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What to do in Ljubljana - the ultimate travel guide


Ljubljana three bridges

Ljubljana, Slovenia's capital, captivates everyone who strolls its ancient streets. Even though it is a relatively small city, it definitely packs a punch. In the heart of the city, the Old Town stands beautifully preserved, with cobblestone lanes winding past well-kept baroque buildings. It feels like stepping into a living history book. But Ljubljana isn't just about history. It's alive with cafes lining the riverbanks and bustling open-air markets. The city effortlessly blends its rich heritage with a modern vibe, embracing both tradition and innovation. And it's not just the city itself that's stunning. Surrounding Ljubljana are breathtaking natural landscapes, from the waters of the Ljubljanica River to forests and mountain peaks. It's a captivating blend of urban charm and untouched beauty that sets it apart. I absolutely love Ljubljana and I know you will too. In this Ljubljana travel guide I will go over the top things to see and do as well as some logistics such as how long to stay and how to get around. 


Ljubljana town hall

A little history

Originally settled by the ancient Romans, who named it Emona, the city grew into a busy trade hub along the Amber Road, an ancient trade route that roughly ran between Rome in the South to St.Petersburg in the North.  Over the centuries, it endured the rule of various empires, including the Habsburgs, the Venetians, and the Napoleonic French. Its strategic location at the crossroads of Central Europe made it a coveted prize for many powers throughout history. In 1921, Ljubljana became the capital of Slovenia, and its identity as a modern European city began to take shape. After WWII it became part of Yugoslavia. Slovenia gained its independence in the early 90s after 88% of the population voted for independence in a referendum. A 10-day battle broke out between Slovenia and federal forces until a treaty was signed. 


Ljubljana street

Language

Slovenian is the official language. It is a south Slavic language and closely resembles Croatian and Serbian. You should have no problem communicating, however as most people in the tourist industry including shops and restaurants know enough English to help you. It is always appreciated to learn a few common phrases though.


Currency

Slovenia became part of the European Union in 2004. The currency it uses is the EURO. I would suggest having a little cash on hand but most places of business will take credit cards.   


Ljubljana castle

Getting to Ljubljana

Ljubljana is well-connected to major European cities, making it easily accessible by various modes of transportation.


By Air:

The Ljubljana Airport (Jože Pučnik Airport -LJU) is the main international airport serving the city, located just (16 miles) northwest of the city center. Several major European airlines, including Air France, Lufthansa, and Turkish Airlines, offer direct flights to Ljubljana from major hubs across the continent. For those traveling from further afield, connecting flights through cities like Frankfurt, Munich, or Istanbul are readily available. There are no direct flights to Ljubljana from North America. There is a bus that runs from the airport to the city center. It takes about 45 minutes and costs around 4EURO. You can buy tickets at the kiosk in front of the terminal or from the driver. If you need to store your luggage for a few house the main bus station in the city has lockers. It cost about 4 EUROS per item for the day. Taxis are also available outside the terminal and will cost around 30EURO depending on exactly where you are going. 


Ljubljana cathedral

By Train:

Ljubljana is well-integrated into the European rail network, with direct train connections to cities such as Vienna, Zagreb, and Belgrade. The city's main railway station, Ljubljana Railway Station, is conveniently located in the heart of the city, making it easy to continue your journey upon arrival.


By Bus:

Long-distance bus services are a cost-effective and convenient way to reach Ljubljana, with regular connections to cities across Slovenia, as well as international routes from destinations like Zagreb, Venice, and Vienna. The main bus station, Ljubljana Bus Station, is located adjacent to the railway station, providing easy access to the city center.


By Car:

For those opting to drive, Ljubljana is accessible via well-maintained highways that connect it to major European cities. The city is well-served by the A1 and A2 motorways, which link it to neighboring countries like Italy, Austria, and Croatia. Most of the center of town is a car free zone so you won't be able to use it in those areas.


Street in Ljubljana

Getting Around Ljubljana

Once in Ljubljana, navigating the city is a breeze thanks to its efficient public transport. You probably won't need it though. The small size of the city center area makes it very walk-able. Consider joining a guided walking tour to gain insights into the city's rich history and culture.


