Ljubljana is a city boasting excellently preserved green spaces and countless pleasant green nooks and crannies even in the heart of the city centre. The city's picturesque embankments on the river Ljubljanica, designed by the architect Jože Plečnik, are surrounded by trees and, particularly those located in the Krakovo and Trnovo areas, just outside the historical city centre, also by grassy spaces. Not far away you can find one of Europe's oldest botanic gardens.
The historical city centre of Ljubljana is towered over by Ljubljana Castle, built at the top of a green hill criss-crossed with walking paths and scattered with exercise stations shaded by trees, while the city's largest and most beautiful park, Tivoli, extends right into the city centre.
One of Ljubljana's special features is a 35-kilometre circular recreational route around the city. The route, known as the Path of Remembrance and Comradeship, runs along the course of the barbed-wire fence that surrounded Ljubljana during the Second World War.
Fun fact: In June 2014, the European Commission named Ljubljana as European Green Capital 2016 for 'its raising environmental awareness amongst its citizens, its sustainability strategy 'Vision 2025', its implementation of a range of urban green measures over the past decade and its impressive transportation network'.
The Tivoli Park
Tivoli Park is Ljubljana's largest and most beautiful park, stretching right into the city centre. It was designed in 1813 by the French engineer Jean Blanchard and created by joining together the parks which had surrounded Podturn and Cekin Mansions. The park, covering an area of approximately five square kilometres, is crossed by three grand horse chestnut tree-lined walks and landscaped with ornamental flower beds, interesting trees and numerous statues and fountains. The park area blends into the slopes of the Rožnik hill, to which it is connected by several walking paths and a trim trail with several exercise stations along its length.
Tivoli Park's scenic Jakopič Promenade (Jakopičevo sprehajališče), designed by the architect Jože Plečnik in the central part of Tivoli Park, has become a well known outdoor venue for exhibitions of large-format photographs, open throughout the year. In 1929, the Letno Kopališče Ilirija outdoor swimming pool was built at the edge of the Tivoli park to a design by Stanko Bloudek. At the time when it was built it was the most modern swimming pool in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia.
Ljubljana Botanic Garden
Established in 1810, the Ljubljana Botanical Garden is Slovenia's oldest cultural, scientific and educational institution operating uninterruptedly since its foundation. The Garden contains more than 4,500 different species and subspecies. One third of them are endemic to Slovenia, while the rest originate from other parts of Europe and other continents. The Garden, collaborating with more than 270 botanical gardens worldwide, is involved in scientific research and educational activities. It plays an important role in the growing and protection of Slovenia's endemic, endangered, vulnerable and rare species.
The Ljubljana Botanic Garden's large tropical glasshouse offers you an opportunity to view plants typical of tropical forests. The glasshouse, built on the Garden's 200th anniversary, exhibits over 380 plant species native to tropical parts of the world. Schedule: 1 April - 31 October: 7:00-19:00 daily, 1 November - 31 March: 7:00-17:00 daily, June till August: 7:00-20:00 daily.
The river Ljubljanica and its bridges
From Roman times to the construction of the railway in the mid-19th century, the Ljubljanica was a major trade and supply route. On its way to Ljubljana, the river flows through the unique natural landscape of Ljubljana Marshes. Its bed is one of Slovenia's most important archaeological sites. Excavations have yielded objects dating from prehistory to the early modern period. Archaeologists believe that the river once had a cult status.
Ljubljana is a city of beautiful and architecturally interesting bridges. Its river, the Ljubljanica, is believed to have been first spanned by a bridge in the Roman period. Today, the Ljubljanica owes its distinctive appearance to the architect Jože Plečnik, who designed the old city centre's river embankments, landscaped tree-lined riverside walks, including the well known weeping willow-lined terraced walk alongside the Trnovski pristan embankment, and built or renovated several of the city's bridges, including the famous Trnovo Bridge, Cobblers' Bridge and Triple Bridge.
The heart of Ljubljana's social life are the Ljubljanica river embankments, densely scattered with lively cafés offering outdoor seating. A good way to see the old city centre and its famous bridges, picturesque buildings and vibrant embankments from a completely different angle is to join a tourist boat cruise along the river. In the summer you can hire a canoe and paddle through the city centre.
The Ljubljana Zoo, part of a protected nature park situated only a 20-minute walk from the centre of Ljubljana, lies on the southern slope of the Rožnik hill, surrounded by a natural forest and meadows. It has a collection of animal species from all continents focusing on animals typical of the area lying at the intersection of the Alpine, Pannonian and Mediterranean worlds. What is special about the Ljubljana Zoo is that visitors and children in particular have an opportunity to take part in several different family-oriented animal experience activities during which they can be in close contact with animals. Apart from taking a guided tour of the Zoo, available both during the daytime and at night, visitors can join zookeepers at feeding time, meet their favourite animal, become a zookeeper for a day and much, much more.
