During a visit to Slovenia odds are you will be passing by the capital city of Ljubljana (pronounced lyoo-blyah-nuh) at one point or another. This guide is going to walk you through 11 of the top things to do in Ljubljana and how to spend one day in the city.
For me, Ljubljana was the first stop of my trip to Slovenia, and spending a day there was the perfect way to get acclimated to the country and see what this city is all about. Enjoy the guide, and be sure to check out all the other Slovenia content up on the site!
1) Getting into Ljubljana
There are four main ways to get yourself to Ljubljana – plane, train, bus, and car. This will all depend on where you are coming from and what type of itinerary you are putting together for yourself.
The Ljubljana airport (LJU) is located 20 minutes away from the city center itself. If flying into the airport you can make your way to the city by hopping on the quick bus, grabbing a taxi or renting your own car.
The Ljubljana train station is located just minutes away by foot from the town center. The train makes its way to other towns in Slovenia but also to various nearby countries as well.
I came through on an overnight train from Austria and left via train to Croatia. So, there will be plenty to choose from if you want to use the rail system.
For those that don’t want to rent a car in the country, the bus network will be your next best bet here. Busses come and go to all corners of the country and you should have no issue getting from one place to the next. The bus station is also conveniently located just outside the train station.
Lastly, you can also drive into Ljubljana from other Slovenian cities or nearby countries. While I didn’t have a car in Ljubljana, there seems to be plenty of parking lots to choose from surrounding the city center.
And if you were wondering on how to get around Ljubljana itself, well then no worries. The only mode of transport you need is your own two legs.
The city center and its attractions are all within walking distance from one another. You should have no trouble getting around without any additional transportation.
2) Where to Stay in Ljubljana
Ljubljana is one of those cities where 1-2 days to explore the city will suffice. You could also base yourself in the city and take various day trips from there. In that case you may be spending several nights in the capital.
Either way though I thought it may be helpful to list out a few top rated hotel options to choose from based on price point. Each one of these is actually within the city center, so you will not need to worry about being too far away from any of the attractions mentioned in this guide.
“Set in the heart of Ljubljana, the Best Western Premier Hotel Slon offers bright and colorful rooms, a spa area, an elegant restaurant and a well-known pastry shop. An extensive buffet breakfast with Italian Espresso Coffee is served in the stylish breakfast room.”
“Opened in September 2017, the InterContintenal Ljubljana is a 5-star property located in the center of Ljubljana. This hotel features a panoramic wellness and spa center with an indoor pool, as well as a rooftop restaurant serving international and local fare.”
“Located in the heart of Ljubljana, just 1,000 feet from the central Prešeren Square, City Hotel Ljubljana offers an à la carte restaurant and a lobby bar. Free bikes are provided for exploring the city, while free high-speed WiFi access is available in all areas.”
3) One Day in Ljubljana Map
Below you will find a map with all of the things to do in Ljubljana pinpointed down. You will also see a couple blue lines here – these represent some of the main walking paths to take while wandering around the old town center.
4) 11 Things To Do in Ljubljana
Below are the 11 things to do in Ljubljana along with some short descriptions and a few pictures to go along with each place. There is not any “correct order” to see the places within the city, so feel free to make your own itinerary based on the below.
Explore the Old Town
Essentially, most of the main attractions in Ljubljana can be found in the Old Town center. The area is filled with squares, walking streets, bridges, markets, some beautiful architecture and a winding river circling around it all.
There are a few main streets here but they essentially all connect into one longer street that wraps around Ljubljana. These are made up of Vodnikov, Metodov, Mestni, Stari, and a few others.
On either side of you will be shops, restaurants, and small hotels in buildings of various colors. Just wandering around the city streets, enjoying the architecture and cobble stone pedestrian streets will be an activity on its own.
One thing that Ljubljana has plenty of is bridges. Each one of these bridges is a bit different than than the next with a unique architectural twist to them.
The Triple Bridge is probably the city’s most famous as it connects the Old Town center with the main Preseren Square. And you guessed it – the bridge is actually made up of three separate bridges over the Ljubljanica river.
Just a bit further up the river is the Butchers Bridge. This one is well known for all the padlocks that line the bridge’s fencing.
Ljubljana is also known a bit for its dragons and on the Dragon Bridge you will find some dragon sculptures on each corner of the bridge.
There are many other bridges crossing over the Ljubljanica river but these are probably the three most well-known ones out there.
Ljubljana Cathedral of St Nicholas
Right in the middle of the city center you will find the Cathedral of St Nicholas also just known as the Ljubljana Cathedral. It’s history dates back all the way to the 1200’s! You have the chance to head inside as well to take in its beautiful architecture.
The main square of Ljubljana is Preseren Square, located on the opposite side of the river than most of the other attractions on the list. As mentioned, the Triple Bridge connects the square with the rest of the Old Town so you are sure to pass it one way or another.
In the center of the square you will find a statue of France Preseren, one of Slovenia’s most famous poets. Overlooking the square is another famous building – the Franciscan Church of the Annunciation.
Of course, the most famous attraction of the capital city is the Ljubljana Castle that is perched on a hill right in the city center. From up top you can get some beautiful views of the surrounding areas and the rest of Ljubljana.
The castle itself has several different exhibits and rooms to visit so be sure to put aside some time to get to enjoy it all. Don’t forget to check out the Chapel of St George, the prison portion, and the Outlook Tower – where you will get those views.
You will need to pay a fee to explore the ins and outs of the castle – feel free to check out the Ljubljana Castle website for the latest hours and ticket prices.
Also note that instead of walking up the castle’s entrance, you can also take the funicular up and down. It is a couple Euro more to do this if you would like to skip the walk.
Walk (or Ride) the Ljubljanica River
While walking the streets within the Old Town center is a fantastic thing to do in Ljubljana, you should walk the path that makes its way along the Ljubljanica River as well. The path continues for quite some time so feel free to walk as far as you would like.
If you also want to ride a boat on the river, that is an option as well. There are plenty of docking spots to head on and off the boats that make their way along the river.
Browse the Markets
Right next to the Ljubljana Cathedral and in between the Butcher’s Bridge and Dragon Bridge, you will find a large outdoor market full of different foods, fruits, vegetables, flowers, and more. On Google Maps you should see this marked as the Central Market.
Go Honey Shopping
If you did not know already, Slovenia is actually one of the world’s largest producers of honey. So, in the capital city you will see no shortage of honey stores. This does not only include honey itself, but also various products that are made out of honey.
Whether it be soap, liqueur, or candy, you will find all of that and more in a honey flavored variety in their stores.
Don’t leave the city without checking out the Neboticnik Viewpoint. Here you will find a restaurant and café on the top floors of a building not too far away from the city center.
You can decide to have a drink or a meal if you would like, but you can also just head up for the view as you get to take in the city of Ljubljana from above.
The view here is different than the one from the castle in that at Neboticnik you will actually be able to see the castle as well as the rest of the city down below. It was a great spot to check out before finishing up my one day in Ljubljana.
That about does it for 11 of the top things to do in Ljubljana. If you have any questions or comments about the city, feel free to write them in below.
Have fun out there and safe travels!