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The occupation and evolution of a modern city

Ljubljana, pronounced 'lyoo-blyah-nah', was occupied by Italy during WWII, and then became part of Yugoslavia. Not until 1991 did Ljubljana become part of modern-day, independent Slovenia. The country’s development has been rapid even since, especially with its addition to the European Union in 2004.

Ljubljana is located in central Slovenia, sitting between Italy and Austria in Central Europe. Despite being a very walkable and green capital, Ljubljana has evolved considerably over the last 40 years to cover 106.2 square miles. In that time, it has established itself firmly as Slovenia’s cultural, economic and political heartland.

Tips before you go to Ljubljana

Ljubljana is served by one international airport, Ljubljana Jože Pu?nik Airport (LJU), where flights arrive directly from London, and from Manchester after a short layover. Direct flights from the UK to Ljubljana take just over 2 hours. Most visitors opt for the public bus service to take them from the airport to the city centre – a straightforward and affordable 45-minute ride.

With Slovenia joining the EU in 2004, UK nationals can secure a flight and hotel to Ljubljana without the hassle of a visa. The local currency is the euro, and the country is just one hour ahead of the UK – another reason why a weekend in Ljubljana is popular with visitors looking for ease and relaxation.

Hot summer days, dragons and herring!

The weather in Ljubljana is typically continental, with hot summers and moderately cold winters. July and August often see temperatures soar to the high 20s, while average winter temperatures are around 0°C, making snow a common occurrence between December and February. Slovenia’s favourable climate means package holidays to Ljubljana are popular with those looking for a sunshine getaway. However, the city offers a host of excellent annual events to lure in visitors each month.

In February, city breaks to Ljubljana will coincide with Herring Fest, which has occurred annually since 1908 and promises a unique culinary experience of sea and freshwater specialities. Music lovers can also pay a visit to the Winter Festival, a beautiful and extraordinary combination of performances by some of the world's best classical musicians. This time of the year also sees the annual Dragon Carnival permeate the streets of Ljubljana, bringing family-friendly parades, theatre and puppetry.

Walk the bridges and swim the lakes

Ljubljana is still a relatively undiscovered capital city, which is why it succeeds so effortlessly at exceeding visitors' expectations. There are heaps of gems to discover in town, as well as in the surrounding area. Package holidays to Ljubljana are often combined with a trip to nearby Lake Bled, a remarkable manifestation of Slovenia’s incredible natural beauty. The village of Bled and the surrounding lake are just over an hour’s bus ride from Ljubljana.

Even during the most fleeting weekend to Ljubljana, you won't miss the city’s many archaic bridges. Each one holds its own secrets and is stunning to behold. You’ll find tokens of appreciation for the dragon, the city’s iconic symbol, all over Ljubljana, not least at the Dragon Bridge. The Triple Bridge, a superbly photogenic collection of three bridges crossing the Ljubljanica River, is another popular destination for visitors.

Ultimate must-dos to Ljubljana

If your weekend in Ljubljana is brief, why not check out this top list of things to do and see?

  • Check out the young, carefree vibes and colourful street art in the Metelkova area.
  • Admire the city from above by taking the funicular (or walking) to Ljubljana Castle.
  • Learn about Slovenian Impressionism at the National Gallery.
  • Sip fruity Slovenian wine on the sun-kissed banks of the Ljubljanica.
  • Have your photo taken in front of the pink Franciscan church by the Triple Bridge.

Where can you eat like a local?

City breaks to Ljubljana are becoming increasingly popular as word spreads of the fabulous gastronomy being plated and gobbled up all over town. For quick and mouthwatering eats, head to Ljubljana’s open-air Central Market. Here, you can try seasonal delights year round. From mid-March through to October, the Open Kitchen initiative allows residents and visitors to taste regional delights cooked in front of them by local chefs.

For more Slovenian specialities, sample sausage at the popular hole-in-the-wall eatery, Klobasarna, or enjoy more refined flavours in a sophisticated setting by reserving a table at Monstera Bistro.

What can you bring back from Ljubljana?

If your flight and hotel in Ljubljana haven’t left you with enough memories to treasure, the city is bursting with trinkets and treats to take back with you. Slovenian wine, honey and schnapps, each a recognisable aspect of the country's culture, are all delicious in their own way. The hand-cut glass and crystalware from Steklarna Rogaška also hail from Slovenia and are highly sought-after gifts.

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