We checked into our very central AirBnB apartment in the centre of town, right next to the Butcher's Bridge, just minutes from the daily outdoor food market.
We grabbed lunch at Pop's, where I experienced what I think may be the greatest burger I've ever had, complete with parmesan-sprinkled fries and a great view of the river and the famous Triple Bridge.
At 2pm we joined the Ljubljana Free Tour - a 2 hour 45 minute guide around the city, which was a great way of getting our bearings and learning about the history and context of the beautiful buildings in the compact city centre. It was a hot day so we started to flag after a couple of hours, but I'm glad we saw everything the tour had to offer.
After a brief break back at the apartment we headed out for a meal and drinks at Gostilna As - the food was decent but the atmosphere a little strange as a loud promotional event for a London gin company was taking place outside!
We ended the day with some drinks in two or three bars along the riverside. The drink of the season is Aperol Spritz, but we also sampled some great local beers.
An early start and a short walk to the bus station (just outside the train station) to head off to Lake Bled. The buses leave roughly every hour but be warned that they fill up quickly - we had to book tickets for the following bus and wait for a while in a coffee shop.
The bus journey itself lasted around 1 hour 20 minutes and passed through some beautiful scenery. We eventually arrived in the small resort town of Bled and walked the short distance down to the stunning lake. Grabbing an ice cream, we hired a small rowing boat to row out to Bled Island. The boat owner suggested this would take about 15 minutes, but a combination of the heat and our general ineptitude meant it took closer to 45. On the island you have the chance to go into a small church, but we had a quick explore and a glass of crisp, white Slovenian wine before rowing back.
We ended our trip to Bled with a delicious, generous meal at Grajska Plaza, a restaurant and bar overlooking the lake. We managed to catch the 5.30pm express bus back to Ljubljana which only took around half an hour.
After a brief pit stop, we headed out into the medieval area of town via the weekly Open Kitchen food and drink market (different to the daily market, which is more about every day groceries), at which restaurants and bars from the region set up stall and sell delicious fare throughout the day and the evening. Definitely worth a visit. We sampled some delicious wine before heading to a restaurant called Robba, definitely my food highlight of the trip. The chicken pate starter was delicious and my main course of veal was even better - but the highlight was the nutella cheesecake with a cooling raspberry ice cream. So good, we returned for more cheesecake the next day. They have ever-changing daily specials so remember to ask what's available on top of the regular menu.
We rounded off the second day with more riverside drinks and people watching before a slow wander back to our apartment and a final Aperol Spritz at the bar just outside our building.
We started the final day with a trip to the food market to pick up picnic supplies - delicious cheese, bread and ham - and then headed to Tivoli Park, a vast, green oasis in the middle of the city full of statues, play parks and cafes. We enjoyed our picnic lunch and a walk around the park, then headed back to the city centre via a few shops and a final walk around the streets and alley ways.
In the evening, we headed up in the funicular - a speedy glass cube that whisks visitors up the mountain to the imposing castle that looks over the town. After a look around, including a sweeping view of the city, we enjoyed a couple of drinks in the courtyard before a delicious meal in the Gostilna na gradu restaurant, which serves all kinds of traditional Slovenian food.
Heading back down in the funicular, we enjoyed a final slice of that delicious Robba cheesecake, a couple more local wines, then an early-ish night before our early flight back to London.
Ljubljana is a beautiful, compact city that can be easily explored in a weekend, but it's also worth the trip further afield to Lake Bled or other beautiful towns and attractions. The city is still relatively quiet and yet to be discovered by too many tourists, so it's easy to get around and to grab a table in the many up and coming riverside bars and restaurants. The town centre is pedestrianised and easy to navigate, and there are plenty of modern shops as well as traditional outlets to grab a souvenir.
I whole-heartedly recommend a trip!