Granada, Heidelberg, Ljubljana, Plovdiv and York
This is a part of a series of ‘A guide for one day in (City)’. This post series includes an informative guide, shared by well-traveled and experienced travelers, about their favorite popular European cities and the ways to explore it in one day. If you are short on time or want to make use the quick city stop, this is the perfect place to know where to go and what to see. Keep reading to know how to spend one day in Granada, Heidelberg, Ljubljana, Plovdiv, and York in this part.
If you haven’t been to Granada before, you should definitely plan ahead and book reservations to see the Alhambra. This is Granada’s most famous sight and is definitely worth a visit. The ancient fortress and palaces are both fascinating and fabulous, with stunning views over the city of Granada. A visit to the Alhambra will take several hours, so plan ahead.
If you’ve already seen the Alhambra or just want to do something different, never fear; there is a lot to do in this small Spanish city. Put on your comfortable shoes and explore the twisting, climbing alleys of the Albayzin neighborhood. This is one of the oldest parts of the city, with centuries of inhabitation leaving their marks. Visit some of the historic buildings like Casa de Zafra, and don’t miss the enclosed gardens of the “carmens” or traditional houses of Granada. One of my favorites is Carmen de la Victoria because of the peaceful gardens with amazing views of the Alhambra.
When you get tired, take a break at a Teteria for a glass of tea and a sweet snack or a fruit smoothie. You may want to climb all the way up to Sacromonte or hop in a taxi for a quicker ride. Visit the cave homes where gitanos traditionally lived, and see the views from the Abbey.
Take in the sunset from Granada’s most famous Mirador San Nicolas, and see the Alhambra painted in gold and purple while you listen to street musicians playing their instruments. Then head downhill to do some tapas hopping – Granada is famous for the free food offered when you order a drink.
Later in the evening, you can head back up to Sacromonte to take in a flamenco show in one of the caves. Enjoy your time in this amazing Andalusian treasure.
A Day in Heidelberg is a day full of the beauty and romance of the past. Although it’s a vibrant and bustling university town, Heidelberg’s main charm lies in its history. With only a single day, I suggest you spend most of your time in Altstadt, the Old Town. It’s there you’ll find the baroque buildings that look like they just jumped off a postcard and the ghostly ruins of the castle looming above them.
Begin your day with a wander along the Hauptstrasse, a mile-long pedestrian shopping street full of life. It leads to the church of the Holy Spirit, with a tower you can climb for a fee, and the Marktplatz, the city’s historic main square. Its Hercules fountain is where criminals were displayed in cages during Medieval times. Next, turn towards the river to walk the Old Bridge with a wonderful view back up to the castle atop its hill. Back in the Marktplatz, you’ll find many places for lunch.
Now it’s time to see the massive red-sandstone ruins of the castle up close. From near the Kornmarkt, ride the funicular up to the top. Give yourself a couple of hours to enjoy the castle and the views of the river and town below. When you make your way back down again, head to the University area for the beautiful buildings, the energy of the student population, the beer halls and cafes, and the pure fun of visiting the 19th-century University Jail. Grab a seat at a sidewalk café for a coffee and strudel and watch the world go by.
This tiny taste of such a pretty and historic city is just enough to let you know you want to come back for more.
Ljubljana is a small city and you can visit most popular attractions by foot. The center is closed for car traffic, perfect for a walk. Start your visit on the Prešeren square. Statue of Slovenia’s greatest poet marks the most popular tourist spot. Every street leading from there is full of nice little shops, cafes and different eateries.
You can’t miss the huge pink church. Franciscan Church is on most of the postcards of Ljubljana.
Admire the Triple Bridge, made by architect Plečnik. His works can be found all over the city. Fancy a nice boat trip on Ljubljanica River? Learn about the numerous bridges crossing this river. You can walk over a few of them. Cobbler’s Bridge (Čevljarski most) is one of the oldest. Plečnik didn’t finish Butcher’s bridge (Mesarski most). Built-in 2010, it is a popular place where lovers symbolically padlock their love on the steel wires.
You are close to Ljubljana Open market, the place to buy fresh produce on normal days and home of The Open Kitchen event on Fridays in the summer. Selected restaurants attract foodies from near and far. Snap a photo of the Dragon Bridge.
A short walk uphill or a funicular can take you from Old town to the Ljubljana castle. Nice view, pricey restaurant and a glimpse of the history. Also, a lot going on under the castle. They have a smaller free exhibition in one of the towers and bigger (not free ones) everywhere else.
A walk in a Tivoli park and coffee break in a Boathouse (Čolnarna) is a must. Check out the rose garden next to the Tivoli Pond and the tropical glasshouse. Rožnik hill is also a popular short hike, starting in the Tivoli Park. If you have time, check out Metelkova city and some of the local museums, or get a cup of coffee in a local pub and relax next to the Ljubljanica River.
The Northern UK city of York is full of history, having previously been invaded by the Romans, Normans, and Vikings. It’s a small city and therefore certainly doable in just one day. I suggest waking up early to start with a walk of the city walls. This will give you fantastic views of York Minster, the River House, and Clifford’s Tower.
Walking the York city walls takes approximately 2 hours, and I would break this up into sections, stopping off at key sites on the way. York Minster is the largest gothic cathedral in Northern Europe. Take the time to go inside and down to the basement where you can see the original Norman structure of the cathedral walls. When you stop off at Clifford’s tower, the fortified castle raised by William the Conqueror, you should also find time to go into the York Castle Museum for an insight into medieval life in the city.
At lunchtime, take the time to walk down the Shambles, arguably one of the best preserved medieval streets in the world. Make sure that you have a spot to eat and drink at the famous Betty’s tea room (book if possible in high season). If you are into Viking history, you may also find time in the afternoon to visit the Jorvik Viking center, which is a living museum with reconstructed Viking settlements that you can travel around in a cart to see life-sized models.
If you are ready for a drink at the end of the day, head to Evil Eye or the House of Trembling Madness to finish up with a cocktail or a local beer.