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Ljubljana is a city of contrasts. Beautiful old buildings, covered in graffiti, with the upmarket restaurants inside. Dilapidated buildings housing the trendiest cafes. The old versus the new, the grunge versus the chic. There are so many things to do in Ljubljana, Slovenia, so make sure you have a good few days to explore this wondrous Slovenian city .
We strolled into town and navigated our way along the Ljubljanica river, which runs through the heart of the city. Open-air restaurants, bars and cafes line the river on both sides. The pedestrianized streets were alive with people and all manner of buskers from the traditional accordion players to melodious jazz players.
In this Ljubljana travel guide, we share everything you need to know for an excellent Ljubljana holiday with all the best things to do in Ljubljana and what to see in Ljubljana!
- Tai’s Take on Ljubljana
- Best Things to Do in Ljubljana
- Day Trips from Ljubljana
- How to Get to Ljubljana
- Where to Stay in Ljubljana
- How Long Should I Stay in Ljubljana
- Campervan Info in Ljubljana
Tai’s Take on Ljubljana
Best Things To Do in Ljubljana
The Ljubljana Castle stands perched on the hill looking over the city. There is a funicular to take you to the top, but we decided to ride our bikes! I’m not quite sure why we chose this route as the road was incredibly steep. I made it to within 20m of the top and just couldn’t anymore so had to get off and push! The view over the city was spectacular, so it was worth all the effort.
Wander the City Streets
The city centre is pedestrian only, so you can aimlessly wander the cobbled streets and admire the architecture with ease. We rode our bikes down little alleyways, meandered in and out of shops, listened to the buskers playing amazing jazz and stopping at funky cafes to sample the local craft beer.
The Triple Bridge stands in the heart of Ljubliana and connects the Old Town with the newer part of town. It is actually comprised of three separate bridges. The middle bridge was built in 1842, but with an increase in traffic, two additional side-bridges were added for pedestrians by the architect Jože Plecnik in 1930.
The Butchers Bridge certainly had some rather dark sculptures – piranhas with vicious looking teeth and lifesized bodies that looked like they were writhing in agony – and it has taken up the love-lock challenge with locks of all shapes and sizes festooned along its width.
The Dragon Bridge is named for its ornate dragon statues – 2 big statues on either side and 16 smaller dragons spanning its width. You can’t say you’ve been to Ljubliana if you don’t have a photo of these mystical beasts. Constructed between 1900 and 1901, it was Ljubljana’s first reinforced concrete structure and one of the largest bridges of its kind to be built in Europe.
Indulge in the Coffee Culture
There is a huge coffee culture here with cakes and pastries to tempt even the smallest sweet tooth. The cafes range from uber-trendy to fabulously quirky and are all busy and bustling.
Metelkova Mesto Street Art
There is a whole area dedicated to the “street art” called Metelkova. Developed from a squat in a former army barracks, Metelkova is touted to tourists as an autonomous cultural center with a vibey nightlife, but to be honest, we felt like intruders, being closely watched by groups of drugged up youths. The art was very cool though, so we ignored the stares, took some photos, but did leave as quickly as we had arrived.
We bought fresh fruit at the Central Market and tasted our first Borek, which is phyllo pastry pies made with either spinach, cheese, meat or potato. Really yum! Our other favourite is now Cepvavcici – little mincemeat kebabs – which are served with Ajvar -a relish made of red peppers. Don’t miss out on the cheese, meat and bakery market just off the square. It’s not so easy to find, but if you are looking through the market, towards the castle, the entrance is on the right. A little door with stairs leading down.
Take a Boat Cruise
No trip to Ljubliana is complete without a slow cruise down the Ljubljanica River. The one hour cruise will afford you a different view of the city, passing under all of the famous bridges and many of the historic buildings. The boat is heated in winter and you can buy refreshments on board.
€10.00 for adults
€5.00 for children aged between 4 and 12
Free for children below the age of 4 years
Hang Out in Presernov Square
Presernov Square is a hub of activity at any time of the day. Sit on the steps of the Preseren Monument and listen to the organist in his Lederhosen playing a lamenting tune, watch a clown blow balloons for the kids or just relax and watch life walking on by. The Franciscan Church of the Annunciation dominates the skyline
Free Walking Tour of the Ljubliana
The city offers a free daily walking tour starting at 11 am in Presernov Square. Let the local tour guides regale you with stories about the city while explaining everything from local history and architecture to quirky trivia and culture. The tours run every day, rain or shine and no bookings are required. Just arrive in the square a few minutes before 11am and the guide will be easy to spot.
