Best Things To Do In Ljubljana, Slovenia – 2024 Attraction Guide

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Written by our local expert SJ

Sarah-Jane has lived in Croatia for 10+ years. SJ, as she is known, has been traveling the Balkans & beyond since 2000. She now shares her passion for traveling with her husband & kids.

Planning to visit Slovenia and looking for the top things to see in Ljubljana? As the largest city in Slovenia, Ljubljana is a treasure trove of attractions, from quaint places along the river to historic churches.

This guide will lead you through the must-visit spots, including the best restaurants and stunning views from the castle. Whether it’s part of a guided tour or a leisurely exploration, Ljubljana’s charm is an essential part of any Slovenia itinerary.

Discover the vibrant and cultural activities in Ljubljana with an array of things to do in the capital city of Slovenia. Explore popular attractions, experience delicious cuisine, and immerse yourself

Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, sits at the crossroads of Europe, offering more than just a stopover between the Alps and the Adriatic. This city blends history with a modern vibe and acts as a gateway to Slovenia’s natural wonders. 

Stroll through Ljubljana’s streets and explore the old town’s history alongside vibrant city life. The Ljubljanica River, with its scenic bridges and riverside cafes, adds to the city’s charm. Beyond, Slovenia’s diverse landscapes, from alpine mountains to tranquil lakes and rivers, are easily accessible and appealing to history buffs, art lovers, and outdoor enthusiasts alike.

In 2024, make sure to experience the best of Ljubljana and its enchanting surroundings on your Slovenia trip.

Historical & Cultural Things To Do In Ljubljana

Ljubljana Castle

Experience the vibrant city of Ljublana with a majestic castle blending seamlessly into the backdrop, offering a breathtaking setting for your adventures.

Perched atop a hill and offering a panoramic view of the city, Ljubljana Castle might be one of the first landmarks you spot when you arrive here.

The castle is not just a historical monument but a record of to the city’s storied past. Dating back to the 11th century, this castle has been a fortress, a royal residence, and even a prison.

Today, it’s a cultural hub where history meets the present. Take the funicular railway up the hill or enjoy a scenic hike. Once there, explore the museum, enjoy art exhibitions, and don’t miss the chance to sightsee the city from the castle’s tower.

Old Town And Triple Bridge

A picturesque canal in Ljubljana with boats leisurely gliding along, framed by charming buildings in the background.

The heart of Ljubljana lies in its Old Town, a charming area filled with Baroque and Art Nouveau buildings bustling with cafes and shops. Wander through the cobblestone streets and find yourself at the iconic Triple Bridge (one of many bridges in Ljubljana), an architectural marvel designed by Jože Plečnik.

This spot offers not only a beautiful view of the river but also serves as a gateway to explore the quaint streets of the city further.

A ‘free’ walking tour is a fantastic low-cost way to learn some of the history and context of this charming European city.

Dragon Bridge – The Protector Of Ljubljana

One of the many things to do in Ljubljana is to visit a majestic green statue of a dragon that stands proudly in front of a building.

Dragons Bridge stands as an emblem of Slovenian cultural heritage and architectural innovation. This stunning example of Art Nouveau design, completed in 1901, is famous for its four detailed dragon statues, symbols of the city, and a nod to local legends.

As you approach the bridge, which is an integral part of Ljubljana old town, the striking figures of the dragons at each of its corners immediately capture your attention, making it a popular spot for photographers and visitors for things to see.

The bridge not only connects two key areas of the city but also represents a significant moment in Ljubljana’s history, being one of the first concrete structures of its kind in Europe. 

Strolling across Dragon’s Bridge offers a unique blend of historical resonance and aesthetic pleasure, making it a must-visit for anyone exploring the charms of Ljubljana.

Visit Ljubljana Museums & Galleries

Ljubljana’s museums and galleries are some of the top attractions to see; they are treasure troves for art and history enthusiasts.

The National Museum of Slovenia, the oldest and largest museum in the country, showcases Slovenian history from prehistoric times to the present.

Art lovers should not miss the National Gallery, which houses a rich Slovenian and European art collection.

