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Cafés, Bars & Pubs - Ljubljana Nightlife

Cafes, Bars & Pubs

Here's Ljubljana Life's listing of nearly 100 of the best and/or most popular cafes, bars and pubs in town. We've arranged them by category, so as to give you a better idea of what the offerings, decor, atmosphere and clientele of each place is like.

Just bear in mind that a) the dividing line between a "cafe" and a "bar" is pretty blurry hereabouts and b) many of the places on our list could easily be included in more than one category. We've given you some orientation, but only you can find the cafe, bar or pub that feels like home.

 

ARTSY CAFES

Antico, Stari trg 17, 01/426 56 28

Painted ceilings, frosted lights, framed mirrors and dark wood trimmings set the tone for this elegant Old Town cafe. Maybe not the most hip and happening place down in those parts, but a nice, laid-back setting for a good cup of Illy coffee, or a glass of one of the many fine Slovenian wines they offer.

 

Cafe Arte, Slovenska 34

Location-wise, this cafe is about as downtown as they come. Just around the corner from its mothership, Best Western's Hotel Slon, it spreads out over two floors full of cinema memorabilia, with plenteous windows for gazing down upon one of the city's busiest pedestrian zones. The ambience is elegant, yet prices are lower than you'd expect.


Click here for an alternative look at the Ljubljana coffeehouse scene.

 

Cafe Galerija, Mestni trg 5

The Municipal Gallery's resident cafe is part of a new surge in nightlife on once-sleepy Mestni trg. Candles light the way to a would-be pasha's den, with imitation Ottoman furnishings, gauze curtains and ample couches. However "exotic" the setting, the trendy young crowd here poses, tipples, ogles and guffaws just like in any other bar. Prices above-average, staff self-enamored.

 

Cafe Union, Nazorjeva 2, 01/425 41 33

A spacious, tastefully-done cafe, elegant yet relaxed nothing less or else would really suit a fine old hotel like the Union. Drawing a slightly older clientele, this is a place where conference delegates and artsy types mingle, but with prices even a nobody can afford. Formerly Cafe Theatre, the largest of the three big rooms here still occasionally serves as a music and theater space.

 

Drama, Erjavčeva 1

The Slovenian National Drama Theater's in-house bar doesn't make too dramatic an impression. Fairly bright and spacious for a basement, it tends to be a quiet place, usually getting crowded only before or after the show. Rotating exhibitions of local art dot the walls; otherwise there's not much decor to speak of. Open pretty late.

 

Gaudi, Nazorjeva 10, 01/426 56 29

In a town where Plečnik rules the roost, this downtown cafe's fanciful decor reminds you there's more than one architect in the world. But coffee's the main item on the agenda here, with a vast array of specialties to try, including fresh takes on ice coffee and frappe. You can even buy some beans to take with you. Maybe a good idea: seating here is limited.

 

Metropol, Kersnikova 6

Formerly a popular nightspot, Metropol has quieted down and reopened as a daytime cafe for Kersnikova Street alternative culture institutions like Kapelica Gallery, center Kiberpipa and club K4. So the sharp lines, chrome trim, plasticated surfaces and art-packed walls of this large, low-lit space should come as no surprise. The bar is basically drinks-only, with prices and selection as per usual.

 

Pilon, Prešernova 1

Just a few blocks beyond the busiest part of town, Pilon seems ripe for discovery. The sense of style here is emphatic even by local standards (e.g. the front door doubles as a pop art panel). This bright, spacious, high-ceilinged cafe somehow manages to delight all the senses at once. With plenty of fat art and fashion magazines lying around, it also makes a fine place to sit and read.

 

EATS AND SWEETS

Pixi, Mestni trg 17

A modest ice cream parlor and sweet shop, Pixi (formerly Pingvin 8) is far less trendy and a good deal cheaper than almost any other place in its swanky neighborhood. The name change seems to have left the homely plasticated interior here basically untouched. The desserts and homemade sladoled, always big favorites, look the same as before, too.

 

Pri Vodnjaku, Stari trg 30

Though it houses perhaps the loveliest of all the "antique" cafe interiors in Old Town, this little place often gets passed by. And this despite a prime location right where Stari and Gornji trg meet, near the old Hercules fountain (hence the name). Definitely worth a visit for its excellent tea and desserts, olde-apothecary-shop ambience, creaky furniture and pleasant service.

