What’s your favourite capital city in Europe? For me it has to be Ljubljana! The Slovenia capital (sometimes mistakenly written as Lubiana) is cute, compact, covered in adorable pastels, has its own castle, safe cycle lanes, dramatic dragon statues atop whimsical bridges, cutting edge modern art galleries…and this hidden alternative hippy area where the inner rebel in you will be as happy as I am in the picture below!
Of all the things to do in Slovenia, Ljubljana is a great start! Ljubljana is the hidden jewel in Europe’s capital cities and I can’t wait to show you what’s going down here. Its history is colourful to say the least. It has been in the hands of the Romans, Slavs and Austrians – all to be brought down by an earthquake in 1895 and built up again. Then it was part of Yugoslavia until it gained its independence in 1991. Since being a part of the EU in 2004, travellers are starting to realise just how cool Ljubljana is!
Read on to discover 22 Awesome Things to do in Ljubljana Slovenia (with extra day trips from Ljubljana added in for good measure). Let’s go!
In a hurry to get to the good stuff? Check out my quick answers here, and use the Table of Contents to get to your information swiftly.
There’s plenty of Ljubljana accommodation options but these are my favourites:
Best Budget Hostel in Ljubljana: Tresor Hostel
Hotels in Ljubljana:
Midrange – B&B Petra Varl
Luxury – Hotel Cubo
The airport in Ljubljana is called Jože Pučnik.
Or you can easily get a bus over the border from neighbouring countries! Many visitors come from Trieste in Italy but there are plenty of options. The most popular bus company to use is Flixbus.
Metelkova Mesto Art Area: free, just walk on in
January is the coldest month at -2°C! July is the hottest with temperatures up to 20°C. The wettest month is October with 7mm of rain. I recommend visiting Ljubjana between April and September.
There are many hostels in Ljubljana, but my favourite just has to be Hostel Tresor as it’s an old bank! As soon as you enter, your ‘rad level’ jumps up a couple notches. The interior is just so…hip. I love the art on the walls, their light fittings and that staircase they’ve got going on, running through the heart of the bank.
You store your luggage in the bank’s actual vault, and the open lounge space upstairs has this sky-high ceiling which makes you feel like you’re looking up to the high heavens when you crank your neck back.
The rooms (each named after a different currency!) are comfy, light, airy and have some good old quotes about money on the walls. That will keep you in deep thought in between planning what you’re gonna do once you step out the door again!
Be prepared to pay a little extra when you arrive for the city tax.
Hostel Mostel have live musicians playing outside most nights and the music is top notch! Grab a can of Lasko or Union and enjoy. And if you want peace and quiet – no problem. The music is nothing which is going to drive you bananas.
There’s a Spar just out the door to your left for food if you want to cook for yourself. If you want amazing ice cream, it’s right across the street.
Head to Klub Recnih Kapitanov between 08:00 to 10:00 in the morning and you’ll be able to grab a coffee for just 1 euro! It’s beneath one of the bridges and is the spot where the captains used to get their cups of caffeine throughout the day: now it’s open to everyone!
Ljubljana castle is the classic tourist spot in the city but do not let this put you off – it’s well worth getting to the top of the hill to enjoy this attraction. There’s two ways you can get to the top. You can walk by taking one of the paths from the Old Town, or by gliding up in comfort in the funicular.
The castle courtyard is actually free to get into – so if you do not want to venture around the whole castle, and just enjoy the views of the capital city, you’ll be fine. I had a lot of fun exploring the whole package however with access to the Outlook Tower, Virtual Castle, Puppet Museum and Slovenian history exhibition.
Have no fear about crazy transportation systems. The locals’ way of getting around the city is on two wheels and I couldn’t think of a better way to do it. The capital is compact and easy to navigate – and getting around on a bike will save you time! Keep an eye out for the nostalgic ‘Pony’ bike if you can. It’s proper old school.
I rented a bike from the local Tourist Office and had a grand old time taking a tour with one of their guides. Visit Ljubljana really helped me find out more about Slovenian history and being with someone local = getting to know all the sweet secret spots!
I’ll share some of these hidden gems with you here in this post, but I recommend popping into the centre yourself to ask about what’s on whilst you’re there!
Do you know the story of the greek hero Jason and the Argonauts?! The legend goes that Jason was the one to create Ljubljana. He stopped off with his mates in the city’s swamp – which just so happened to have a big dragon in it. Jason fought, killed and triumphed over it, and as a result the dragon can apparently be found atop the Castle Tower. It symbolises strength, courage and greatness. Good luck spotting the beast!
You might have a much better chance spotting dragons down below along the streets and bridges. And my word this capital city has a thing for bridges. So much of a ‘thing’ that there’s currently 32 in the city…and no doubt more are in the planning and building works!