Public Transportation:

If you need to take public transportation, called LPP, purchase an Urbana card. You can find these at LPP ticket offices, tourists information centers and newspaper stands. It costs 2EURO for the card and then you top it up with the amount of money you need on there for your rides. A single journey costs 1.30EURO no matter how many buses you need to take. A single card can be used for multiple people. Just tell the bus driver how many people are using the card and he will uses a special terminal to take the right amount off. 


Transporting people for free around the pedestrian Streets are small electric vehicles called Kavalir. There are two open air vehicles (they are pretty much golf carts), and 2 enclosed vehicles. Each one holds 5 people. Children can sit on laps. You can hail a vehicle at any time and the driver will take you where you need to go within old town. These are great for the elderly, if you have mobility issues or are in a hurry.


Ljubljana kavalir

Cycling:

Ljubljana is a delight to explore by bicycle. The BicikeLJ is a bike sharing system where you rent bikes from self service stations across the city.  You pay 1EURO to register on the app. It is free for the first hour 1EURO for the second, 2EURO for the third hour and 4EURO for each additional hour. If you want to ride for longer but don't want to pay, return the bike after the first hour, wait five minutes and then rent another bike. 


Best Time of year to Visit

Ljubljana's temperate continental climate offers distinct seasons, each with its own charms.


Spring (March to May) and Fall (September to November) are considered the ideal times to visit, when the weather is mild and the crowds are thinner. These shoulder seasons offer the perfect opportunity to explore the city's attractions without the peak summer crowds and enjoy outdoor activities like hiking and cycling.


Summer (June to August) is the busiest and warmest season, with temperatures averaging around 25°C (77°F). This is a popular time for festivals, outdoor concerts, and enjoying the city's vibrant café culture.


Winter (December to February) can be quite cold, with temperatures often dropping below freezing. However, this season offers a unique charm, with Ljubljana's Christmas market. Market stalls offering crafts, gifts and traditional food are placed throughout the city. Concerts and other performances as well as skating rinks all add to the festivities. The nearby ski resorts also provide ample opportunities for winter fun.


covered market Ljubljana

How Much time do you need

The length of your stay in Ljubljana will depend on your interests and travel pace, but most visitors find that three to four days is sufficient to experience the city's highlights.


This timeframe allows you to explore the charming Old Town, visit the iconic Ljubljana Castle, stroll along the picturesque Ljubljanica River, and immerse yourself in the city's cultural offerings. You will also be able to fit in a day trip or two in this timeframe.


If you are short on time, you can see many of the sights and get a good feel for the city in a full day. 


Things to see


Ljubljana at night

Ljubljana Old Town

The first place to visit in Ljubljana is its beautiful Old Town. The winding streets and alleyways are lined with gorgeous buildings dating back to the medieval and baroque eras. The Ljubljana river runs through old town and most of the major attractions are within this area.  At the heart of the Old Town lies Prešeren Square (prešernov trg), a lively gathering spot where visitors can soak in the atmosphere, admire the impressive Franciscan Church, and sample delicious local cuisine at one of the many outdoor cafés lining the square.


Church of the Annunciation

The Church of the Annunciation is a 17th century salmon colored Franciscan Church located on the square. The distinct color of the church is symbolic of the Franciscan monastic order. It's pretty pastel frescos inside had to mostly be repainted after damage from an earthquake in 1895. The Church is free to enter. During the summer months there are sprinklers in front of the church for kids to run through to cool off. 


Church of the Annunciation Ljubljana

Bridges

Ljubljana's picturesque bridges are more than just functional structures; they are true works of art. The most iconic of these is the famous Triple Bridge, a group of three bridges built in the early 20th century. Designed by Jože Plečnik, the triple bridge gracefully connects the two banks of the Ljubljanica River, and is on of the most beautiful places for some photos. Originally the center bridge was for traffic and the two bridges on each side were constructed for pedestrians. Today, however, all three bridges are pedestrianized. 


Triple bridge

Another must-see bridge is the famous Dragon Bridge, adorned with four striking dragon statues that have become symbols of the city. Legend has it that these mythical creatures were the protectors of Ljubljana in ancient times and you will see them throughout the city on railings and buildings. 


