What are the best things to do in Ljubljana? Ljubljana (pronounced as “Liubliana”) is one of the world’s top green and eco-friendly capitals. Friendly, safe, charming, cultured, tidy and clean. The capital of Slovenia has 300.000 inhabitants. Tiny in size and easily discovered on foot. If you want to know what to do in Ljubljana, please read this guide!
Ljubljana City Map
1. Admire art at galleries and museums
Ljubljana offers plenty of different art galleries where everyone can find something of their interests. National Gallery is the main art museum in Slovenia that features the very best in Slovene art from the 13th century up to the first half of the 20th century.
The most visited museum is the Museum of Illusions which will provide you, your family and friends full entertainment. With the help of some tricks, you will be learned about vision, perception, the human brain, and science which will help you understand why your eyes see things that your brain cannot understand. For those wanting to understand more about Slovenia, National Museum of Contemporary History is the right choice. The museum offers an overview of Slovenian history from the 19th through the 21st century.
2. Slovenian National Opera and Ballet Theatre
Visit Slovenian National Opera and Ballet Theatre which performs classical and modern operas, ballets and concert works. It is recommended to buy tickets in advance as it is many times full. The building is beautiful and small, well worth seeing, located near Tivoli Park.
3. Treat yourself at BTC City
Do not miss CityPark, Slovenia’s largest business, shopping, entertainment, recreation and cultural centers. There are over 450 stores, bars, restaurants, the main shopping mall CityPark, a market, 3 D cinema, a waterpark with sauna, a hotel, an entertainment center with a casino, bowling and two office buildings.
4. Stroll through Tivoli park
Take a morning or afternoon stroll or have a picnic with your friends in Tivoli Park, the largest and stunning park in the city. There you will feel the fresh air, surrounded by greenery, enjoy the smell of flowers and experience beautiful views. Perfect for zen time, to relax or do some yoga. The central part of Tivoli Park – Jakopič Promenade is a lovely and popular outdoor venue for various art exhibitions worth visiting.
In the Park, there is Tivoli Castle, a mansion, where are held many events.
5. Hike the Šmarna Gora hill
If you are a nature lover, you need a break from the city bustle and at the same time, you feel Tivoli park is just not enough for you then take a walk to Šmarna Gora hill. Not only you will enjoy the surroundings full of greenery but also the views – the Kamnik and Julian Alps, the Ljubljana basin, at the top of the hill is spectacular.
At the uphill, there is a Baroque church from the 18th century and a restaurant.
Morning is the most astonishing time in a day to visit. Just imagine the sunrise that brings out the magic, colors playing in the sky, the unique vibe in here – silence and fresh air… And if you find some time for meditation here, the day just can’t start better than this.
6. An afternoon with animals in Ljubljana ZOO
Your children will love the idea of visiting the Ljubljana ZOO, located within a natural forest on the slopes of Rožnik Hill, only a 20-minute walk from the center of the city. Children will take part in many different workshops, activities and be in close contact with animals or simply have a guided tour of the ZOO.
7. Join in the laid-back vibe of the Metelkova
Alternative culture, alternative style and art you will find in Metelkova city, located in the center of Ljubljana and is also one of the best-known attractions Ljubljana. It’s a place you can’t find easily everywhere and is worth a visit. This is also a place where various artists are working and living here. Apart from art, graffiti, metalwork, mosaic art, and ceramic sculptures there are clubs, bars and art galleries.
8. Climb the Ljubljana Castle hill
Ljubljana Castle, from the 11th century, is nestled on a small hill in the center of the city. You can reach the Castle from different paths, walking up the hill from the Old Town or take the funicular (4 € return trip) from Krekov trg. Today the Castle hosts a number of cultural events, concerts, in summer outdoor cinema, weddings and exhibitions throughout the year. The castle offers various guided tours and some sections that are free of charge. There are art galleries, as well as a bar, restaurant, and castle souvenir shop. Not only that, the location of the Castle will reward you with a spectacular view of the city and beyond.
9. Visit Congress square (Kongresni trg)
Some important buildings face the square: Baroque Ursuline Church of the Holy Trinity, the Slovenian Philharmonic building, and the rectorate of the University of Ljubljana. There is also a marvelous view of the Ljubljana Castle on the hill. Right next to the square there is Zvezda park with tall trees and maintained grass where you can have a short rest from the busy city center or just observe the vibe of the city. During summer there are many performances, concerts, etc.
