Where to go in Slovenia 

Places I saw and recommend in Slovenia: The Julian Alps (Triglav), the Soča River, its two best caves (Škocjan and Postojna), Ljubljana, the seaside (Piran/Izola/Koper).

Ljubljana: the lovely capital of Slovenia

Statue in Prešeren Square, Ljubljana. Photo by NataschaM on Flickr

Ljubljana (pronounced lyoo-blyah-nah) doesn't feel like a European capital. With only 272,000 residents, it's one of Europe's smallest capitals. Its downtown center is so compact that after walking a few blocks you're done. Although it's tiny compared to other capitals, the lovely Ljubljana lives up to its name. In Slovenian, ljubljena means beloved. Slovenians promote a similar play on words in English as they often write their country's name as Slovenia.

If Slovenia’s core is Ljubljana, and Ljubljana’s core is Prešernov Trg (Prešeren Square), then the core of Prešeren Square is truly the heart of the nation. So what’s at the core of Prešeren Square, symbolizing the very soul of Slovenia? A statue of an alcoholic.

Prešeren Square gets its name from Slovenia’s most famous drunk, who also wrote some profound poetry. Prešeren’s larger-than-life greenish statue looks longingly across the beautiful square at the home of the rich girl he wanted to hook up with. After years of trying to win her, he gave up, married another girl, had three children, had several affairs, drank like a fish, tried to commit suicide twice, and died confessing his unfulfilled love—he was 48. Decades after he died of liver disease, Slovenians dusted off his poems and said, “Hey, that loser actually wrote some pretty good shit!”

Today, Prešeren is Slovenia’s greatest poet. The Prešeren Award is Slovenia’s highest reward for artistic achievement. He’s on their two-euro coin. The day he died is a national holiday. His clever and epic poems united Slovenians after centuries of foreign rule. Most Slovenians can recite parts of his poems, especially “Zdravljica” (“Toast”), which the Austria-Hungary Empire banned. Today, it’s Slovenia’s national anthem.

Springing forth from Prešeren Square is the iconic and pedestrian-only Tromostovje (Triple Bridge), which spans the Ljubljanica River. The medieval Ljubljanski Grad (Ljubljana Castle) overlooks the city on a forested hill. 

Holidays in Ljubljana

I spent the 2009 holidays in Ljubljana, Slovenia's cute capital.

 Capital of Slovenia during Xmas

This was my third trip to Ljubljana. Isn't it pretty?

Slovenia's capital feel more like a small town than a European capital

Ljubljana doesn't feel like a European capital. It's small and safe.

Hanging onto a tree in the snow

I'm on a hill Ljubljana, hanging on for my dear life, not wanting my feet to touch the snow. I've wimped out since my CDT days.

The opening of this article is an excerpt from The Hidden Europe: What Eastern Europeans Can Teach Us. You might be interested in reading about when I nearly killed myself twice on Slovenia's tallest mountain. The first time was in 2004 when I was suicidal in Slovenia. The second time was when I did went on the world's most extreme and dangerous backpacking experience. Lastly, in my forum, I gave some more travel recommendations to Slovenia.

Recommended reading

Save BIG on Last Minute Travel DealsRead up about Slovenia in Wikipedia and Slovenia in the CIA Factbook.

Travel deals to Slovenia

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