Most visitors to Ljubljana, even those who live in the country, focus on the very centre of town, the picturesque and increasingly pedestrianised area that runs roughly between Žitni most (Grain Bridge) – the next bridge after Zmajski most (Dragon Bridge) – and Šentjakobski most (St James’ Bridge), at the end of the old town in the other direction. So in this series of articles we’ll write a little about places that are just outside this area, within an easy walk, cycle or so on, and which can be used as anchor points to explore further.
Today’s focus is Ljubljana Botanical Garden (Botanični vrt Univerze v Ljubljani), just passed Špica. I visited and took these pictures in late July. The date is important, as what you'll see obviously depends on the time of year, with repeat visits yielding different views. All of it, apart from the tropical greenhouse, is free to enter, and the walk there takes you along the Ljubljanica, via Špica.
Inside the tropical greenhouse
Founded in 1810, when Ljubljana was capital of the short-lived Illyrian Provinces (1809—14), part of the French Empire under Napoleon, when it was built to go along with the Ecole Centrale. Two centuries later, and it's now part of the University of Ljubljana.
Now I'll say right in the open that I have no idea what I'm looking at when I visit, other than the broad categories of grass, flower, and tree, but that doesn't spoil my enjoyment, especially with a camera in hand and a book to relax with in the shade of a tree.
There are paths to follow and many things to enjoy. In addition to the plants, there are all the insects you'll come across, with one focus of the garden being pollinators. The best known of these are of course the bees, and here you'll find a colony of the Carnolian Grey, the native Slovene species. There's an “education bee house”, out by the railtracks, where you can stand behind glass and watch the bees come and go from the hive. Or go out, as I did, and rest on your back looking up between the hive and the nearby grape vine, a superhighway of insects going back and forth above me.
Go slow enough to smell the flowers and take in the great variety packed into a relatively small area. Keep going ang eventually you’ll come across a pond with some turtles, or a cafe among the trees. Just lots of small things to enjoy.
If you like being in nature but find Tivoli Park too big, or just want a greater concentration of varied plants, the Botanical Garden is highly recommended, and visiting will also give you a chance to see more of the city, following the river upstream, to places where not everyone goes.
From June to August it's open every day 07:00 to 20:00. September and October it closes an hour earlier, while from November to March the hours are 07:00 to 17:00. April to June it's then open 07:00 to 19:00. The tropical greenhouse and store are open 10:00 to 19:00, every day of the week, where you can buy seeds and plants (although the latter only Monday to Friday, 08:00 to 18:00). Entrance to the greenhouse is €2.80 for adults and €1.30 for children, and annual tickets are available. The official website is here, and the address is Ižanska cesta 15, 1000 Ljubljana.