Ljubljana is a city full of surprises and things to see! Before we start this guide, let’s see what we have known about Ljubljana before we visited it: seriously, nothing! Only that it’s the capital of Slovenia. Somehow we have absolutely underestimated it, and we focused on the landscape and nature of Slovenia. But oh boy, we were so wrong! Ljubljana is clean, the architecture is beautiful, the people are kind, the streets in the old town are cute, colorful and pretty, everything is reachable on foot and it’s also cheap…well, should I continue?
Why should you visit Ljubljana?
Well, if the reasons above were not enough, let’s see…
Ljubljana was chosen as Europe’s green city in 2016. We have visited a lot of European capitals, but Ljubljana has been the cleanest one of all. Ljubljana achieved to preserve the green character of the city to the present day, as there are parks all over the place.
The city has so many green achievements!
- In 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016 and 2014 Ljubljana was included in the TOP 100 Sustainable Destinations list. As part of this contest, Ljubljana received awards in the Best of Cities category in 2019 and in the Best Destination of Europe category in 2018.
- In 2018, Ljubljana was declared the winner of the Sustainable Tourism Award in the 2019 European Capital of Smart Tourism competition.
- In 2017, Ljubljana received the WTM Responsible Tourism Award for sustainable tourism.
- Ljubljana also holds the title of European Green Capital 2016.
- The WTTC Tourism for Tomorrow award from 2015.
Why is Ljubljana one of the greenest cities in Europe?
The city prioritizes green mobility, waste management, and sustainable urban planning in order to achieve Ljubljana’s sustainable development.
- More than 30 drinking fountains provide fresh water, and the city has excellent water, so feel free to fill your water bottle! 🙂
- The city has a green soul, there are lots of green areas and parks. The biggest ones are the Tivoli Park and the Ljubljana Marshes landscape park. There are lots of green hiking trails, like Rožnik and Šišenski hrib or the Golovec hill.
- The city center was closed for traffic in 2012 since then more people prefer walking or riding a bike! 🙂
- Bicike(LJ) system is a bicycle sharing and it’s a free-of-charge and very popular form of transportation. Ljubljana is one of the most bike-friendly cities in the world!
- There are plenty of vegan and vegetarian friendly places to eat, that is very good for the environment: Loving Hut, Veganika, Taman organic, Gaudi, Kucha, Organic Garden (the last one was our fav!) In most of the places they also use biodegradable cutlery or they are made of recycled materials.
- Waste sorting bins are very frequent in the city!
Get yourself a souvenir in one of these sustainable local stores:
3Muhe – Fair trade store
Smetumet – Products made of recycled materials
Zebra Gre na Luno
Stara Roba – second-hand clothes
Have lunch, dinner or a morning café in one of these sustainable restaurants:
Gostilna Dela Restaurant
Second Violin Restaurant
- Walk or take one of the bike tours!
- Fill your bottle in one of the drinking fountains and avoid buying bottled water!
- Take a ride in the environmentally friendly, electrical train Urban. It shows you around the main city attractions from the Town Hall to the Ljubljana Castle. The tour starts at the Town Hall and takes 1 hour. You can read about Urban here
How to get to Ljubljana?
This was the best option for us, and it can be for anyone who lives in Europe. There are several companies that travel through all the European capitals, but for us, Flixbus is always the best! We took a bus in the morning at 7 am and we made 4 hours to Ljubljana. Flixbus has usually very cheap tickets if you book them in advance (3-4 weeks). They usually have a small screen where you can watch movies or play, and the wifi is also working (sometimes 😀 ). Taking a bus is also the most eco-friendly way of traveling!
The best thing is that our hostel was just 5 minutes walking from the bus station. We took several day trips from Ljubljana, and we always traveled by bus.
If you live in a country far from Central Europe, taking a flight to Ljubljana airport is a good option!
We always book our flights for approximately two or three months in advance. Like that we can get great prices to flight.
The train system in Europe is also very good! They are some special trains that even run the whole night to your destiny. And from some destinies like Vienna, Bratislava or some German cities, you can get a direct train for a very good price. Trains are still very expensive in Europe, but if you’re not on a low budget, and you’re looking for a comfortable way of transportation, you can take night trains and sleep in a sleeping cabin while you travel.