Schedule: May, June, July and August: 9:00-19:00 daily, January, February, November and December: 9:00-16:00 daily, March and October: 9:00-17:00 daily, April and September: 9:00-18:00 daily.
Labyrinth of Art
The Labyrinth of Art, situated in the Fužine area of Ljubljana, was built in honour of Ljubljana's title of UNESCO's World Book Capital in 2010 and 2011. It's conceived as a maze park dedicated to the culture of reading and particularly intended for readers. The way through the maze, made of 500 currently still young trees is marked by verses about walking as art. A reading nook is set up in the centre of the maze.
Rožnik is a 391-metre-high wooded hill accessible by several footpaths and recreational trails from Ljubljana's Tivoli park. Since the first half of the 19th century, it has been a favourite spot for local walkers. Before that, it was a place where the locals sought refuge from epidemic diseases, and even further back in the past the site of a leprosarium.
Since the 16th century, the hilltop has been the site of a church of the Visitation, redesigned by the architect Candido Zulliani in the 18th century. A little down the hill from the church, the Pri Matiji inn was opened in the early 19th century. Occasionally, the inn provided accommodation to the greatest Slovenian writer of all time, Ivan Cankar (1876-1918).
The most interesting in the hill's network of criss-crossing footpaths is the about 3-kilometre-long Jesenko Trail (Jesenkova pot), named after the botanist and geneticist Fran Jesenko (1875-1932). The trail leads past 30 different local tree species marked with information plates. Several of the hill's longer recreational trails lead across the nearby Šišenski hrib hill to Mostec, Ljubljana's popular recreational centre and event venue. At the foot of Rožnik, the Ljubljana Zoo is located.
Mostec, a wooded area stretching along the Večna pot road on the south-western slope of the Rožnik hill in the immediate vicinity of Ljubljana Zoo, is one of Ljubljana's most popular recreation spots. It offers numerous walking paths leading through pleasant wooded terrain, a modern trim trail, several hiking routes to the top of Rožnik and the nearby Šišenski hrib hill, and an opportunity to take a break at a guest house next to the ski jumps of the Ilirija Ski Jumping Club.
In Mostec, drinks and snacks are available from the guest house of the Mostec Recreational Society. Next to the guest house there are exercising equipment and a children's playground. Visitors can also play pétanque, badminton, and table tennis.
If you cross the Večna pot road on the edge of Mostec, a short walk brings you to Koseze Pond (Koseški bajer), from where you can continue along the Path of Remembrance and Comradeship, a recreational path encircling Ljubljana. The section of the path leading from Koseze Pond to the Vič area is considered to be one of the most beautiful ones. Exercising equipment is available along the way.
The Northern City Park, located just behind the Ljubljana Railway Station, between the Vilharjeva ulica, Železna cesta, and Linhartova ulica streets, consists of several functionally different parts including the beautiful Navje Memorial Park, a strolling area, and a children's playground, which combine into a pleasant, visitor-friendly retreat.
The Navje Memorial Park's present appearance dates from after the Second World War, when four columns originally intended for use in the construction of the building housing the Ljubljana Music Society were erected in the Navje Memorial Park to a design by Jože Plečnik. In 2001, the Navje Memorial Park was designated a monument of national importance.
The construction of the new part of the Northern City Park took place in 2006. The park's cultural character is enhanced by a statue called 'The Girl with a Growing Book'. Visitors to the park can take a walk along the park's circular promenade or sit down on one of its numerous benches scattered across the park's area. For the youngest visitors, there is a playground with swings, slides, and other play facilities.
Trnovski pristan embankment
The Trnovski pristan embankment, with its broad stone steps descending towards the river, is a unique architectural creation designed by the famous architect Jože Plečnik. Being one of Ljubljana's most beautiful promenades, it has turned into a popular place for socializing over the recent years. Particularly young people, who often hang out there on warm summer days, refer to it as "Ljubljana beach".
The Trnovski pristan embankment stretches across the riverside area between the Prule Bridge and the point where the Gradaščica channel empties into the river Ljubljanica. In the past it was used for unloading the boats carrying stone from the Podpeč Quarry, intended for the construction of buildings in Ljubljana. Later, when the architect Jože Plečnik was commissioned to landscape the banks of the Ljubljanica river, the area was turned into a promenade, remarkable for its stone steps lined by a row of willow trees. When Trnovski pristan was reconstructed between 2007 and 2009, the ageing willow trees were replaced by new ones and several new architectural elements, including uniquely designed wooden benches and street lamps, were added to complement Plečnik's original design and help create the vibrancy for which the embankment is known today.
An only ten minutes' walk from the historical city centre of Ljubljana brings you to a renovated Ljubljanica river embankment landscaped as a park. The park's name, Špica, translates as 'pointed tip' and refers to the embankment's pointed shape. In the past, Špica was a town beach. Due to its pleasant green surroundings and a large area paved with wood, it still attracts numerous residents and visitors wanting to bask in the sun on fine weather days.