 

Tomato, Subičeva 2

You may have tried Tomato's tasty sandwiches in any number of Ljubljana cafes and bars. But there's only one official all-Tomato cafe/diner here. Located right downtown, its menu offers omelets, salads, grill specialties and, of course, sandwiches to eat on the spot or take away. The nice service and snazzy post-mod, pop-art interior speak in favor of the former option.

 

Tramvaj Ekspres, Trg MDB 10

The last of Ljubljana's shiny red trams stopped running sometime back in the late 1950s. But one of them is still on the streets, albeit no longer rattling along and clanging its bell, the better to concentrate on serving up cheap pizzas and a variety of beverages. Students and nostalgia buffs are among the most frequent passengers.

 

Zlata Ribica, Cankarjevo nabrežje 5, 01/241 06 90

The first riverside establishment you'll meet in Old Town, Zlata Ribica has finally cashed in on its prestigious location after long years as one of the proud few pre-capitalist relics on the local bar scene. The interior's been refurbished, the windows frosted, and they've added an extensive menu of Slovenian and Italian fare. Pleasant outdoor seating in warmer weather, both alongside the river and in a small, shady square.

 

Zvezda, Wolfova 14

Located in the northeast corner of the popular city park of same (nick)name, Zvezda is both a relatively trendy cafe and a particularly good cake shop. All of the pastries and ice cream are made in house. Its several rooms of varying decor and size add up to an extended yet intimate lounging space, perfect for a morning caffeine fix or a sweeter afternoon.

 

HIPSTER CENTRAL

Kafeterija Lan, Gallusovo nabrežje 27

The only riverside cafe in that quieter stretch of Old Town below the Cobbler's Bridge, Kafeterija's workaday name is a funny one for this fluorescent green, flower-pattern room that seems more like an art gallery. And the young hipsters who frequent it probably don't mind being taken for art objects, either.

 

Kuriln'ca, Mestni trg 18

Last in the mighty trio of trendy cafes on the upper-right riverbank, Kuriln'ca certainly wins the prize for best interior of the three, though you hardly see it for the parasols at least six months of the year. Lateral lighting, exposed pipes, a bold silver and yellow color scheme, and a high, arched ceiling help make the most of the bar's small floor space. Decent service, prices and music.

 

Makalonca, Hribarjevo nabrežje (below the footbridge)

Situated not just within sight of the Ljubljanica but right down at the water's edge, Makalonca is a riverside cafe unlike any other. Pleasant enough by day, at night the secluded booth seating, candlelight and water-level views of Old Town and Castle make for quite the magical atmosphere, even with all that techno throbbing underneath (occasional live DJs).

 

Minimal, Mestni trg 4

When they say Minimal here, they mean it: a sheer white interior with white upholstery, white-painted metal tables, and soft white light. But Minimal's occasional exhibitions and concerts (performers have included Scanner) and the fashion-conscious hipsters who gather here add a bit of color. Prices are average for this now-trendy part of town, but the designer drinks list is worth perusing, if only on aesthetic grounds. Now featuring sushi on Wednesday nights.

 

Ragamuffin, Krojaska 4

Just around the corner from some of Ljubljana's flashiest bars, Raggamuffin has a more relaxed atmosphere, a less predatory clientele and, most important, a better soundtrack than any of them. Reggae and other Caribbean sounds play almost non-stop, while photos of Jamaican music stars grace the walls. Otherwise the drinks and prices here are pretty much the same as anywhere else.

 

INTERNET CAFES

For other, "decaf" Internet options, check our guide to Getting Online in Ljubljana

Cyber Cafe, Slovenska 10

A dim, plain little bar on Ljubljana's main drag, offering shelter from traffic plus one of the rare public Internet points in town. Four computers have now been crammed into the back room by the door. Often crowded with surfing students, but daily drink specials help ease the wait.

Cyber Cafe Xplorer, Petkovškovo nabrežje 23

Not much of a cafe here, aside from the vending machine variety, but you will find a dozen or so internet-enabled computers, each sporting an 8Mbit/s DSL connection.