If you have a car or you have the chance to rent a car is also a great option. The roads ins Slovenia are in great condition. If you have the chance to explore the country in 4 wheels, you will be able to see a lot of beautiful landscapes.
Climate Care takes care of your carbon emissions! They calculate your carbon footprint and give you the chance to offset it. By offsetting your footprint you can donate to various organizations that help to take care of the environment! 🙂
Calculate your carbon emissions below!
How much time should you spend in Ljubljana?
At least 1 day, but 2 days are better! Also, if you want to spend more time in museums, Ljubljana has also some great exhibitions to offer.
How to explore?
You can easily explore the main attractions in Ljubljana on foot. Everything is close to the center and the old town. Of course, there are buses as well, but honestly, we didn’t use them. That’s why we actually suggest you book accommodation near to the center and the bus station.
The best things to see in Ljubljana
The old town of Ljubljana is a mix between Budapest and Vienna (have you ever been in those cities?). The architecture has an Art-Nouveau style, just like a lot of buildings in Vienna. That is not surprising if we know that the Slovenian architect Jože Plečnik was actually studying in Vienna before he returned to Ljubljana to become one of the most important modern Slovenian architects. Anyway, so he was the architect of most of the buildings and bridges in the old town. So if you like the secession style of architecture, you will definitely love Ljubljana as well, as Jože Plečnik’s architectural imprint on this city is huge!
Prešeren Square – Prešernov Trg
Entrance fee: walking around the square is free of charge 🙂
This square can be the start and the center of exploration, and definitely a must thing to see in Ljubljana!
Prešeren Square is named after the Slovenian poet, France Prešeren, who actually wrote the Slovenian national anthem. His statue is actually in the middle of the square, right in front of the Pink Church. The monument is also symbolically faced by the statue of his muse, a 16-year-old girl, who was his love and his inspiration to write his romantic poems.
The Franciscan church of the Annunciation, or “Pink church” was built in the 17th century. As the legend says, it was originally painted red, but it became pink after the rain washed out the color. Located between the church and the statue you can find also a scale model of Ljubljana made in bronze.
Known as Tromo, this bridge has been here for more time than you think. Originally, back in 1842, it was a single bridge constructed to replace an old medieval wooden bridge, which labor was to connect the north-western European lands with south-eastern Europe and the Balkans. It was at the end of 1932 that the two side bridges were added and finished for pedestrian use.
Nowadays, it’s a key position on the crossing of the river Ljubljanica that flows through the city. Oh, and by the way, it was also designed by Jože Plečnik.
Entrance fee: strolling around the beautiful and huge castle garden and the park is free of charge. You only have to pay for entering the castle and the museums, and if you want to take the funicular.
Located in the top of a mountain, this castle is a real fairy tale construction!
It’s possible to walk up to the top of the hill, but you can also take the funicular. We took the funicular, as there are tickets that include some of the exhibitions and the use of the funicular.
As you arrive at the funicular, you will be able to choose which ticket you want to buy. We arrived at the top and entered the castle. It’s a small castle, not so special as other castles in Europe, but it’s very cute. There are some cafés, restaurants inside as well. We took ice cream too after we watched some of the exhibitions. There are lots of temporary and permanent exhibitions in the castle, our favorite was the puppet exhibitions, which introduced the history of the Slovenian puppet art.
After eating our ice cream, we headed to the garden and park. We took a map at the information office in front of the castle and tried to visit some parts of the park, like the vineyard or a little chapel. The best part of the park though was the amazing view of Ljubljana city! We actually read that it’s the most popular sunset spot too, so next time we will go back there for sunset 🙂
Despite its name, it is considered as the Love Bridge of Ljubljana, but only because a lot of lovers leave their padlocks here. This bridge was also designed by Jože Plečnik, but it was only built in the year 2010. This current bridge is much simpler than the one planned 50 years before. There are some strange modern sculptures on the bridge, made by contemporary artist Jakov Brdar.
Opening times: Weekdays 6:00-18:00, Saturday 6:00-16:00 during summer, 6:00-16:00 in winter. Sundays and holidays closed
The covered sections are open from 7:00-16:00
Right after turning to the left from the Triple Bridge, you can walk straight for about 5 minutes, and find yourself on the central market! This place is famous for its fresh vegetables, fruits, and super cheap souvenirs! So if you’re looking for some gifts or presents, or even something for your household, the central market will be a perfect choice!
