Best things to do in Ljubljana, Slovenia

When thinking of city break in Europe, Ljubljana might not be the first place that comes to mind. Well, it should be. Forget Rome, Barcelona, Paris. Ljubljana is where it’s at. And to prove this point to you, I have put together a list of the best things to do in Ljubljana.

The best things to do in Ljubljana

Ljubljana castle

First up, Ljubljana castle. When wandering around the city you would be hard pushed not to notice the castle perched on top of the hill, looking down over the rest of the city.

image of castle, one of the best things to do in Ljubljana

There are two options to get up there. First up – the hike. I can’t attest how tough it is, as I went for option two. The funicular. This starts from the bottom of the hill, near the old town and ascends to the top of the hill in mere minutes. The cost of a return is €4. But, it is also included in the ticket for the castle.

The castle itself is free to wander around. However, in my opinion there isn’t that much to see without a ticket to get into the other parts. It’s not well signposted and loses a bit of its context.

image of Ljubljana castle, one of the best things to do in Ljubljana

I booked myself onto a tour – the behind bars tour. I found this gave a lot historical info and interest to the castle, but the price of the ticket also included the return funicular, and entry to ALL of the castles content. You can also buy a ticket, that doesn’t include a tour, for €10 which is 10% cheaper online. You also get all the content which includes by next two points (lots of options here!).

This castle has an amazing history throughout the ages – head to the virtual film to start to learn the fascinating origins of life on the castle hill.

Panoramic tower

For the best views, head up to the tower in Ljubljana castle. Access is via a beautiful red spiral staircase, cleverly designed to have an up and a down so you don’t have that awkward trying to pass someone moment.

image of staircase in Ljubljana castle, one of the best things to do in Ljubljana

Unfortunately the day I headed up there, the weather wasn’t the best. However, the views were still fantastic. You can see the curve of the Ljubljanica river around the city and all of the famous landmarks.

image of view from Ljubljana castle, one of the best things to do in Ljubljana

On a clear day, you can see a third of the entire country. A third!

Puppet museum

Perhaps not for everyone, I definitely found it a little odd. But it was included in the price of the castle ticket, so hey why not?

image of puppet theatre, one of the best things to do in Ljubljana

Puppetry seems to be a big part of Slovenian culture and history, so this small exhibition is here all year round. It’s small but also interactive if you fancy giving it a go.

Free Walking tour

Featured on my best things to do in Ljubljana list as this is such a good way to get to know a city. The Ljubljana free tour meets every day, come rain or shine, in Prešeren Square at 11am. The tours are completely free, the guides work for tips only. Because their income relies on the tips they are given, they are super enthusiast, knowledgable and deliver a great tour.

image of Preseren square, one of the best things to do in Ljubljana

It covers a lot of the main sights, Prešeren Square, Congress Square, the Cathedral, the bridges, Market & Plecnik Colonade, Town Hall, Town Square & Robba Fountain, National Library and the University. Brilliant for the first day you arrive, and gives so much history and facts about all the sights to see.

Eat Jota

Of course some food needs to feature on a best things to do in Ljubljana list. When I go somewhere new one of the most important things is to eat some of the local food. This boxed was first ticked in the form of Jota.

A Slovenian dish consisting of sauerkraut, potato, tiny bits of fried lard and local sausage. Absolutely delicious. It does also come in a veggie version if the sausage isn’t for you!

image of jot

Be warned though, it is incredibly filling! A perfect, scrumptious autumnal dish.

Metelkova

A very different part of the city. This area was once a former army barracks, but was then taken over by squatters. It has now been turned into a hub for nightlife, artists and independent spirit. At night its a really buzzing night scene – although not necessarily my vibe.

Image of Metelkova, one of the best things to do in Ljubljanaimage of Metelkova

However during the day, it is really interesting to walk around and see some of the amazing street art which can be found on the buildings. Its only about a 15 minute walk from the river, so very easy to get to.

Check out all the bridges

Ljubljana is famous for its bridges, with good reason. Each has its own history, name and story behind it. I had two favourites.

Firstly the Dragon’s Bridge. The dragon is the symbol of Ljubljana. There are two legends behind the history of the bridge. One involving Jason and the Argonauts and the other George and the dragon. Both equally interesting and the architecture is definitely worth checking out.

image of dragon bridge, one of the best things to do in Ljubljana

My other favourite was Triple Bridge. When it was originally built, the first in the city, it was only one bridge. It is also the only bridge to have survived a great earthquake that re-shaped the architecture of  Ljubljana in 1895. But when cars were introduced into the city, they realised it wasn’t wide enough. Instead of tearing down the well built bridge the architect, Plečnik (whose work is featured all over the city) added the two additional bridges for pedestrians.

image of triple bridge, one of the best things to do in Ljubljana

The shoemakers bridge and butchers bridge are also both beautiful and need to be seen.

Grab some ice cream

Ljubljana is famed for having delicious ice cream parlours. I think people fall into two categories over which they prefer – the Vigo vs Cacao debate!

I tried both during my time in the city, and have to say Vigo was my favourite. At only €1,60 for a deliciously large scoop it was a highlight.

image of Vigo ice cream, one of the best things to do in Ljubljana

I think it is important to try both, just to be sure which one you prefer.

Try a burger at Pop’s Place

As I said in a point above, I know when you are visiting somewhere new the instinct is to want to eat all the local food. I do agree with this, but I am happy to make an exception for Pop’s Place. It definitely needs to feature on any best things to do in Ljubljana list.

