The Anti-Tourist

I like to beat new paths for myself.

Why Ljubljana is a hidden European gem

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Before visiting Ljubljana, there wasn't much I knew about the little Slovenian capital - though not for lack of trying. I couldn't seem to find much info about any must-sees or iconic landmarks, and to be fair, there really isn't much, but in Ljubljana, this makes the city even more awesome.

In Ljubljana, your itinerary won't be packed with a million things you have to do or see, leaving you burnt out. All you have to do is walk around and enjoy the city life, and in a gorgeous city like Ljubljana, it's all you could really ask for. Read on to see why I think this city is seriously underrated, and why you should put it on your bucket list!

1. Its stunning architecture

Walking around Ljubljana's city centre feels like going back in time. Most buildings are baroque and the work of Slovenia's master architect, Joze Plecnik, who also designed the famous Tromostovje, or Triple Bridge (above). This bridge crosses the Ljubljanica river, which flows through the town centre. You'll find most of the old city to the east bank of the river, while the commercial core lies on its west bank.

2. It has a fairytale castle 

Ljubljanski grad, or Ljubljana Castle, towers beautifully over the city from atop a large hill. It's easy to reach either by funicular or a short (but steep) hike up - word of advice, avoid the latter on particularly hot days! The castle itself is very pretty and has been there for ages, but don't forget to look around and enjoy the view from the top, with the city below you. 

3. Its friendly, relaxed atmosphere

Walking around in Ljubljana feels like stepping into the world's most civilized street party. From food markets to open air libraries and people just chilling by the river, you'll feel at ease whatever you do. Despite it being a busy capital, there's no feeling of urgency or chaos, unlike other European capitals I've visited. Ljubljana likes to sit back and relax. 

4. It's a fun melting pot

Sharing borders with Austria, Hungary, Croatia and Italy, Slovenia is multi-cultural and multi-lingual - and its capital is just that. That means that with minimal language barriers, everyone is able to co-exist and share lifestyles easily, creating a truly diverse society.

Of course, diversity of people gives you diversity of food, and we all know my priorities! From African to Italian, Austrian to Croatian, you can find almost anything on Slovenia's streets - but more on that below. 

5. Glorious (and cheap!) food

As I said, food sits quite high on my travel priority list, and I have to say Ljubljana exceeded all my expectations. From the legendary cacao, the first recommendation locals will give you, to the mouthwatering dishes at Skuhna and the weekly Open Kitchen, good food is easy to find and incredibly affordable. 

6. The balance between nature and city life

Anyone who lives in a busy city, especially a capital, will tell you that every once in a while you just need to get away from it all. Well, in Ljubljana that get away is around 15 minutes away - if you'd ever need to get away! The city is charmingly overrun by nature - from the leafy Tivoli Park to the hills surrounding the city and the willowy river bank, there's hardly any pollution at all in this city, which is probably why it's this year's Green Capital of Europe

7. Its edgy, alternative district

Metelkova City is a self-declared autonomous cultural district in the heart of Ljubljana. It's definitely the place to be at night, with its converted military barracks now housing a dozen bars and nightclubs, as well as being a space for underground artists to roam free. During the day, it's a chillout zone covered in beautiful art, as well as a small museum with the history of the district. 

I've completely fallen head over heels in love with Ljubljana, and could quite easily go on and on about its beauty, but I'll leave it to you to discover. To those who have been - do you agree? Did you enjoy the Slovenian capital as much as I did? Comment down below or tweet at me, I'd love to know what you think! 

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