10 Things to do in Lovely Ljubljana

10 Things to do in Lovely Ljubljana [Updated]

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Hard word to say, hard city to leave! No one dislikes the very laid-back capital city of Slovenia, Ljubljana (‘lyoo-BLY-AH-nah’). This small European destination is comfortably discovered by foot, offers interesting architecture to stare at, and has a very progressive attitude to zero waste. There are plenty of things to do in Ljubljana for those on a two or three-day city break so here are the top rated, in no specific order. If you have longer than two days in Ljubljana, don’t miss out on the majestic day trip to Lake Bled


» You may also like: our extensive Slovenia travel guide


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, local bakers who cheated their customers out of quality bread were dunked into freezing cold canal water via the Shoemaker’s Bridge (or Cobbler’s Bridge), an exciting spectacle for all to watch.

Today, lovers can secure their passion by hooking a padlock onto the Butcher’s Bridge.

Some of the architecture might seem curious, such as the Greek-like podiums on the Triple Bridge which was designed by Ljubljana’s resident architect, Jože Plečnik.

For an expert explanation of Ljubljana’s confusing architecture and the history of the city (with a ride on the Castle funicular), check out the two-hour official Ljubljana walking tour hosted by Ljubljana Tourism. 

  • Time: 10am daily during peak season
  • Price: 17 euro
  • Location: Town Hall

Bridges I Things to do in Ljubljana

2. Ride Ljubljana’s Funicular 

If you look up from your phones, you won’t miss Ljubljana Castle perched above the old town. You may, however, miss the unobtrusive funicular railway which connects the street to the Castle for under 5 euros.

The funicular is open all year round and one of the best ways to see the city from above. The ride is over quickly, in under a minute you race up 70 metres to the Castle Hill area. 

Here you can take in the view for free, or purchase entry to the Castle grounds. 

Views from Castle Funicular I Things to do in Ljubljana

Views of lovely Ljubljana from the castle funicular 

3. 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.

100% of Ljubljana best things to do for food and drink lovers. I am still thinking about the Orange wine we tasted and have only managed to purchase it once (in London) since then. 

Ljuljanajam Food Walk I Things to do in Ljubljana

Orange wine, my new favourite!  Oh Ljubljana what to do? Drink my friend! 

4. 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 (Špica).

An alternative option is to cycle south to Tivoli Park which, like the rest of Ljubljana, has designated paths for cyclists.

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. North American readers may want to check out the most popular travel insurance provider, World Nomads. You can read our comparison review here

Hire a Bike I Things to do in Ljubljana

5. 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 do 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 at Špica! 

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. 

Beach I Things to do in Ljubljana

Plans are always best made with Slovenian wine!

6. 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.

Visitors 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 [amazon_textlink asin=’174321572X’ text=’Slovenian travel guidebook’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’twoscotsusa-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’07bb4666-7152-11e7-8f2c-c9700206cc73′].

  • Price: 20+ euros (cells, rooms, dorms)
  • Location: Metelkova 8, SI – 1000 Ljubljana

» If you are a fan of staying in unique places you may want to check out our guide to staying in castles in Scotland!


Cell Hostel Celica Ljuljana I Things to do in Ljubljana

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!

You may want to check out the Museum of Modern Art too. 

7. Ljublana Pub Crawl 

One of the most popular tours in GetYourGuide is actually the Ljubljana Bar Crawl. If you are looking to party hard with a group of international visitors then reserve your spot with your party guide. 

The pub crawl tours last for 5 hours and include 5 shots, drinking games (including beer pong) and entry to one of the best clubs or dance bars in the city. The guides really make solo travellers feel like friends. 

8. 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 (take note, Edinburgh) and introduced public water fountains on every corner.

» Budget tip – remember your water bottles. 

As you can drink from the tap in Slovenia, there is no need for a filtering bottle. Something like the Tree Tribe bottle (which we personally use) is worth packing.

The city also has every type of recycling bin the Eco-warrior could desire, discreetly lined around the centre and by 2025, Ljubljana pledges to recycle 78% of its waste

To play your part, you can purchase at any of the zero waste stores in the city, use the milk vending machines (from local farms) dotted around the town, and buy food at the market. 

There is even a small bus called a Kavalir, which runs on electricity, for tourists. It’s green, naturally, looks like a large golf cart and cruises the historic area. You can book a ride here: +386 (0)31 666 331 or by hailing one down. 

