Some of the best things to do in Ljubljana include cultural activities, gastronomic delights, and architectural wonders – there’s even a dragon lurking about. Slovenia's capital has been tipped as one of those rare hidden secrets of Europe and some have even dared to call it the ‘new Berlin’. Whether these things are true or not, one thing’s for sure – more and more people are drawn to this vibrant city.

    With just enough small-city charm and unexpected sophistication, you’ll be wooed by the city’s colourful personality. Below is a compilation of notable attractions in Ljubljana to help you plan and get going for the Slovenian capital.

    What are the best things to do in Ljubljana?


    Ljubljana Castle

    Hikes with stunning views of the Julian Alps

    • History
    • Photo
    • Families

    The magnificent mishmash that is Ljubljana Castle can be found just above the city, at 375 metres high east of the Old Town. Anticipate a stunning dash of colours as you look out across the city – deep reds, rusty oranges, emerald greens all splatter across the vibrant canvas that is Ljubljana. The castle dates back from the early 16th century, when it was largely rebuilt due to a devastating earthquake.

    While it’s free to ramble the castle grounds, you’ll have to pay to enter the Watchtower and the Chapel of St. George. The castle hill is accessible via funicular, on foot via winding paths and even by bicycle. For some quirky fun, be sure to visit the Museum of Puppetry – a sure-hit with the kids.

    Location: Grajska Planota 1, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia

    Open: January–March and November: daily from 10 am to 8 pm. April–May and October: daily from 9 am to 9 pm. June–September: daily from 9 am to 11 pm. December: daily from 10 am to 10 pm

    Phone: +386 1 306 42 30


    photo by Marco Verch Professional Photographer and Speaker (CC BY 2.0) modified


    Tivoli Park

    Wooded hills to relax with a picnic in the sun

    • Budget
    • Couples
    • Families

    Tivoli Park is Ljubljana’s largest park and is surprisingly located just steps away from the city centre. Escape the bustle and enjoy a slower pace amongst 5 sq km of lush green space. The popular park is crossed by three grand horse chestnut tree-lined walkways, which are decorated with ornamental flower beds, flowing fountains and endless cascades of fluttering greenery.

    The area seamlessly blends into the slopes of Rožnik Hill and is splattered with countless walking paths and a trim trail with lots of exercise stations along the way. Don’t forget to check out Jakopič Promenade, the central part of the park which has become a well-known outdoor venue for exhibitions of photography.

    Location: Tivoli Park, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia

    Open: Open 24 hours

    Phone: +386 1 431 50 60


    photo by domjisch (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified


    Prešeren Square

    The heart of the city

    • History
    • Budget

    Prešeren Square is one of Ljubljana’s most important landmarks. Found in front of one of the old gates to the city, this square has held popularity for decades and doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. The square is named after France Prešeren, Slovenia’s greatest poet, whose monument stands proudly at the centre.

    Just next to this, you’ll find the vibrant Baroque Franciscan Church, which was originally painted red but has now faded into a charming salmon-pink. Pop in for free to check out the church’s ornate Baroque interiors. This is a great place to start your walk into the city’s Old Town and as a viewing point over historical buildings, the Triple Bridge and the canals.

    Location: Prešernov Trg 1, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia


    photo by Tiia Monto (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified


    The Triple Bridge

    Three bridges across Ljubljanica River

    • History
    • Photo
    • Budget

    The Triple Bridge connects the historic medieval town to the modern city of Ljubljana. Originally, there was only the Old Central Bridge, but due to traffic demands, two pedestrian bridges were added on either side in 1930. Regardless of the weather, the walks across the bridges are undeniably picturesque… so get your camera at the ready.

    With lots of cheerful street music, locals and tourists (and ducks) bobbing along and around the river – a visit to the bridges is a must-see and best done in the morning hours when crowds aren’t as alarming. The riverside is also particularly pleasant in the late afternoon when coffee-lovers revel in roasted aromas and sunshine.


    photo by Med Cruise Guide (CC BY 2.0) modified


    Mount Saint Mary

    Views from the highest hill in the city

    • History
    • Photo

    Mount Saint Mary or Šmarna Gora rises 664m above sea level, so you know you’re in for a good view at the end of this hike. This is a very popular hiking trail for Ljubljana locals as well as residents of surrounding areas. There are multiple hiking paths that lead to the top, but one of the most common ones starts in Tacen, a small village resting under Mount Saint Mary.

