Ljubljana is one of Europe’s hidden gems and does not get nearly as many visitors as it deserves – which makes it even more special for those who make the journey. Situated on a river, Ljubljana has a wonderful café and bar scene which spills out to the sides of the river. With beautiful architecture and a hill-top castle overlooking the city, the capital of Slovenia is well worth your time. And what’s best? It’s cheap! I loved that Ljubljana has all the hallmarks of a spectacular European city but without the price tag. Add a Ljubljana backpacking trip to your itinerary.
One of the main streets in Ljubljana
Where to Stay
- There are plenty of AirBNBs in Ljubljana and this might be the best way to go, as you will be able to see the city from a local’s perspective. The places I looked into were cheap and quite central.
- We stayed at Hostel 24 and it was pretty satisfactory for a hostel, as it had a kitchen and was pretty cheap. I was given a basement room which was not as pleasant, but heard good reports from other rooms. There is a bar/café next door, and it’s a short walk from both the castle and the city centre.
Taking an evening stroll along the river in Ljubljana
What to Do
- Walk up to the castle and admire the view. There is not a lot in the castle, but there are lovely surrounds to go for a stroll.
- Enjoy a cocktail by the river
- Visit the nearby Lake Bled (see information below)
- When I was there, there was a market on each Friday which was great to have a look around and there were also cheap meals.
What to Eat and Drink
- The cafés are really cheap on Ciril-Metodov trg, with cafés doing cappuccinos and for €1 and often accompanied by a small sweet or cake.
- Druga violina (violin restaurant) is cheap and delicious! With an array of traditional (and less traditional) foods, and lovely staff as well, this is a restaurant that you have to try. I don’t normally go to restaurants, but it was almost as cheap as cooking.
- A couple of places along Ciril-Metodov trg will also do pretty cheap food, such as soups, sausages and sandwiches. Just keep your eye out and you’re bound to find something!
The castle overlooking Ljubljana
- There are a few clubs around, but the bar scene was more my style. There were loads of little places around to grab a drink.
- The more picturesque places were by the river, and despite their popularity they were still quite cheap. With happy hours having €4 cocktails.
Lake Bled is absolutely beautiful
Lake Bled is absolutely gorgeous and only about an hour outside of Ljubljana. You can do it as a day trip or spend the night; the lake itself is free entry but you do have to organize a way to get there.
I caught one of the buses from the Ljubljana main bus/train station and it was relatively cheap but completely packed! I would recommend booking your tickets the day before to ensure no disappointment, and it might be worth paying a bit extra to reserve a seat. It was about €5 one way for just the tickets without the seat reservation, but if you miss out on a seat you will be crammed in standing for over an hour.
Bled is incredibly beautiful and there are a lot of different ways to see the lake. I would recommend just walking around the circular track, but also to climb up to the castle to see the lake from above. There is a little side path to the side of the castle where there will be way less people and killer views.
It’s worthwhile bringing a packed lunch to Bled as the restaurants are very touristy and expensive. Definitely head to Lake Bled though because it is stunning and really accessible.