Finally, 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.

Eco Green Ljubljana I Things to do in Ljubljana

9. 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!

Dragon Bridge in Ljubljana

10. 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 a couple of 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)

» You may also like | Europe’s most romantic destinations


Views from Nebotičnik I Things to do in Ljubljana

BONUS – 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 fairytale 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! This popular tour to Bled and Bohinj gives you ample time to take a short hike to Bled Castle and to ride a famous Pletna.

It also includes a stop at Vintgar Gorge (waterfall, rapids, lush green space) and dinner a local Alpine restaurant.

It’s not over yet! See the less touristy Lake Bohinj and wander through the medieval town of Skofja Loka.

» » Check availability of this day Bled day tour here

Lake Bled | Things to do at Lake Bled


» Don’t miss our guide to the best Ljubljana day trips – adventure, scenery and wine

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 such a small city there are numerous options to meet every budget.

For backpackers, there are over 30 hostels, with the majority of them located in the centre. Dorm beds start at under 25 euro and privates from 50 euros.

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)!


Slovenia Packing List

  • A waterproof coat like this Marmot Precip US / UK or Mountain Equipment Rupal US / UK
  • Comfortable walking shoes and hiking boots – I swear Salomon Ellipse trek shoes US / UK 
  • Camera and battery
  • Battery pack for your phone – I vouch for Anker’s range US / UK
  • Osprey bag cover US / UK
  • Eco water bottle as there are heaps of places to fill up for free – the practical Tree Tribe US / UK
  • Or Water to Go Water To Go [quote TSA15 at checkout for 15% off]
  • Bamboo cutlery set US / UK
  • Skross universal travel adaptor with USB slots US / UK
  • Pacsafe safety net US / UK
  • Hydration tablets US / UK if participating in some Slovenia wine tasting!

Don’t Forget Your Guide

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10 Things to do in Ljubljana - Slovenia's capital city. Chase the dragon, see the views from the castle, hire a bike and drink Slovenian wine.

Over to you, any questions?

Thanks to Ljubljananjam, Hostel Celica, and Visit Ljubljana for their hospitality, an honest review as always! 

Gemma and Craig are full-time workers with a life-long travel habit. Flirting with 30 and let loose on the world! Gemma writes, Craig looks good in the photos.

Comments 60

  1. You’ve convinced me that I need to put Ljubljana on my travel list. But thanks to YouTube I can take it off of my “learn how to pronounce” list. 😉 You’ve got some seriously fun activities listed here, and your pictures are gorgeous! This is my first time stopping by your site, but I’ll be back!

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      Author

      That’s great to hear Amanda, thank you! I use YT to work out hello and thank you before we move on to other countries! I’m going to stick a link on this page – magic idea genius box!!

  2. I love the sound of this place! Cool architecture, colourful street art, tasty food and lots of wine – my kind of town!

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  3. Yep that is REALLY difficult to pronounce but it looks amazing. Love a city that can bring together a fabulous food culture, a laid back vibe and such a perfect setting for getting lost with my camera.

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  4. Everyone I know who’s been to Slovenia would recommend Ljubljana – apart from Lake Bled, of course! And reading this, I can just see why. Would love to try out and stay at Hostel Celica, that would be quite an experience, staying in a former prison.

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  5. GASP. I love the Prison accommodations!! Thats so unique. Bookmarked for future planning! Seriously Ljubljana looks like a really beautiful place, plus nothing beats a good food tour.

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      Totally agree, love getting to know a country via the stomach. Helps being able to understand a menu afterwords too. Yes! Hostel Celica was fuuuuun!

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  6. I have never been to Ljubljana but my husband often has the opportunity to go for work and I keep meaning to tag along! It looks lovely and spring/summer seems a great time to go – I am intrigued by the floating bar!!

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      Oh do go and tell me how it was! Yes, spring and summer would be ideal – I actually got a tad burn sitting at the water, never good!

  7. I was considering this prison hostel seeing my visit to Ljubljana, but finally opted out for more privacy 🙂

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      Hmm, not sure what you mean by privacy? We had a private double room cell at Hostel Celica – was fully private! The dorms aren’t actually the cells rooms, you’ll find them on the top floor. Shame you missed out, you’ll just need to go back! 🙂

      1. I checked the rooms available then and they didn’t have the bathroom. I don’t know if it was about all the rooms or just about the free ones then, but I preferred a hotel room with a bathroom 😉

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  8. Ljubljanak looks like a great place for this foodie to visit. I’m intrigued by the orange wine!

