Plan your trip with my selection of the 23 best things to do in Ljubljana - Best views, monuments, fun activities, free things to do, tours... Visit Ljubljana old town and beyond!
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City Break in Ljubljana Slovenia - Video
Let's start with a short video to give you an idea of what a city break in Ljubljana feels like:
Best things to do in Ljubljana - Top 5
If you are looking for a quick answer, here is my selection of top spots. You can find more information and photos further in the article:
Top 5 things to do in Ljubljana
- Enjoy the views from the Skyscraper building
- Stroll in the old town
- Enjoy a river cruise and change perspective
- Have fun at the illusion museum
- Eat ice-cream 🙂
Best Photo Spots in Ljubljana
- Rooftop bar at the Skyscraper Building (Panorama)
- From the top of the Ljubljana Castle Tower (Panorama)
- Dragon Bridge
- Charming street: Krizevniska Ulica
- Street art at Metelkova
Ljubljana Travel Tips
- Start at the Triple bridge and enter the visitor center to get a map
- Wear good shoes - it is an old town with pavements
- Bring a bottle of water - you are going to walk and it can be very hot
- Don't take a taxi at the airport (they overcharge a lot) - prebook a ride - I used Airtrail on my return trip after paying double on the way in...
Here is a simplified map just to get you oriented in the town with the river cutting the old town from the modern one:
The complete map with the locations of my selection of the best things to do in Ljubljana is included in my eBook.
These locations, along with many other beautiful places, are included in my eBook: The Road Trip Guide-Slovenia.
It is a practical tool to plan your trip with maps, photos, planning tips, GPS coordinates...
Best views in Ljubljana
1. Get the best panorama from Skyscraper
My absolute favorite view in Ljubljana is from the rooftop bar of the Skyscraper building. It's actual name Neboticnik means Skyscraper.
It does not seem that tall today, but when it was build between the two World Wars it was, hence the name.
From the outside it looks like an office building. Don't be scare enter, and take the elevator to the top floor with the restaurant.
You then climb an extra staircase to reach the bar which has an outside terrace all around the tower.
This Is excellent as you get views of Slovenia in all directions. But the best one is with the old town, and the castle.
2. Admire the view from the Ljubljana Castle Tower
The next best views was from the top of the tower in the Ljubljana Castle. You must purchase an entry ticket that includes the tower.
Beware that you need to clim 120 steps to the top with part of it on a dizzying spiral staircase.
It is great because you really are right above the old town and you cna see the shape of the castle from above. But, of course, you don't have the castle itself on the panorama.
3. Top of Congress Square (Kongresni trg)
For a ground level view that includes the castle, I recommend the Congress Square on the west side of the river. It is a large open area with nice buildings such as the philharmonic and the university building. And you can see the castle overlooking the city.
Visit Ljubljana - Best Bridges
4. Meet the Dragons of Ljubljana
One of the 2 most famous bridges in Ljubljana is the Dragon bridge (Zmajski most).
Located across the Ljubljanica River, East from the Triple bridge, It has become famous because of the 4 dragon statues that are protecting it (and are very photogenic).
And for those who prefer engineering to mystical creature and great photo spots, the bridge was an extraordinary technical piece when it was built in 1900. It was one of the largest bridge of its kind (in reinforced concrete) to be built in Europe. Learn more here.
5. Feel dizzy at the Triple bridge
The most central bridge in Ljubljana is the Triple bridge (Tromostovje), right by the pink Franciscan church.
It is one of the most difficult places to photograph!!! (you would have to be flying over it).
It is actually a group of 3 bridges connecting the old historical town to the modern one. The oldest bridge in the central one built in 1842 to replace an older version. The side-pedestrian bridges were added between 1929 and 1932 with a slight angle (so they are not parallels)
This was design by Plecnik (the famous Slovene architect) who on top of that removed the metal railings and added balustrades and lamps.
