The capital and largest city of Slovenia. Ljubljana is home to around 300,000 people, making it one of the smallest capital cities in Europe.
In classical times, a Roman city stood here. However, from the 12th century to the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Ljubljana was under Habsburg rule. It was occupied by fascist Italy during World War II but somehow managed to remain unscathed during the Yugoslav Wars.
Today, Ljubljana is a cultural hub noticeable for its large student population. It is the economic heart of Slovenia with pharmaceuticals and petrochemicals dominating the industries. Visitors are drawn to its beautiful architecture and laid-back café culture.
Same-sex activity has been legal and at the same age of consent (15) since 1977. Slovenia has one of the most-wide ranging selection of anti-discrimination legislation in the EU. A national referendum to introduce a same-sex marriage bill returned a no vote, and as of yet civil partnerships are the only recognition for partnerships.
Despite the defeat of the same-sex marriage, public opinion towards LGBT issues is rising and is significantly higher than in neighbouring ex-Yugoslav states. Rural areas generally tend to be the less tolerant areas and there have been instances of homophobic violence recorded throughout the country.
Ljubljana’s gay scene is very small with only one nightclub and a handful of saunas cater for gay customers. That being said, Ljubljana hosts an LGBT Pride annually and a gay “Pink Week” when gay travellers are actively encouraged to visit the city.
The city also has an active history in promoting LGBT issues as the student cultural centre hosted the first queer film festival in 1984 (the first in Europe). However, discretion is still advised as acts of violence and verbal abuse are still not unheard of.
Jože Pučnik Airport (LJU) is located 27km north of the city centre. It is a hub for Adria Airways and is well connected to major cities across Europe. There are seasonal and charter services to the Middle East, North Africa and Japan.
Public bus number 28 runs from the airport to the city centre. Journeys take around 50 minutes and tickets cost €4.10 (bought from the driver). The service runs from 5am to 8pm. Alternatively, there is a private minibus service that is faster but more expensive (€9 one way).
Taxis can be hailed from the airport but expect to pay around €35 if taken from outside the terminal. Cheaper flat rates are available if booked in advance. Journeys are in the region of 20 minutes depending on traffic.
The train station is just north of the city centre and is Slovenia’s rail hub. No point in the country is more than 3 hours away from Ljubljana. Direct connections to Croatia and Austria are available although many choose to change at interchange spots like Rijeka and Villach to connect to the greater European rail network.
The bus station is next to the train station and offers direct connections to many destinations in Europe. These include Venice, Frankfurt and surprisingly Stockholm (a staggering 36 hours journey time). Despite the cheap prices, journey times can be long.
Ljubljana’s city centre is tiny which means that it is easily navigable by foot. Most of the main sights are in close concentration of each other and the city centre is best taken in this way.
Bus lines run from around 5am up until around 10:30pm. Services are quite regular during the day, although there are limited night lines. Some services do not run at weekends. The Urbana card must be purchased to travel and topped up with enough credit for the journey you need to take. 90 minute journeys cost €1.20.
Taxis are easily hailed on the streets however these can be extortionately expensive. It is best to pre-order a taxi in advance to ensure that you get the best deal and avoid being ripped off.
For a list of recommended hotels in Ljubljana, please visit the Gay Ljubljana Hotels page.
Triple Bridge (Tromostovje) – designed by the Slovene architect Jože Plečnik (who is to Ljubljana what Gaudi is to Barcelona). This is a popular meeting spot for locals and is an icon of the city.
Ljubljana Castle – You can explore the grounds of this imposing building for free, but you will have to pay to enter the tower. Some say the best views in Slovenia can be found at the top of the tower. If you’re feeling lazy and/or touristy, there is a tourist train that takes you up the castle hill.
Metelkova City – Ljubljana’s alternative heart. Here you will find quirky galleries, bars and the city’s only gay club.
Slovene National Theatre, Opera, and Ballet – this stunning building is a working and has an extensive program of events throughout the calendar. Definitely worth a visit.
National Gallery – a haven for art lovers. Here you will find some of the best examples of Slovenian art in an impressive building.
Lake Bled and the Julian Alps – just an hour away from Ljubljana is some of the most stunning natural landscapes in Europe. You can go hiking or while away a sunny afternoon on the shores of the gorgeous Lake Bled.
Winters in Ljubljana are rainy and cold whereas summers are extremely warm. Despite the influx of foreign tourists in the summer, natives tend to go on their own holidays leaving some bars and restaurants closed. The best times to visit are spring and early summer and September when the weather is still pleasant.
Other than the Pride Festival in June, Pink Week September and LGBT film festival, there is a wide range of festivals and events scheduled throughout the year. In March there is an annual Spring welcoming festival and November sees the International Film Festival take place.
Slovenia is within the Schengen visa area. As it is part of the European Union, its visa requirements fall inline with what you would expect from most EU states.
Slovenia is part of the eurozone. There is a good selection of banks and currency exchangers to choose from. Most larger stores, restaurants and hotels accept card payments but it is always a good idea to keep some cash on you just in case.
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