For a more contemporary flair, the Museum of Modern Art Metelkova (MSUM) provides a glimpse into the modern artistic expressions of Slovenia and beyond.

Outdoor Attractions In Ljubljana

A square in the old town of Ljubljana, a must-visit spot for those seeking exciting things to do in Ljubljana.

Slovenians are an active people, making the most of the beautiful wilds their country has to offer. Ljubljana is no exception, and you’ll see locals taking advantage of good weather by getting outdoors.

Tivoli Park

Tivoli Park, Ljubljana’s largest and most beautiful parkland area, offers a perfect blend of natural, cultural, and historical experiences. It stretches from the city center into the scenic surroundings, making it an excellent spot for a relaxing stroll or a more active exploration.

You can walk along the former promenade that leads from Prešernov Trg square, passing significant buildings like the opera, the National Gallery, and the National Museum until you reach the park. Inside Tivoli Park, visit the Tičistan (Birds’ Home), a haven for birdwatchers, and continue towards the Cekin Mansion, followed by a walk down the iconic Jakopič Promenade.

Don’t miss the Tivoli Rosarium with its stunning Ljubljana rose cultivar, and end your tour by the green fish pond area near the popular Čolnarna café.

Ljubljanica River Cruises and Activities

The Ljubljanica River, with its tranquil flow, is ideal for various activities. One of the best ways to experience the beauty of Ljubljana from a different perspective is by taking a river cruise. These cruises offer a unique view of the city’s historical architecture and bustling riverbanks. For those seeking a more active experience, kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding are also popular activities on the river.

Hiking & Biking Trails

Ljubljana is surrounded by numerous hiking and biking trails suitable for all levels. Whether you prefer a leisurely ride or a challenging hike, the trails around the city offer beautiful natural landscapes and stunning views of Ljubljana.

They are a great way to experience the Slovenian countryside and get a taste of the region’s natural beauty.

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Culinary Experiences

One of the charming things to do in Ljubljana is walking along a cobblestone street lined with tables and umbrellas, enjoying a peaceful atmosphere.

While not as famous as some other European cuisines, Slovenian food is as unique and delicious as some other European cuisines, drawing on diverse influences and celebrating local ingredients. The cuisine is characterized by a mix of Mediterranean, Alpine, and Pannonian flavors, creating tasty and unique dishes.

In Ljubljana, you can savor everything from traditional Slovenian dishes like Kranjska klobasa (local sausage) and štruklji (rolled dough with various fillings) to contemporary, innovative creations by award-winning chefs. The city’s vibrant marketplaces and cozy cafes add to the culinary adventure, offering fresh, local produce and excellent coffee.

Ljubljana’s food scene is not just about the flavors but also about sustainability and local sourcing, reflecting Slovenia’s deep connection with its natural landscape.

The city’s food scene has been significantly enhanced with the introduction of the Michelin Guide to Slovenia. As of 2023, Slovenia boasts 59 restaurants listed in the Michelin Guide.

For an authentic taste of Slovenian cuisine, consider restaurants like Gujžina for ‘Prekmurje’ cuisine and Šestica, one of the oldest restaurants serving traditional Slovenian dishes and wines.

Must-Visit Restaurants In Ljubljana

Enjoy two glasses of wine on a beautiful river ledge in Ljublana.

This capital city has some of the best places to eat in Slovenia

  • Gostilna na Gradu $$$: With a fantastic ambiance and location in the courtyard of the castle, this restaurant serves elevated local dishes.
  • Strelec $$: located in Ljubljana Castle, this Michelin-starred restaurant offers a blend of modern and traditional cuisine, showcasing the creativity of chef Igor Jagodic
  • Špajza $$: known for its local comfort food and steaks
  • Gujžina, $$: known for its vegetarian, takes on Slovenian classics in the center of Ljubljana
  • Most $$: popular for their local dishes, great location, and knowledgable and friendly staff
  • Šestica $$: one of Ljubljana’s oldest restaurants, serving a variety of traditional Slovenian dishes along with a selection of Slovenian wines
  • Sokol $$: situated near the Town Hall, this restaurant is famous for its authentic Slovenian meals and homemade brandy
  • Druga Violina $: located in the city center, this restaurant is known for its social mission, employing individuals with disabilities and supporting a worthy cause. It serves traditional Slovenian dishes
  • Julija $$: a cozy restaurant offering Italian cuisine with a Slovenian twist, using local seasonal ingredients
  • EK Bistro $$$: highly recommended for European-style breakfast options like Shakshuka and French toast, EK Bistro offers a delightful culinary experience

