Best Things To Do in Ljubljana
Whether you love history, nature or art, Ljubljana has you covered. No matter where you venture in the Ljubljana Old Town area, you'll discover a perfect blend of Gothic, Baroque and art nouveau architecture within steps of the breathtaking Ljubljanica river. There's also Tivoli Park, a quiet green space in the heart of the city. But no Ljubljana vacation would be complete without visiting the eclectic Metelkova mesto neighborhood. You'll find colorful buildings housing art galleries, underground music venues and more – perfect for seeking respite on a chilly day or enjoying a fun night out after sightseeing.
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Ljubljana's past is hard to miss in its historical city center. Home to must-see sights like Prešeren Square, the Triple Bridge and Ljubljana Castle, the Ljubljana Old Town area features a mix of Gothic, Baroque and art nouveau architecture. Throughout the neighborhood, you'll find colorful buildings, pedestrian-only thoroughfares, ample shops and charming open-air cafes that overlook the Ljubljanica river. Plus, several of Slovenian architect Jože Plecnik's most iconic structures reside in this part of town. Don't miss the Plecnik-designed Central Market, which hosts a popular food market (Open Kitchen) every Friday from mid-March through October.
Travelers rave about the Ljubljana Old Town region, saying it offers a perfect blend of old and new. Though many suggest a summer visit so you can attend the weekly food market and people-watch while sipping a coffee outdoors, others highly recommend arriving in December to enjoy the city's festive Christmas decorations and holiday markets. No matter when you visit, vacationers say you'll discover well-maintained buildings, friendly locals and a great selection of eateries and watering holes.
- #2View all PhotosfreeLjubljanica#2 in LjubljanaNatural Wonders, Sightseeing, FreeTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPENDNatural Wonders, Sightseeing, FreeTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPENDRead More
Some of Ljubljana's most stunning vistas are front and center from the Ljubljanica River. Weaving its way from the Sava River in Podgrad (an area east of Ljubljana) through the Ljubljana Old Town area to Slovenia's Inner Carniola region, this waterway has played an important role in Slovenia's history for years. Several archaeological sites lie in the Ljubljana Marshes, which the river passes through to get to the city. Additionally, the Ljubljanica river served as a major trade route from when the Romans conquered the region up until the country's rail network was constructed in the mid-19th century.
Today, visitors can enjoy the river in a variety of ways. During the warmer months, the waterway's lush green banks are ideal for picnics. Travelers can also sign up for a two-hour paddleboarding excursion, and for less-active vacationers, there's a two-hour boat cruise that's available every day at 2 p.m. from April through September. No matter the season, the river's multiple bridges – including the Dragon Bridge and the Triple Bridge – are superb spots for photo ops.
- #3View all Photos#3 in LjubljanaCastles/Palaces, Sightseeing, FreeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDCastles/Palaces, Sightseeing, FreeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDRead More
Built in the Middle Ages on Castle Hill, Ljubljana Castle is a fixture on the city's skyline. The medieval castle boasts thick stone walls and houses a plethora of historical spaces, including a chapel, an open-air prison, a gunpowder room and a lookout tower. Additionally, the property offers modern amenities like two restaurants, a coffee shop, a gift shop, a jazz club, a museum about puppetry and an escape room.
Visitors heap praise on this old-world attraction, citing its top-notch restoration and jaw-dropping city vistas as highlights. Many also enjoyed riding the property's funicular from Krek Square to the top. Other ways to reach the castle include taking the Urban Train, riding the No. 32 bus to the Ljubljanski grad stop or biking or walking from the Ljubljana Old Town neighborhood, though several travelers caution that the steep trek is exhausting.
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One of Ljubljana's most recognizable sights is its Triple Bridge. Featuring a three-bridge design that includes a central stone bridge from 1842 and two matching side bridges designed by Jože Plecnik in the early 1900s, this thoroughfare helps bicyclists and pedestrians cross the Ljubljanica river. By its northern entrances, visitors will find Prešeren Square and its historical attractions. Meanwhile, the southern access points sit within walking distance of the medieval Ljubljana Castle and Ljubljana Cathedral. Various shops and restaurants are also accessible from both ends.
Overall, previous visitors praised this unique bridge, describing it as beautiful and romantic. Many also said that the bridge offers terrific river and castle views, so be sure to bring your camera. When vacationers need a break from walking around the area or admiring the bridge's architecture, past travelers recommend grabbing a bite to eat at a nearby restaurant since seating on the bridge is limited.
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Considered one of the top places to visit in the Ljubljana Old Town neighborhood, Prešeren Square sits on a plot of land that once featured a set of medieval gates. Although the gates were removed in the 19th century, the square continues to draw visitors thanks to its proximity to the Triple Bridge and its recognizable sights. At the center of the square lies the Prešeren Monument, a tribute to Slovenian poet France Prešeren. It faces another statue depicting the poet's love, Julija Primic. And next to the Prešeren Monument lies one of Ljubljana's most well-known buildings, the 17th-century Franciscan Church of the Annunciation.
Many past visitors enjoyed checking out Prešeren Square, saying it's an ideal spot to snap a selfie and people-watch. Others suggest exploring the shops and restaurants situated nearby. To make the most of your visit, previous travelers recommend coming around Christmas when the square is decked out in an array of holiday lights.