Next to Špica, a new 38-metre long bridge referred to as Hladnik's Footbridge was constructed in 2009. The bridge connects the city with a green suburban area, the location of the Ljubljana Botanic Garden. The bridge, with its super-lightweight structure, is reserved for pedestrians and cyclists.
The Koseze Pond, situated on the edge of Ljubljana, is a small artificial lake in a former clay pit. Today it is an example of a marshy lake providing natural habitat for several rare and endangered plant and animal species. The pond is surrounded by a walking path with benches. Next to the lake there are several wooden platforms and lookout piers. The lake is located in the immediate vicinity of the Path of Remembrance and Comradeship, a circular path around Ljubljana.
The animals living in and around the pond mainly include frogs and numerous other amphibians, several fish species, dragonflies, swans and other bird species. The typical plant species of the area are black alder, willow, and several reed species growing by the pond's shore.
The Koseze Pond offers an opportunity for fishing for carp, sheatfish, rudd, bass, zander, and several other species. Fishing permits can be purchased from the nearby Gostilna pri Cvičku restaurant. Each year, the Koseze Pond hosts several model boat races. When it freezes in winter, it is a popular natural ice rink.
The marshes extend over the south and southeast part of the Ljubljana Basin between the towns of Škofljica, Ig, Podpeč, Borovnica, Vrhnika, Drenov Grič and Brezovica and measure approximately 160 square kilometres. The creation of the marshes was influenced by the Ljubljanica River and their image is even nowadays marked by its stream.
Due to the unique characteristics of the marsh soil and of the bottom of the Ljubljanica River, the marshes have preserved evidence from all the historical periods and cultures. The preservation of organic substances like wood, fibres, vegetal remains and skeletons was rendered possible by water. Archaeologists found more than 10,000 artefacts from different historical periods, which are kept in museums in Ljubljana and abroad. The most important find of all is the world’s oldest wooden wheel, dating approximately between 3,350 and 3,100 B.C.
Pile dwellings or crannogs are wooden settlements, built on piles driven into the marsh ground or lake bed. The oldest lake dwelling dates back to the Mesolithic (around 5,000 B.C.) and the youngest is from the Bronze Age (around 1,000 B.C.).
Some rare and interesting vegetal and animal species, especially birds and game, have found their place in the wetlands and peat bogs of the marshes, which were created by the tectonic movements and breaks and by river sedimentation.
Fun fact: The marshes are a refuge
for several endangered species on the European and global scale
and some other rare species such as the Corncrake (Crex Crex), the Eurasian Curlew (Numenius arquata), the Common Quail (Coturnix coturnix), the Eurasian Woodcock (Scolopax rusticola), the Euroasian Scops Owl (Otus scops), the Whinchat (Saxicola rubetra), the Grasshopper Warbler (Locustella naevia) and the Hen Harrier (Circus cyaneus).
Volčji Potok Arboretum
The Volčji Potok Arboretum is located on the edge of the Kamniško polje plain. It is one of Slovenia's most frequented botanical gardens, worth visiting at any time of the year. Lying on an 80-hectare site, it supports 3,500 perennial flower, bush and tree species from around the world. The Arboretum's numerous plant beds have been conceived in such a way that different plant species complement each other but are at the same time displayed in all their individual beauty. The Arboretum's energy fields are believed to have a beneficial effect on human body's energy centres.
The earliest known mention of Volčji potok dates back to 1220, when a castle stood on the site of the present gardens. In the 17th century, a two-storey mansion was built at the foot of a nearby hill. The only preserved and restored parts of the mansion are a garden pavilion, a chapel and a stairway which led to the mansion's park, located on the site of the present Arboretum.
Schedule: March: 8:00-18:00 daily, April to August: 8:00-20:00 daily, September: 8:00-19:00 daily, 1 - 27 October: 8:00-18:00 daily, 28 October to 4 December: dailly from 8:00 to 16:30, 5 - 30 December: dailly from 10:00 to 20:00, 31 December to 28 February: daily from 10:00 to 16:30. The last admission is one hour before closing time.
Iški Vintgar is a scenic gorge of the Iška river. The interesting appearance of the gorge and its rapid little river, sandbanks, numerous river pools and steep rocky banks reminiscent, at places, of the walls of a canyon, is due to the powerful mechanisms of tectonic faulting.
A walk through the gorge offers an opportunity to see numerous interesting rocks testifying to the area's turbulent geological history, such as gravel stones composed of dolomite streaked with white calcite veins, reddish and greenish coloured flat round-shaped stones with mineral inclusions, and several others. The gorge's scenic appearance is also due to its vegetation, which includes trees whose roots cling to the gorge's steep walls and numerous alpine plants such as sedge, rhododendron, twoflower violet, Carniolan primrose and spring snowflake.
About an hour's walk from Iški Vintgar there is a World War II partisan hospital, which is also well worth visiting. Founded as early as in April 1942, it was one of Slovenia's earliest partisan hospitals. It was restored in 1966. From the hospital, several waymarked paths lead to Rakitna, Krim and Bloke.
Source: Ljubljana Tourism