If you’ve been to Ljubljana, the Green Capital of Europe, you know how charming it is. Set in the centre of Slovenia, on the Ljubljanica river with a bunch of bridges over it and charming cobbled cars-free streets it will surely amaze you. It is a quite small city but with a lot to offer, so don’t underestimate it and prepare yourself for some serious sightseeing. Keep reading and find out our top 10 things to do in Ljubljana.
Ljubljana – Artwork of Jože Plečnik
This unique charm that you will see on the streets of Ljubljana is not there by accident. For most of famous Ljubljana’s landmarks credits go to Slovenian most famous architect Jože Plečnik, an architect whose style is associated with the Vienna Secession style of architecture (a type of Art Nouveau). He is responsible for iconic Triple Bridge and the Slovene National and University Library building, as well as the embankments along the Ljubljanica River, the Ljubljana open market buildings, the Ljubljana cemetery, parks, plazas etc. There is even the tour Plečnik’s Ljubljana. So, thank Jože for all the wows you’ll say.
Now let’s explore charming Ljubljana.
Set near the city centre this amazing medieval castle is easily approachable by foot, a tram ride or the funicular. The view over the city that it gives you is stunning, especially in the sunset. Whether you are looking for a history museum, a puppet museum, an open-air cinema or just some chill café, you will find it here. You can explore the castle grounds by yourself, or you can also take a 90-minute “Time Machine” tour which will teach you 6 important periods of Ljubljana’s history.
The Triple Bridge
If you’ve walked around the city you’ve noticed that there are many bridges over the Ljubljanica – Sava river’s tributary. But there is one bridge that stands out, or three bridges, to be more specific. The Triple Bridge (Tromostovje), built by architect Jože Plečnik, was once a wooden construction that was later replaced with a stone one and two pedestrian side bridges were added. Today all three are for pedestrians only. It’s a very popular meeting point and attractive architectural creation.
On one side of the Triple Bridge, there is the main city square called Prešeren Square which is actually round. It’s a place where most of the concerts, festivals, carnivals, etc. are held and it is surrounded by beautiful buildings. One of them is pink Franciscan Church of the Annunciation dating from the 17th century. In the middle of the square, there is the Prešeren Monument that is dedicated to the 19th-century Romantic poet, France Prešeren, the most important cultural figure in Slovenia.
St. Nicholas Cathedral
Not that far from the Prešeren Square, on the other side of the river, you will find another one of Ljubljana’s symbols, the Cathedral of St. Nicholas. This magnificent Baroque cathedral with two towers and a green dome was built on the site of a much older church that was built in the 13th century. From the outside, the Cathedral is not that imposing but when you get inside you will be impressed with beautiful marble floors, extraordinary frescoes and golden details.
The Dragon Bridge
Another bridge worth mentioning is definitely the Dragon Bridge, an extraordinary example of architecture with beautiful Viennese-inspired decorations and fiery dragons that are the icon of the country. There are many legends surrounding the dragons on the bridge and one of them says that the dragons sense when a virgin crosses the bridge and slightly wag their tails.
Museum of Illusions
Museum of Illusions offers you a fun way to test your perception. It consists of about 40 fun exhibits optical illusions and holograms in 6 different rooms of illusions. Inside you will realise that everything is truly relative.
Tivoli City Park
Don’t we all love a nice place to chill and get away from the city hustle and bustle? Ljubljana has a perfect place for that. It’s the Tivoli City Park – the biggest park in Ljubljana with the Tivoli Castle in the middle. You can do a bunch of things there, there are tennis courts, mini-golf courts, fountains, fish ponds, kids playgrounds and there is the Jakopič Promenade, designed by Plečnik, where you can see different photography exhibitions during the summer.
Image by Jean-Pierre Dalbéra / CC BY-SA 2.0
Now that you’ve seen most of the famous old landmarks, it is time to experience something totally different and authentic. Metelkova Mesto is set in a complex of military barracks and today is the most free-living autonomous community in Slovenia. The barracks were transformed into a colourful, almost psychedelic, artistic space for squatters, locals, creators of all kinds and travellers from all over the world. The graffiti-covered buildings hide a gallery, a bar, a nightclub and a hostel that was once a military prison, as well as many squatters.
Image by Zairon / CC BY-SA 4.0
Shop at Central Market
If you are curious to understand more about Slovenian culture, make your way to the Central Market. Located on the banks of the river, this market was also designed by – you guess – Jože Plečnik. There you will find the most popular flavours of Slovenian cuisine and on Fridays from mid-March to October you can taste delicious Slovenian meals as well as wines and craft beers in the Open Kitchen.
Do a River Cruise
Now that you’ve seen Ljubljana from the Castle and from the ground it’s time to change the perspective a bit more. Do a river cruise and see all the charming bridges and Plečnik’s awesome embankments up-close, relax and rest from all the walking that you’ve done.
Everything You Need to Know Before Packing Your Bags…
We’ve given you info about all the amazing things you can see in Ljubljana and made you fall in love with it. Now you need to know when and how to get there and enjoy it the most.
When to Visit Ljubljana?
Tourists are usually visiting Ljubljana anytime from April to October. The winter may not be the best time to visit Ljubljana because it gets pretty cold, but all the Christmas atmosphere brings the warmth that you need, so you can put Ljubljana in your planner in December, too.
Ljubljana is really nicely decorated during December, you will simply love it. It gets even more charming. The Christmas market is amazing and you will have fun for sure. And you won’t be cold because of all the mulled wine and aromatic tea. You will have the chance to try some of the Slovenian culinary products or buy amazing souvenirs. And the switch-on of the Christmas lights is an event for itself, isn’t it amazing?
Where Could You Stay
There are many options, of course. You could stay in a hotel or look for an apartment from the locals or a hostel room if you are travelling on the budget.
How to Get There and Around There
Ljubljana, as well as other capital cities, has its own airport and there are direct flights from the majority of European capitals and bigger cities. It is also well connected by trains and buses, so you don’t have to fly. And the roads in Slovenia are fantastic, too. And once you get to Ljubljana it is easy to get around the city. There are over 40 bus lines around the city and if you get Ljubljana Card that grants you access to major city’s attractions you can ride for free. Taxi rides are well organized, too. And there is an option to get a bicycle to ride around the city and it’s almost free.
Need help while exploring charming Ljubljana? Download our Cultural Places App and find the walking tour to guide you and enjoy. We loved Ljubljana and hope that you will, too.