It’s between the Vodnikov trg and Pogačarnev trg, and the colonnade is actually designed by Jože Plečnik as well.
If you’re planning to buy fruits or vegetables, bring your own net bags! The vendors will be happy as well, that you don’t take the plastic bag. And the fruits are delicious! 🙂
This is basically the coolest bridge of Ljubljana. It was built at the turn of the 20th century, in Art Nouveau style. When you visit Ljubljana, you will basically face dragons everywhere, because the dragon is the symbol of the city. Dragon toys, shirts, souvenirs, little statues, postcards – everything has a dragon!
The bridge has 4 dragons, and you can’t leave Ljubljana without taking a photo with them! There are also 16 smaller dragon statues on the bridge.
And why is the dragon the symbol of Ljubljana? Well, here is the local legend: when Jason and the Argonauts came to the territory of today’s Ljubljana, they found a dragon there. They killed the dragon, and the Argonauts stayed here next to the Ljubljanica. They founded the city.
Old Town Square – Ljubljana Cathedral
If you walk straight forward from the Triple Bridge and you don’t turn to the left to the market, you will face the Old Town square (Mestni trg). This has been the center of the city since the 12th century. The old town square is actually more like a street, and it’s full of stores, restaurants, cafés, but there are some beautiful buildings located here as well.
Right in the middle is the Fountain of the Three Carniolan Rivers. This one is also called as Robba Fountain because it was the last work in Slovenia of the Baroque sculptor Francisco Robba.
Right next to it is the big Town Hall, which is also a Baroque-style building. If you continue walking to the left, you will find the beautiful Ljubljana Cathedral. This one is beautiful from the outside, we haven’t seen it from the inside, because it was always forbidden to go inside for visitors when we were in the area. If there is a ceremony inside, they won’t let tourists in.
Well, this bridge is nothing special itself, but you can catch a wonderful view of the Triple Bridge and the Preseren square from here, so it has to be on the list of the best things to see in Ljubljana.
Also, if you climb the stairs on the left side of the river, you will find another nice photography spot, a great view of the city with the castle in the background.
- Night club and Café: Sunday to Wednesday 9:00-1:00, Thursday to Saturday 9:00-03:00
- Restaurant: Mondays to Saturdays 12:00-22:00, Sundays and public holidays closed.
This skyscraper is only about 70 meters high, but it has a great history!
It was built in 1933 by Vladimir Šubic, and it was the tallest building on the Balkans and the ninth tallest building in Europe at the time of its construction. The view is still amazing from the top, so we encourage you to visit it and take the elevator. You can walk around and watch the view without having to buy anything in the cafeteria. It’s a bit overpriced, but well, it’s an attraction.
Neboticnik Skyscraper is definitely one of the most interesting things to see in Ljubljana.
Metelkova Art Center
This is an “art center”, under what I originally imagined something totally different. It’s more like an alternative park, an open space with different bars. The place is full of graffiti and different – I would say – contemporary art pieces, that are a bit creepy. Anyway, art is very subjective, let’s just look at the photos…
We had beer and wine here on a Sunday night and came back to take some photos on a Monday evening.
- On the weekdays not all the bars are open, but on the weekend yes. It’s not full of people in the evening/night, but there are lots of locals and groups taking drugs. SO:
- If you’re interested in the graffiti and artworks, go there during the day to take photos!
- If you’re alone or with kids, just take care, because it wasn’t looking so safe at night. We were together and we didn’t have any problems, but we were not welcomed either, people were staring at us and it’s clearly not appropriate to take photos at night, especially not of the people who are there
This is Ljubljana’s most beautiful and largest park, it was actually created in 1813, but it was expanded a lot of times since then. So you can spend basically the whole day, or at least hours walking around and enjoying the green nature! Fountains, fish ponds, very long promenades, and even a botanical garden are there for the entertainment of the visitors.
All the wonderful things to see in Ljubljana surprised us in many ways! We hope you enjoyed our guide, let us know if you have any questions in the comments below! 🙂
There are plenty of accomodations suitable for different budgets, in our case, we stayed in the Metro hostel. It was very close to the bus station so it was perfect for all the daytrips that we made 🙂
If you want to check other option, you can also check our deals finder for Ljubljana down here!