Slovenia’s capital Ljubljana is a city that is home to excellently preserved green spaces, a castle atop a hill, river embankments surrounded by trees and so much more. The Ljubljana Moors Nature Park has several archaeological sites that are included on the UNESCO World Heritage List as well as being known for its extraordinary biodiversity. So, it’s no surprise that after a decade of working hard to achieve the high environmental standards they hold today that Ljubljana has been awarded the title of European Green Capital 2016.
Each year, the title of European Green Capital is given to a city that has achieved the highest environmental standards and is committed to further improving their environmental impact in the future. When Ljubljana was close to becoming overcrowded with cars, they began shifting the focus to more sustainable travel. Today, they see a 620% increase in a car free, pedestrian zone with more and more cyclists- making it a great city for visitors!
To celebrate the award, there will be a variety of celebrations throughout the year, adding onto the already 10,000+ cultural events Ljubljana holds yearly!
The country itself is one of the worlds most biologically diverse countries, with over 24,000 species of animals- something that is even more impressive considering they only make up a mere 0.004% of the earth! Additionally, Slovenia is the third most wooded country in Europe, with almost 60% of it being covered by trees.
So what is there to do in Slovenia’s green capital? Here are six things you can’t miss while visiting.
The Ljubljana Dragon Carnival– A celebration to remember
To celebrate the Shrovetide Carnival, Ljubljana holds a Dragon Carnival- the dragon being the symbol of Ljubljana- and gives you the opportunity to get to know the wealth of Slovenia’s Shrovetide traditions. Taking place the Saturday before Shrove Tuesday, the Carnival parades through the streets of the city centre with its dragon mascot, which is one of the largest in Europe. Here, you will see traditional carnival figures, children dressed in costume and modern carnival characters.
Metelkova Mesto– A unique experience for the arts and night life
Metelkova was originally Austro-Hungarian army barracks in the 19th century. When they were going to tear them down in 1993, they were squatted by a group of around 200 volunteers to stop them from being pulled down- an initiative formed by mainly underground artists. Since then, it has become a growing popular attraction with an incredible nightlife. Featuring concerts, club nights and underground artists and DJs from around the world, Metelkova Mesto is a must see quirky alternative for those who enjoy interesting artsy centres.
The Ljubljana Botanical Gardens – A relaxing day in a historic garden
The Botanical Gardens are Slovenia’s oldest cultural, scientific and educational institution that has operated uninterrupted since it’s opened. As one of the world’s most historically important botanical gardens, it is home to over 4,500 different species and subspecies, with one third of them originating in Slovenia and the rest coming from a variety of European countries.
Tivoli-Roznik Hill Siska Hill Landscape Park- the largest park in Slovenia
With Roznik Hill located directly behind Tivoli Park, the two make up the Tivoli-Roznik Hill Siska Hill Landscape Park. Tivoli Park is not only Ljubljana’s number one picnic spot but also has a museum, two castles and an artificial pond. Being one of Ljubljana’s favourite nature-walking places, you can take a walk through one of the nature trails from Tivoli Park up to the hill which features ski jumps, a church, a zoo and so much more. You can even head up to Roznik Hill for a first-of-May hilltop rock party.
Ljubljana Food Tour– Discover real Slovenian food
What better way to experience the culture of Slovenia than with a food tour? Get to know the city’s main attractions and landmarks through a food tour of Slovenia and Ljubljana’s traditional meals. Open from April to October, you can find so much of the country’s diverse cuisine choices.
Smarna Gora– The best views and a unique walk
Head to the northernmost corner of Ljubljana and check out Smarna Gora, an ‘odd shaped butte of two hills’ which resemble the humps of a camel. Perfect for anyone, no matter their skill, you can choose from steeper hills to get to the top or a gentler path. On one of the peaks, there is a restaurant where you can relax and enjoy a meal after hiking and sit out on the terrace to take in the views of the beautiful green city. The second peak is a little higher with one single bench to sit upon to take in the magnificent views.