Climbing in Ljubljana

by Jaka Bulc

Ljubljana has caught a bit of a climbing bug lately and you too can join in the fun!

Take a short walk through Ljubljana’s streets and parks and you will see that its residents are mad about sports. School courts are full of youngsters playing basketball and football, roads leading out of town are populated by speedsters on road bicycles and Tivoli is swarming with joggers, runners and fitness groups. If you’re lucky, you might even see a climber practicing his moves on the restored remnants of the Roman town walls.

There are some splendid natural sport climbing areas dotted around Ljubljana and people have been climbing on the Roman walls since forever, but the top-notch indoor climbing centers that have opened in the past couple of years are the main reason why Ljubljana is a friendly city for climbers of all ages and skill levels. They provide a welcome shelter during the cold winter months and the necessary respite from the relentless summer heat.

Slovenians are avid climbers and the country has a rich climbing and mountaineering tradition, from the beginnings in the Julian Alps in the 18th century to the monumental achievements in the Himalayas around the turn of the millennium and excellent results in competition climbing recently. The good news is that you don’t even need to leave Ljubljana and its surroundings to get a glimpse of the scene, scratch your climbing itch and feel like one of the locals.

Game changer

Ljubljana has always had climbing gyms, but none can compare with Plezalni center Ljubljana (Ljubljana climbing center). This state of the art facility opened in 2013 and should be the first stop on any visiting climber’s list. The cube-like building houses a variety of climbing walls with a ton of different routes of various heights, grades and types. There is also a cosy bar and a well-stocked shop.

The team puts a lot of meticulous effort into setting interesting routes which are also frequently changed. All this means that everyone can find something to their liking - I personally love the bouldering problems, but am always in awe of climbers tackling the hard routes on the high wall.

Getting to the climbing center is a piece of cake - the terminus for buses number 5 and number 9 is just a short walk away.

  • Balvanija
  • Balvanija

Bouldering galore

Balvanija, an indoor spot north of the city center, is a haven for all bouldering aficionados. The gym has a ton of fun bouldering problems for all skill levels, but the best thing about the place is its atmosphere. The music is good, the mood is lively and very casual and the staff is friendly and helpful.

To get to Balvanija, take the number 20 bus and get off at the Gasilska brigada station.

Where sports meet history

Ljubljana’s Roman town walls are still very much in use more than 2000 years after they were built. Climbers have managed to repurpose them into a bit of a climbing playground.

The walls were built between 14 and 15 AD and the part in Mirje, south of the city center, was restored by Slovenia’s famous architect Jože Plečnik. Before indoor climbing gyms, Rimc, as the climber-friendly side of the wall is affectionately known, had been the most convenient practice spot for local climbers. These days, it gets a lot less traffic, but is still a very cool experience since it offers so many different problems and options.

To get to the wall from the city center, walk down Barjanska street and turn right onto Mirje street. You’ll see the wall on your right.

  • rimski zid
  • rimski zid

En plein air

There are a few other crags in the Ljubljana Basin, but Turnc gets the mention for its convenient location and the variety of bolted routes on offer. It is one of the oldest bolted climbing areas in Slovenia and is located at the foot of Šmarna gora, Ljubljana’s favorite hill for quick morning or afternoon hikes.

Turnc offers routes with grades from 4a to 7c+, which means that it is more than suitable for beginners and for those who are looking for a slightly bigger challenge. When your arms get sore, try the via ferrata-like Pogačnikova path to the top of Šmarna gora.

To get to Turnc, take the number 25 bus to Medno, cross the Sava river and head towards Šmarna gora. You should see the crags when you reach the main road in Vikrče village.

  • Turnc
  • Turnc

Jaka Bulc

Jaka works as a photographer, translator and music journalist.

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