6. Butchers' bridge
The Butchers' bridge (Mesarki most) is not the most beautiful bridges by itself, but it has some of the best views.
It is right by the central market and you have a great view of the colonnade.
Built in 2010, it is also considered the love bridge as people are attaching padlocks (like in many other cities).
It is also home to strange statues from modern Slovenian sculptor Jakov Brdar. So it creates a strange combination.
Best monuments to visit in Ljubljana
7. Ljubljana Castle
One of the most visited monuments and top things to do in Ljubljana is the castle.
I must admit that apart from the view at the top fo the tower, I was quite disappointed by the Ljubljana Castle.
The restoration was overdone, many of the staff members were not welcoming and the museums disappointing, trying to look fancy but missing the point (appart from the puppet museum which I enjoyed).
Standing on top of the hill, the castle has a strategic place to protect Ljubljana.It was probably built in the 11th century and rebuilt in the 12th century. Major transformations occurred from the 15th to the 17th centuries.
The castle is depicted on the city's coat of arm with a dragon at the top.
The present panoramic tower dates back to mid19th century, with an added elevation in 1982.
You get up there either my walking up the hill (10 to 15min) or take the funicular
Different ticket with different accesses are available.
8. Ljubljana Cathedral
It is strange not to be able to walk a few steps back to see the façade of a cathedral. But Ljubljana's Church of St Nicholas is stuck with small street on all sides. So you can't really realise its structure and see its green coupoles.
It was build over several centuries with alteration and addition.
However get closed and appreciate the different part of its architecture.
2 Bronze doors with sculptures depicting bishops and the history of Slovenia are quite interesting.
Inside, the painted ceiling is majestic. And don't forget to turn around to admire the Baroque Organ.
9. Ljubljana Franciscan Church
The Franciscan Church of the Annunciation is one of the most iconic sites in Ljubljana. You can't miss it! The building is pink and right near the Triple Bridge.
Built in the mid 17th century, it was modified n the 19th century and damaged during the 1895 earthquake. New frescoes were painted in 1936.
Best Tours in Ljubljana
To dig deeper in the soul of Ljubljana and Slovenia, it is a great idea to join a tour with a local. Here are some suggestion of what to do in Ljubljana:
10. City walking tour
What to do in Ljubljana ? Learn more about the city by joining a city walking tour. This is a great way to understand better all the monuments and the structure of the city. Dig deeper into the heart of Ljubljana.
It includes a tour of the castle.
Check out the program and book
11. Food tour
There are so many restaurant to choose from in Ljubljana and a great culture of international food with local twists. For example, I personally really enjoyed the tapas at TaBar with interesting mixes and local products.
If you want to learn more about the produces and the food scene of Slovenia, it is a great idea to join a gastronomy tour.
Here is one with dishes and wine - Check out program and book
12. Wine tasting
Slovenia has several regions with beautiful vineyards. One of my favorites is the off the beaten track Brda region, close to the border with Italy.
But if you can't take a road trip, you can still taste the Slovenian wines and learn more about their stories.
I have found a tour for you where you can taste 7 of them in a 300 years old cellar - learn more
Free thing to do in Ljubljana - old town Exploration
12. Explore the Ljubljana old town
You can spend a lot of time in LJubljana without spending money. There are many old streets to explore and charming building to admire.
Just go for a stroll without an itinerary, look up and find out some great gems.
For example, I found a charming little street called Krizevniska Ulica, with painted benches and a laid-back vibe.
The whole old center is pedestrian only, so it is a real pleasure to explore.
Other free things to do in Ljubljana are listed in the article. They include:
- The cathedral (#8)
- The Franciscan church (#9)
- The street art area of Metelkova
- The visit of the old prison
- Walking in Tivoli Park
Other ways to explore the town - Fun things to do in Ljubljana
Are you looking for something more original to spend your time in Ljubljana?
Fun! There are some very original activities and tours to do in the city.