10. Try the local food at Central Market
For all market lovers, Ljubljana features the Central Market, which is an open-air market, situated between the two squares, the Vodnikov trg and Pogačarnev trg and other small shops along the river Ljubljanica. The market offers local Slovenian fruits and vegetables, tropical fruits, flowers, and meat products. There you can find also organic foods grown by local farmers. Right next to the outdoor market there is a covered market where you can find dried fruit, bread and pastries. During the year the market hosts various culinary events – one of which the most popular is the open-air food market “The Open Kitchen” (Odprta kuhna).
Being in the central market is a great opportunity to try traditional Slovenian food.
11. The view from Skyscraper (Nebotičnik)
Do you want to enjoy some of the most beautiful 360 views of the city from above? Then you need to visit Skyscraper (or “Nebotičnik” in Slovenian). Wooden spiral stairs will lead you to the top of the building, on the 11th floor where you can pamper yourself with a tasty coffee and a dessert in the bar with a nice ambiance. And if you visit late in the afternoon, you will experience a romantic sunset view. There are various shops, business offices and on the 6th to 9th floor residential flats.
12. Famous Prešeren Square
Prešeren Square is a perfect point where you should start sightseeing of the city. Prešeren Square is the central square of the city and a meeting place and a site for concerts and different events. At the eastern side of the square, there is a stature of France Prešeren (after whom the square is named), the biggest and most important Slovene poet, with a muse of poetry, his great love above his statue, Julija Primic. From the square, you can walk down the Ljubljanica river or walk-up. Plenty of different cafes and restaurants are downriver with beautiful views. This is a busy spot of Ljubljana with street musicians and other entertainers. Nearby are three bridges forming the Triple bridge (or “Tromostovje” in Slovene) crossing Ljubljanica river. In the background of the square, there is a Franciscan church of the Annunciation.
13. Experience nightlife in bars, dance clubs and pubs
Nightlife in Ljubljana is diverse with plenty of bars, clubs, and pubs. The city by night is also much different in summer than in winter. In summer you will seat outside one of the bars and watch people passing you by. For all metal and rock music lovers, Orto bar is a great choice. It is the biggest and most well-known rock bar with three floors, crazy parties, and best DJ programs. Cvetličarna is another alternative where you can enjoy yourself with your friends on Friday or Saturday night. It hosts not only events and concerts but also stands up comedy shows. If you are looking more classic club, then Bachus is a good choice. This is a wine bar by day and a club by night set on three floors.
14. Attend an event at Cankarjev dom
Cankarjev dom (named after the Slovene writer Ivan Cankar) is the largest cultural and congress center in Ljubljana that hosts events of all kinds, exhibitions, dance shows, concerts, etc. Definitely, you will find something of your interest.
15. Visit the National and University Library
In the center of Ljubljana, you will find one of the most important national educational institutions of Slovenia, designed by famous architect Jože Plečnik. It has a rich collection of medieval manuscripts, incunabula, and Renaissance prints. Unfortunately, tourists are not allowed to enter (open only to students of the university), but you can stop by and at least admire the exterior.
16. Cathedral of St. Nicholas
Located in the historic old city center and is the main church of the city from the early 18th century. The outside part is not impressive, but the interior is breathtaking, picturesque with the Baroque decor, exquisite frescos and bronze doors.
17. Dragon bridge
I can say for sure that Dragon’s bridge is one of Ljubljana’s most recognizable icons. The bridge, from the early 20th-century, crosses the Ljubljanica river to the Old Town of Ljubljana. It has four dragon statues, one at each of the corners.
18. Cycle the city
Forget about boring walking across the city or taking a bus, instead choose a more eco-friendly, efficient an cheap way to get around Ljubljana by renting a bike through BicikeLJ. It can be a lot of fun as well and endless benefits for your health. Designated bike trails, mostly flat streets and a car-free center are like calling to discover the city by bike.
The city is called also a bicycle-friendly city and it’s no wonder why many locals opt for biking.
Ljubljana offers a public bike system that enables you to hire a bike over the period you need. The registration fee for weekly use is 1 € only. There are more than 50 stations around the town, but mostly in the center and its vicinity.
19. Take the Ljubljanica River trip
By taking the Ljubljanica riverboat trip you will discover the city from a whole new angle you will never forget.
Another interesting alternative is also a 2-hour stand-up paddling on the river. It’s a fun and refreshing way to see the city, especially in the summer months. Do not worry if you have never experienced SUP as there will be an experienced instructor with you.
What about exploring the Ljubljanica river by kayaking? Great fun is guaranteed!
So, which option you prefer?
This was our selection of the best things to do in Ljubljana. Now, what are you waiting for? Get yourself here, enjoy this wonderful capital of Slovenia and make your stay memorable.
If you already fell in love with Slovenia you can read any of our guides about it: