Ljubljana, Slovenia with Kids
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Ljubljana is Slovenia’s capital and is completely charming. It was a wonderful city stop after our busy Croatia driving tour for the previous five days. We turned in our rental car at the airport and came into the city by bus. The public bus runs on the hour and costs around €4, it makes a bunch of stops and takes around 50 minutes.
Our Airbnb was located across the street from the Best Western Hotel Slon, a perfect location as we were close to everything and right on the public transportation route. We settled in and grabbed a delicious and easy dinner at Hood Burger, on the same street as our apartment. The kids split a burger, we shared some fries and Jeff and I had a beer. A perfect end to our day.
The next morning we set out early to explore the city. The city is so walkable and perfect to explore on foot. There is a free electric shuttle that runs through the pedestrian area though if you need a ride. If we didn’t have kids we would have done the Ljubljana Free Walking Tours to see the city.
We walked away from the main town to Park Tivoli, Ljubljana’s largest park. There are statues and playgrounds and plenty to explore. I settled in for some coffee at Colnarna. It has a great little play corner that our kids enjoyed while I drank my coffee.
There is plenty of seating near the play corner or a large outdoor seating area that overlooks the botanical gardens. With all their morning jiggles out they were ready to come along and explore the city.
We walked through town and took in the river walk. We popped into the Museum of Modern Art, while they don’t have anything specifically for kids our kids always love picking out their favorite art pieces. We didn’t stay long and continued our walking tour of the city passing Congress Square and the Cathedral. It was a public holiday and everyone was out and about.
We popped into Lolita to sample some of the best ice cream in the world (2015 winner in the SOOLNA). We all got a cone and it was delicious. Jeff’s promptly fell onto the ground when he gave it a lick. The boys immediately offered up a bite of theirs to him. Meanwhile, Jeff sulked in the corner.
They have so many different flavors to try you could go by every day for something different. We thought it was good, but not as good as our local favorite De Lelie.
The rest of our day was lost to wandering the city. We popped into Marley&Me for an incredible lunch. The food was good, but service was European Slow, which was not what we needed at the time. The kids were melting down and chaos set in. We needed a playground fast! (Here is a list of playgrounds in the area.)
We found the Mala Ulica playground. This private playground and center is intended for preschool kids. There is a small entry fee and a cafe. This was exactly what we needed.
All three kids happily ran around outside building blocks and playing with toys. We popped inside to check it out, but the boys never even made it there. They have a variety of indoor play spaces and workshops here. Check the schedule before your visit.
We thought we would head up to the top of Neboticnik, the tallest building in Ljubljana for some dinner for the boys and drinks for us. We got up there and the view was lovely. We chose a seat but could never get a server to attend to us. Once we got someone’s attention he told us they were out of everything (no kidding) so we left. I took the kids back to the Airbnb for some quiet time while Jeff went on a walking tour. The kids ended up falling asleep and Jeff brought dinner from The Wok back to the apartment for me. Some days just go like this when you’re traveling with kids!
The next morning we hit the market for some snacks. Markets are such an easy win with kids. They were given plenty of samples and Jeff and I picked up some fruit to snack on throughout the day.
The kids were dying to see the dragon bridge so we walked two more blocks to walk over it and visit with all four dragons.
Everyone had to have their picture taken on the bridge. We also sat under the dragon and snacked on our fruit from the market.
It was still early so we walked around a bit more finally ending up in the plaza with the mouse statue, which also happens to be where the funicular to the castle leaves from.
I grabbed a quick cup of coffee at an outdoor cafe while Jeff ran around with the boys.
The funicular connects the old town with the castle. You can purchase your castle admission when you purchase your funicular ticket. We got a one way ticket and opted to walk down.
Ljubljana Castle is a must visit. There are a variety of things to do here. They even have a children’s guided tour, but we opted to explore the castle at our own pace. We had a lunch reservation at Restaurant Na Gradu, the mid range option at the castle. The food was delicious and we saw many other families eating there as well.
We picked up a family guide to the castle which had a series of puzzles to solve in order to win a prize. The kids were delighted to get a sticker and their books stamped at the end of the visit. We are big proponents of these sorts of activities as it keeps the kids focused during the visit.
There are several points on the castle that provide stunning views. The tower climb gives you sweeping views of the castle and the city. The top promenade, over the funicular, provides views back into town.
The highlight of the castle visit though was the Museum of Puppetry. This small museum is packed full of hands-on exhibits for kids on how different types of puppets worked. The exhibits ranged from simple paper puppets all the way up to marionettes.
We loved that they had lots of options for the kids to try on their own. (Our kids were already introduced to different puppet types through one of their favorite books, Balloons Over Broadway.) We only managed to leave the museum because the kids had to use the bathroom which required us to leave the museum.
With the castle visit complete and lasting till mid afternoon we walked back down the hill enjoying the views and houses on our walk into town.
Our next stop was the Ljubljana City Museum. They have a kids program with stations in each room and stamps to collect to win a prize. There were also plenty of hands-on exhibits here for the kids to enjoy. Even the Little Little enjoyed walking around and climbing into things.
The stations in each room kept the kids busy so we had a chance to learn a little more about the city and its history.
We ended our visit by finding a spot on the grass in one of the squares and sending Jeff off to get a piece of the famous cream cake for us all to share. It was a wonderful way to end our visit. My only regret is not eating more cake.
We booked an airport transfer for early the next morning with the tourist bureau. Unfortunately the company wrote down the wrong time and we were waiting on the curb wondering where our car was. Jeff had the hotel we were standing outside of call us a taxi van to take us to the airport. We should have just taken the city bus, which starts service at 5am, as it is a reliable option.
There are so many things in Ljubljana that we did not check out and even more outside the city. If you’re looking for more ideas check out Mummy Travels “15 Things to do in Ljubljana with Kids” or “12 Reasons Wy Slovenia is the Ultimate European Family Travel Destination” from Shades of Courage.
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