I love exploring a new city, and one question I always ask myself on arrival is: what unique things can I do here?
Every major city has its great restaurants, bars, museums and galleries, but from the perspective of a frequent traveller its always especially satisfying to discover the attractions unique to that destination - venues, activities or oddities that you simply can't find elsewhere, such as the ruin bars of Budapest, the Txokos of Bilbao or the gnomes of Wroclaw.
With that in mind, here are three original activities I would highly recommend you check out should you ever find yourself in Ljubljana, the gorgeous capital of Slovenia.
An essential stop off for anyone interested in contemporary culture or nightlife, Metelkova is the name of an autonomous social centre that grew up in the early 1990s after the break up of Yugoslavia.
In fact the buildings that form the many body of the zone were once barracks of the Yugoslav army, before they were squatted by artists and intellectuals. Now they are home to art galleries, workshops, bars and clubs and, although more touristy these days, Metelkova still plays a vital role in the city's cultural and intellectual life.
For the casual visitor Metelkova mainly just represents a great place to hang out and meet people, and by day its fun to take your camera and photograph the incredible artwork that covers all of the zone's buildings... from simple graffiti to Gaudi-style trencadis effects, the place has become a museum of street art. By night it's even more fun, as youngsters gather to frequent the myriad of watering holes or simply bring their own booze and drink al fresco.
It's a laid back place with (seemingly) no rules, so don't be surprised too if you catch a waft of Mary Jane in the night air. For more insight on what to expect head to the centre's official website.
Open Kitchen or Odpryta Kuhna in Slovenian is an all day food event that takes place in Pogacarjev Square every Friday in Ljubljana, from mid-March to October.
Around 50 chefs from some of the best restaurants in the city set up stalls where they serve a mini menu of their usual offerings, enabling visitors to pick and mix from cuisines around the world. Of course tempting though some of the international offerings are, be sure to try some of the underrated Slovenian cuisine.
With strong influences from neighbours Austria, Hungary and Italy, as well as France and Mediterranean seafood dishes, you will recognise some familiar dishes, but typically Slovenians have their own take on things like cottage cream pancakes, chicken drumsticks and frogs legs. The local wines are also superb. Official website here.
Stand Up Paddle Boarding
I'd always thought of stand up paddling as a lake or coastal activity, so I was surprised - and intrigued - to find out that you can actual paddle board through the heart of Ljubljana's historic centre on the river Ljubljanica, which cuts through it. Of course I had to try it (despite being a poor swimmer!).
It was a lot of fun paddling under the likes of the famous Dragon Bridge, dodging boats and ducks and low hanging branches en route. It was also surprisingly easy, and I found the board to be very steady, even as a beginner. I went with a fun young company called Bananaway.
So there you have it... three highly original things to see and do in Ljubljana. I was lucky enough to be able to experience all three during the #TasteLjubljana blogtrip that was organised by The Travel Mob and Visit Ljubljana.
For many Ljubljana is the spring board for exploring the rest of Slovenia, and I notice that my fellow Travel Dudes have already posted some great tips on this very site for you to check out!
Travel tip shared by Duncan Rhodes