Indie Guides are written by artists and musicians all over the world. We love them for the uber-local recommendations and charming descriptions. Last time, they took us to Madrid, but we wanted to go even further off the beaten path ... to Slovenia. Ljubljana resident Robert Dumendzic shows us around the capital city.
WHERE TO EAT
Poljanska 7; +386-59-925-446
Gostilna Dela prides itself on its eclectic and varied range of delicious breakfasts and lunches to satisfy meat, fish, and vegetarian guests alike. The food is fresh, healthy, and prepared in an open kitchen, with as much local produce as possible on the menu (i.e. wine Dornberg from Zalošče). The interior is cheerful and cozy with lots of nice touches, such as water served in an unusual bottle with mint leaves in it – perfect for hot summer months. In line with the principles of social entrepreneurship, all dishes and drinks are prepared and served by young people who lack formal qualifications or who have a disability, helping them become more employable. Just a stone's throw from Central Market and Ljubljana Castle Funicular, it's a nice place to stop in for a bite as you plan the rest of your day. Take bus 2 (Krekov trg).
Dunajska cesta 123;+386-70-553-531
This building once belonged to Slovenia's best-known publishing and printing house Mladinska Knjiga, but a young team transformed it into a cool all-day hangout spot. Locals stop by for delicious coffee and sandwiches and Slovenian craft beer all day and night. The food is notable for its KOPA charcoal oven, a Slovenian invention that prepares food without using any fat and lends the all-important smoky flavor to Tiskarna's burgers, BBQ ribs, and wings. I adore their homemade ginger, mint, and lemon iced tea served in jars. While there, be sure to check out their unusually decorated toilet. To get there, take bus 6, 8, 11 (Mercator).
WHERE TO DRINK
Gallusovo nabrežje 27; +386-40-727-362
It's impossible not to fall under the spell of this adorably decorated bar. From the ashtrays proudly displaying the logo of legendary Yugoslavian Filter 57 cigarettes, to the recycled radios and TVs, the orange mugs, fixies and longboards, this place is dripping with nostalgia. But Tozd has all five senses covered: try one of the wines, one of their many Slovenian craft beers, or cold brew coffee. At the back of the café is a little library/book exchange (a few are in English). There are only a few tables available inside, and given the charm of the place, they're usually full. A summer terrace catches the shade of a big tree along the banks of the Ljubljanica river. Catch the bus 2, 3, 11, 19I, 27 (Gornji trg).
Od Žmauca Sosed Pa Ud Brata Prjatu
Rimska cesta 21; +386-12-510-324
This small bar, whose name literally translates as "Žmauc's neighbor and brother's friend," is an interesting little place always sure to have funny and weird things going on. Ideally situated in the city center, "Žmauc" (as the locals call it) is the perfect hangout spot for those looking to have fun and unwind with a well-thought-out selection of prerecorded, non-commercial music mixes. The interior décor also provides a real wow factor — take some time to peruse the manga comic strip scenes and figures that adorn the walls. During the day, grab excellent one-pot dishes or big tasty sandwiches. There is also a pretty summer terrace for late afternoon and evening summer drinking, but try to come early to get hold of a table. Occasional DJ parties are not to be missed (check the schedule). You can reach it by bus 1, 6, 6B (Aškerčeva).
Mestni trg 2; +386-40-204-693
This joint has a little bit of everything: By day it's a bar, gallery, small comic bookshop, and social hangout; by night it's a concert venue or electro club. There's also food and excellent coffee, which can be enjoyed on their modern and comfortable summer terrace. Pritličje offers a delicious selection of craft beers, wines, and cocktails as well as really flavorful and healthy homemade soups and dips at reasonable prices. It's the only explicitly gay and lesbian friendly bar in the center of Ljubljana and is very well known among locals for its politically active event schedule exploring a wide range of social topics. Catch the bus: 1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 9, 11, 14, 19I (Konzorcij et Pošta).
The heart of Ljubljana's alternative culture
Prijateljeva ulica 2; +386-12-334-555
A well-known venue with a brilliant atmosphere, the likes of which you will be hard-pressed to find elsewhere in Ljubljana. Neatly tucked away under the trees in one of the most pleasant neighborhoods close to the medieval city, is the beating heart of alternative culture in Slovenia. Catering to a more demanding crowd, with supreme jazz, blues, and rock concerts, plays, and stand-up comedy, and other events that are free of charge, it is a true institution. To get there, take bus 2, 3, 11, 19I, 27 (Gornji trg).
WHERE TO SHOP
Pokopališka Ulica 13; +386-41-819-359
Everything you own, no matter how important it is to you, will one day end up in the garbage, which is why the three founders of Smetumet decided to launch their own brand. All products are created using recycled materials, giving new life to objects destined for the trash. Leave their shop with a repurposed item, or with a new perspective on creative solutions for reducing waste. Catch bus 2, 9, 11, 20, 25 (Tržnica Moste).
Gosposvetska cesta 5; +386-41-641-759
This shop should definitely be on your list of must-sees, even if vintage is not your thing. A fantastic city-center discovery, Divas Vintage focuses on the more grown-up side of pre-loved goods. The fabulous 150-square-meter space is filled with black-and-white décor with gold accents and music humming in the background. Sort through an eclectic selection of curios, clothes, and fashion accessories for men and women ranging from the 30's to the 90's – some produced by Slovenian manufacturing and design companies no longer in existence. The staff here is friendly and always ready to advise you on how to wear your new find. Take bus 1, 3, 5, 7, 8, 25, 27 (Gosposvetska).
WHAT TO DO
Masarykova cesta 24
Metelkova City is an autonomous social center situated near the bus and railway station of Ljubljana. The space houses an art gallery, bars, artists' studios, cultural organization offices, LGBT spaces, clubs, iinner courtyard lounge, and concert venues. Imagine a crossover of Rome's Forte Prenestino and Copenhagen's Christiania. With all these different places concentrated in the same spot, Metelkova City is probably the best and most vibrant nightlife spot in Ljubljana right now. There's free jazz, psychobilly, death metal, and punk concerts to dub, funk, drum and bass, and techno nights. You can watch an arthouse movie and party at a gay club in the same night without having to leave — it really is a city within the city and the vibe here is unforgettable. What's more, the former military barracks complex can be visited by day for its architectrure, mosaics, and street art. The common consensus: A must-see for anyone visiting Ljubljana. Reach it by bus 2, 9, 12, 25, 27 (Friškovec).
In military jargon, a "polygon" is a training space. This particular Poligon, however, is a creative and artistic hub. The former tobacco factory now provides a huge co-working space — interesting and useful for freelance travelers with work to catch up on. Poligon also hosts around 300 events per year — from meet-ups, conferences, lectures, and workshops to various types of exhibitions. Daily, multi-day, and monthly membership passes grant workers access to all the facilities. Bus 1, 1B, 6, 6B (Tobačna) will get you there.