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. The alternative Ljubljana scene is pretty awesome.
During my 4th visit to Ljubljana I was planning to explore more off the beaten path and quirky places and I wasn’t disappointed! Here is my alternative Ljubljana guide!
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!
Table of contents
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!
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!
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 a couple of 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 – afterward 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.
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 cafe scene
Unfortunately, Bi Ko Fe is closed but it was such a great place I will leave this part of the post to commemorate it.
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!
There are other great cafes you can find in Ljubljana, in the Old Town and beyond. My favorite were Cafe Čokl, Kavarna SEM, Kavarna Moderna and Tozd.
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 are well worth all the hassle.
Nearby a typical food market is located, with lots and lots of incredibly yummy vegetables and fruits available!
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 jewelry, handicrafts, 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!
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 a 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 favorite hangout place for locals.
It was designed in 1813 and for the 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!
Museum of Modern Art
At the entrance to Tivoli, this interesting museum is located. It shows the work of Slovene and foreign artists from the 20th and 21st centuries. 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 traveling 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!
I’m a huge fan of exploring 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!
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!
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 accommodation 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 Portuguese 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!
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 the best accommodation and I definitely can recommend it to everyone!
Here’s a map with all the places I wrote about
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