Ljubljana, Slovenia! What can we say about this charming little city?
Ljubljana (pronounced lyoo-BLYAH-nah) has a population of less than 300,000 – making it the smallest capital city in Europe! We are big fans of smaller and less well-known destinations and knew we had to pay a visit at some point during our honeymoon. We got that chance on a 3-day stop over on our way to Vienna, Austria.
While our 3-day tour of Ljubljana was short, it is possible to see the city in only a single day if you’re in a hurry. But trust us, you will want to spend as much time in beautiful Ljubljana, Slovenia.
The 10 Best Things To Do In Ljubljana
Let us know what you think of this list of the 10 best things to do in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Hopefully you will love the city as much as us!
Visit Ljubljana Castle
Okay, let me start by saying that the Ljubljana castle offers the best value of any attraction in Europe. Visitors can expect to pay just €4 for a round trip ride on the funicular. Walking around in the courtyard will not cost you anything so you won’t be left out if you’re on a budget. Full entrance to the castle and a ticket for the funicular will cost €13.
The castle, which is nearly 1,000 years old, has a lot of history to share with visitors. Walking around the interior will give you an idea of how the various rooms were used throughout its long history. Once you’re done head to the top of the tower for a spectacular view of the city!
If you’re in Ljubljana, Slovenia you are certain to spend some time in Prešeren Square. This is the central square and is home to some of the city’s best sights. The most famous bridges, as well as some of the most iconic buildings, are either in the square or nearby.
It is a mix of streets and bridges that seem to run in every direction. If you’re up for some adventure you can pick a street to start walking down – there will be something interesting to see no matter which path you choose!
In a city like Ljubljana, it would be hard to recommend only a single bridge. The river is actually lined with bridges, each with a unique style and history. Here are a few that could be considered a must visit while in the city.
- Dragon Bridge – This is perhaps the most iconic and memorable of all Ljubljana’s bridges. The dragon is a symbol of the city and you can the green dragon decorating everything in the city from bridges to chocolate! Like much of the city center, the Dragon Bridge is a perfect example of Art Nouveau architecture.
- Triple Bridge – As the name might suggest, Triple bridge is actually a group of three bridges. The main bridge was built in 1842 with smaller footbridges on either side which were constructed to help with traffic.
- Butcher’s Bridge – This bridge has a unique and special history. It was first planned for construction in the 1930s. The start of World War II caused the construction to be postponed and abandoned for decades to come. A bridge was finally completed in the proposed location in 2010. Today the bridge is a spot where couples can leave locks as a symbol of their love.
Head to a Riverside Cafe
Ljubljana is home to a bustling cafe culture.
And why wouldn’t there be?
There is no shortage of waterfront real estate along the picturesque Ljubljanica River winding through the city. A trip to the capital of Slovenia wouldn’t be complete without a day (or two) spent relaxing by the river. There are plenty of cafes where you can rest your feet while taking in the scenic views. Or, head to Cat Cafe Ljubljana if you are looking for some fluffy friends!
Tivoli Park is the largest park in Ljubljana, Slovenia. It is in a convenient location against the city center, which means tourists can visit the park on foot. The park is exquisitely landscaped and is a great place to spend the day if you want to get a taste of nature.
Tivoli Park is roughly 2 square miles, which means there are plenty of hiking trails that offer visitors a chance for exercise. On your walk, you will see many famous buildings housed in the park such as the Tivoli Mansion and the Museum of Modern History.
Ljubljana prides itself on being a green city, and Tivoli Park certainly helps that image!
Take a River Cruise
There are frequent cruises running up and down the Ljubljanica River. They are designed as sightseeing cruises offering visitors a chance to see the city from a different perspective. Many great sights can be seen on the cruise including Ljubljana’s famous bridges. In the winter, rides cost €7 for adults and €4 for children. The best part is that the boat is heated during the winter – allowing you to enjoy the ride in comfort.
Stand-up paddleboarding is also offered in the summer when the weather is warm. We were unable to partake in this activity as the weather in January left us wanting to stay bundled up.
Church of St. Nicholas
The Church of St. Nicholas, also called the Ljubljana Cathedral, is a place that makes its way onto every list of things to do in Ljubljana. In a city as remarkable as this, the cathedral somewhat blends in with the buildings around it. However, once inside you will see how special it is!
If you come in from the side you will notice an ornate bronze door depicting several recent bishops. Something about the door gives it an imposing, almost creepy vibe. You will notice a bright spot on the otherwise dark-brown door. This is the well-polished door handle which is rubbed by passers-by for good luck. Go ahead and give it a try!
Be prepared to be blown away when you step inside the Ljubljana cathedral. Much of the art decorating the interior can be traced back to the early 1700s when it was built.
The Galerija Emporium is the oldest department store in Slovenia – and one of the oldest in the world! It first opened in 1903 and has sold fine goods ever since.
Visitors will appreciate the well-preserved art nouveau architecture which blends well with the other buildings from the period. Downtown Ljubljana is a great place to stroll around and take in the architecture. A statue of the Roman God Merkur can be seen on top of the building seemingly bestowing his blessing on the merchants below.
See the Central Market
The central market is a large open-air market near the center of Ljubljana. It is a great place to get some food or buy some goods year-round. The area also includes a number of interesting buildings such as the fish market. I would recommend purchasing some of the nuts or dried fruit as a snack and then grabbing a sausage from one of the nearby food stalls. Also, there is a vending machine here that dispenses fresh milk. For a reasonable price, you can bring a bottle and fill it up with milk. It’s a novelty for tourists but shows how important being eco-friendly is to the locals.
This is a unique part of the city to say the least!
Metelkova is an old army barracks that has been occupied by squatters. The original mission was to save the building from demolition but has since become something bigger. Today it functions as an autonomous enclave operating within the city. There are a great number of murals and other art decorating the buildings which make for great photos. It is also a great place to go at night as there are many bars and frequent concerts held here.
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