Klub Fabrka, Poljanska cesta 9,

Gritty basement student dive that recently expanded their offering with 5 free internet PCs... that is if you can manage to get one.


LATE NIGHT REFUGE

Druga Pomoč, Šmartinska 3, 01/431 32 77, 6am to 3am daily

This friendly little bar just east of the city center dispenses "second aid" no less than 21 hours a day. Located on the way to or from some of Ljubljana's favorite nightclubs, a quick stop-off here often turns into a longer commitment. The interior's minimal and metallic, while the backyard patio is tranquil and spacious. In-house DJs almost every night, stellar service at all times.

 

Hombre, Gerbičeva 61, 01/429 26 20, 7 pm to 5 am

South-of-center late-night dive, its vaguely Latin American theme obscured by years of smoke and wear and tear. Not that anyone notices or cares, for Hombre is basically a place where people (mostly male) repair at that hour when there's no hope left but crash-landing into the next morning.

 

Pod Skalco, Gosposka 19

Just around the bend from the city's leading outdoor music venue, Pod Skalco stands out mainly for two things: late hours (though now curtailed from four to three a.m.) and double-take toilet seats. Otherwise its rubbed-down rustic interior is nothing special. But Pod Skalco's low-key yet lively atmosphere makes it worth stopping by even before all the other bars have closed.

 

LOUD-N-SMOKEY

Brewery Pub, Subičeva 1

Neither a micro-brewery nor a proper pub, Brewery is a leading local purveyor of the same Friday night house-and-hops-fuelled mayhem you find in bars all over Europe. And the kids love it, covering every square inch of the drab interior, even spilling onto the concrete plaza in front of Maximarket, where there's seating in summertime.

 

Companeros, Slovenska 51, 01/434 41 47

Head down the dim alleyway below the big sign on Slovenska to find this mildly Mexican-flavored haunt of students and other youth, to whom it happily caters with popular weekend party nights (Thursday through Saturday). Though hard to make out in the low light, the decor seems to aim at some sort of cantina ambience.

 

Kra Kra, Gosposvetska 2, 01/431 90 99

A cavernous, dingy underground bar notorious for riotous student merrymaking. The light is neon, the air is stale, and the bar furnishings have stood up to years of intensive bombardment. This is a place for no-holds-barred partying, for drinking yourself as blind as love. It is NOT the place for a nice quiet drink. You have been warned. Occasional DJs or live music.


MUSIC BARS

Gajo Jazz Club, Beethovnova 8, 01/425 32 06

A classy, laid-back downtown bar featuring mainly traditional some would even say conservative jazz. Almost every seat in the house is a good one when there's a live act on. When there's not, Gajo's low-volume soundtrack and intimate ambience make it a swell place for a chat or a solitary drink.

 

Geonavtik, Kongresni trg 1

Part of a shop that sells travel guides and maps, the decor of this very central cafe explores the given terrain further. Besides staying open long hours to provide refreshment to weary wayfarers, Geonavtik also hosts occasional travel lectures and live jazz acts: check the chalkboard out front for details.

 

Orto Bar, Grablovičeva 1, 01/232 16 74

An archetypal red velvet lounge dispensing hard liquor and heavy tunes, Orto is one of Ljubljana's leading live music venues, with punk, blues and "trash" acts appearing weekly. Bands perform in the upstairs room, which usually gets packed and smokey to the point of asphyxiation. The spectacle of ceaselessly spinning turbine fans in the downstairs walls is likewise not for the faint-hearted.

 

Sax Pub, Eipprova 7

Housed in a spray-painted peasant-style house on the Trnovo waterfront, this is one of the few bars in town that's louder outside than in. Also one of the rare places where you can catch live jazz acts, usually on Thursday evenings. Even on nights when they're merely drawing from their fine CD collection, this is a cool, low-key hangout that seems miles from the tourist trail.

 

NEW or RENOVATED

Abecedarium Cafe, Ribji trg 2, tel: 01/426-95-14

The author of the first Slovene book, Primo Trubar, lived here in the 16th century. You'll easily remember the name of the book - Abecedarium. The cafe is open from 7am for anyone who wants to enjoy a fast breakfast, or just a quick morning coffee. The food is served till 4pm, with cocktails, sweets, and alcoholic as well as nonalcoholic drinks available surprisingly till 1 am daily.