Rumour has it that the dragons on Zmajski Most bridge wave their tails when virgins cross, but locals joke that they haven’t seen any tails move in decades. Make of that what you will.
You’d think that to get from A to B across the city river, that one bridge where you’re currently standing would be enough. But no, at Ljubljana’s main square, Prešernov trg, you can get across with a choice of three!
The reason being is that trams came into operation in the city (which are now no longer running) and architect Jože Plečnik thought it would be a great shame to demolish a perfectly good working-bridge. Instead, the tram went over the bridge, and two new bridges were built either side for pedestrians. Now you can choose to walk over any of them! Which one will you choose?
This is the main square in the city centre and has seen its fair share of goings on. This is where all the locals meet: the perfect place to people watch and take some time out in my opinion!
Whilst you’re standing in Prešernov trg square, you can’t miss the statue of Slovenia’s famous poet France Preseren looking out towards his love, Julija Primic, who he never actually managed to be with (aww). She’s across the other side of the square looking back at him.
This 16th century Baroque masterpiece is just so wonderfully pink! If its door is open, make sure to go inside. Otherwise, sit outside of it and watch the world go by.
One of the top reasons to visit Slovenia is because of its local produce. Slovenians are incredibly passionate about growing and making their own food and products. They’re fresh, healthy and full of love. I was spoilt in Bela Krajina with the locals’ lavish olive oils, fresh baked bread and yummy homemade meats. And here in Ljubljana I actually saw some of my favourite products being sold by the makers in this central market!
At Big Berry I couldn’t get enough of the yummy butter company ‘Zlati Ghee’ and there they were in Ljubljana Central Market! If you see them, ask them to give you a tasting of their chocolate ghee at your own risk. You’ll be walking away with your backpack full of jars of the stuff.
Bitemojo, the company that runs self-guided food tours on an app so that you can walk around and eat at your own pace, have their very own food tour in Ljubljana! I downloaded the tour and then was able to visit lots of cool touristic spots in the city whilst stopping off at the best Ljubljana restaurants too! The mix of food and sightseeing was perfect. There’s a vegetarian option at every stop if you don’t want to go near the meats.
I got to try:
Preko mure (a lovely white bean spread) served on fresh-baked bread with spicy radishes and a wine raspberry spritzer
Sweet stuklji (an amazing thin-dough desert) made from cream and raisins served with homemade iced tea
Tolminc cheese (my word it’s high-fat) with Kraški Pršut (dried prosciutto) along with local wine
Sardines (marinated in salt for months then served on bread with fresh lemon!)
This might just be the weirdest sculpture I’ve come across whilst wandering through the alleys of a city (yes, it’s safe to go down alleyways round here). Look down at your feet once you step into this side street and you might just find you’re standing on someone’s face! Created by Slovenian artist Jakov Brdar, ‘Faces’ stretches along the whole pathway. Keep following your way to the top to try and turn on the water fountain at the end!
You can also see more of this artist on the bridges! Here’s a freaky toad (is it a toad?!)…
This is Ljubljana’s biggest park and a lovely one at that. It’s perfect for cycling or jogging around and the open-air photo gallery is a treat. You’ll find it along the main promenade in front of the International Centre of Graphic Arts (when I was there they had a David Lynch exhibition going on!). Make sure to try and find the Library under the Treetops too: the perfect opportunity to get lost in a book under one of the big oak trees.
The bicycle factory, ‘Rog’ used to make bikes for all of Yugoslavia but it went bankrupt in the ’90s and in 2006, squatters moved in and decided to take it over. It’s turned into an independent cultural and social hub with alternative art, music, workshops and what-not going down.
It definitely looks rough around the edges but I ventured there during the day and the locals were cool. I had a decent nosey around and felt fine as I took it all in and photographed what I wanted. Respect the people you meet there and they’ll be all good with you.
Whilst there’s some squatters hanging out in Rog, there’s also a bunch over here at Metelkova Mesto. This is the most unique, weird and creative space I’ve found on my travels yet.
Everyone who’s alternative is hanging out here. You’ve got the punks, hipsters, LGBT crowd, metal heads and some random weirdos who’ve had too much to drink thrown in. Hanging out here in the day is certainly an experience – coming back here at night to party is another one! I recommend you do both.
I didn’t make it here myself, but I’ve heard it’s the place to be off your face on electronic beats. It’s the kind of place where you step out after partying hard all night and it’s daylight. Good luck soldier.
This one is for the rockers! If you wanna hang with the leather jackets, listen to live music, and down some beers, this is it.
If you want to go out but chill out, I recommend hanging out at Prulček. It feels like you’re listening to the best jam sessions whilst drinking awesome beers in your living room.
