I’ve never been big on organized tours. I like the idea of getting to know a city on my own terms. However, there are times when a tour can be a good choice. Knowing I was only going to be in Ljubljana for 48 hours I decided to give a tour a try, besides, this was going to be a bicycle tour, the type I had never experienced before.
Our train arrived in Ljubljana late in the evening and the very next morning we met with Tevz from Watermelon Ljubljana by Bike at the Cobblers’ Bridge and from there walked over to his office to pick up the bikes. We were going on a four hour tour and the plan was to stay away from the city center and cover sights and attractions that the average tourist doesn’t see – straight up my alley!
We started peddling towards the Breg embankment which is an area by the Ljubljanica river where most of the locals hang out. Our first stop was by an enormous statue of Ivan Hribar, who in 1896 became the mayor of Ljubljana and significantly contributed to its reconstruction and modernization after the devastating Easter earthquake of 1895. The statue is a symbol of Ljubljana’s modern history and Hribar’s tragic death. History tells us that at the age of ninety Hribar committed suicide by jumping into the river from the same spot where his memorial now stands.
One of the highlights of this tour was the Mirje district, where we got to see a section of the Roman wall of Emona. Tevz went into a lot of detail about its history and renovation by the iconic Jože Plečnik, who’s Vienna Secession style of architecture can be seen throughout Ljubljana.
To make things even more interested Tevz took us to a different part of town, a very an autonomous and alternative social center known as the Metelkova Mestro. Its site was the headquarters of the Yugoslav National Army. This small community has everything, from clubs, studios, to even a hostel (Celica Hostel) which was formerly a prison, all decorated by peculiar works of art and graffiti. This venue is ideal for late night parties… you’ll just need to show up with an open mind.
Another favorite stop during the bike tour was the Žale Cemetery. Who would have thought that a cemetery could be one of Ljubljana’s gems. Built on the site of a much earlier cemetery attached to the neighbouring Holy Cross Church, this cemetery was completed in 1940 and is arguably Plečnik’s Ljubljana masterpiece.
The grand arched entrance complete with stark white colonnades supposedly represents the gateway between the lands of the living and the dead. Between them and the cemetery itself are a series of peculiar buildings, chapels and a national monument in memory of the fallen soldiers in fights for the independent Slovenia in 1991.
One may think that because Ljubljana is a “pocket city” (in the words of Tevz) that a couple of days is more than enough time to see everything that it has to offer, but how wrong could one be. Two days were definitely not enough but I am convinced that if you cannot spend any more time in Ljubljana the bike tour will allow you to cover a big part of it that you would normally not see in a short period. Plus, the guided bicycle tour showcases the diversity of Ljubljana in 26 different places of interest, from picturesque parks and remarkable neighborhoods to the buzz of the Old Town.
Through the tour you’ll hear entertaining stories of the people and events that have shaped Ljubljana into an exciting city. If you want to maximize your time in Ljubljana, or simply want to see it like a local this is a great way to do so.
— Thanks to Watermelon Ljubljana by Bike for providing me with this activity.