Coffee Culture And Cafe Scene In Ljubljana

Discover the charm of a cobblestone street in Ljubljana - a must-visit for those exploring the vibrant city.

It’s hard not to notice how important cafe culture is to Slovenians. It is an essential part of each day and an important feature of the social fabric. Unsurprisingly, the cafe scene in Ljubljana is a vibrant and integral part of the city’s culture, reflecting a deep appreciation for coffee and a relaxed lifestyle.

Must-Visit Cafes in Ljubljana

  • Le Petit Cafe: a cozy cafe celebrated for its fantastic breakfast and quality coffee, it provides a warm and welcoming atmosphere
  • Cacao: this dessert bar is a favorite for its picturesque riverside location and a wide variety of sweet treats and beverages
  • Lolita – Cankarjevo Nabrezje: known for its great location and delightful cakes, Lolita offers a charming experience in the heart of the city
  • TOZD bar: a popular café with a digital twist, located by the river, it’s ideal for enjoying coffee outdoors

Lubljanas Markets

Bustling marketplaces like the Central Market offer an authentic taste of local life and cuisine. The central market is a perfect place to experience Slovenian food culture, offering everything from seasonal produce to delicious seafood.

Markets play a vital role in Ljubljana’s cultural and social life, offering visitors a glimpse into the local way of life and the city’s rich culinary traditions. They are not just places for shopping; they are hubs of social interaction, gastronomic exploration, and cultural exchange.

Here’s a breakdown of the importance of markets in Ljubljana and some recommendations:

Recommended Markets for Visitors

  • Central Market: designed by the architect Jože Plečnik, this market is a must-visit if you plan to stay in Ljubljana. It’s located along the Ljubljanica River and is known for its open-air section, where you can find a wide variety of fresh produce, flowers, and local crafts
  • Open Kitchen (Odprta Kuhna): this food market takes place every Friday (weather permitting) from spring to fall. It’s a foodie heaven, featuring a variety of cuisines, both local and international, and is a great place to sample different dishes and enjoy a lively atmosphere
  • BTC City Market: located in one of Ljubljana’s largest shopping areas, this market offers fresh fruit and vegetables and local produce, perfect for those looking to explore beyond the city center
  • Antique Flea Market: held every Sunday along the Cankarjevo Nabrežje embankment, this market is perfect for those interested in antiques, vintage items, and unique finds

Each of these markets offers a unique experience and is a window into Ljubljana’s vibrant, communal, and gastronomic soul. They are not just shopping destinations but places where you can immerse yourself in the local culture and lifestyle.

Nightlife and Entertainment

Ljubljana’s nightlife is as diverse as its culinary scene. In addition to trendy cocktail bars like Slovenska Hiša and Kolibri Cocktail Bar, the city is home to Metelkova, an autonomously developed cultural center known for its vibrant and eclectic atmosphere.

This former military barracks has become a hub for alternative arts and nightlife, offering a range of music genres, art galleries, and cultural events. It’s the perfect destination for those seeking a unique and culturally rich nightlife experience.

