20 Amazing Things to Do in Ljubljana (Slovenia)
The many unique things to do in Ljubljana make the Slovenian capital a true jewel in Europe. It is definitely worth a trip, as this vibrant city has a surprising amount of things to to see and plenty of cool activities to do. On a city tour, you can explore the charming old town of Ljubljana, marvel at the breathtaking scenery on the Ljubljanica River with its numerous bridges, visit interesting museums and experience magnificent views of the Slovenian metropolis from the castle. Not only that, also the gastronomic offer and the legendary nightlife with great bars and restaurants are a guarantee for an unforgettable vacation. But what are the absolute best sights in Ljubljana, what are the real insider tips, and what activities are not to be missed?
This travel guide is all about the best things to do in Ljubljana, Slovenia. We also show you stunning pictures, give you lots of insider tips and recommendations, and tell you where to find fabulous places to stay for your city trip to Ljubljana.
General Information about Ljubljana
Ljubljana is the picturesque capital of Slovenia and the country’s largest city with a population of 285,604. It is located about 100 kilometers from the Adriatic Sea and has its own international airport. The special thing about Ljubljana is definitely its picturesque location on the banks of the Ljubljanica River, where more than 20 bridges connect the different parts of the city. These include the Tromostovje Bridge and the Dragon Bridge, two of Ljubljana’s most important landmarks. Another highlight in the city center are the impressive buildings of the famous architect Jože Plečnik, which are on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 2021.
Ljubljana also has many beautiful green spaces and parks. A stroll along the green Ljubljana lakeshore is a romantic experience, while the sprawling Tivoli Park is a true oasis of relaxation. The Slovenian capital has also been a popular student city since 1919, with around 38,000 students. This gives Ljubljana an extremely hip and youthful flair. Ljubljana’s charming streets are filled with shops and boutiques, modern restaurants, chic cafes and a lively nightlife.
The Best Things to Do in Ljubljana
When traveling to Ljubljana, there are many attractions worth seeing. Most of them are located in the Old Town and can be easily explored on a walking tour. To help you get the most out of your trip, we’ve compiled a list of the ultimate best things to do in Ljubljana, including our insider tips:
The magnificent Prešeren Square, also known as Prešernov trg, is the city’s main square and certainly a visit one of the most famous things to do in Ljubljana. It is the vibrant heart of the city center and a popular starting point for sightseeing in the center and exploring the Old Town. Preseren Square was named after the national poet Frank Prešeren, whose statue can be admired on the square today and is a popular photo motif. The 17th-century Franciscan Church of the Annunciation is also a major attraction, and together with the legendary Triple Bridge of Tromostovje, it offers a picturesque panorama of Ljubljana.
Tip: The Cacao Rooms are centrally located right next to the Preseren Square on the riverfront, making them an excellent choice for a city break.
One of the most important historical attractions in Ljubljana is without a doubt the Ljubljana Castle. This imposing castle is a medieval fortress above the Old Town and is considered the landmark of the Slovenian capital. This imposing structure has been towering over Ljubljana for more than 900 years. It can be reached either by the modern funicular or by taking the beautiful path up to the castle. A visit is well worthwhile, as there are several attractions and museums in the area, such as the Puppet Theatre, the Castle Museum of Slovenian History, St. George’s Chapel, the former prison and the Virtual Castle. A real highlight is the fantastic view of Ljubljana that can be enjoyed from the towers and walls of the castle.
Tip: Admission to the castle grounds is free. However, if you want to visit the museums and the spectacular observation tower, you will need to buy a ticket.
The picturesque Ljubljana Cathedral, called St. Nicholas Cathedral or Saint Nicholas’s Church, is a true jewel in the heart of Ljubljana. The history of this landmark dates back to 1262, although the original church was demolished in 1701 and rebuilt in 1706 according to the plans of Jesuit architect Andrea Pozzo. This church is not only beautiful from the outside, but the interior of the church is also absolutely worth seeing. During a visit, you will be amazed by valuable frescoes and statues, as well as the dome painting by Matevž Langus from 1844. The cathedral’s fascinating main portal is also worth a visit. Here you will find a depiction of the history of the Slovenes.
Tip: On the square in front of the cathedral, there are regular events taking place. One of the most popular is the Open Kitchen street food market, which takes place every Friday.
Triple Bridge (Tromostovje)
The Triple Bridge, also known as Tromostovje, are one of the most popular photo spots in Ljubljana. It spans the Ljubljanica River and connects the Old Town of Ljubljana with the Central Market and Prešeren Square. This attraction was completed in 1842 on the site where a wooden bridge stood in the early Middle Ages. It owes its current appearance and name to the architect Jože Plečnik, who added a pedestrian bridge on the left and right in 1929-1932. He also provided the bridges with beautiful stone balustrades, and from each of the outer bridges there are stairs leading down to the river.