Here is my selection:
14. Music Tour
It is not often that you can find this type of tours in a city. Join a 3 hour walking tour that combines history, gastronomy and live violin music! A great way to enhance the discovery of the architecture.
15. Stand-up Paddle Board
You knew about paddle boarding on a lake or paddle boarding on the beach. And here come paddle boarding on a river in the middle of the capital city! Yes, you can take a lesson and paddle board under the historical bridges of Ljubljana 🙂
16. Street art
There is quite a lot of street art to discover in Ljubljana. The most famous area is Metelkova (15min walk North of the Dragon Bridge) where artists live and decorate every inches. It was a bit too much for my taste but I do like finding isolated pieces on the side of a building.
17. Play at the puppet museum
Inside the Ljubljana castle there is an fun museum full of puppets of whole shapes and mechanism. It is quite interactive and you can go play with several of them. As you can see my mum had a blast 🙂
18. Visit a Prison Hostel
Near the street art area of Metelkova, there is an old prison that has been transformed into a hostel (Hostel Celica Art).
Part of it is a traditional hostel with bunk beds and common rooms. But another sections still has the cell and artists have been given a small budget to transform them. So they all have a different personality and bed types: austere and simple or crazy with a circle bed...
Free tours are normally given in the beginning of the afternoon (around 2pm I think, I forgot to write it down)
What to do in Ljubljana - Nature attractions
Generally speaking, Ljubljana does not feel too much like a big city. There are some large streets and the whole center is pedestrian. So you don't feel oppressed.
But if you need a little bit more of Nature, here are 2 options:
19 - Stroll in Tivoli Park
Ljubljana has a very large park called Tivoli. It was designed in 1813 by a French engineer. It covers 5km2 so plenty of grass and trees to enjoy!
Below is the map of the park. From the city, you arrive to the right via an underground passage to avoid crossing the fast road.
The First section is landscaped around the Jakopic Promenade designed by Plecnik.
But the rest of the park is wilder with forest.
20 - Change perspective on a River Cruise in Ljubljana
A great way to change your perspective on the city is to take a 45min cruise on the Ljubljanica river.
Sadly they don't provide much information, but it is still a pleasure to glide on the water and discover more of the city.
While on the cruise, you can see the triple bridge from below, which is quite fun.
And then you will see the impressive dragons guarding the Dragon bridge before turning around.
Best Museums in Ljubljana
Ljubljana also has some great museums. I have not visited many but here are a few options to consider:
21. Illusion Museum
This is a fun place! So much to play with. Many optical illusions with drawings or with you as the subject.
I promised I did not turn around the picture of my dad below. This is what I was seeing 🙂
22. National Gallery
This is the main art museum in Slovenia with a great collection from the late medieval period.
Opening hours here.
23. Etnographic Museum
Another interesting option is the Etnographic museum. It is a cool place to hang around, and an interesting subject (to my opinion).
It presents traditional culture of Slovenian inhabited areas and the cultures of several other peoples of the world.
Extra - Eat tons of Ice-cream
As I said, Ljubljana has a great food scene with a mix of international cuisine and local influences as well as traditional dishes.
But what you will notice the most are all the places selling home-made ice creams. You can't walk 200m without an ice-cream option. LOL.
We have tasted some delicious ones 🙂
Where to stay in Ljubljana - Accommodations
There are lots o great accommodations in Ljubljana: hotels, rentals, hostels...
Here is my selection of places I have checked out for you myself (surprise visits). You can read my complete reviews on my Slovenia Accommodations article
Best day trips from Ljubljana
If you have more time to stay in LJubljana and want to discover some of the wonder of Slovenia without driving, you can join some day trips to fantastic locations.
You can see my whole selection on the article: Best day trips from Ljubljana.
But here is an overview of some of my top 4:
Want to see more of SLOVENIA?
I wish you a wonderful trip to Ljubljana!
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