 

Julija, Stari trg 9, 01/425 64 63

Ever faithful to her Romeo just over the way, Julija also went in for some rejuvenation during 2001. Yet the bright, elegant new interior here is more in keeping with the "spirit" of Old Town. The former front-room sandwich counter has been replaced by a massive wooden bar amplified by two Baroque mirrors. Julija's new food menu, vaguely Mediterranean in flavor, provides ample compensation, and adds a pleasant twist to the cafe routine.

Pixi, Mestni trg 17, tel. 01/426-84-60

An ice cream parlor and sweet shop, Pixi (formerly Pingvin 8, formerly ???, originally Zmajčkov butik) has yet another new image. The new clean and simple interior offers a variety of classic deserts, good coffees and the usual variety of sladoled. Its casual, not too trendy, and a great hangout for nonsmokers in the winter time. They also accept orders for cakes on those occasions when you have a reason to blow candles.

Salon, Trubarjeva 23, 01/433 20 06

Evidently tired of catering to high school kids, the TrueBar crew decided to polish up their image while staying trendy. The result: an interior swathed in velvet and faux-leopard, with big lounge chairs and petite ottomans parked around low tables, all encased in a gilded facade whose two big windows are made more for looking in than out. It may seem a little cold and bare, but Salon has a certain snob appeal that's already drawing a crowd.

 

Triglav, Mala ulica 5, 01/234 52 29

Triglav has changed almost overnight from an obscure pizzeria into a stylish bar&grill, offering a big selection of drinks, including cocktails and an impressive array of wines domestic and foreign, plus a small food menu featuring grilled entrees and curries.


OLDE STYLE PUBS

Baileys Pub, Kolodvorska 7

Two-level downtown pub with sturdy, simple decor. Popular with both gruff TV types (upstairs) and idle students (downstairs). In warmer weather, the sidewalk patio affords fine views of congested traffic and the occasional fender-bender. Whatever the season or seating arrangement, service and prices are always agreeable.

 

Cutty Sark, Knafjlev prehod 1

Serving Union, Kilkenny, Guinness, Heineken and cider on tap, this cheerful, chockfull downtown pub is still a big favorite with locals, expats and tourists alike. The bar's as well stocked as any you'll find in these parts, and the half a dozen people running around behind it provide remarkably prompt and smiling service. Though the nautical theme is underplayed, sardine-can comparisons are inevitable on weekends.

 

Guinness Pub, Gosposka 3

Despite the corporate name and highly orthodox pub interior, Guinness has a few things going for it. Its extensive bottled beers list wanders as far afield as Belgium, the location is right at the crossroads of downtown and the riverside, and it has a beautiful, spacious courtyard for sitting out on starry summer nights.

 

Holidays Pub, Slovenska 36

Maybe the oldest "real English" pub in Ljubljana, Holidays looks like it hasn't changed a bit over the years. Its gewgaw-cluttered, rubbed-down upstairs barroom, cozy or cramped depending on your sensibilities, is still a beloved haunt of beer connoisseurs and homesick expats, and safe haven from some of the worst traffic in town. More seating downstairs.

 

Katakombe Pub, Stari trg 19, 01/426 51 61

One of the earthier drinking establishments in Old Town, Katakombe is not nearly as "Gothic" as its name suggests. Its naked brick walls and bare wooden fittings might not please the eye, but they make it the right setting for drinking, smoking and gabbing. A fairly unpretentious young crowd fills the place most nights.

 

Kratochwill, Kolodvorska 14, 01/433 31 14

Ljubljana's one and only micro-brewery has concocted a fine Bohemian-style pale lager, as well as superb wheat and dark varieties. And whereas meals in Czech beer halls tend to be forgettable at best, the menu at Kratochwill offers lots of tasty, well-prepared meat, pasta and veggie options, plus salads and desserts. Open every day till midnight, often for a mere handful of customers.

 

Levstik, Levstikov trg 9, 01/425 38 26

Keep straight past the fountain on Stari trg (avoiding the upturn to Gornji trg) and you'll find this pleasant, low-key pivnica. Though in fact no local beers are available here (it's Gsser on tap), the plain decor, pokerfaced service and unpretentious clientele are everything you want in a pub. Ample outdoor seating in warmer weather.