Tip: A real insider tip is the vacation apartment Triple Bridge Ljubljana. It is located right next to the bridge and you will be able to enjoy an unbeatable view of it.
A boat tour in Ljubljana is a unique opportunity to admire the charming Slovenian capital from the water and definatly one of the best things to do in Ljubljana. The tour takes you along the Ljubljanica River, past the picturesque historic Old Town and offers breathtaking views of the impressive buildings in the city center. In addition, you will explore the romantic, green meadows along the river, which are located just outside the historic center of Ljubljana. Depending on the tour operator, you will receive a wealth of information and insider tips about Ljubljana. The trip takes about 60 minutes, costs about 10 euros and can be booked directly on the spot.
The Dragon Bridge, also known as Zmajski most, is certainly one of the most famous tourist attractions in Ljubljana. The impressive dragon statues are one of the main reasons for its fame and are one of the iconic landmarks of the Slovenian capital. They say you haven’t really been to Ljubljana until you’ve been photographed with a dragon on the bridge. Built between 1900 and 1901, the Zmajski most was then called the “Jubilee Bridge” when it was opened to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the reign of Emperor Francis Joseph. Its beautiful Art Nouveau character and the name “Dragon Bridge” were acquired years later.
A visit to the Central Market is a must-do on any trip to Ljubljana. It has always been an important meeting place for locals, but also for many tourists who want to immerse themselves in authentic Slovenian market life. The large area of the Central Market includes outdoor areas on the Vodnikov Square and the Pogačarjev Square. There is also a market hall between the two squares and a beautiful market building on the Ljubljanica River, designed by architect Jože Plečnik. A real special feature of Ljubljana is the Open Kitchen, the “Odprta kuhna” event, which is a really cool street food market with a lot of culinary highlights. Held every Friday from Spring to Autumn, it’s not to be missed.
The Tivoli Park is one of the most beautiful attractions in Ljubljana and one of the reasons why this city is so special. Together with the Rožnik and Šišenski hrib neighborhoods, Tivoli is a huge protected forest area just a 15-minute walk from the Old Town. This attraction also has a long history, as the park was founded in 1813 according to the plans of engineer Jean Blanchard. As you stroll through this green oasis, you’ll discover many places of interest, such as Tivoli Castle and the charming Jakopič Promenade. Moreover, Tivoli is also a great place for walks and hikes. The Ljubljana Zoo, which was founded in 1949, is also located in the park.
Butcher’s Bridge (Mesarski most)
An unusual attraction in Ljubljana is the Butcher’s Bridge, called Mesarski most. This pedestrian bridge is located right in the city center and connects the famous Central Market with the charming Petkovškovo nabrežje promenade. This modern, iconic bridge was built only in 2010, although the architect Plečnik planned the construction of this attraction as early as the 1930s. Especially worth seeing are the sculptures of the Butcher’s Bridge, created by Slovenian sculptor Jakov Brdar. The colorful “love locks” adorning the balustrade also make this one of the most beautiful bridges in Ljubljana.
Tip: The Petkovšek Rooms and Apartments is a really nice guesthouse. It also has the best location, right next to the beautiful river bank and the Butcher’s Bridge.
Slovenian National Gallery
The Slovenian National Gallery is one of the most important museums in Ljubljana, and art lovers will especially enjoy this exhibition. Visitors can admire an impressive collection of works of art from various periods, from the High Middle Ages to the 20th century. Among them are the works of the Slovenian-Italian painter Zoran Mušič, and there are also regular temporary exhibitions. One of Ljubljana’s most important monuments, the original Fountain of the Three Carniolan Rivers by Francesco Robba, is also exhibited in the museum hall.A copy of it can now be found in front of the old City Hall.
Tip: There is a really cool café in the museum where you can take a break. From there you can also enjoy a great view of the so-called “Robba Fountain”.
Located on the left bank of the Ljubljanica River, Congress Square is one of the most important squares in town and should not be missed when visiting Ljubljana. Located on the left bank of the Ljubljanica River, it can be easily explored during a walking tour of the city. Since 2021, the Congress Square has been on the UNESCO World Heritage List, together with the works of Jože Plečnik. Zvezda Park, the University building, the Slovenian Philharmonic building, the Biedermeier house and the classicist building “Kazina” are among the best attractions around the square. What is also unique is the view of the Ljubljana Castle, which can be enjoyed directly from the Congress Square.
A visit to the Nebotičnik skyscraper is definitely an insider tip among the coolest things to do in Ljubljana. Built in 1933 by architect Vladimir Šubic, it was then the tallest skyscraper in the Balkans, reaching a height of 70 meters. Even today, the building is a landmark in Ljubljana and a visit is a must for all insiders at the top of their travel itineraries. Take the elevator to the 13th floor to Café Nebotičnik. From its rooftop terrace, you can enjoy delicious cocktails and probably the most spectacular view of Ljubljana and the Castle of Ljubljana. An unforgettable highlight of any city trip.
