Getting Around Ljubljana
The best way to get around Ljubljana is to walk, bike or use Kavalirs. All three options are either free or affordable modes of transportation, though walking or biking may not be the most comfortable way to get from one place to another during the chilly winter months. Ljubljana also offers a tourist train and a reliable bus system, but because all of the city's top attractions are situated downtown, paying more to navigate the area by train or bus isn't necessary. Taxis are available as well; however, rates are pricey. Hiring a car is not recommended due to Ljubljana's abundance of cost-effective transportation options. Travelers who want to venture outside the city to Lake Bled can drive or sign up for a fee-based bus tour from Ljubljana.
To get to Ljubljana, visitors can fly into Ljubljana Jože Pucnik Airport (LJU), which sits about 15 miles north of the city center. Rental cars and taxis are readily available at the airport, or travelers can take an Avtobusna Postaja Ljubljana bus from the airport to central Ljubljana.
All of Ljubljana's can't-miss sights sit within walking distance of each other in the heart of the Ljubljana Old Town area, making walking from point A to point B a viable option. However, travelers who plan on visiting when the weather is cooler may want to consider using Kavalirs or another mode of enclosed transportation.
On warmer days, biking is an easy, affordable way to get around Ljubljana. Some local accommodations – such as Hotel Cubo – provide free loaner bicycles to guests (subject to availability), while others offer bike rentals for a fee.
Visitors can also use the city's BicikeLJ bicycle-sharing system. After paying an online registration fee of 1 euro (about $1) per week, riders can borrow a bike from one of 38 self-service terminals for free for up to an hour after entering their subscription and PIN numbers (which are sent via email). An extra charge of 1 to 4 euros (or roughly $1 to $4.50) applies for additional hours, but to keep costs down, travelers can return their bike within an hour and wait at least five minutes before hiring a new one. Doing so restarts the rental period, meaning rides remain free as long as they're less than an hour in length.
Another bike hire option is the Ljubljana Bike project. Available from the Slovenian Tourist Information Centre from April through September, these bike rentals start at 2 euros (approximately $2) per two-hour hire period. An 8 euro ($9) fee applies for rentals lasting anywhere from two hours to a full day. Tourists who purchase a Ljubljana Card receive complimentary use of a Ljubljana Bike project bicycle for up to four hours.
When the weather is chilly or you want to give your feet a break from walking or biking, consider taking advantage of Ljubljana's Kavalirs. These electric-powered vehicles – which are named "Gentle Helpers" in English because of their slow speeds – are free to use year-round and travel anywhere in the Ljubljana Old Town region. Each vehicle can accommodate up to five passengers.
Kavalirs are part of the city's Ljubljanski potniški promet (LPP) bus system and can be hailed anywhere you see one or by calling one of three numbers listed on LPP's website. Three enclosed, heated Kavalirs are available throughout the year, while three open-sided Kavalirs are also operational from April through October. The vehicles run daily between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.
For a faster alternative to Ljubljana's Kavalirs, travelers can use the Urban Train. Like a hop-on, hop-off bus, this rail-free tourist train (which is heated in winter) allows visitors to board and disembark at any stop along the route. The train stops at 10 locations, including Ljubljana Castle and Prešeren Square. The entire trip lasts approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes.
Urban Train tickets for adults ages 19 and older cost 8 euros ($9), while kids passes range from 4 to 6 euros (about $4.50 to $7), depending on age. All children younger than 4 and visitors with Ljubljana Cards ride for free. Family passes for two adults and one or more kids are available as well for 15 to 21 euros (or roughly $17 to $24). Tickets can be purchased at the Slovenian Tourist Information Centre, at the LPP Passenger Centre, on the train or in advance online. Each ticket is valid for one day and includes use of an audio guide in English or one of eight other languages.
Buses are more expensive to use than Ljubljana's tourist-centric modes of transportation but may be worth considering for longer rides outside of the Ljubljana Old Town area and to and from the airport.
Within the city center, travelers have access to LPP's 42 bus lines. To pay for rides, passengers will need to purchase a reloadable Urbana card, which is sold for 2 euros (about $2) at LPP ticket offices, local tourism information centers and select newspaper kiosks and post offices. To deposit money, riders can use a green Urbanomat ticket machine; these machines are available at most bus stops. Each 90-minute ride costs 1.20 to 2.50 euros (or roughly $1.50 to $3) per person, depending on the zones traveled. Rides are free for visitors with active Ljubljana Cards.
To reach farther locales like the airport, vacationers can use the Avtobusna Postaja Ljubljana bus network. Ticket prices vary by route, but one-way trips to the airport cost 4.10 euros (about $5) for adults. Round-trip fares are also available, and disabled riders and children ages 4 to 10 receive reduced rates. Tickets can be purchased online or at a bus station. Airport bus rides last roughly 45 minutes.
Although taxis are readily available in downtown Ljubljana and at the airport, their rates are pricey, especially when traveling farther distances. All rides cost a minimum of .80 to 1.50 euros (about $1 to $1.50), plus a metered rate of .70 to 1.70 euros per kilometer traveled (or between $1 and $3 per mile). For trips that originate at the airport, expect to pay 20 to 45 euros (roughly $23 to $51) to get to the city center. If you choose to take a taxi, consider ordering one in advance by phone instead of flagging one down on the street to save some coin. Cabs can be requested via taxi company websites or the free HOPIN mobile app. Ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft do not currently operate in Slovenia.
Ljubljana's concentration of attractions in its city center and variety of affordable or free transportation options make it impractical to rent a car. What's more, some Slovenians have a reputation of being aggressive drivers who speed and tailgate, according to the U.S. Embassy in Slovenia. But if you're set on having your own set of wheels (which could come in handy if you're hoping to drive yourself to Lake Bled), you'll find multiple rental car agencies at the airport.
To drive in Slovenia, you'll need both a valid American driver's license and an international driving permit, which are sold through AAA and DMV.org. Like the U.S., traffic flows on the right side of the road, but keep in mind that distances are calculated in kilometers and gas is sold by the liter. The speed limit in Ljubljana and other urban areas is always 50 kph (30 mph), and turning right on red is never permitted. It is also illegal to use a cellphone while driving, and bicyclists generally have the right of way. Slovenia's driving fines are high and traffic rules are strictly enforced, so be sure to practice safe driving at all times.
Parking is readily available in Ljubljana, but a special permit must be obtained from the city to park and drive in the Ljubljana Old Town area. For more tips about parking in Ljubljana, visit Ljubljana Tourism's website.
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