This post is also available in: pt-brPortuguês

Ljubljana means beloved in their local language (ljubljeni, you can google translate!) and there is no other word to best describe the city than that one. They have about 200 thousand people and was awarded the most sustainable capital of Europe. The city overflows art and has a statue of a famous poet in its main city centre square, instead of a general of the army as commonly seen. Moreover, there are no cars driving through the historical city centre streets for over 10 years. How can anyone not fall in love with it? So, pack up and find out now what to do in Ljubljana!

*By the way, don’t be scared to pronounce the name Ljubljana. It says Lu-blee-ana, as the “j” has the sound of “ee” for them 😉

How long to stay in Ljubljana?

Ljubljana and Ljubljanica River

The Ljubljanica River crossing the city

Ljubljana is quite small and, actually, it is possible to see the everything just in a day. In fact, there is one statistic that says the average time of a tourist in Ljubljana is about 1.8 days. We stayed two nights, and yes, it was indeed enough to grab most of it, the main tourist attractions and enjoy the bohemian bars and restaurants by the Ljubljanica River. However, the city is so charming, nice and lively that we left with the feeling of wishing to stay longer. Well, it is always a good excuse to come back, isn’t it?

Therefore, being completely direct to the question how long to stay in Ljubljana: One day. You can see everything in one day. But, if you decided to stay longer than that, you probably won’t regret and there will be more interesting things to see and to do as well!

Anyway, let’s get into our Ljubljana Route now: Everything you must do in the most beloved city of Europe!

Visit Prešeren Square

360 degree picture. Enlarge, click and drag!

We are so used with Admirals, Generals and military images in general around the historical city centres that it was difficult to hold our sigh when seeing Ljubljana praising their favourite poet, France Prešeren, with a statue in its main square.

The Prešeren Square is right in front of the famous Triple Bridge and it is a meeting point amongst locals, thus always busy. In addition to the famous poet statue, it is worth paying attention to the charming Franciscan little church of the Annunciation.

Prešeren is the most famous poet of the country and the writer of Zdravljica, a poem which became the national anthem of Slovenia. Born in the XIX century, he mostly wrote about love (obviously, sLOVEnia, ljubljeni, what else to write about!). However, his true love, Juliet, which has a historical interesting name for a love story, never reciprocated his love (it does look like a fairy tale, doesn’t it? But it was true.). So, if you follow the gaze of the Prešeren, you will meet Juliet at the corner of the square. That was, in truth, the house which Juliet, the love of Prešeren, used to live, and is another tribute to the poet who, at least today, has the love of his muse reciprocated.

Visit Metelkova, the coolest borough of Ljubljana

Metelkova in Ljubljana

The artistic borough of Metelkova

Metelkova is an old Yugoslavian military development, occupied by independent artists after the country’s independence during the 90’s. The place is awesome and full of art galleries, graffiti, art installations and squats. As it is not in the historical city centre and is managed by “parallel laws”, many see it as an autonomous region. If you are familiar with Christiania, in Kopenhagen, you will understand better this assimilation 😉

Not everybody appreciates this region. The police, with the support of a part of the population, tried to put an end to this area a few times. The artists got together, forming basically a human chain, and won the battle. Metelkova, at least for now, resists.

Over the weekend, the bars and clubs are busy and you should pop in there to check it out. Also, you find the most creative hostel in town over there too. An old socialist military prison turned into a hostel, the Celica host you exactly where the cells used to be. We stayed in there and loved the experience. Each cell of the old prison was restored by either a local or an international artist, allowing you to sleep in a room, not as comfortable, but full of stories.

Hostel Celica, a former prison turned into rooms by artists

One of the rooms of the hostel

We loved the team of Celica Hostel, very aware of the history of the place and extremely kind! Even if you don’t want to stay in a cell – or have another arrangement – do pay them a visit. You are welcome in the hostel to enjoy its bar, with live music every Tuesday, or have breakfast every morning for just €4. If you do, check their availability in here!!

Go to the Ljubljana Church

This main catholic church of the city is very beautiful from the inside, but what we want you to pay attention to, is its door! Its images tell the history of Ljubljana through, obviously, the catholic view. Amongst the figures in there, there is the former Pope John Paul II, the first pope with Slav origin, as well as the priest Irenaeus Frederic Baraga, holding an image of a book with a native Indian from the USA. Baraga was a Slovenian missionary who lived for many years in North America and who actually wrote the story of Princess Pocahontas!

door of Ljubljana Church telling the history of the city

The door of the Ljubljana Church

Free Walking Tour

We still don’t know why the free walking tour is not part of many travellers. It’s a shame as it is a brilliant way to know better the history of the city. Every time we do it, we love it!

Free Walking Tour in Ljubljana

The Free Walking Tour group

The one in Ljubljana could not be different. It was about 2 walking hours in the morning through the sights. We learnt a great deal about the history and culture of the city. We cannot emphasize more how much we recommend that!

The Free Walking tour of Ljubljana goes every day from the Prešeren Square at 11am. The guides have no salary and even though the name says free, everybody expects you to leave some tips. Just think that, instead of spending your money on a couple of pints, you are giving to someone who will make your stay in the country much better.

If you want further information about it, check it out here.

A walk through the Main Street Market

street market in Ljubljana

Overview of the market

Until the WWI, the majority of the population of Slovenia were countrymen. Therefore, farming still, up to date, very active over there. It is in the main street market, which happens from Monday to Saturday, where you have the opportunity to check and taste some of the local products as well as understand more about the Slovenian gastronomy and flavours.

Saturday is the busiest and most popular day, when the Slovenians also go to the market. By the way, if you bump into the mayor of Ljubljana in the market, don’t feel surprised. He is normally around on Saturday asking tourists which is the most lovable city in Europe (don’t you dare say anything other than Ljubljana 😉 ).