Slovenia is a tiny country so pretty much everywhere is accessible as a day trip from Ljubljana. Of course you may want to spend a little more time in each place, but all the following can be done in one day from Ljubljana. You can day trip to Lake Bled, Lake Bohinj, Vintgar Gorge, Predjama Castle, the Skocjan or Postojna Caves, Bovec, Piran or Ptuj. Slovenia has so many stunning locations and incredible things to see, so it would be well worth the time to try and see everything.
How to Get to Ljubljana
Getting to Ljubljana is easy as the city is well connected on all forms of transport. The Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport (previously known as Brnik Airport/code: LJU) receives flights from most other European countries, Ljubljana railway station is well connected to Europe’s railway lines and a bus station (Avtobusna postaja Ljubljana) provides an additional method of transport.
Traveling by car is the the most popular means of transport and if you are wanting to explore more than just Ljubljana, then hiring a car is highly recommended. The inner city of Ljubljana has been pedestrianised but there are ample parking places from which to walk into the old town.
Where to Stay in Ljubljana
The location of the Grand Union Hotel literally steps away from Prešern Square is unrivaled. The Art Nouveau building adds an aura of luxury, while the Grand Union Cafe is famous for its coffee and pastries.
Check out photos and latest prices for Grand Union Hotel on Booking.com
If you’re looking for a great location at a great price, then Bed and Breakfast Atticus is for you. Set in a lovely garden with a cafe bar, Bed and Breakfast Atticus is one of the most popular mid-range choices.
Check out photos and latest prices for Bed & Breakfast Atticus on Booking.com
Hostel Celica Art is a super funky hostel that once was a prison, so you may find prison bars as your dorm door. It is perfectly located in the Old Town and was voted the hippest hostel in the world by Lonely Planet.
Check out photos and latest prices for Hostel Celica Art on Booking.com
If those didn’t tickle your fancy, why not check out all the accommodation available in Ljubljana?
Check out latest accommodation deals in Ljubljana on Booking.com
How Long Should I Stay in Ljubljana
Most of the attractions can be found within the pedestrianised zone of the Old Town, but there are so many things to see and do that I would definitely allow for at least 3 days to really get a feel of the city. If you want to do a day trip to Lake Bled, Piran or the Karst Regions, I would recommend at least 5 days.
Campervan Info in Ljubljana
We didn’t wake up on the wrong side of the bed, but we sure arrived in the wrong side of town in Ljubljana! I’d searched for overnight camper stops as close to the city center as possible and as far as location went, we couldn’t have done better. Just a 3-minute bike ride to the very center of town. The downside… we were parked in a seriously dodgy parking area next to a dirty and dilapidated warehouse which housed the only toilet for all the campers to use. Yes, there was a security guard and we got hooked up to electricity for the very overpriced cost of 25€, but if there hadn’t been other campervans there, I would have hightailed it outta there as soon as we arrived!
GPS: 46.0578, 14.52009
We then found excellent parking to the South-West of the city. There was electric hookup, water and grey water disposal. There was a toilet at the petrol station across the way.
Number 6 bus will take you to town in 10 minutes. There are toilets at a nearby petrol station if needed.
Monday to Friday the cost is € 1.20 or pay €2 for an oyster card that allows you to use the parking and the buses into town. It is free on weekends.
GPS: 46.0371, 14.46519
Where to go next in Slovenia?
- 8 Best Things to Do in Lake Bled in Slovenia
- Lake Bohinj and going up Mount Vogel
- Hiking to Slap Savica Waterfall and Monstrica Gorge
- A Death Defying Road Trip over the Vrsic Pass in Slovenia
- Whitewater Rafting on the Soca River at Bovec
- An Amazing Road Trip from Bovec to Picturesque Piran
- Picture Perfect Piran: Slovenia’s Prettiest Town
- Our favourite things to do in Slovenia’s Karst Region
- 8 Beautiful Things to See in Ptuj, Slovenia