Ljubljana Slovenia’s capital city and the largest city is one of the charming and laidback destinations. The first thing that comes to mind when you see the word Ljubljana is how to pronounce it! But it isn’t as difficult as it seems, Ljubljana is pronounced as [lyoo-BLYAH-nah] as simple as that? The city center is very compact packed with attractions, cafes, bakeries, and pastel-colored houses all set around the serene Ljubljanica River.
Top things to do in Ljubljana Slovenia
1. The Marvelous Bridges
The calm Ljubljanica River flows through the city dividing the old and the new city of Ljubljana. Several of the bridges span the river with each of them having a charm of their own.
The Tromostovje (Triple Bridge)
Though the central bridge of the three bridges dates back to 1842, the two side bridges forming the Triple bridge was designed by architect Joze Plecnik and completed only in 1932.
The Dragon Bridge is yet another popular bridge and a symbol of the Ljubljana city. The bridge is flanked by 4 large green dragons two on each end of the bridge and bedecked with sixteen smaller dragon statues along the span.
The dragon is ubiquitous in Ljubljana can be found on city’s coat of arms, flag, and in almost every souvenir shops.
The Cobblers’ Bridge or the Shoemakers’ Bridge one of the oldest bridge dating back to the 13th century and is dotted with pillars supporting lamps and stone balls.
It is said that the bridge was originally a wooden bridge with butchers shop on it but was relocated as per the orders of the Emperor owing to the stench from the meat. These shops were later occupied by the shoemakers who gave the bridge its present name.
You can find a larger than life-sized statue of Ivan Hribar the former mayor of the city of Ljubljana standing next to the bridge.
The Butchers’ Bridge is a footbridge leading to the Ljubljana Central Market. The most prominent features of the bridge are the sculptures and grotesque artworks installed all over the bridge which are works by the sculptor Jakov Brdar.
The other interesting feature you would notice are the numerous lovelocks that adorn the fences of the bridge. We had seen them before in Florence, Paris, and Cologne but one in Ljubljana was unexpected. Perhaps the charm of the enchanting Ljubljana city is an inspiration for the numerous couples to locked their love for eternity here on the Butchers’ Bridge.
2. Magnificient Churches and Beautiful Squares
Franciscan Church of the Annunciation
The Franciscan Church or the Pink Church strikingly visible for its pink color dominates the main square of the city – the Preseren Square. Do not miss the remarkable frescoes and artwork in the church interior.
The Preseren Square dominated by the statue of the greatest Slovenian poet France Preseren has a lovely aura with street musicians, open cafes, and aroma of chestnut wafting through the air. The square is connected to the old town and the central market through the Triple Bridge.
The Cathedral of St.Nicholas
The Cathedral of St. Nicholas is the main church of Ljubljana with two twin bell towers dominating the city skyline. The church is located in the Vodnik Square next to the central market. The baroque cathedral is decorated with rich frescoes, statues, and reliefs on the exterior as well as the interior which, in particular, is spectacular enough to leave you spellbound. Do not miss the bronze sculptured door depicting six bishops from the history of the Ljubljana diocese on the south door.
Ursuline Church of the Holy Trinity
The Ursuline church stands opposite the Congress Square and is one of the beautiful baroque churches in Ljubljana. The Holy Trinity Column stands in front of the church.
The Congress Square built in the year 1821 is surrounded by lush greenscape and some of the most prominent Ljubljana buildings like Ursuline Church, the Slovenian Philharmonic and the University of Ljubljana.
University of Ljubljana
3. Historical Ljubljana Castle
The 15th-century Ljubljana Castle perched on the hill dominates the entire city and is visible from any part of the city. The castle can either be reached by a funicular, by hiking the steep hill for some 15 minutes or by a tourist train that runs every hour from old town to the castle. As there was a long queue for the funicular we decided to hike up which was one of the best decisions as the way up offers some of the incredible panoramic vistas of the city.
Most parts of the castle and its grounds are free to enter and you may want to take a ticket if you want to visit the puppetry museum, Museum of Slovene History or the Outlook Tower.
Display from Puppetry Museum
Tours at the Castle
There are two kinds of tours one can take at the Ljubljana castle one is the Classic guided tour, the tour that lasts for an hour walks you through the history and parts of the castle. The other tour is a unique and interesting tour – the Time Machine Tours, wherein you will have an opportunity to meet six costumed characters from different historical periods and let you experience the different important times in the history of the castle as well as the city of Ljubljana.
When you are heading to the castle enter the old town from the Triple bridge and you will come across the Square with Robbo Fountain and the Town Hall. The 15th century Baroque Town Hall houses the municipal government, you can also join a tour of the building held every Saturday at 1 pm by Ljubljana tourism.