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  9. I am not sure how I should pronounce Ljubljana, but doesn’t matter as you said. It seems like a lively city. Being in prison is something unique which I would love to visit, I am not sure when I am there can’t get rid of the former prisoners or not, but I think it is a must to see

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  10. Wow! I never realised Ljubljana has so much to offer. The food tour and wine look awesome and staying in a prison would be epic – not to mention all the amazing street art! I think you have just inspired me to add (yet another) place to my list!

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      Boom! Another bites the dust, I should get commission! Jokes aside, it was a great trip – so glad we listened to everyone’s advice who told us to go.

  11. You definitely just made me want to visit Ljubljana! I would love to do all of this–the food tour with Ljubljananjam looks amazing, the bikes would be a fun way to explore the city, the street art looks fantastic and the architecture looks so interesting. The prison hotel looks super cute, too! Thanks for sharing!

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  12. Great read here this place always looks amazing yet we never quite make it here when in Europe. i love the dragons they look amazing,

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      All the reason to head back! I felt the same with Montenegro, ran out of time so heading back Summer 2017 hopefully. Thanks for reading!

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  13. The prison hostel sounds exactly like something I would like to try! I definitely need to go back to Ljubljana (and Slovenia in general), because one day at the capital was not nearly enough. So many things to do in this small but lively city.

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      Author

      So true! I would love to go back and see more of the country. We had 8 days in total spread across Ljubljana, Bled and the Kolpa River area. Thanks for reading!

  14. Not just Ljubljana. There is so much to see and do in Slovenia. The whole compactness of the country lends itself to enjoying the variety on offer.
    The Upper Savinja Valley, for example, is an amazing place – and only an hour away from the capital. From there the fabulous Logarska Dolina (Logar Valley) and the Rinka Waterfall, the breathtaking Solčavsko region and Europe’s most southerly Alp (Golte) can be accessed and are worth a week of anyone’s time.
    That is just one example. I could (and can) go on extolling the virtues. We would be happy to show folks round, by the way, so they don’t miss a thing.

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      1. Bled is at it’s best ‘out of season’ when it isn’t full of coach parties, tbh. The little medieval town centre in Radovljica is worth looking at in that area, there is a great gallery there which always has something worth seeing. The Kolpa is a great place too.
        If you’d like to see something of our area (Upper Savinja Valley), give us a shout. always more than happy to give people the heads up.

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          Thanks Colin. I would hope that we return soon! We stayed over in Bled but it rained, still made for interesting pictures!

  15. Nice to see more fellow Scots enjoying Slovenia. Fell in love with it 30 years ago and have been going back ever since. Now own a house in the Soca Valley region and just back from spending four months there – will be 6 months next year and hopefully permanent after that (Brexit complications allowing).
    For those who haven’t been Ljubljana is lovely (think Edinburgh with no traffic or hoards of festival goers and with warm weather) and Bled is just a pure fairytale setting, but I definitely prefer the glories of Lake Bohinj and the Soca – stunning mountain scenery that looks different every day as the light and the seasons change, fabulous wine, great food, and some of the friendliest people around.

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      I would love to see those areas too and I hear the skiing is good? The wine and food really is incredible. I can see why you’ve moved. I think Edinburgh Old Town needs to adopt pedestrian priority like Ljubljana!

  16. This is brilliant, thank you guys for sharing. Heading to Ljubljana in October for the Scotland match and this has given me a great idea for what to check out whilst over there.

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      That will be electric. Ljubljana is an easy place to fall in love with, I really miss the food (and drink!)

  17. Grat post! I can see you’re into wine and Ljubljana is absolutely perfect for that. Not many people know this but Slovenia has the same latitude as Bordeaux and makes some of the world’s best wine! My company organizes wine tastings in Ljubljana, I guess you have missed us when you were here. Pay us a visit if you come to Ljubljana again, the tasting is on us! :))

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  18. One really fun way to see green Ljubljana is a stand up paddling. Trust me, you are going to love Ljubljana even more. 😉

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      You are playing with my head! I was just paddleboarding in Scotland yesterday and I told Craig you can now paddleboard in Ljubljana!

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