 

Patrick's Irish Pub, Prečna 6

Pouring Guinness, Kilkenny, cider, and more, Patrick's ably defends its reputation as Ljubljana's sole "real traditional" Irish pub. There's also a broad range of whiskeys, some cocktails, and a better than usual bar menu, featuring both snacks and entrees.


Zlata Ladjica, Jurčičev trg 1

Located just over the Cobbler's Bridge from Stari trg, Zlata ladjica almost certainly has more outdoor seating than any other riverside bar in town. Yet it's not just quantity that's made this place popular, it's quality, too: fair prices, cheerful service, fine views of Old Town framed by Plečnik columns, and a candlelit nighttime ambience perfect for leisurely drinking and chatting. Recent renovation has left the tacky nautical-style interior miraculously intact.

 

PLAIN AND SIMPLE

 

Cafe Caffe, Čopova 7

Probably the best quick caffeine fix in town, Cafe Caffe puts double emphasis on good java. Drink it on the run at slim side-counters, sip it discreetly in the little salon in back, or brave the incessant onslaught of pedestrians at a sidewalk table. Service is usually friendly, and always fast.

 

CN7, Cankarjevo nabrežje 7

The most remarkable thing about this small riverside cafe is how little it tries in a neighborhood rife with flashy bars to be remarkable at all. The simple interior can barely fit a massive ice cream counter and a few tables, but fortunately there's outdoor seating overlooking the river. Best of all are the prices - the lowest in these parts, for sure.

 

Exes, Miklošičeva 22

This no-frills downtown coffee bar gets all kinds: office workers, students, railway riffraff. The coffee's just fine, and cheap as it comes, but the days when Exes could boast the biggest mugs of bela kava in town are probably over. Seating opposite the bar and in the loft, though most people don't linger long here. Opening hours are modest, despite the name.

 

Platana Bar, Kongresni trg 7

Located right on the edge of lively Zvezda Park, this is probably the only cafe/bar anywhere near the river where the clientele's average age exceeds 30. The interior's fairly new, though by no means flashy, and the prices are affordable. So it's probably just the sight of the middle-aged regulars here that puts city youth off. Who wants to drink with their boss?

 

Pri Pavli, Stari trg 21, 01/425 92 75

Besides being a museum-quality specimen of socialist-era beer culture, "Pavla's Place" also boasts a prime Old Town location. The pub's menu features soups, salads, pizza, pasta, seafood and lots of schnitzel. Union and Lako beer on tap, plus other favorite drinks. The prices are old-school, the service matronly, the clientele sedentary.

 

Reformator, Trubarjeva 18

The main thing that distinguishes Reformator from all the other bars on Trubarjeva is its big octagonal patio umbrella, located across the street from the bar itself, a fairly non-descript little place. The clientele here likewise tends to be less image-conscious, and maybe a bit older, than elsewhere in these parts. So it's a good place for low-attitude drink and chat.

 

Šerbi, Kersnikova 5

Formerly known as Baboo, and before that Miriam, this latest incarnation of the basement bar space opposite K4 seems to have done little more than swap the previous screaming yellow paint job for more subdued pastel tones. The place still feels a bit claustrophobic, and there's no real atmosphere to speak of, unless you count the smell of cooking they've added a menu featuring standard Slovenian fare.

 

QUIET DRINKS

Bar Grad, Grajska planota 1, 01/432 72 16

Though housed in the most obvious tourist target in all of Ljubljana, Bar Grad is neither outrageously expensive nor a Let's Go reading room. Its rather dull interior isn't really worth the uphill trudge, but on clear days the panoramic view is splendid. Better still is the outdoor courtyard, especially on torch-lit summer evenings.

 

Cafe Evropa, Gosposvetska 2

While but a mere shadow of its former self, Evropa still retains something of the elegance and ease of the grand old Central European cafe tradition. Service is a bit wooden, and prices are high, but there's really no other place like it in town. Ideal for watching the world go by (in lots of noisy cars) on an idle afternoon.

