No one dislikes the very laid – back capital city of Slovenia, Ljubljana (‘lyoo-BLYAH-nah’) hard word to say – click here for pronunciation)! The small city is comfortably discovered by foot, offers interesting architecture to stare at, and there are plenty of things to do in Ljubljana for those on a two or three-day city break. Here’s the Ljubljana top 10, in no specific order. If you have longer don’t miss out on the majestic day trip to Lake Bled or think about heading south to the Croatian border for some glamping!
Ljubljana, Slovenia things to do
1. Take It To The Bridge
…as Justin Timberlake once said.
First thoughts of Ljubljana, so many bridges and one of them is even split into three! Regardless of there being so many, each one tells its own unique story. In the past, the bakers who cheated their customers out of quality bread where dunked in the freezing cold waters of the Ljubljanica via the Shoemaker’s Bridge (or Cobbler’s Bridge), an exciting spectacle for all to watch. At present, lovers can secure their passion by hooking a padlock on the Butcher’s Bridge. Some of the architecture might seem curious such as the Greek like podiums with strange fittings but no roof on the Triple bridge, but this was the constructed design of Ljubljana’s resident architect, Jože Plečnik.
For a more expert explanation on Ljubljana’s confusing architecture and the history of the city (with a ride on the Castle funicular), check out the two-hour official walking tour. Like all city breaks you want to be comfortable so make sure you are wearing your trusty broken in footgear. I swear by Clarks sandals/flats for style or my Salomon trek shoes for support.
- Time: 11am daily Oct 1st to 31st March I 10am daily (peak)
- Price: 10 euro (or included in the Ljubljana Card)
- Location: Town Hall
- Website:Ljubljana Walking Tour <— do check out for more Ljubljana things to do
2. Fun Food Tour With Ljubljananjam
What’s the best way to find out about a country’s culture? Fill your belly like one of the locals with Ljubljananjam Food Walks! Ljubljana is a foodie’s dream. Influenced by the Germanic / Austro-Hungarians, Mediterranean, and Yugoslavia, the Slovenian diet features lots of meats, cheese, veggies, bread, and wine.
Iva and her team will present a taste of the Ljubljana’s close-knit culinary community, as well as providing historical knowledge and bowls, plates, cups, and glasses full of Slovenian treats. The trail takes you around some of Ljubljana’s traditional restaurants as well as the more hipster spots, leaving you with local tips and content stomachs for you to savour. Ljubljana best things to do for food and drink lovers.
Orange wine, my new favourite! Oh Ljubljana what to do? Drink my friend!
- Website: Ljubljananjam Foodies’ Hub
- Price: From 35 – 55 euros (selection to meet all needs)
- Contact: [email protected]
3. Ride Ljubljana’s Mean Streets By Bike
Everyone cycles in Slovenia’s capital, and you can too, at a ridiculously cheap price. Pick up your bike at the Slovenian Tourist Information Centre (STIC) and for 2 euros you can have a wheely good time seeing the sights at a fast(er) pace. An easy and enjoyable route is to pedal east to Ljubljana’s beach in the city.
An alternative option is to cycle south to Tivoli Park which, like the rest of Ljubljana, has designated paths for cyclists. Why not check out a bike tour? This is one of our favourite types of tours because you get around quicker than by foot so you can take in more sites. We love tours, I probe the guides for local tips and stories about their lives.
We hope this does not happen to you but people fall, the body fails (and taxi drivers mount pavements like what happened to us in Lima, Peru)- never travel without insurance. We use True Traveller as our insurer and I had to claim in Canada (dizziness caused by ear crystals, nothing serious, just annoying), they paid out quickly. See if their website matches your travel needs here.
- Price: 2 Euros / 2 hours (4 hour cycle included in the Ljubljana Card) – cheap things to do in Ljubljana Slovenia
- Location: Krekov trg 10, 1000 Ljubljana
4. Life’s a Beach in Ljubljana
Ok so you won’t be making sandcastles at Ljubljana’s tranquil riverfront but the people of Ljubljana are so progressive that they did not let something as insignificant as sand get in the way of relaxation. Pull up a sun lounger, buy a glass beer, and watch the world (and the waves) go by! Apparently, there is even a floating bar but be aware, the river is not for swimming! One of the nicer things to do in Ljubljana in summer.
Don’t forget your suntan lotion! I adore La Roche-Posay when I’m splashing it, worth avoiding premature signs of ageing?
Plans are always best made with Slovenian wine!
5. Stay in a Prison
You heard me right; Ljubljana has a converted military prison where the cells have been moulded into special works of art, behind bars of course! Hostel Celica, once home to political prisoners and menacing militarians is now a bright, modern building oozing with community spirit.