    The walk can take from 30 minutes to an hour to the very top, where you’re rewarded with gorgeous views of the Kamnik and Julian Alps. There is also an 18th-century baroque church at the top, along with a cafe and gostilna or traditional Slovenian inn.


    photo by Petar Milošević (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified


    Ljubljana Central Market

    Fresh local food stalls

    • Budget
    • Shoppers
    • Food

    Ljubljana Central Market is located along Vodnik Square and we highly recommend walking here via the famous Dragon Bridge, which hosts 4 friendly (although they don’t look so…) dragons. The dragons have become one of the most recognisable symbols of the city. Central Market is an excellent place to discover local produce, with delicious fresh fruit and local delicacies available at both the outdoor and indoor market.

    The indoor market, also referred to as Plečnik’s Covered Market, was built by the famous architect Jože Plečnik and follows the curve of the river over two-storeys. Expect everything from fresh fish, cured and fresh meat, home-made bread, flowers and plants. Come peckish.

    Location: Adamič-Lundrovo Nabrežje 6, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia

    Open: Monday - Friday from 7 am to 4 pm, Saturday from 7 am to 2 pm


    photo by Jorge Franganillo (CC BY 2.0) modified


    National Museum of Slovenia

    A place to learn about the nation’s history

    • History

    The National Museum of Slovenia is housed in a grand neo-Renaissance palace dating back to 1888. Being Slovenia’s main museum of national history, it contains several finds from around the country that are considered important treasures of the world’s cultural heritage.

    History-lovers will admire the immaculately presented and preserved artefacts – one to look out for is the 60,000-year-old Neanderthal flute from the Divje Babe excavation site in Cerkno, Western Slovenia. Before or after you explore the endlessly fascinating displays, admire the ceiling fresco in the foyer of the main building, which is truly a glorious sight.

    Open: Monday - Wednesday and Friday - Sunday from 10 am to 6 pm, Thursday from 10 am to 8 pm

    Phone: +386 1 241 44 00


    photo by Michael R Perry (CC BY 2.0) modified


    Open Kitchen Market

    A popular local market with excellent Slovenian food

    • Budget
    • Food

    Open Kitchen Market on Pogačar Square regularly invites a unique group of chefs from top Slovenian restaurants to showcase their best dishes from Slovenia and all over the world. Held every Friday from mid-March to October, this open-air food market impresses with its delectable freshly-cooked food prepared by Slovenia’s best, who are more than willing to share their juicy cooking secrets.

    Around the market, you’ll find over thirty different food providers, including modern cuisine, traditional ‘gostilnas’ (restaurants), local farms, and independent chefs. Look out for the well-known ‘Kranjska klobasa’ or Carniolan sausage, which goes down incredibly well with a refreshing Slovenian beer.

    Location: Pogačarjev Trg, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia

    Open: Friday from 8 am to 10 pm

    Phone: +386 41 888 766


    photo by Christopher Lancaster (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified


    Metelkova Mesto

    Old army barracks-turned-hip events venue

    • Nightlife
    • Unusual

    Metelkova Mesto is an autonomous cultural zone developed by artists in the 1990s that allows visitors to experience a random mix of things. From admiring art installations to sipping tea, to attending a concert or even sleeping in a jail cell. This lively, artistic area was developed from a squat and now features an abundance of bars and clubs, making it a great place for a night out, meeting locals or for a culturally-enriching experience.

    The area exudes quirky edge, with unusual public art and graffiti. For some educational fun, head to the Ethnographic Museum or the Museum of Contemporary Art. For some uncensored fun, you can try the city’s most popular gay club, Tiffany Club or the comic bookshop-lookalike, Pritličje.

    Location: Metelkova Ulica 10, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia


    photo by Zairon (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

    Sophia Macpherson | Contributing Writer

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