Slovenia

Alternative Ljubljana

(Last Updated On: 10/09/2019)

I really believe that Ljubljana is probably the most underrated capital city in Europe.

The main city of Slovenia is not only extremely beautiful and charming but it has so much more than the picturesque Old Town!

The alternative vibe is well present in the city, some cool spots can be found just about everywhere and the number of these is pretty decent.

During my 4th visit in Ljubljana I was planning to explore more off the beaten path and quirky places and I wasn’t disappointed! Here is my mini guide to alternative Ljubljana!

alternative Ljubljana

I heard people comparing Ljubljana to Berlin. I personally wouldn’t go that far as German capital is quite an extraordinary place.

However, Ljubljana is constantly getting better and better when it comes to awesomeness and I wouldn’t be surprised if very soon it becomes a new “it” place of Europe.

If you want to discover it before everyone else finds it out I’d suggest going there as soon as possible! And when you’re in Ljubljana be sure to check these alternative places too!

alternative Ljubljana

Metelkova – the best spot of alternative Ljubljana

The heart of the alternative Ljubljana and a reason itself to visit the capital of Slovenia.

This former military barracks now serve as the best spot for nightlife and artistic events in the city.

Metelkova is a home to clubs, bars, libraries, galleries, art studios, NGOs and just about any other cultural activity. The place is covered in an overwhelming number of really good street art.

Overall it really reminded me of RAW Tempel in Berlin – similar look, similar purpose, similar vibe.

Next door from Metelkova few important museums can be found (Slovene Ethnographic Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art, National Museum of Slovenia) – together they make a perfect culture hub in the capital of Slovenia!

alternative Ljubljana

alternative Ljubljana

ROG

A smaller brother of Metelkova yet equally awesome.

The place used to serve as a bike factory, the biggest one in the former Yugoslavia – up to now it’s not hard to spot a bicycle with ROG sign on it.

Since 2006 it is an independent social and cultural center. Everyone can come and create there, during my visit I saw one guy working on the mural and another girl doing some pottery. The artistic vibe, creativity and freedom were definitely present there.

ROG is also where debates, movie screenings, concerts, art exhibitions and other alternative culture activities take place.

Together with Metelkova these are two places that cannot be missed when in Ljubljana!

alternative Ljubljana

alternative Ljubljana

Hanging shoes

I’ve seen this tradition in a couple of places (like Prague or even here in Warsaw not far from where I live) yet only in Ljubljana the number of shoes on a wire is so impressive.

Most of them can be found on Trubajeva cesta, a really nice street leading from the main square to ROG. It’s hard to miss the shoes, they’re hanging up every few steps.

I’ve heard couple of the stories about their background. Spotted by Locals say the first pair was put there by the shoe shop owner to make her business more popular – afterwards more and more people put the shoes up there to celebrate their success.

However in my last post about Ljubljana another comment with a different story was written – they are there to commemorate people who committed suicide.

I can’t say which story is true but I think the shoes on a wire are a great reminder to remember.

alternative Ljubljana

alternative Ljubljana

Ljubljana Street art

All three locations mentioned above – Metelkova, ROG and Trubajeva cesta – are the best places to find street art in Ljubljana.

But basically the whole city is covered in graffiti – most of it is just rubbish but when looking carefully you can find some true gems.

It’s worth taking a trip to Siska districts, just 3 bus stops from the center, as that’s home to 1107 Klan – the best street art crew from Ljubljana.

Their work can be seen in the whole capital (and beyond, I’ve noticed some in Zagreb too) but their main spot is the underpass on Celovska cesta. The murals there change regularly so I’m curious what you will see when you get there!

Ljubljana street art

Ljubljana street art

Bi Ko Fe and cafe scene

This small cafe hidden in the narrow street of the Old Town is probably the most hipster place you will find in Ljubljana. But I loved it!

The vibe yet again was so artsy and free spirited, the clientele is pretty cool and original, the interior is kind of funky too.

But Bi Ko Fe isn’t the only cafe in Ljubljana worth visiting. The city is full of lovely and cozy cafes, most of them were always full of people (I just love the Central European cafe heritage!).

But the best thing was the prices, so affordable! A really good cappuccino costed 1.50€, such a bargain!

alternative Ljubljana

alternative Ljubljana

Central Market and Odprta kuhna

When you get hungry head to the Pogacarjev Trg, a few steps away from Three Bridges.

From early spring till late autumn this place turns into the open-air food paradise.

Numerous stalls offer both local Slovenian food as well as some international goodies, together with drinks such as crafts beer or Rakijito (a mix of Mojito and rakija…).

When the weather is nice the place can get really crowded but the diversity and quality of the food is well worth all the hassle.

Nearby a typical food market is located, with lots and lots of incredibly yummy vegetables and fruits available!

alternative Ljubljana

alternative Ljubljana

Art market

What’s the best way to spend the Saturday morning in Ljubljana? At the art market!

In the very center of the Old Town, at the bank of Ljubljanica river, local artists set up their stands and sell their best work. The place just burst with creativity and most of the things offered are really amazing!

You can get jewelery, handcrafts, paintings, handbags, sculptures and everything else that qualifies as art.

Sellers chat with their clients, everyone is really friendly and there’s no sign of commercialism.

When the weather is nice the riverbank with all the stalls looks just the prettiest!

alternative Ljubljana

alternative Ljubljana

Tivoli

Ljubljana is not such a big city so it’s difficult to get tired with it but if you do there’s an excellent park just few minutes walking from the Old Town. Tivoli – as that’s the name of the park – is the green heart of the city and a favourite hangout place for locals.

