ll find several of the city’s top class hotels, including the most central of all: the Grand Hotel Union. With a capacity of 850 spread across 21 halls and salons, it’s the largest conference hotel in Ljubljana. Wellness and spas are a luxury service in most hotels across Slovenia, and in the Grand Hotel Union they add an oriental touch and holistic approach to wellness.
The recently opened Intercontinental is not only Ljubljana’s first five star hotel, but can also lay claim to the tallest building in the city. Being conveniently situated just on the edge of the city centre, but just a five minute walk to the heart, it offers gourmet dining amid panoramic views of the city and the alpine mountains to the north, which you can also enjoy while simultaneously enjoying a soothing massage and spa treatment.
A unique museum
A capital city wouldn’t be complete without museums, and of course Ljubljana has its fair share with the National Gallery, City and National Museum, and more. But probably the most out of the ordinary is the Museum of Illusions, packed with holograms and optical illusions that will trick and fascinate the most perceptive of minds.
If you are looking for an environmentally-friendly incentive, Ljubljana is a prime example of what can be achieved. In 2007 a huge project, designed to transform the entire city centre into a pedestrianised zone, was started. By 2014 all vehicles had been banned from one of the main squares: Preseren Square. The pedestrianised zone spread from here to over 30 streets and squares, and by 2016 the banks of the Ljubljanica River from Dragon Bridge to Saint James Bridge had been purged of all public traffic (access is only allowed with a special permit for deliveries etc), and you can stroll along the riverside amid the shady willow trees, dine in style beside the leafy riverbank devoid of the noise and pollution of traffic. Many of the old bridges have been renovated or moved to make the public areas more spacious and open.
And it’s not only along the riverbank. The outer lying squares like Kongresni Trg, have also been cut off from traffic. Throughout the year the squares play host to an abundance of events, such as music concerts, fairs and more. The main street, Slovenska Cesta, has been closed to all but public buses. The roadside pavements have been widened to allow outdoor seating for the many cafes and bars, and also public benches to relax on. Additional trees and greenery have been planted in all public spaces to make them a more enjoyable place to hang out.
Rcero Centre for Waste Management
Recycling here is more than just encouraged, it is law. On every street you’ll find designated recycling bins for packaging, paper and organic waste. The Rcero centre for waste management in Ljubljana is the largest project in the field of environmental waste management in the country, and a perfect example of how to connect the waste management services of a country. More than 50 municipalities collaborate to look after one third of Slovenia’s waste. To see this fascinating project for yourself and gain some insight and ideas, join our specially organised tour.
With all this environmental work, it’s easy to see how Ljubljana was awarded the title of European Green Capital 2016. In commemoration of this achievement, the Ljubljana Castle was lit up green at night through the year.
Walk or bike Ljubljana
As a green city, the best way to see it is on foot or by bike, and you’ll see that not only visitors but also locals do so. Beer lovers will enjoy our Ljubljana Beer Walk, which shows you not only the delights of our national beers, Union and Lasko, but many of the country’s unique beers made by local microbreweries.
As well as pedestrianisation, the city authorities have also made Ljubljana bike friendly with a vast network of cycling lanes. So why not join one of our unique events such as a walking lunch or discover Ljubljana by bike?
A photogenic city
The city’s recent renovations have made an already aesthetically pleasing city even more alluring. But with so much to photograph, it’s hard to know where to start. Our Photo Marathon and Photo Adventures will help take the rush out of it, and lead you directly to the places you need to be. For something a little different, try our transfer to Ljubljana and photoshoot with a classic vintage Citroen car.
So whatever your incentive Ljubljana can provide it all, with Liberty Adriatic uniquely positioned to help you to get the most out of your short break in this lovely little city.