This local and tourist hotspot not only offers sleeping arrangements but also has a popular cafe, hosts live music, and an art gallery showcasing local artists of all ages and genres. Travellers can select which cell they wish to sleep in (click here for details). Since each room has been designed by different international artists, they are individually special! A stay also includes a full continental buffet (not gruel, thankfully), Wi-Fi, baggage storage, solitary confinement, and use of the kitchen on the second floor.
People of all cultures, religions, sexual preferences and political beliefs are all welcome to the institution which once silenced its prisoners. Find out more about Slovenia’s history in this Slovenian travel guidebook. If you are a fan of staying in unique places you may want to check out our guide to staying in castles in Scotland!
- Website: Hostel Celica, Ljubljana
- Price: 18 – 33 euros (cells, rooms, dorms)
- Location: Metelkova 8, SI – 1000 Ljubljana
- Contact: [email protected]
6. Street Art Attack: Ljubljana things to see and do
Tucked behind Hostel Celica is the abandoned military barracks, which has been taken over by the younger generation, loaded with spray paint. Check out the artwork splattered over the converted buildings and the art gallery, Galerija Alkatraz. Buy a beer and join in the laid-back vibe of the Metelkova area. This was not an easy ride for the community, it took nearly a decade of negotiating with the government not to bulldoze it and let Ljubljaneers do what they do best – regenerate!
7. Go Green
It’s no wonder that this small city has won the award for the EU’s greenest city. Years ago, the government pedestrianised the canal streets, there are water fountains on every corner (remember our water bottles, no need for a filtering one as the tap water is clean so something like this one will do the job), and every type of recycling bin the Eco-warrior in you could desire.
There is even a small bus called a Kavalir, which runs on electricity can take you from A to B in the pedestrianised area. Check out the castle lights at night, guess what colour they shine? It’s not just me that was impressed with how clean Slovenia is, check out Claudia’s views here in her guide of what to do in Slovenia.
8. Chase The Dragon
Warning: Ljubljana is so charming, you will be hooked and looking for your next fix as soon as you leave! However, I don’t mean the consumption of heroin when I say ‘chase the dragon!’ I am referring to Jason’s dragon, that Jason from Jason and The Argonauts – the one he killed on his way back from stealing the gold fleece from King Aetes. You’ll find these mythical beasts on Dragon Bridge, and in every gift shop. Ljubljana to do list, check it off!
9. Get High in Ljubljana
Take the lift to the top of Nebotičnik, the 70 meters high skyscraper with the torch – like top. The views from Ljubljana’s Empire State Building are stunning, day and night, and guess what? A glass of red will only set you back 2 euros! One of the cool things to do in Ljubljana at night. If booze is not your bag, check out this guide to the best coffee shops in Ljubljana.
- Location: Štefanova ulica 1, 1000 Ljubljana (a Ljubljana must see)
10. Things to do in Ljubljana: Leave Ljubljana
Although this list of Ljubljana things to do and see could easily fill up a long weekend itinerary I highly recommend leaving the city. It will be tough, but there are lots of lovely day trips from the capital, including the majestic Lake Bled (the town with the church in the middle of the lake) and to the Slovenian/Croatian border where you can go glamping if you are in Slovenia for longer. You can even visit Bled in winter to ski, sledge and watch the sunken bell tradition! Read more here.
Let someone else do the driving! Take a tour to Bled, a short hike to Bled Castle and ride the Pletna boats in Lake Bled. Next, explore the Vintgar Gorge then dine at a local Alpine restaurant. It’s not over yet! See the less touristy Lake Bohinj and wander through the medieval town of Skofja Loka.
- Bled castle + boat trip
- Vintgar Gorge
- Lake Bohinj
Views of lovely Ljubljana from the castle funicular
How to get to Ljubljana
Ljubljana is well connected, Slovenia’s capital is home to Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport (previously known as Brnik Airport/code: LJU), Ljubljana railway station and a bus station (Avtobusna postaja Ljubljana). We entered Slovenia via the Budapest to Ljubljana train from our previous stop on our European trip, Hungary. Thinking of travelling around Europe? Here’s a guide to how much you can expect to pay on transport, accommodation, food and tours.
Accommodation in Ljubljana
Considering Slovenia’s capital is a such a small city there are numerous options to meet every budget. For backpackers, there are over 15 hostels, with the majority of them located in the centre. Dorm beds start at under £10 and privates from £30. Check out your options and read reviews here.
Hotels in Ljubljana on the other hand, are a tad more expensive (the wine is cheap so there is a balance!) starting at just over £50 and hitting £200 mark. Airbnb is flourishing; private rooms average at £35 but go below £20 whereas entire homes average £62, a few options under £50.
Airbnb is our favourite option for when we want to hide away (long-term travel can do that), we are travelling in a group or we want to cook in. Are you new to Airbnb? Sign up using our referral code here for money off which also gives us credit. Hvala (thanks in Slovenian)!
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Thanks to Ljubljananjam, Hostel Celica, and Visit Ljubljana for their hospitality, an honest review as always!