 

Krakovski Vogal, Krakovski nasip 12, 01/126 52 51

Just south of the center, this laid-back riverside bar captures the spirit of Krakovo, a charming "suburb" that's home to gardeners on a pension and artists on welfare. Not that you'll necessarily meet either type of person inside. But Krakovski Vogal's soft colors and easygoing atmosphere still give you some idea what this part of town is all about.

 

Cafe Clementina, Gornji trg 25, 01/126 64 40

The blatant advertisement on its patio awning shouldn't dissuade you from stepping inside and staying a while. A favorite with neighbors, students and the art set alike, the antique furnishings and soft hues here give the place a relaxed, literary salon ambience.

 

Miklav, Krojaška 6

A short alley walk from the right bank and all its smart cafes, Miklav is a humbler, homelier sort of character. The rough-grain wooden furniture and antique stove conjure up a definite country-cottage feel, and the atmosphere here is cozy and low-key to match. Good for a breather, as well as a nice long chat.

 

Petkovšek, Petkovškovo nabrežje 15, 01/432 73 35

Definitely the nicest of several cafes lining the upper bank of the Ljubljanica, opposite the cathedral and marketplace. Service here is brisk and friendly, the interior light and airy, and the coffee served in style on a gleaming platter among the best in Ljubljana. Also offers outdoor seating next to a riverside parking lot.

 

Roža, Zidovska 6

Carefully-laid outdoor tables and a rather elegant exterior set you up for a disappointment once you enter this small cafe/bar, located between Zvezda Park and the river. There's nothing especially wrong with it, mind you; just that the place is a bit dim, more than a bit tacky, and generally lacking in atmosphere.

 

Slamič, Kersnikova 1

When seeking out this charming new downtown cafe, watch for the "KavaČaj" logo. It also gives you a good idea of what's on offer here: lots of coffee (including three versions of cappuccino) and a large selection of tea, even to take home. Snacks and several breakfast menus are also listed. Living-room-style decor and a relaxed atmosphere make this the most "adult" bar in the neighborhood. Smokers' area upstairs.

 

SEASONAL CAFES

Pločnik, Prešernov trg

Larger and trendier of the two popular seasonal cafes on bustling Presernov trg, located right at the foot of the Triple Bridge. Pločnik usually doesn't pack up its umbrellas and chairs till the beer ices over, so devoted people-watchers can keep busy well into the off-season. The staff, on the contrary, can be extremely myopic. Also has its own ice cream stand.

 

SEE AND BE SEEN

Boheme, Mestni trg 19

Second in the great troika of outdoor cafes on Ljubljana's "rive droite". In fact, there's really no telling Boheme from its competitors as long as summer lasts, and no one goes indoors. Yet chessboard tiles, big bold paintings and vaulted ceilings lend the interior a shabby elegance that somehow ennobles those bleaker wintertime sessions.

 

Casablanca, Cankarjevo nabrežje 25

Once the most popular riverside cafe in town, Casablanca seems to be in a slump these days, with erratic hours, haphazard decor and a blurry image. Patrons at its once-prized patio tables now almost seem as if stranded, cut off from the real action further up river. Still, it's as pleasant a place as any when the sun shines.

 

Le Petite Cafe, Trg francoske revolucije 4

The French/rustic trappings of this extremely popular south-of-center cafe form the generally disregarded backdrop to an incessant buzz of activity, which completely fills both of LPC's two rooms and spills out onto the sidewalk as well. Provided you can find a seat, a more than generous mug of bela kava, a toasted baguette sandwich or any of the breakfast entries come highly recommended.

 

Maček, Krojaška 5

What to say about Maček that hasn't already been said? Fully exploiting its strategic position as the trendy right bank's center of gravity, it's a nonstop orgy of intensive people-watching-people from behind impenetrable shades. Late Sunday morning is especially prime rubberneck time. Neither the service nor the prices here are especially friendly, but one fact is indisputable: everyone goes to Maček because everyone goes to Maček.

 

Romeo, Stari trg 6

Formerly a bottom-line pizzeria, Romeo has re-emerged from renovation as an Old Town contender. The interior is emphatically scarlet and fashionably minimalist, but sitting out on the riverside patio is still a far more pleasant option, weather allowing. A sufficient drinks list is complemented by a decent selection of sandwiches and burritos, the latter quite filling and slightly bland, just as local taste requires.