Bridges, bridges and more bridges

Dragon Bridge in Ljubljana

The Dragon Bridge at night

Ljubljana is full of historical bridges and it is definitely worth zigzagging above the Ljubljanica River to see them all. So, let’s point out the ones you cannot miss.

  • The Triple Bridge: The middle one is the oldest in town and had been, once, the only access to town (currently the historical city centre). Jože Plečnik, the most famous and dear architect of Slovenia, built the two other adjacent bridges. In fact, he made the other two bridges because of the increasing number of cars, so people could also cross it without having to worry. Fortunately, cars are no longer allowed to circulate and now it is just a beautiful triple pedestrian bridge.
Triple Bridge, the Franciscan Church and Preseren Square

Overview of the Triple Bridge, the Franciscan Church and Preseren Square

  • Dragon Bridge: This was built in 1901 when the Slovenia was still part of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire. The dragon is the symbol of the city and you will see it on everywhere, such as on a beer label, on its flag, on the garbage truck and…. on the Dragon Bridge!

Dragon of slovenia

  • The Cobbler’s Bridge: Also one of the oldest in town. This bridge helped the shoemakers and traders to avoid paying the city’s taxes charged only on one side of the river . So, instead of crossing the river to sell their products (and pay taxes), they settled on the other side. The bridge made easier for everybody, as people could buy their merchant and sellers could sell. Well, not so much for government, though. Actually, you can still see the oldest shoemaker shop right in the entrance of the bridge.

The Cobbler's Bridge in Ljubljana

Inspire and learn from Ljubljana, the green capital of the world

Castle of Ljubljana

The castle and the Clock Tower of Ljubljana

Ljubljana was awarded the green capital of Europe in 2016. It is impressive how clean the city is. They also developed one of the most advanced system of waste collection and separation. Furthermore, Ljubljana forbade auto-vehicles in its historical city centre and should be a reference for the world with regard to sustainability.

Walk by the Ljubljanica River

night in Ljubljana by the Ljubljanica River

By the Ljubljanica River at night

As simple as the title says! Let your hair down and perambulate by the Ljubljanica River. Amongst restaurants and bars along the way, allow yourself to enjoy a glass of wine or a bottle of beer and enjoy the town as a local. It is liberating!

Watch the sunset from the Ljubljana Castle

The Ljubljana Castle has gone through many constructions and historical periods. It is atop of the mountain and, from anywhere in the city centre, you can see it. Nevertheless, the view you have from up there is better the viewing it from the city. And we recommend going up just before the sunset so you can enjoy the beautiful Slovenian twilight.

Ljubljana Castle sunset

Twilight in Ljubljana Castle

You don’t pay to climb up to the castle, but you do if you want to go up the clock tower or in the St George Chapel. We only explored the area which you don’t have to pay and didn’t feel like anything was missing. It seemed to us (and to some locals we met) that the view from the clock tower wasn’t much better than the one we had from the veranda of the castle.

You can climb up there by either a funicular or by three walking paths. The funicular costs €4 return, on the other hand, the trekking is quite steep, but not so long. It takes no more than 10 minutes. We trekked and it was fine!

sunset on top of the Ljubljana Castle

The sunset from the Ljubljana Castle

Taste local and handmade beers in the oldest pub in town

Ljubljana is a city where people love to drink beer. If you too and want to drink like a local, the Gold Ship, just opposite the Cobbler’s Bridge, is a must! This is the oldest pub in town and they offer many different types of local beers, such as Human Fish (made by a group of Australian who, during their visit to Slovenia, fell in love and never left) and the famous Union and Lasko, amongst many more.

Have a drink above the sky

The Neboticnik is on top of a 70m building and has a beautiful view of the city. We really wanted to go in there but, unfortunately, we didn’t make it. Regardless, here it is the tip for those who will go. Don’t forget to let us know!

By the way – the bar is not expensive, the guys from Two Scots Abroad, for instance, said that a glass of wine is just a couple of euros!

Tips:

How to walk in Ljubljana:

Careful with your bike

  • The historical city centre is really small and you can do all of it by foot. If you want to explore different parts of the city, we recommend renting a bicycle, as the city is practically flat and full of cycleways. If you do rent bikes, don’t forget to check your front and back lights. Apparently, the police in Ljubljana is very strict regarding this. In fact, they can test your level of alcohol. And if you are cycling drunk, you lose your driving license (yes, your car driving license!). So, if you are going drive and cycle, no drinks! And if you are going to drink, call us!!

Are you tired?

electric bus in city centre of Ljubljana

The electric bus allowed in the city centre

  • If you are in the centre, tired or want a ride, you can call the number you see in one of the electric minibus going around (known as Kavalir, or “gentleman”). They are the only authorised vehicle to go around the centre and can take you, or anybody, wherever they need. This is a project of the mayor to help mainly the elderly when they are doing their food shopping or walking the around the town. How thoughtful of them!?

Maybe thirsty?

  • The water from the tap and from the fountains are drinkable. Have fun and don’t forget your bottle to refill. But remember, NOT FROM THE LAKE! lol. We say that because we heard a foreigner was told the water is drinkable everywhere and was filling the bottle from the lake. IT IS FROM THE TAP!!!

Hit the road!

  • Slovenia is a rather small country. Therefore, you can take advantage of that and make many short trips to various regions. Agencies and hostels organise many of them, in case you are not driving. Or cycling, as we were! We really recommend the Lake Bled, Lake Bohinj, Postojna Cave, Predjama Castle, Brda (The Slovenian Tuscany) and Skocjan Cave.