More than 50% of Slovenia is covered by forest, making it the third most forested in Europe behind Finland and Sweden. The land is abundant with gorgeous mountains, glacial lakes, woods, and quaint villages. It is perfect for hiking, climbing, canyoning, mountain biking, hot air ballooning, and whitewater rafting. Virtually any outdoor activity you might ever want to do can be done in this small country; I cannot stress how beautiful this country is. Slovenia is a “green” country through and through, and their capital city epitomizes that.
If cosmopolitan Paris and water-bound Amsterdam had a baby, it would be Ljubljana. It has cobbled streets, open-air markets, canals, bridges, street vendors, coffee shops everywhere, and something beautiful in the air. While I had never heard about it until I extensively planned for this trip, Ljubljana quickly became a favorite European city of mine. I don’t understand how it has been overlooked by tourists, but I’m almost happy it has been. Crowds are not so apparent other than the occasional walking tour groups. The city is peaceful and not at all overwhelming. I could easily picture myself living there for some time and soaking up the atmosphere which enchants so many in Paris or Amsterdam. Some where I would aim to stay while in Ljubljana is Hotel Park, a place very concerned with preserving the green nature of the country.
Located in the heart of Ljubljana, Hotel Park is only a 10 minute walk (or 3 minute cab ride) from the train station and a 10 minute walk to the center of the Old Town, where you will want to spend most of your time. They have both modest rooms and extravagant rooms making up their 185 room total. The view from our window over the city was amazing, especially the sunset for which we arrived in the room just in time. Otherwise, the rooms are fairly standard as far as hotels go. Importantly though, they were comfortable, very clean, and free of extraneous noise from the hallways. Though the rooms were standard, the hotel was anything but standard.
Hotel Park has a variety of restaurant options with extremely reasonable prices. Restaurant Park, the Spark Bar, Curry Park, and Taste Ljubljana are all options while staying at Hotel Park. Restaurant Park serves breakfast in the morning to guests of the hotel and provides all the expected options. What is not expected is the quality to which they have elevated the standard hotel breakfast options. They offer a huge spread of delectable cheeses and meats sliced thin. Fruits, vegetables, cereals, yogurts, little pastries, and fresh baked bread are all available as well.
Spark Bar offers rich fruit/vegetable smoothies alongside various cocktails for the thirsty guest. It is not just an average cocktail bar. Their tropical kiss mixed drink took home the first place prize at the GTZ competition. Hotel Park takes its culinary arts seriously. Their Curry Park chef comes from India having won many prestigious culinary awards, and since March 2015, he has made Restaurant Park known as the best world cuisine restaurant in Ljubljana.
Hotel Park’s staff provided us with a thorough explanation of what we should see and do in Ljubljana. The Old Town in general is the center of attraction. Points of interest within the town include the: Tromostovje (the triple bridge), Preseren Square, Cathedral of St. Nicholas, River Ljubljana Canal, Ljubljana Castle, Dragon Bridge, Franciscan Church, Mestni Trg (Piazza Civica), Sts. Cyril & Methodius Church, and Vodnik [market] Square. You should find a free walking tour which will guide you through many, if not all, of these locations while providing an in-depth history of Ljubljana and the points of interest. One of my favourite places was the Market Square, which was full of vendors selling fresh… everything! From fruits to nuts to milk to seafood — and it all looked so good.
Ljubljana was our last stop in Slovenia, and I already know I want to return to hike Mt. Triglav and enjoy more of the outdoor activities in Slovenia. Aside from that, the country is spectacularly beautiful and for that reason alone I want to return. Hotel Park called us a cab which shuttled us to the bus station where we were able to catch a bus to Munich, Germany. Buy your tickets in advance because the lines without a pre-purchased ticket were long and you run the risk of getting there and not having a seat available to buy.
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**Special thanks to Hotel Park for kindly offering me a complimentary stay. As always, all opinions are my own.