Dragon bridge

Enjoy the river

The perfect way to see Ljubljana is on the river. A river cruise lets you see the city without so much walking. There are different options for cruises at different lengths and price points.  You can also rent stand up paddle boards to cruise down the river. However you choose to do it, exploring the city on the water is a fun and relaxing way to see the city. 


Pedestrian Streets

Cankarjevo Nabrezje is a pedestrianized street that runs along the side of the Ljubljanica river. There are many restaurants along this street so it is the perfect place to relax and enjoy a meal. Other pedestrian streets are Mestni trg, Stari Trg and Gornji Trg. These delightful streets are full of boutique shops. One of the best things to do in Ljubljana is simply to stroll these streets and enjoy the beautiful buildings as you wander. 


view of Ljubljana street

Central market 

The central market of Ljubljana consists of an open air section, an indoor section and a series of small food shops located in a colonnade. This is the best place to buy fresh fruits and other produce grown on local farms. You can also buy bread, pastries, cured meat, clothes, flowers, local handicrafts and souvenirs. The different sections have different hours so check that out before you go but they are all closed on Sundays and holidays. 


Ljubljana central market

The open kitchen, or odprta kuhna, runs every Friday from mid March until the end of October. It is located in Pogačarjev trg square and it is where local chefs prepare dishes from all over the world creating delicious street food. 


Ljubljana castle


Ljubljana castle

In the center of Ljubljana, lies castle hill with the Ljubljana castle perched on top. You can climb or ride a funicular up to the top. Originally constructed in the 11th century, it received an almost complete rebuild in 15th century and most of the remaining buildings date to the 16th and 17th centuries. Initially it was a defense structure and then used as the seat of the lords or Carniola. The castle's ramparts and outlook tower is one of the most beautiful spots to look over the city. The prison area of the castle lies between the outer wall and the natural rock. Prisoners were lowered down to the small space with a rope or a chain. There was no roof on the prison as the top was only covered by a grate letting the hot sun, rain and snow through. 


castle in Ljubljana

The castle now houses a museum exhibition on Slovenian history, a puppet museum, and a number of historical rooms. It also serves as a venue for cultural events, dances, movie screenings as well as housing restaurants and cafes.  There are a few fun and unique ways to tour the castle. The Escape Castle is great for kids. It is a fun way to learn about the castle as you move through 5 tests as you try to save the dragon. The time machine tour has guests take a time machine through six different eras of the castle. At each stop you meet a person from that time frame, dressed in period costume who tells you about life in the castle during that time. Both of these tours take about an hour and are 16Euros for just the tour and 20 Euros if you want to include the funicular ride. If you just want to wander The castle on your own tickets are 12Euro without the funicular and 16Euros with it. The castle is open from 9-6 every day


Cathedral of St. Nicholas


Cathedral in Ljubljana

The cathedral of St. Nicholas, also known as the Ljubljana cathedral, is located in the city centre near the central market and town hall. It was originally a Gothic building but was replaced by a Baroque one in the 18th century. The Church towers have 6 bells in them including the second oldest bell in the country which dates back to 1326. Although the cathedral isn't overly impressive from the outside, the inside is gorgeous. The beautiful ceiling frescos, paintings, gold leaf and beautiful pipe organ all contribute to a spectacular interior. There is no charge but it is usually closed from noon to 3 so make sure to check opening hours. 


Ljubljana cathedral interior

The Skyscraper

Another great place for a wonderful view of Ljubljana is the skyscraper or Neboticnik. While the castle also gives you great views, the skyscraper lets you have views of the town and the castle. It is free if you just want to look at the view but there is a restaurant at the top as well. 


Ljubljana view from skyscraper

Tivoli Park 

Ljubljana's commitment to sustainability and eco-friendliness is evident in its abundance of lush green spaces. The sprawling Tivoli Park, a vast expanse of landscaped gardens, walking trails, and tranquil ponds, offers a welcome respite from the city's bustle. Stroll along the tree-lined paths, rent a bicycle, or simply relax and soak in the serene ambiance. The Botanical gardens located in the park was established in 1810. Cost to enter is around 3EUROS. Hours vary so check before you go. 


