Ljubljana is for Lovers! A Gay Guide to Europe’s Undiscovered City
Ever since I returned from my trip to Ljubljana last month, I’ve been shouting from the rooftops my love of the city. There aren’t many places in Europe that can still surprise me, but Ljubljana did just that. And it wasn’t just the pretty downtown part of the city, or the delicious foods I ate, it was the all-night nightlife, the gay bars, the people and all the cool things to do.
Ljubljana’s charm didn’t hit me right away. I arrived on an unusually rainy summer afternoon, on a GoOpti bus from Venice. The bad weather was a bit of a deterrent, but I managed to escape into a cute cafe called Lolita. That’s when I knew this was going to be a special city. From the pretty cakes lining the register, to the cute staff and the beautiful interior decorations – the cafe amazed me as soon as I stepped in from the outside. After that, a visit to a nearby art gallery (again, to escape the rain) just opened my eyes to all the culture available in Ljubljana. And as soon as the rain cleared: my heart was won over.
Wandering from art gallery to art gallery, Ljubljana surprised me time and again with more culture than I could’ve imagined from such a small country. Walking down the steps into the Jakopic Gallery, I was amazed to find the building so old. Walls were made of rock and it was only later that I realized this must be part of the former Roman Forum from a long ago empire. Romans settled Ljubljana, calling it Emona, 2000 years ago.
Ljubljana’s history wasn’t just present in its museums, though — it also shone through the city’s food. I was told repeatedly during my weekend in Ljubljana about the local foods and one that kept coming up was burek. Burek?! I would say. That’s crazy. It’s Turkish! But alas: bureks were introduced to Ljubljana after World War II when people from the Balkans migrated to Slovenia. And the simple street food was available just about everywhere. Though I much preferred the street food available at the weekly Friday Open Kitchen market.
My best meals in Ljubljana, though, came from some of the city’s more high-end restaurants. A tasting menu at JB Restaurant left me full, and another night eating at the locally-owned Gostlina Na Gradu left me with a newfound respect for Slovenian cuisine. Ljubljana’s unique location between the sea and the Alps, between Austria and Italy has made this city into a top-notch culinary location.
Friday night in Ljubljana was different than I was expecting. Having spent the night before in Venice — which is arguably one of the most romantic cities of the world — Ljubljana just felt much more like my own scene. The city’s best nightlife takes place in the area just outside of the city center (no more than a 10 minute walk) called Metelkova. The autonomous region within the city is home to squatters, artists and bohemians. And also: the city’s best clubs. The center of the late-night attraction is the gay club Tiffany (it’s in the back corner of the walled off Metelkova; hard to miss, really). With some friends, we were in the club until 6am!
Ljubljana’s charm was in its simple beauty. The quaint riverside bars and cafes, the picturesque castle that looks over the city from atop its mountain. The surprisingly delicious food from a central European country. It seems Ljubljana was made for lovers. Those that want to appreciate a city for its simple beauties, its culture, its lovely way of life. Will I return to Ljubljana? Without a doubt!
5 Tips for Gay Travelers to Ljubljana
- Get in touch with LuxurySlovenia.eu to help plan your trip. They’ll have the best recommendations on things to do & see.
- Visit Club Tiffany on a Friday night. It’s Ljubljana’s best gay bar
- Ljubljana’s LGBTIQ Q Cultural Center puts on events, debates and other programs for the city’s LGBT and queer residents. Check their website for special events.
- Check out the lunch specials at Cafe Kolaz for a cheap, vegetarian-friendly option in the city center.
- Ljubljana’s annual gay pride takes place in June, but it might be more worthwhile to visit during the annual Pink Week in May.