- #6View all PhotosfreeLake Bled#6 in LjubljanaNatural Wonders, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDNatural Wonders, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDRead More
Though you may be tempted to stick to Ljubljana's city limits, you'd miss seeing one of Slovenia's most breathtaking natural wonders: Lake Bled. Located about 35 miles northwest of Ljubljana, this Alpine lake is home to the country's only island, where the quaint Assumption of Mary Church resides. On the lake's shoreline, you'll discover the 12th-century Bled Castle, a few cafes and shops, multiple thermal springs, a beach and a nearly 4-mile-long walking and bike trail.
Recent visitors said Lake Bled is just as beautiful as it appears in pictures. Many were left in awe of the lake's gorgeous setting, citing the vistas from the walking path and castle as highlights. On warm, sunny days, a few past travelers suggest grabbing a coffee or bite to eat from one of several lakefront eateries. Some also recommend hiring a rowboat or a guided pletna (a traditional wooden boat) to visit the island; however, others cautioned that pletna rides are expensive.
- #7View all Photos#7 in LjubljanaChurches/Religious Sites, Sightseeing, FreeTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPENDChurches/Religious Sites, Sightseeing, FreeTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPENDRead More
Also known as the Cathedral of St. Nicholas, Ljubljana Cathedral has welcomed parishioners since at least 1262. Burned down and altered throughout the years, today's rendition of the church features a cross-shaped design devised by Italian Jesuit architect Andrea Pozzo. Inside, you'll discover all kinds of Baroque details, including ceiling frescoes painted by Italian artist Giulio Quaglio, statues made by Italian sculptor Angelo de Putti and a dome fresco created by Slovenian painter Matevž Langus. The church's two bronze doors are also noteworthy: Added during a visit from former pope St. John Paul II in 1996, both feature scenes that tell the stories of Christianity in Ljubljana and Slovenia.
Travelers use adjectives like "amazing," "beautiful" and "impressive" to describe Ljubljana Cathedral. Visitors love both the building's interior and exterior, citing its artwork and ambiance as highlights. Though tourists are welcome to walk around and take pictures inside, be respectful during your visit. Remain quiet to avoid disturbing those who are praying, and refrain from using the flash on your camera.
- #8View all PhotosfreeTivoli Park#8 in LjubljanaParks and Gardens, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDParks and Gardens, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDRead More
Voted the European Green Capital by the European Commission in 2016, Slovenia's capital offers multiple places to reconnect with nature, including Tivoli Park. This expansive park – which measures about 2 square miles – features chestnut tree-lined paths, a fish pond, a botanical garden and a variety of statues and fountains. On-site amenities range from an outdoor pool to sports courts to an open-air gallery designed by Jože Plecnik.
According to former visitors, Tivoli Park is a terrific place to enjoy some peace and quiet without straying far from the city center. In addition to offering well-maintained walkways and lawns for picnics, leisurely strolls, jogs and bike rides, the park is home to several cafes that previous vacationers said served superb cups of coffee. For those with children, past travelers recommend taking advantage of the on-site playground and bowling alley and visiting the Ljubljana Zoo, which sits in the southwestern part of the park.
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Flanked by – you guessed it – four dragon statues, the Dragon Bridge is a photographer's dream. Located within walking distance of Ljubljana Cathedral and Ljubljana Castle in the Ljubljana Old Town neighborhood, this prime example of Slovenian art nouveau architecture is one of the largest concrete bridges in Europe. The bridge, which was designed by Dalmatian architect Jurij Zaninovi? and built in the early 1900s, was Slovenia's first structure to be paved with asphalt. In addition to featuring its iconic copper dragon statues, the bridge is adorned with balustrades and parapet lamps.
Visitors say the Dragon Bridge's namesake creatures are beautiful works of art, though some feel the bridge itself is a bit underwhelming. Nevertheless, most agree that coming here to snap photos of the statutes and the Ljubljanica river is a must. Couples who visit should also bring a lock to add to the adjacent Butchers' Bridge, Ljubljana's equivalent of Paris' Pont des Arts.
- #10View all PhotosfreeMetelkova mesto#10 in LjubljanaFree, Neighborhood/AreaTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPENDFree, Neighborhood/AreaTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPENDRead More
If you need a break from Ljubljana's old-world attractions, immerse yourself in its alternative side in Metelkova mesto. Occupying former army barracks that were abandoned after the breakup of Yugoslavia, this urban neighborhood – which was originally established by 200 squatting volunteers – is a haven for Slovenian artists and musicians. Comparable to Copenhagen, Denmark's Christiania area (minus the anarchist attitude), autonomous Metelkova mesto boasts a cool vibe complete with eclectic artwork from highly regarded and lesser-known Slovenian artists. Its colorful buildings house everything from art galleries to nightlife venues to a few retail stalls and shops.
According to past travelers, Metelkova mesto is the place to go if you enjoy live music and quirky art. However, some previous visitors said the area can feel unsafe at night, so if you're not there to attend a concert, consider arriving before dark. Also, keep in mind that the neighborhood's unconventional atmosphere means you may see squatters or other locals participating in illegal activities.
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