The clever social media gurus from Spotted by Locals spotted my tweet requesting off the tourist trail things to do for my quickfire trip to Ljubljana and suggested I download their guide to the city.
The guide is written by residents giving their unique guide on where to go to meet locals rather than tourists.
Great idea I thought and after sampling the free preview pages I downloaded the app and the Ljubljana guide. Here is my unbiased and unpaid review based on this particular city only (SbL do 66 other cities too).
They advertise their guides at €3.99 or $3.99 each.
This gave cause to my first reason to think ‘mmm’, as I was charged £3.99 for the privelage.
This keeps it simple of course for them, no exchange rate fluctuations to worry about, but for my US friends it costs 20% less.
On this basis I would have preferred 3.99 Turkish Lira as a payment option!
Joking aside, the concept of the guide is great. Written by those in the constant know, it really did provide some great tips and I followed advice for cafes, bars, a slice of Bohemian culture and a great music venue at which I was definitely the only non-local.
In fact I was the only person resident that wasn’t friends with the rock band it seemed going by all the band-audience banter going on.
This reached a new level when the bass player was presented with a bottle of Jack for his birthday.
After taking a considerable swig from the bottle (at least a quintuple shot!), the rest was poured into shot glasses by the double and handed round to toast the rocker’s anniversary.
Rude not to of course and exactly the type of experience that following SbL can give you if you are fortunate and don’t go armed with expectations.
So far so damned good. The guide provides you with maps that are downloaded through the app so you don’t need wifi access to view.
Find where you want to go, click the map symbol and hey presto the map appears showing you how to get where you want to go. Brilliant! Well ‘quite’ smart actually.
On a smart phone the maps are a tad small and although you can enlarge, it can be difficult to find your way I found. Tablet screen is no problem, but taking an iPad to a rock bar is not the greatest idea.
So what of the content? Excellent as far as it goes. It isn’t written like a rough guide and you do feel the author’s passion for their personal gems.
However, I found this particular version had only a few suggestions for me. I admit that I wasn’t interested in shopping or theatre, but I would’ve liked a bit more on the quirky side of Ljubljana.
The strange statues dotted about, the incredibly creative graffiti (possibly here today gone tomorrow, granted), the fascinating stories behind the bridges etc.
SbL doesn’t pretend to be lonely planet or eyewitness guide, more trip advisor written by locals. It does however totally ignore the touristy bits, a mistake in my eyes.
For £4 I expect all the info I need for my 48 hour trip. An intro page about the city should be there and a couple of pages regarding the tourist bits (with a local angle), with perhaps just a walking map showing the route well-travelled.
Side trips nearby too would be great, plus useful tips on taking the the bus from the airport like the locals do. I took a 20 minute local train to Skofja Loka, not a tourist in sight.
I am sure that SbL may say that this isn’t what they are about, that that is for the aforementioned Trip Advisor or DK.
I would counter by saying I want a one-stop shop guide majoring on the local angle, but not ignoring the other important information I need to make my trip both smooth and memorable.
In summary and based purely on Ljubljana, great idea, but work in progress in my view. 5.5 out of 10 with much room for improvement.
My advice to SbL is do it quickly before Airbnb eclipse you.
Thanks for your honest review. I’m always keen on locals suggestions. Perhaps over time the app will be a bit more robust. On another note we loved this city.
Given I’m not interested in bars and music, or really any nightlife other than a good meal with wine, plus I don’t shop, would this be worthwhile? Doesn’t really sound like it.
To be honest no. It is good for being on the go with no wifi. Prior research using TA is probably better.
Excellent points. Well reviewed.