Ljubljana, Slovenia – A Charming European Gem
This lovely green capital, populated by 300.000 people will take care of that European feeling you have been craving for. Walk-able, charming, and environmentally friendly – you will fall in love with the city after your first stroll along the river. Along the way, you can stop for a coffee at one of the many riverside cafes in Ljubljana.
Slovenia is part of the Schengen area, so in case your country is not visa exempted, you need to obtain a Schengen visa before entering the country. Visit the Schengen visa website to learn more about visa requirements before visiting Ljubljana, Slovenia.
Best time to visit Ljubljana
Because of the continental climate visiting Ljubljana is most enjoyable during the warmer months. Anytime between May and September will provide warm to hot temperatures, allowing you to see this lovely city in full bloom and enjoy the strolls around Tivoli Park.
On the other hand, if you’re headed to Europe for a white Christmas, then December is a perfect time to visit! The city takes on a new look with colorful holiday lights decorating the buildings. Take the time to enjoy your evenings and relax with some wine from the stalls by the river. Also, if you enjoy skiing, the closest ski slope is just a 40-minute drive from Ljubljana.
Ljubljana: City tips
There are only a few airlines flying into Ljubljana airport directly. The airport is some 20 km from the city center so you might also fly to Venice, Trieste, Klagenfurt, Graz, or Zagreb, which are around a two-hour drive from Ljubljana. Many bookable shuttles are available for transportation between these airports and Ljubljana. Depending on the season, it may be cheaper to go this route.
If you fly into Ljubljana, then the best is to book Markun shuttle, which will take you to the city for 9€. A normal taxi fare into the city shouldn’t be more than 25€.
The official language is Slovenian, but most people speak English as well. Phrases in the local language are always appreciated and you can learn some here.
Ljubljana is a green city and so is getting around the city, which is possible on foot, by bike, or by bus. You will need the rechargeable Urbana card to use buses and rent the BicikeLJ bicycles, which are actually free for the first hour! When you finish your ride you can drop them off at any of the many stands placed around the city. The center itself is small and walkable and closed for cars, so it makes for nice strolls.
Ljubljana has been around for thousands of years and since it lies in between 4 countries and cultures and it has been part of many different cultural and governmental systems throughout its history, there are many incredible attractions in Ljubljana that offer travelers a look into its history. It was so hard to choose, but here is my top 3!
1 – Ljubljana Castle
Established on the hill surrounded by the Ljubljanica River it makes for lovely strolls and provides gorgeous views of the city. This location has a lot of history to share – relics found on the hill date back to 1200 BC!
2 – Prešeren Square
The charming atmosphere on the main square in the city center will take your breath away. Here you can find the statue of the most famous Slovenian poet France Prešeren, the Triple Bridge designed by the famous architect Jože Plečnik and the beautiful Franciscan church in the traditional Franciscan monastic order’s color red.
3 – Metelkova
The former Yugoslav army headquarters, which was abandoned in the 90s has become a must-see place in Slovenia. After the breakup of Yugoslavia, the base was abandoned for a number of years. This presented an opportunity for squatters, many of whom were social activists, to move into the area. For the past 25 years, Metelkova has operated as an autonomous region, paying no taxes to the government and enjoying a form of civilized anarchy. It consists of 7 buildings, one of which houses the Hostel Celica, which is in the former army prison building. During the day, stop by to check out some local art, or enjoy a delicious lunch at the hostel and catch a beer while listing to different kinds of live music in the evenings.
What to eat in Ljubljana
If you are looking for traditional Slovenian food, stop by Šestica restaurant in the city center and have a sausage with sour cabbage or sour turnip, and mashed potatoes on the side.
Slovenia, thanks to its geographical position, has gathered influences from different cultures throughout history and has taken bits and pieces of culinary delights from its neighboring countries. While in Ljubljana, it would be a shame to miss the pizza. Go to Trta restaurant by the river and indulge in one of the tastiest Italian specialties with a Slovenian vibe.
Best Ljubljana tours
Heading to the top sights is fine and dandy, but sometimes you just want to dive in and get a feel for the local culture. These ideas will help you experience Ljubljana in new ways and develop a better understanding of the city.
Walk around Tivoli Park towards Tivoli castle, from where you can enjoy the outdoor photo exhibition on the promenade while walking down towards the center. Stop by any of the museums which are located between the park and the center, then walk down Čopova Street towards Prešeren square. Enjoy the views of the medieval buildings and continue across the Triple Bridge towards the castle. Walk up the castle hill or take the funicular and walk around the castle grounds, climb the stairs to the top of the tower and watch the 3D historical presentation. Descend back to the old town and get lost between the little cafes and charming restaurants.
Hop on one of the boats located downtown and get a river view of Ljubljana while enjoying a cup of coffee in the warmer months, or sipping some wine in the winter. One-hour river cruises should be plentiful and easy to spot as there are many operators in the area. It’s best to ask around and check prices before you decide which one to take.
Hike in the city
If you want to be like a local, take the bus or cycle to Tacen, where you will get the chance to see the other river in Ljubljana, the Sava River, which is actually the longest river in Slovenia. From here you can take the hike to the top of Šmarna Gora Mountain. Enjoy the views and have a snack at the charming family-owned inn at the top.
Getting a hotel In Ljubljana
Booking a hotel in Ljubljana, Slovenia is pretty straightforward. The main thing to pay attention to is the distance from the city center – as mentioned above the Ljubljana Airport is a good drive away from the city. Hotels in Ljubljana are a bit expensive, as in much of Europe, so it’s a good idea to lock in a hotel early and avoid paying more when prices rise.
What to bring to Ljubljana
Ljubljana has continental weather, so expect cold and rainy or snowy winters and hot and dry summers, so pack clothes accordingly.
An electric converter might be useful if your devices are not continental Europe-friendly.