It was designed in 1813 and for past 30 years it’s been a protected area. Tivoli is the biggest park in Ljubljana and even if you don’t need to relax it’s worth visiting just for the outdoor photography exhibition that is displayed on the main promenade!

alternative Ljubljana

Museum of Modern Art

At the entrance to Tivoli this interesting museum is located. It shows the work of Slovene and foreign artists from 20th and 21st century. Excellent painting, sculpture or graphics can be seen there.

During my visit a temporary exhibition of photography by Bozidar Jakac was shown. I’ve never heard of him before but this Slovene artists spent his young years travelling the world. I was mesmerized by his pictures from Prague, New York, Paris or Tunisia taken in 1920s!

The entrace to the Museum is free with Ljubljana Card!

alternative Ljubljana

Hotel Bellevue

I’m a huge fan of abandoned buildings and Hotel Bellevue was such a gem!

Hidden in Tivoli Park, it must have been a pearl in the times of its prosperity.

The hotel used to be a splendid place, the heart of social and cultural life in Ljubljana but since the independence of Slovenia the premises were slowly deteriorating.

Now there’s a sign saying “you enter on your own risk” but I didn’t find there any dangers and the place was just stunning!

alternative Ljubljana

alternative Ljubljana

Neboticnik

The skyscraper of Ljubljana, an impressive neoclassical/art-deco building hides one of the highlights of the city – a rooftop cafe!

It offers probably the best views of the city, the Old Town, the castle and – if the weather is good – breathtaking Alps!

When I visited it on Saturday afternoon every table was taken but at least I could admire the incredible panorama and take some pictures!

alternative Ljubljana

alternative Ljubljana

Hostel Tresor

Another cool hostel with a soul I was lucky to stay in.

A former bank, located right in the heart of the Old Town, few steps away from the Three Bridges, is probably the best value accomodation in Ljubljana.

Taking into the account the rich (literally) past of the place each room is named after the world’s currencies – I stayed in the Portugese Escudo – a spacious and stylish private room with a really comfy bed and the view down to the pedestrian Copova Ulica.

The whole hostel is also covered in money related quotes!

alternative Ljubljana

alternative Ljubljana

The hostel has a great, funky and quirky vibe and it makes a perfect urban getaway to explore Ljubljana. There’s a super high and impressive common room, book exchange corner and just about everything that every traveler need (including a souvenir shop with awesome tote bags – I’m a huge fan of those!)

No wonder Hostel Tresor made it to the list of “Unusual Hotels of the World”, it totally deserved it! The place also made it to my list of best accommodation and I definitely can recommend it to everyone!

You can book your place at Hostel Tresor here!

alternative Ljubljana

alternative Ljubljana

Here’s a map with all the places I wrote about


Travel resources

With over 15 years of independent traveling, I’ve learned which websites and services are the best when planning a trip. I always use and trust the following websites:

Money – My number one tip for everyone is to start using Revolut bank card to save money when traveling.

You get the card by mail within a few days and you can use it all over the world. You top up the card in the app on the phone, where you can also have accounts in different currencies and exchange money between them, for no extra fee and at very favorable rates.

Everything is super easy and fast, you only need an internet connection to manage your accounts in the app.

Revolut supports over 140 currencies and offers free withdrawal from ATMs all over the world. In the first 6 months I’ve used Revolut card in 12 countries, including Slovenia, in 3 continents and had no issues at all. And I saved a lot of money in the exchange rates!

Click here to learn more about the service and order your own Revolut card!

Accommodation – I always book my accommodation through Booking.com.

They have really good deals (especially with their “Genius” program that you become a member of after few reservations) and in most of the cases, if your plans change, you can cancel the reservation without any extra costs.

I also value them for a really good customer service that I had to use a few times.

Check the best deals on accommodation in Ljubljana here!

Insurance – I never travel without the insurance as you never know what might happen on the road and better safe than sorry (I’ve learnt my lesson).

I can recommend World Nomads that offer the insurance dedicated to travelers just like you and me.

Click here to get the insurance policy for Slovenia here.

Day tours – I do go for a day trips when I travel as often they are the most convenient way to see the place that saves you time and money.

I most often use Get Your Guide that offers a variety of tours all over the world. Click here to check all the best tours you can take during your travels!

Offline maps – For years I’ve been using MAPS.ME app and I can’t recommend it enough!

It’s free, works offline perfectly fine and saved me many times. You can easily transfer Google Maps with all the bookmarks to maps.me and use them offline wherever you are.

Click here to download it to your phone before your next trip!


For the end I left a few announcements that might interest you:

  • If you don’t want to miss new posts and news from me click here to sign to my newsletter! You can also follow me on Bloglovin!
  • Join my Facebook group about Eastern Europe, the Balkans and former USSR and connect with fellow travellers and enthusiasts of these regions – just click here!
  • I’ve included a few handy links of services and products I personally like and use so you can plan your own trip to Slovenia too. They are often affiliate links. This means I will get a small commission if you book/purchase anything through my links, at no extra costs for you. If you like what you are reading and seeing here and would like to support me and my blog please consider using those links. It would be like getting me a virtual drink that you don’t have to pay for! Thanks!

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4 Comments

  • Reply
    bwhite
    15/10/2017 at 19:17

    loved the post, lots of info and ideas to visit, really helpful!

    • Reply
      kami
      22/12/2017 at 21:31

      I’m glad to hear that!

  • Reply
    DD
    06/05/2019 at 01:25

    Kami, this post is awesome… Really awesome. Thank u so much!

    • Reply
      kami
      25/06/2019 at 17:19

      I’m glad to hear you liked it :)

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