June 19, 2018
If you’re visiting Ljubljana and feel it’s just a little too small, something that may hit after the third or fourth time walking through the Old Town, then consider going just a little further, especially in the warmer months, where by bike or on foot you can follow the river upstream and passed charming houses, gardens, and mansions in Trnovo and Prule, and end up in the city’s very own “beach”.
On the way there, in Trnovo, is this part of the beach that was designed by Plečnik. It’s a nice walk or cycle, and probably OK on the water too. Photo: Dunja Wedem via ljubljanski.projekti.si
Pleasure boats ply their trade from near the Three Bridges to Špica. Photo: JL Flanner
That’s put in scare quotes because there’s no sand, nor waves, but instead an area called Špica that locals use to hang out, sun bathe, picnic and rest, with a café in case you didn’t bring your own supplies, boats that go up to the centre of town, and a Bicikelj bike station if you’re part of that system (and if not, get on it).
Keep your eyes open and you may spot a family of nutrija (nutria, coypu, or Myocastor coypus) in the water, or, as on my trip, some English tourists, deep into the Laško/Union and deciding to take a cooling dip between every second or third bottle – although note that swimming isn’t encouraged.
You can also rent a kayak from the Kajak-Kanu Club Ljubljana, at 15 euros for one day or 5 for 2 hours, while the same people organize two-hour kayaking trips along the river for 25 euros a person, from May 1 to October 31, with the details here. Those who prefer to stand up on the water have the option of paddle-boarding, with one provider being Bananaway (details of their Ljubljana tour are here).
If you want to venture a little further into nature, while staying on dry land, then you can cross the bridge and visit the Botanic Garden, open daily from 07:00 to 17:00, with the current entrance fees being 2.8 euros for adults, 1.3 for students, and free for preschool kids, while a family ticket is 6 euros.
Overall the area is lovely, especially when the trees are full of leaves and the days are long and warm, like the one I’m typing this on, and it’s certainly a welcome respite from the Old Town, with its crowded streets and too little peace in the cafés.