Must-Visit Bars and Nightlife Spots in Ljubljana

  • Metelkova: a culturally rich and vibrant area known for its alternative arts, clubs, and galleries
  • Slovenska Hiša:  a trendy bar with an extensive cocktail menu, perfect for evening drinks
  • Kolibri Cocktail Bar: a 920s New York City-themed speakeasy known for its romantic ambiance and creative cocktails
  • Cirkus Club: renowned for being one of the city’s most vibrant nightlife destinations, offering an eclectic mix of entertainment ranging from live DJ performances to themed parties
  • Vinoteka Movia: a sophisticated wine bar that offers an exquisite selection of wines, particularly known for showcasing the best of Slovenian viticulture. It’s a perfect spot for wine enthusiasts looking to explore local flavors
  • Orto Bar: famous for its live music scene, Orto Bar is a popular hangout among locals and tourists alike. This venue is primarily known for hosting a variety of genres, making it a vibrant spot for music lovers
  • Reformator: a trendy bar in Ljubljana’s old town known for its unique cocktails and modern atmosphere, it’s worth dropping by

Day Trips From Ljubljana

Lake Bled in Slovenia, the perfect getaway for those seeking things to do in Ljubljana.

Day trips from Ljubljana offer an excellent opportunity to explore the diverse landscapes and rich cultural heritage of Slovenia. Here are some of the most popular destinations that you can consider for a day trip:

  • Lake Bled: just an hour’s drive from Ljubljana, I suggest a day trip to Lake Bled. It is a picture-perfect setting with a church on an island, a medieval castle perched on a rocky cliff, and the Julian Alps in the background. You can take a traditional ‘pletna’ boat to the island, hike up to Bled Castle for stunning views, or enjoy a leisurely walk around the lake
  • Postojna Cave and Predjama Castle: Postojna Cave is one of the largest karst (limestone) cave systems in the world, known for its unique geological formations. Nearby is the Predjama Castle, a Renaissance castle built within a cave mouth, making it a unique architectural marvel
  • Piran and the Slovenian Coast: Piran is a charming coastal town known for its Venetian architecture, vibrant squares, and seaside cafes. The Slovenian coast, though small, offers beautiful views of the Adriatic Sea, fresh seafood, and a relaxed atmosphere
  • Škocjan Caves: a UNESCO World Heritage site, the Škocjan Caves are a breathtaking natural wonder with one of the world’s largest underground canyons. The cave system offers a unique and thrilling experience for visitors
  • Lipica Stud Farm: home to the famous Lipizzaner horses, the Lipica Stud Farm provides an insight into the tradition of breeding these elegant horses. Visitors can tour the farm, watch a horse-riding show, and explore the beautiful grounds
  • Logar Valley: a bit further away but worth the trip, the Logar Valley is one of the most beautiful Alpine glacial valleys in Europe, offering stunning landscapes, hiking trails, and the opportunity to enjoy Slovenia’s pristine nature
  • Triglav National Park: when planning your trip to Slovenia, Triglav National Park should be on your list for those who love outdoor activities and nature. Named after Slovenia’s highest mountain, it is a must. It offers hiking, mountaineering, and breathtaking natural scenery

Each of these destinations offers a unique glimpse into the natural beauty and historical richness of Slovenia and can be easily accessed from Ljubljana for a memorable day trip.

If you’re considering a longer trip through Slovenia, the country is perfect for campervan travel, offering a diverse range of unique experiences in a relatively compact geographical area.

Tips For Travelers To Ljubljana

When visiting Ljubljana, here are some practical tips:

  • Getting Around: Ljubljana is a walkable city, with most attractions clustered around the picturesque old town of Ljubljana. For attractions further afield, the city has a well-organized public transport system, primarily consisting of buses. Consider purchasing the Urbana card, a rechargeable smart card used for buses, some museums, and even to make use of the funicular to the castle. Rideshare and private taxis provide another transport option. Biking is also popular, and there are several bike rental options available
  • Best Times to Visit: the best time to visit Ljubljana is during late spring (May and June) or early fall (September and October), when the weather is pleasant and the city isn’t overcrowded with tourists
  • Local Customs: Slovenians are known for their hospitality. Greeting people with a handshake and maintaining eye contact is common. Tipping is appreciated but not obligatory; around 10% in restaurants is customary if you’re satisfied with the service

Ljubljana Conclusion

Ljubljana offers plenty of things to see and do with a unique blend of tradition and contemporary charm. The city’s cafe culture, vibrant markets, and proximity to Slovenia’s natural wonders only add to its appeal. Every stroll along the Ljubljanica River and every sip of coffee in its quaint cafes is a moment to cherish.

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