This may be the best burger I have had. I went for ‘The Boss’ which is their classic. Grilled onion marmalade, stilton and truffle aioli. Yum.

image of pops place burger - one of the best things to do in Ljubljana

Plus, they serve lots of local craft beers and local wines. Washing down my burger with a glass of Blažič Rebula felt pretty Slovenian to me.

Explore the open market

Every Friday evening there is an open market in the market area of the town. This is where a lot of the local restaurants set up stalls and serve some of their food. A great place to grab some absolutely delicious food, lots of options and cheaper than the restaurants.

Note, it is only open during the summer months so do check when the last one is, if you are visiting out of season.

Take a day trip

However beautiful the city of Ljubljana is, I am including a day trip on my list of best things to do in Ljubljana. It is definitely worth taking the time to get out of the city for a day. And as the country is so small, much of it is accessible from Ljubljana itself. There are so many day trips available.

image of lake Bled - one of the best things to do in Ljubljana

Options include tours into the surrounding countryside of Slovenia, but also a day tour to Venice or Zagreb if you have more time.

I opted for a one day tour to go and see Lake Bled, and some of the other beautiful spots near Ljubljana. If time is not on your side, a trip out to Lake Bled is definitely where I recommend to start. Blog post on my day trip coming soon!

Check out the amazing architecture

One of the best things to do in Ljubljana is to see all the amazing buildings. There are lots of different influences to be found across the city with inspiration from Venice and the Austro-Hungarian empire.

image of old town in Ljubljana

Check out the amazing Vurnik building, which has such beautiful colours!

images of Vurnik House in Ljubljana

Stay in hostel Celica

I love staying somewhere quirky, and Hostel Celica certainly delivered on that! Once a former prison, and now a great place to stay. Located in the Metelkova area of the city, so super cool and easy to walk to all the main sights and city centre. More on my stay to come!

image of hostel Celica

So there you have it, my best things to do in Ljubljana. A pretty cool city, I think you’ll agree and somewhere that I urge you to consider for your next city break!

Have you ever been to Ljubljana? What would be on your ‘best things to do in Ljubljana’ list? 

If you like this post, please please do pin it for later!

Follow:
Share:

16 Comments

  1. October 11, 2018 / 9:30 am

    Great post! I think you captured the energy of Ljubljana so nicely and also I am so glad that the weather was still kind of nice for the weekend. You are so right about ice cream in Ljubljana. There are so many amazing places with delicious ice cream. Vigo, Cacao, Lolita (have you been there? It is the cutest), Romantika,… I have my favourites in all of them. I am so happy that you enjoyed your time in Ljubljana!

    • Charlie - Where Charlie Wanders
      Author
      October 11, 2018 / 1:25 pm

      Ahh that means so much thank you! I didn’t go to Lolita – next time for sure ! I absolutely loved it. Such a beautiful city!

    • Charlie - Where Charlie Wanders
      Author
      October 11, 2018 / 1:33 pm

      Haha I’m pleased it only reinforced the decision. Thanks for reading. So pleased you enjoyed.

  2. October 12, 2018 / 3:08 am

    This city looks so great! I never would have thought to go to Slovenia but not it’s on my list.

    • Charlie - Where Charlie Wanders
      Author
      October 12, 2018 / 7:28 am

      I’m so pleased! It is such an amazing city. And definitely worthy of being on the list! 😊

  3. October 12, 2018 / 7:56 am

    Looks like you had a great time! A bit jealous of your food pictures haha! And love your pics of the castle. Enjoy the rest of Slovenia I’ll be looking out for your posts!

    • Charlie - Where Charlie Wanders
      Author
      October 14, 2018 / 10:38 am

      I had such a great time! The food was so yummy. There are some more posts coming 🙂

  4. October 12, 2018 / 8:25 am

    Thanks for sharing all the amazing things there are to do! I never would have realised before I read your post – definitely even higher on my list to visit now. I love that colourful street art. I really want to visit Venice as well so I will be looking into a trip which could combine the two – exciting stuff. Thanks for this awesome post, I’m going to follow your blog now!

    • Charlie - Where Charlie Wanders
      Author
      October 14, 2018 / 10:39 am

      I am so pleased the post has helped, I would highly recommend. They are so close and easy to get between the two, so an excellent idea to do both! Thanks so much for following x

  5. abbiejadewanders
    October 16, 2018 / 11:01 pm

    Ljubljana has been on my list for so long – it looks stunning! Lake Bled as well. Thanks for sharing Charlie, looks like you had a great time 🙂 x

    abbiejadewanders.co.uk

    • Charlie - Where Charlie Wanders
      Author
      October 17, 2018 / 8:53 am

      It’s definitely a place worth visiting! I had wanted to go for years and I was so pleased when it was vey I had hoped! Hope you make it soon 😊😊 x

  6. October 16, 2018 / 11:45 pm

    Ah that jota looks so totally like my jam, but it was way too hot to for that kind of food when I was there two summers ago! Looks like you really made the most out of your time in Ljubljana. I’m def saving this guide in hopes I’ll make a return trip soon 🙂

    Cheers,

    Alex | Backpacking Brunette

    • Charlie - Where Charlie Wanders
      Author
      October 17, 2018 / 8:54 am

      Haha I can imagine that! It was definitely filling autumnal food, but soooo good. I had such a great trip. Hope I get to go back soon 😊

  7. Jay
    October 18, 2018 / 10:56 am

    I enjoyed this article about Slovenia

    • Charlie - Where Charlie Wanders
      Author
      October 18, 2018 / 10:57 am

      Thanks so much. I’m so pleased.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.