Tivoli park

Museums and Galleries

Ljubljana's cultural heritage is celebrated through its impressive array of museums and galleries. Located in a gorgeous building, The National Museum of Slovenia offers a fascinating journey through the nation's history, showcasing an extensive collection of artifacts and artworks spanning from prehistoric times to the present day and is located in a gorgeous building. It is usually open from 10 to 6 and costs 8EURO.


National museum of Slovenia

If you are a huge museum nerd other museums to consider are the Museum of modern art, the Slovenian Museum of Natural History, the Natural History Museum, the Ethnographic Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art and the National Gallery. 


I just want to say something about the Metelkova Mesto. This is an area of the alternative art scene. A former army barracks it is filled with graffiti and other art works. The area hosts art programs and club nights. A little word of warning though. There can be drug related activities in this area with needles and syringes on the ground so just be aware of that if you choose to go. 


Ljubljana graffiti

​Foods to try

No visit to Ljubljana would be complete without indulging in the city's delectable culinary offerings. From traditional Slovenian dishes like the mouth-watering Carniolan sausage and savory štruklji dumplings to innovative fusion cuisine, the city's restaurants cater to every palate.


Slovenian food

For traditional Slovenian cuisine sample hearty dishes like žlikrofi (potato dumplings), jota (a thick soup made with sauerkraut, beans, and smoked pork), and Carniolan sausage, a local specialty made from a unique blend of spices and herbs.


Day Trips

Ljubljana's strategic location in the heart of Slovenia makes it an ideal base for exploring the country's diverse natural wonders and historical treasures. Snow-capped peaks, serene lakes, picturesque villages and ancient caves are all available close by.


Lake Bled

Just a short hour drive from Ljubljana lies the breathtakingly beautiful Lake Bled, a true jewel of Slovenia. This glacial lake, renowned for its emerald-green waters and the iconic Bled Island with its centuries-old pilgrimage church, appears straight out of a fairy tale. Rent a traditional wooden rowing boat and glide across the serene waters, or hike up to the medieval Bled Castle, perched atop a cliff and offering panoramic vistas of the lake and the Julian Alps in the distance. There is a direct bus from the Ljubljana bus station to Lake Bled. It takes about an hour an 45 minutes.


Lake Bled

Piran

Venture to the Slovenian coastline and discover the enchanting town of Piran, a picturesque gem that exudes Venetian influence. It is about an hour and 20 minute drive from Ljubljana. It has narrow, winding streets lined with pastel-hued buildings and a sprawling central square adorned with historic structures. Make sure to climb to the top of the town's iconic bell tower for breathtaking views of the Adriatic Sea and the surrounding Istrian Peninsula. There is a direct bus from Ljubljana and it takes about an hour and 45 minutes.


Piran main square

Škocjan Caves

For those seeking an even more extraordinary underground adventure, the Škocjan Caves, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, are a must-visit destination. This awe-inspiring cave system features a vast underground canyon carved by the Reka River, with towering chambers and a network of subterranean passages that have been sculpted over millions of years. Guided tours offer visitors the chance to explore these natural wonders and witness the incredible power of water shaping the limestone landscape. From Ljubljana take the bus from the main bus station to D.Ležeče station. You will then have to walk about 35 minutes to the caves on a well marked path. Tickets are around 18EURO. Buy then ahead of time online.

Škocjan cave Slovenia

Predjama Castle

Perched precariously on a towering cliff face, the medieval Predjama Castle is a sight to behold. This remarkable 800-year-old fortress, carved directly into the rock, was once home to the legendary knight Erazem Lueger, who defied the mighty Holy Roman Empire from within its impregnable walls. Explore the castle's labyrinth of tunnels, chambers, and living quarters, and marvel at the ingenuity of its construction and the legends that surround its history. There are a number of different ticket options many of them including a tour of the nearby Postojna caves, with a shuttle bus running between the two. The tickets range from 19EURO to 50EURO depending on which tour you choose. To get there take the train from the main station in Ljubljana to Postojna.


Predjama castle

The city of Ljubljana is a really enchanting city that will capture your heart. The beautiful surrounding area and day trips add to the experience of visitors. I promise, you will fall in love. 


Ready to travel to Ljubljana? Contact us at eurotravelsbydesign@gmail.com and we will custom design the perfect itinerary for you. 









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