4. Ljubljana Central Market
The Central Market set up in the huge Vodnik square is a lively open-air flea market selling fresh vegetables, fruits, local handicrafts, clothes, meat, dairy products and more. We were specially ensorcelled by the rare and unique variety of flowers that were put up for sale most of them we had never seen before and the roses in surreal bright shades were astoundingly real. The market is open daily except for Sundays.
5. Riverside Cafes and Restaurants
The Ljubljanica River dividing the city is lined with open-air cafes which makes for a great place to sit back and relax and watch as the world goes by. After dusk, these same cafes lit up throwing their reflection in the calm river backed by soft music.
Do not miss to try some local special delicacies like Burek or indulge in some delicious gelatos and some yummy cakes, pastries, and hot chocolates. We recommend trying gelatos from a shop near the Preseren Square and cakes from Cacao close to the Butcher’s Bridge.
6. Relax at the Tivoli Park
Tivoli Park is a great place to spend some time with kids and family. The lush landscape of the park is bedecked with trees, flowerbeds, and fountains. The park features a play area for kids, fish pond, sports park and botanical garden. There is a 17th-century Neoclassical style Tivoli castle which houses the International Centre of Graphic Arts exhibiting a rich collection of prints by Slovenia’s finest printmakers.
7. Join a Guided City Tour
Join the Ljubljana City Tour by Ljubljana Tourism that walks you through the history and architecture of the city. The tour that lasts for 2 hours also includes a tasting session of local delicacies. If your gastronomical tour is your thing Ljubljana tourism also offers several food tours for traditional Ljubljana dishes, wine tours, and beer experiences.
8. Artwork at Metelkova
Art lovers cannot miss this wonderful part of the city of Ljubljana Metelkova which is brimming with street arts and murals. Apart from the walls painted with a burst of bright colors, there are also some interesting artworks on display. Metelkova neighborhood is home to several bars, pubs, and art galleries. Head here early in the morning and explore the place at your own pace and take pictures without the crowd.
9. Take a Boat Tour
Hop onto one of the boat tours and explore the important sights and landmarks of the city accompanied by an audio guide from a different view. Few of the boats can also be hired for private parties.
10. Marvel at the City Skyline
The Skyscraper or the Neboticnik in Ljubljana is one of the most popular buildings in the city. The skyscraper houses an open cafe on the 11th floor which is accessible by a lift and is open to the public. The cafe offers breathtaking views of the city rooftops topped by the magnificent castle perched on the hill.
11. Day Trips from Ljubljana
Slovenia is a treasure trove of picturesque landscapes and green valleys and gorgeous lakes few of which can be visited on a day trip from Ljubljana. If you have more than a day in Ljubljana consider these awesome day trips:
1. Lake Bled and Lake Bohinj
Lake Bled is a beautiful lake in the Julian Alps with the Medieval Bled Castle overlooking the lake there is a church in the midst of the lake which can be reached by boat. From Ljubljana, there are hourly buses to Lake Bled which continues to Lake Bohinj which is another gorgeous lake.
2. Piran Town
Piran is a small coastal town known for Venetian and Gothic architectural buildings. There are several historical cathedrals and buildings in the city which can be explored on a day trip from Ljubljana. There are a couple of daily buses to Piran. As per our information, the frequency of buses to Piran is not very good. We recommend you to check the timings and buy tickets for the same from the Ljubljana main bus station.
3. Postojna Cave
The 24 km long cave system of Postojna is one of the top tourist sites in the country. There is a good frequency of buses from Ljubljana. The buses to Piran have a stop at the Postjana caves too.
4. Day trip to Croatia
Yes, the Croatian capital city Zagreb is just a couple of hours bus/train ride from Ljubljana. There is a good frequency of trains/buses to Rijeka as well as Istria though the travel time is around 3 hours and day trip may not be recommendable.
Where to Stay in Ljubljana
Ljubljana has many hostels and hotels around the old city. We stayed in two hotels during our time in Ljubljana both of which we can recommend:
1. Hostel Vrba
The rooms come with twin beds and shared bathrooms. There are several bathrooms clean and spacious but may be a drawback when in the morning everyone on your floor occupies them to rush out for sightseeing.
The locality is very calm in the vicinity of Ljubljanica River some 5 to 7 minutes walk from Cobblers Bridge.
2. Hotel Center
The hotel comes with an attached bathroom and is located on the busy street of Slovenska right at the bus stop. The hotel is around 5 to 7 minutes walk from the main bus/train station.
Have you been to this lovely city of Ljubljana? What was your favorite part of Ljubljana sightseeing?
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