The Metelkova Cultural Center, also known as the Autonomous Cultural Center of the City of Metelkova, is a very special thing to see in Ljubljana. It is located just outside the Old Town near the railway station, but can be reached on foot from the center. This area was created in 1993 from an empty barracks complex and condemned buildings, once occupied by artists and an alternative scene. A walk through the neighborhood reveals colorful street art and various art objects. The area is also home to a number of music clubs and regular alternative music nights.
Ljubljana City Museum
The City Museum, or Mestni muzej Ljubljane, is a must if you are interested in the history of Ljubljana. The museum is housed in the beautiful renaissance Auersperg palace from 1642, and its various exhibition rooms illustrate the history of the city and the region. The main attractions include a 40,000-year-old arrow, as well as the world’s oldest wheel with a wooden axle, which originated as early as 3350-3100 BC. The small cafe in the museum is also worth a visit.
One of Ljubljana’s most charming attractions is the Old Town Hall, which is located right in the heart of the charming historic center. It was built in the late 15th century in the Gothic style, and its current Baroque appearance dates from between 1717 and 1719. Over the years, the Town Hall has been rebuilt and renovated several times. Interesting is the front with the beautiful Venetian influence, but also the porch with the coats of arms and the statue of Hercules with the lion from the late 17th century. There is also a Narcissus Fountain in the courtyard arcades, and right in front of the Town Hall is the Robba Fountain, the original of which is now in the Slovenian National Gallery.
Tip: Great for a vacation in Ljubljana are the exceptionally lovingly and stylishly furnished apartments of the Old Quarter Residence directly on City Hall Square.
The Republic Square, also known as Trg republike, is the largest and one of Ljubljana’s most iconic squares. It is located right in the center between the Ursuline Monastery and the Parliament building. The square was designed in 1960 by architect Edvard Ravnikar, who won the competition to design a new political center for Slovenia. Today the square is a wonderful example of the architecture of that time. Skyscrapers and interesting buildings such as the Cankarjev dom and the Triangle Skyscrapers were built. There are also several memorials on the square, including the Monument to the Revolution, which is a bronze sculpture that weighs 10 tons.
Natural History Museum of Slovenia
The Natural History Museum of Slovenia is a charming little museum in the heart of the city of Ljubljana. It is located not far from the Tivoli City Park and is also within walking distance of the Old Town. Even when it rains, this museum is a great tip. During a tour you will be amazed by a collection of minerals, you will admire the Hohenwarts collection of mollusk shells, there is the insect collection of Ferdinand J. Schmidt and there are herbariums to visit. You can also learn more about the grotto olm, a native of Slovenia’s caves. One of the highlights is an almost completely preserved mammoth skeleton.
Excursions & Day Trips from Ljubljana
Ljubljana is not the only city worth seeing, there are many destinations and attractions in the surrounding area. Some of Slovenia’s best attractions are within easy reach. Here is a summary of the absolute best things to do around Ljubljana at a glance.
A visit to the Postojna Cave is without a doubt one of the most beautiful day trips from Ljubljana. It is one of the largest underground cave systems in the world.
One of the true highlights is a day trip from Ljubljana to Lake Bled, one of the most beautiful lakes in the country, with its famous Church Island.
The city of Piran, which is located in Slovenia by the sea, is also very beautiful, and you will be enchanted by the magical old town with its many attractions.
A trip through the famous Soca Valley with the emerald green Soča River is an unforgettable experience. There are also many activities such as rafting, canyoning and hiking.
There are many excursions that you can do on your own, but you also have the possibility to take part in a guided tour. You can find great deals on GetYourGuide.
Where to Stay in Ljubljana
Ljubljana is home to a fantastic range of great accommodation options. From cheap backpacker hostels to modern apartments, from bed and breakfasts to fantastic hotels – you’ll find it all here. If you’re looking for a great place to stay in Ljubljana, we can give you these tips… It’s worth a look!
- Fantastic 5-Star Hotel: The gorgeous Grand Plaza Hotel & Congress Center is a fantastic choice. The breakfast is something to fall in love with, and the location is excellent as well.
- Aparthotel with Pool: The NEU RESIDENCES Smart Stay is a real insider tip. Guests love the chic studios and the small pool on the roof terrace is a highlight.
- Beautiful Heritage Hotel: Located in the heart of the city, the Hotel Heritage impresses with its style and cleanliness. The proximity to the sights is also top.
- Vacation Apartment: An insider tip is the Triple Bridge Ljubljana vacation apartment. It is located right next to the bridge and has an unbeatable view.
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