 

STUDENT HANGOUTS

Bi-Ko-Fe, Zidovska steza 2

Friendly, artsy, colorful cafe/bar just steps away from the Ljubljanica's more tranquil left bank. Loud tunes, soft tones, cut-out collages on the tabletops. Carlsberg and Lako on tap, plus lots of other hot and cold favorites, not to mention special "ko-fe" concoctions. Weather allowing, there's a shady outdoor patio cooled by river breezes.

 

Birdland, Trubarjeva 50, 01/231 79 37

Name, decor and original intentions notwithstanding, Birdland isn't a jazz club. But it is a popular student hangout, serving cheap meals till 4pm and cheap drinks till much later. Friendly staff, lively atmosphere, dim lights, loud electronic music. And just a quick lurch straight downhill to the river, in case of emergency.

 

NUK Cafe, Turjaška 1

Down in the basement of Plečnik's splendid National Library is a cafe conceived almost as the master himself might have done. Pillars and panels divide the seating area into two isolated aisles, which affords customers greater privacy, but also gives the waitress more work to do. This is one place where you definitely feel part of some greater design.

 

Podnevi in Zvečer, Rimska 17

"During the day and in the evening" is both the name (better in Slovene) and the timeframe for this cafe/diner, situated right behind the Faculty of Arts and very popular with students. The food menu offers meals at bohemian prices, while the alphabetically-ordered drinks list epitomizes the disparity between theory and practice. Nicely faded pastel interior with lots of seating.

 

Pr Semaforju, Slovenska 5

One of the city's foremost student hangouts, "Semafor" is a cheerful, low-budget place with a spacious feel, thanks to its big plate-glass windows. At last report, there was no more free Internet down in the basement. But service remains friendly and the atmosphere relaxed. Some outdoor seating, in case you can't see the traffic well enough from inside.

 

Zmavc, Rimska 21

a.k.a "Od Zmavca sosed pa ud brata prjatu" (ask the locals). This is the quintessential Ljubljana student dive: small, loud, crowded, and humming with activity. Staff are indistinguishable from the customers (except that maybe they're even noisier). The decor is bright and funny, with comic strip scenes and figures running halfway up the walls. Don't bring a book.

 

THEME BARS

Casa del Papa, Celovška 54, 01/434 31 58

Having blazed new trails in Ljubljana nightlife, Casa del Papa has now settled down to a comfortable, even complacent middle age. The three-tiered funhouse still hosts fine dining and copious drinking (house cocktails are an especially popular feature of this celebrated immovable feast), but unfortunately to our surprise the Casa is now closed except for special group reservations.

 

Cereza, Nazorjeva 6

Steering clear of Latino bar stereotypes, Cereza features bright, simple decor and choice Cuban and Mexican tunes. Touting the best sangria in town (at a prestigious 400 SIT per glass), it also mixes a wide array of frappes, cocktails and shakes. Every night has its own special theme here: Sangria Night is the one to watch for.

 

Papillon, Nazorjeva 6

A downtown restaurant, cocktail bar and club with an obsessive theme. Its design, furniture and menu, even its washroom are dictated by the book and film "Papillon", set in a French colonial prison. The drab, oppressive decor seemed to attract a big crowd at first, though only time will tell the owners if they need to change the channel. Conspicuous consumption welcome.

Pr Skelet, Ključavničarska 5, 01/252 77 91

Filled in its every nook and cranny with grinning, cackling, spinning and copulating skeletons, this riverside basement dive is Ljubljana's most bizarre theme bar. But what's left once the joke wears off? (As it does, pretty fast.) Special house cocktails, a new food menu, loud-n-cheesy music, and big crowds. Yes, people are still dying to get in.

 

TWO FOR TEA

Čajna Hiša, Stari trg 3

Ljubljana's first and nearly only tearoom, with a huge array of green, herbal, fruit and black varieties to sample or purchase, is also one of its trendiest rendezvous points. In a town where it's rare to see people waiting for a cafe table, it's perhaps a testament to the beverage of choice that the atmosphere here always remains civil and relaxed. Superb breakfast options, too.

 


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