Toast the Alps
Although it’s modest by fashionable requirements (13 storeys and 70 metres tall), Nebotičnik was the primary “skyscraper” in Yugoslavia, and the ninth-tallest constructing in Europe when it opened in 1933. Architect Vladimir Šubic was impressed by the artwork deco skyscrapers of New York, although extra conservative residents dismissed it as a “freak”. Right now, the wraparound rooftop terrace cafe presents spectacular views of the Alps to the north and Ljubljana Fort, just some blocks away. Entry is by way of a foyer clad in black marble and a spiral staircase. On the prime, you’ll be able to get pleasure from Slovenian wines – strive Rebula, a buttery white, nonetheless or glowing.
Hipster heaven

Trubarjeva Antikvariat, antiquarian store {Photograph}: Toni Spagone/Alamy
Ljubljana isn’t any stranger to topiaried beards and suave tattoos, and you’ll discover its different facet by strolling down Trubarjeva ulica, the place Trubarjeva Antikvariat sells items of Yugo-nostalgia, akin to busts and portraits of Tito, or industrial-design classics just like the glossy, Lamborghini-red ETA 85 rotary phone designed in 1979 by Davorin Savnik and made by Iskra. Harking back to a race automobile, this cellphone was produced within the hundreds of thousands and was a staple on the partitions of Yugoslav houses – at present one is on show at New York’s Museum of Fashionable Artwork.
Countercultural haven

Metelkova is an autonomous social centre in Ljubljana. {Photograph}: Jorge Duarte Estevao/Alamy
For clubbing, the Metelkova district is graffiti-laden however totally protected and welcoming. As soon as a posh of barracks for the Austro-Hungarian and, later, Yugoslav armies, it’s now dwelling to bars, nightclubs and a former prison-turned-hostel. Its new life started as a squatters’ settlement on 25 June 1991, the day Slovenia declared independence from Yugoslavia. In 2005, Metelkova turned a part of a nationwide cultural heritage record, but it surely stays on the sting of the regulation – elevating its personal funds, largely by way of concert events – and is the most effective place to go for pleasant, different nightlife.
World-class delicacies

{Photograph}: PR
JB, a restaurant on the bottom ground of a Plečnik constructing (see beneath) that resembles a modernised Greek temple, has been the epitome of fantastic eating within the area for the reason that 1990s. World famend chef Janez Bratovž was the primary to introduce dishes akin to fish carpaccio and uncommon steak to a culinary tradition that was used to well-done cutlets in cream sauce. Not way back, he served his signature ravioli with pistachio, chestnut, pear and foie gras to Ferran Adrià and the pope (although not on the identical occasion). Michelin doesn’t but have a information to Slovenia, although it’s rumoured to be within the pipeline – and JB will certainly be up for a star. It’s moderately priced for a restaurant of that stage: the six-course fish or meat menu is €60 and the vegetarian model €50; the 12-course tasting menu is €95.•
Avenue meals

Odprta Kuhna. {Photograph}: Jaka Birsa
On Fridays from March till the tip of October, the central market options an enormous out of doors meals truthful referred to as Odprta Kuhna (Open Kitchen), which may draw as many as 25,000 folks. Based by Israeli expat Lior Kochavy, it’s one of the best ways to pattern all kinds of specialities, as dozens of eating places, from fancy to down-home, arrange stands and supply meals truck-style dishes. That is the place you’ll be able to strive JB’s tackle a burger made with dry-aged brisket (€6); a pulled duck and pink cabbage sandwich – a avenue twist on a preferred St Martin’s Day meal; and šmorn, an Austro-Hungarian shredded pancake topped with compôte (€3). For probably the most Slovenian of snacks, strive Klobasarna, behind the cathedral, which presents solely Carniolian sausage, a geographically protected native pork sausage served with a pot of mustard and a heat roll (half €3.50, entire €5.90). That is in all probability the one speciality sausage to have been consumed in area, as an American astronaut with Slovenian roots, Sunita Williams, took some to the Worldwide House Station.
A Kanye-inspired tour

The Triple Bridge. {Photograph}: Alamy
In November 2018, Kanye West tweeted to his 29 million followers a few fairly obscure Slovenian modernist architect referred to as Jože Plečnik (1872-1957). Kanye and architectural historians agree on Plečnik’s brilliance, and Ljubljana is the place to see his work. Within the many years following a devastating earthquake in 1895, Plečnik was commissioned to rebuild many of the vital constructions and areas within the metropolis. These included the Nationwide and College Library, the central market, the embankment of the Ljubljanica River, the primary out of doors live performance venue, town cemetery, a number of parks and the soccer stadium, which he modelled on historic Greek amphitheatres, lined with Doric columns and sunk into the earth, so followers step down right into a roiling cauldron of cheers to seek out their seats. Take a guided tour or do one your self, starting at his ivy-clad dwelling, which is now a museum, Plečnikova Hiša. A stroll previous Plečnik buildings will take you thru probably the most attention-grabbing spots within the metropolis, crisscrossing the river by way of its many bridges, from the Cobblers’ Bridge, lined with columns that assist nothing, to the Triple Bridge, primarily based on Venice’s Rialto however with three separate bridges at slight angles to at least one one other (one for pedestrians, one for cyclists, one for vehicles, and with one of many first public bathrooms in Europe hidden beneath). And on to the Dragon Bridge, probably the most photographed website within the metropolis, with plinths on its 4 corners topped with bronze, bat-winged dragons.
Surreal buying

