In the introduction to the Ljubljana section of Rick Steves’ Croatia and Slovenia, Rick says:
Batted around by history, Ljubljana has seen cultural influences from all sides — most notably Prague, Vienna, and Venice. This has left the city a happy hodgepodge of cultures. Being the midpoint between the Slavic, Germanic, and Italian worlds gives Ljubljana a special spice. And now Ljubljana is proud to be a trendsetter in the “New Europe” — most notably as Slovenia holds the rotating EU presidency for the first six months of 2008.
People often ask me: What’s the “next Prague”? And I have to answer Krakow. But Ljubljana is the next “next Prague.”
Of all the cities we’ve visited on this trip, Ljubljana would be my first candidate for a repeat visit. And not because we missed many of the major attractions here — in fact there aren’t many — but just because the ambiance and overall mood in this city are wonderful. It struck me as we were walking around today that Ljubljana feels a bit like Amsterdam (but of course without the canals, Red Light District, pancakes, and coffeeshops). It’s often dubbed a mini-Vienna. I haven’t been so can’t weigh in on that, but the architecture certainly has that Baroque Viennese flair. The couple of museums we visited were great, but I’d love to come back here just to spend more time walking around, sitting in cafes, and enjoying the amazing food. And as an added bonus, it would be great to see the city when it’s not pouring rain.
And another thing Ljubljana has going for it is, with notable the exception of a very brusque reception desk employee at the Hotel Park (we ended up staying elsewhere), all the Slovenes we’ve met have been extremely friendly and have bent over backwards to help us.
I wonder if I really just love any city with cobblestone streets and a river running through it (see Paris, Florence, Budapest, etc.).