It’s the season to dream of going on vacation, from long weekends in France to sunny annual holidays in Spain. For many Londoners, the wealth of fast, direct flights from major airports like Heathrow and Gatwick makes European destinations a no-brainer.
But even though you might be tempted to head to popular tourist spots like Barcelona, Paris or amsterdamthere is a lot to say – not to mention, checked in – by opting for a lesser-known city. And the cool, underrated capital of Ljubljana might be just the ticket.
Located in beautiful Slovenia, Eastern Europe, just two hours away by plane, Ljubljana is as easily accessible from London as many of the most famous European capitals. It’s also known for being affordable, beautiful and green, with its picturesque canals, numerous parks and abundance of museums, which has earned the city regular comparisons with Amsterdam – and even seeing it crowned ‘Best European Destination’. for 2022 in a recent competition.
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In fact, the little-known capital not only garnered the most votes in the competition, organized by EuropeanBestDestinations.com in partnership with the European Commission’s EDEN Network and Forbes US and Condé Nast Traveler, but also beat a number of destinations from popular trip. The shortlist of 20 candidates he triumphed over included the Amalfi Coast, Athens, Crete, Istanbul, Rome, Vienna and even London.
However, it is not difficult to understand why the capital of the Slavic country, pronounced ‘Loo-bee-ah-nuh’, gets so much love. “Cool”, “cute” and “underrated” are other descriptors frequently used to describe picturesque Ljubljana which is located along the winding Ljubljanica river and is full of lively bars and restaurants, historical and cultural sites and much more.
Although it is one of the smallest capitals in Europe, it has a very vibrant and lively arts and culture scene. Visits to the National Gallery, the National Museum of Contemporary History and Tivoli Park, the huge green space at its heart, are all highly recommended by past visitors, as are the legendary Dragon Bridge and St. Nicholas Cathedral perched.
The colourful, pedestrianized streets of the old town are also worth a visit, and you’ll find plenty of charming places to eat, drink and have fun. Culinarily, Slovenia has many influences, especially from its Austrian and Italian neighbors, so expect a diverse food scene. Metelkova, an autonomous social center located in an old abandoned military back, is considered one of the coolest neighborhoods. The graffiti-decorated cultural hotspot has been compared to Christiania, Copenhagen’s “lawless” area, and hosts regular events you can attend, as well as its alternative art.
A short distance from Ljubljana you will also find the world famous destination Lake Bled. This beautiful place in the Julian Alps is the most visited tourist attraction in Slovenia thanks to its beautiful body of brilliant blue water and its spectacular central island topped by a church.
Just 53 kilometers from the Slovenian capital, Lake Bled is easily accessible by bus (between one hour and 80 minutes) or by car (40 minutes). Regular trains and organized tours are also available from Ljubljana in summer.
As for where to stay, the Trnovo district is considered the best for budget stays, while the center is ideally located for nightlife and the beautiful old town for a charming first visit. Find many apartments and hotels through Booking.com.
How to get there
You can get to the Slovenian capital Ljubljana in Slovenia very easily from London. Direct flights are available from major airports including Gatwick, Heathrow and Luton, and flight time is just over two hours.
Whether you’re looking to book a long-awaited sun and beach holiday, a trip to Disney World or a cosmopolitan city break to an incredible location, travel agency TUI has just unveiled a promo code that could save you £300 on your vacation booking.
If you use the promotional code GO AWAY on the company website when booking holidays departing between May and October 2022 you will get £100 off bookings over £800, £200 off bookings over £2000 or £300 off bookings of over £3,500.
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EasyJet offers regular flights from London Gatwick, with one-way tickets from £50.49 or less in June, August or September. The low-cost airline flies there every day except Saturdays and Thursdays in July and August, and only misses Saturdays in June and September. British Airways go from Heathrow and currently flies five days a week (not Mondays and Thursdays). Alternately, Wizz Air goes from Luton.
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Covid-19 restrictions on entry to Slovenia have been lifted, with no tourist needing to test themselves beforehand or self-quarantine upon arrival. More information on the rules of the coronavirus here.
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