Sauerkraut vendor at Ljubljana’s central market. {Photograph}: Stephen Saks/Alamy
A stroll by way of Tržnice, the central market, designed by Plečnik, ought to start at Marjetka’s sauerkraut stand. She’s the one sauerkraut vendor with a queue, and locals will inform you that it’s as a result of her household is among the many final within the nation to domesticate indigenous Ljubljana cabbage, which makes the most effective sauerkraut. You may as well decide up a bottle of – look ahead to it –sauerkraut juice, which is nice for abdomen complaints, and can also be surprisingly refreshing. Observe the gently curved colonnade to go to stalls that includes pumpkinseed oil, produced from an indigenous pumpkin sort, Styriaca, that’s good in salads and even vanilla ice-cream. A piece of the market is devoted to slippers, which Slovenians put on always indoors (and pupils do in school) – these make for a very good, light-weight memento. Probably the most surreal element of the market will be the merchandising machines promoting grave candles in jewel-coloured plastic candle holders which are historically positioned on tombs.
Inexperienced capital

The City electrical practice. {Photograph}: Eye35/Alamy
Ljubljana was topped Inexperienced Capital of Europe in 2016, and town prides itself on its “zero waste” recycling programme and the very best proportion of pedestrianised streets of any capital in Europe. Get pleasure from this by strolling the cobbled, medieval Stari Trg and Gornji Trg, within the shadow of the citadel, and looping alongside the riverbank, unencumbered by visitors. In the event you want a journey within the centre, what appears to be like like a inexperienced golf cart, the Kavalir electrical taxi, will shuttle you about without spending a dime. There’s additionally City, a miniature electrical practice on wheels that snakes by way of the streets with zero emissions.
Espresso and desserts

Črno Zrno
Ljubljana has joined the speciality espresso revolution, with the most effective cup on the town served by a Colombian expat architect named Alex. His pocket-sized cafe, Črno Zrno, is lower than two metres huge, a hall resulting in an elevated bar lined with arabesque tiles, the place Alex greets visitors and prepares every espresso himself. One of the best desserts I’ve ever had are from Zvezda, a sweetshop with a number of places and a window stuffed with baked items that sparkle like gems. The Slovenian specialities embody kremšnita (millefeuille) and gibanica (layer cake with poppy seeds, walnut, curd cheese and apples), however my favorite is the čokoladne sanje, or “chocolate dream” (€4).
Beery day journey

Pod Skalo pub
My adopted hometown of Kamnik, simply 30 minutes north and a gateway to the Alps, boasts three castles and, in response to Atlas Obscura, is “a candidate for microbrew capital of the world”. Brewers are drawn to the city by its pristine water. The native pub, Pod Skalo, with outdated tin Yugoslav indicators and a bike mounted on the wall, has all of them: Mali Grad, Maister, Barut, Meninc, Mister and Lampelj. Beside Kamnik is an elaborate botanical backyard, Arboretum, as soon as the grounds of a Versailles-inspired mansion destroyed by the partisans after the second world warfare. It’s a selected hit with kids, with a playground space that includes lifesize shifting dinosaur statues, an unlimited maze and an array of ziplines, slides and trampolines. A couple of minutes past is the otherworldly Velika Planina, a mountain plateau that guests describe as one thing out of Lord of the Rings, and the place you’ll be able to style a neighborhood speciality, the pear-shaped trnič cheese.
The place to stayLjubljana abounds with boutique resorts, however the traditional is the Secessionist-style Grand Lodge Union within the centre (doubles from£83). For backpackers or youthful travellers there’s the uber-hip Celica Hostel (beds from €24), a transformed jail in Metelkova. Or Samostan Mekinje, a medieval monastery in Kamnik, is a 40-minute practice journey from Ljubljana centre and has beds from €15.
When to visitIn current years Ljubljana has grow to be overcrowded in the summertime, so goal for any time apart from excessive season – Might and September are significantly beautiful.
Common pricesA half-litre glass of beer prices round €2; an espresso espresso is round €1.20; a three-course meal is €20 to €30.
Getting thereLondon to Ljubljana by practice takes 18 to 23 hours. See The Man in Seat 61 web site for particulars.
Noah Charney is the writer of Slovenology: Dwelling and Travelling within the World’s Greatest Nation. Study extra at and by listening to Slovenology the Podcast.
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