1. Relax at Tivoli Park and Rožnik Hill
Tivoli is the green heart of Ljubljana. It’s the largest park in the city, stretching through two neighbourhoods. It comes alive in the summer when people come to cool down in the shade of the trees, enjoy a scoop of ice-cream by the pond, do some sports and check out exhibitions at Tivoli Castle and Cekin Castle.
There are two big events that take place in Tivoli: a women’s run and a massive end-of-summer party – Žur z razlogom (Party with a cause) – where DJ Umek (Slovenia’s most famous DJ) performs.
Rožnik Hill rises above Tivoli. At the top there’s a traditional restaurant and a house where the great Slovenian writer Ivan Cankar once lived. On the eve of May Day there’s a large bonfire party; it’s free and usually features performances by known bands.
Photo credit: domjisch
2. Soak up some local history at Ljubljana Castle
Ljubljana Castle is a solid fortress that watches over the entire city centre. It doesn’t take long to reach the top and the view is amazing; you can see everything!
On one side of the hill there’s a lovely park and on the other is the castle. Walk through the large front door and you’ll find yourself in a medieval courtyard. It’s especially interesting if you come during the medieval festival and let yourself be transported to another era. Although there’s a fee to enter the castle itself, walking up to and around it is free.
Photo credit: Lonja
3. Take a Cavalier ride
Cavaliers are electric vehicles used to transport both locals and visitors to the central market and around the city centre. They’ll save you when you’re feeling really tired after walking around all day or carrying a heavy load.
There are a few in Ljublana and they run every day from 8 am to 8 pm. You can hail them on the street or call for one, as you would a taxi. The drivers are very nice and won’t mind sharing their knowledge about the city. It’s quite amazing that this service is free!
Photo credit: wikimedia.org
4. Check out the pictures by the Ljubljanica River
Just beyond the city centre in the Trnovo district there’s a street called Krakovski nasip. Every few months a new exhibition is unveiled under the shade of the chestnut trees on the sidewalk by the river. The themes are all very different and are sometimes connected to current events in Ljubljana.
For example, in October there were photographs documenting the beginning of the marathon that took place earlier the same month. It may not sound especially amazing, but it’s interesting to see what’s on show and it’s on the way to the centre.
Photo credit: visitljubljana.com
5. Join a running group
Running is the most popular activity in Ljubljana. Everybody does it, so don’t be surprised when you see huge crowds of runners in the afternoons. Tivoli and POT (a 35-kilometre path marking the border that existed when the city was occupied during WWII) are the most popular places for running.
Some people run alone, but most of us prefer the company of our fellow runners. So, we join running groups! Ljubljanski tekači (Ljubljana’s runners) is the one that’s free. They meet a few times a week in Tivoli. Another option is Salomon Running afternoons – these take place once a week, also in Tivoli.
6. Work out in an outdoor gym
Running isn’t the only thing that locals do to keep fit. We also enjoy doing strength training and oftentimes we choose to do it outside.
There are a few places in Ljubljana (Ljubljana Castle, Tivoli, Koseze Pond, Mostec, POT and Trnovo) with outdoor fitness machines. Although they’re usually a bit away from the crowds, don’t expect to find yourself alone. If you want to meet sporty locals, these are good places to hang out, especially in the afternoons and on weekends.
Photo credit: Wendy Cutler
7. Go on a free walking tour
Despite not being a very local thing to do, it’s certainly worth joining a free walking tour if you wish to learn about Ljubljana’s history.
But, if you can spare some money and want to escape the tourist crowds, I recommend you choose the communism tour instead. Why? Because Slovenia was part of former Yugoslavia and many of our grandparents think that life was much better back then. Maybe taking this tour will help you understand what it was like – you can then decide if they’re right!
8. Don’t miss Museum Night
There are two important dates for museum lovers in Slovenia. The first is February 8th – the anniversary of the death of the great Slovenian poet France Prešeren. The second is a Saturday in June (the date isn’t fixed) – Museum Night. On these days you can visit museums for free. Museums stay open until midnight or even later on Museum Night, and quite a few educational events take place.
Photo credit: Lassi Kurkijärvi
9. Discover Metelkova City
A section of Metelkova Street is a hidden hive of alternative culture. If street art is your thing, you should definitely visit it. This culture zone occupies former military barracks, now hosting hostels, bars, clubs, art galleries and studios.
It’s the most open-minded place in the capital and the birthplace of many human rights protests. When you’re in the mood for lively nightlife, good company and new music, it’s the perfect place to go.
Photo credit: Giandomenico Ricci
10. Listen to live music on Congress Square
Concerts and other cultural events take place almost every night on Congress Square during the summer months and in December. You have to purchase tickets for some of the events, but if you just want to listen to the music you can sit on the grass or a nearby bench and enjoy the experience for free.
Photo credit: Rok Hodej
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