As mentioned in the things to do above in this article, Metelkova Mesto is the perfect mish-mash neighbourhood overtaken by squatters in the ’90s. Come here without prejudice and you’ll find a ton of cool places to drink and club at. Tiffany and Monokel are great for the LGBT crowd. Channel Zero is great for dub and electronic music. Gromka is the place to be for the heaviest, hardest riffs. Jalla Jalla is a great bar to grab a refill.
Ljubljana has some fantastic museums and art galleries jam-packed with exhibitions and information to keep you busy on a blustery wet day.
Heads up: Most museums and galleries are closed on Mondays!
Here are my favourites:
It has dodgeball, trampolines, a foam pit, a slackline and way more crazy activities to keep you entertained! Forget about the rain and run riot in here for an hour.
There’s two in town! Escape Castle takes part in Ljubljana Castle and Escape Room Enigmarium is along Trdinova Ulica 8.
It’s not exactly the highest mound you’ve attempted in your travels I’m sure, but at a height of 391 metres, it’s a jolly good 30-minute stroll from Tivoli Park up to an adorable pink church. Follow the ‘Cankarjev vrh’ signposts so that you don’t accidentally end up on the other side of the hill without making it to the top.
If you want to be shown around, you can grab a ‘free’ tour with Ljubljana Free Tour or Alternative Ljubljana. Although they’re technically free, they’ll be expecting a tip – so show a little gratuity with what you can afford.
One of my most favourite days in Slovenia was taking a day trip out of Ljubljana to these two amazing attractions: Postojna Cave and Predjama Castle! I easily fit both into one day, and cannot recommend visiting both of these attractions enough!
Of all the caves I have visited in the world, Postojna has now earned its place as my number one favourite! Discovered 200 years ago, the sheer size and beauty of its 24km underground passages and magnificent halls blew me away.
The cave formations are 2 million years old and the limestone layers are 90 million years old. Wrap your head round that!
You’ll be entering the cave in top-notch Indiana Jones mode because you’re transported into this alien world of endless limestone formations on the world’s only underground cave train.
As you glide through, whizzing past the sides of the jagged cave walls, make sure you look up and admire the glass chandeliers floating above you as you roll through the gothic-looking ‘dance hall’ #WeddingGoals
They also have a concert hall within the cave system that can hold up to 10,000 people #WeddingPartyGoals
Near the end of your Postojna Cave experience you will also be able to see the Proteus Anguinus (baby dragons!). Their lifespan is more than 100 years and they can survive without food for up to 12 years!
It was a magical experience and one I won’t hesitate to do all over again when I make it back to Slovenia.
Make sure that you bring your warm gear and walking shoes. The temperature in the cave is 10°C year-round.
The tour takes around 90 minutes in total.
Make sure that you visit Postojna Cave first-thing in the morning. This attraction is amazing – and more and more people want to visit.
Get your ticket for the first tour of the day.
I took the train from Ljubljana directly to the town of Postojna. From the train station, it’s a 25 minute walk to Postojna Cave Park. There are however buses that leave hourly from Ljubljana that go directly to the bus stop in the car park in front of Postojna Cave.
To make the journey as easy as possible for yourself, I recommend hiring a car or joining a guided tour from Ljubljana.
Hot damn. If you can’t make it to Sleeping Beauty’s castle in Disneyland, come to Predjama Castle instead. This experience will catapult you straight up to fairytale-level gold! Predjama Castle is an 800-year-old castle built into the side of a 123m high cliff!
It’s the biggest cave castle in the world (yep!) and the Instagram pictures you can get here are next level.
Adventurers will love what’s hidden behind these walls – there’s plenty of rooms to explore including an unnerving downstairs level where all the grisly goings on happened. Most impressively, being built into a cave, this castle has a passageway going through the backdoor nooks and crannies, where the inhabitants could escape. During the castle’s siege, this passageway certainly came in handy!
Once you have finished exploring the castle, I recommend visiting the outdoor cafe to have a cup of coffee and enjoy the views. You’ll get an excellent view from here – and a great photo. Enjoy!
There are a couple of ways! There is a free shuttle bus from Postojna Caves to Predjama Castle if you buy the combo ticket. The shuttle bus runs from 7th July to 2nd September. The shuttle bus leaves the caves on the hour from 11:00 with the last bus leaving at 18:00. The ride takes 20 minutes. If you prefer to get a taxi, ticket office staff will help you.
If you have your own car, it’s an easy drive!
If you’re walking, it’s 9km!
If you’re on a guided tour, all your transport will be taken care of.
Do you now know what to see in Ljubljana and around? There’s plenty of things to see, do, taste and experience in Ljubljana Slovenia. Are you feeling inspired? What activities will you choose? Is there an attraction that you want to add to the list? Comment below!
Save this article for later so you can plan your Ljubljana Slovenia trip at your own pace.
My complimentary experiences in Ljubljana were made possible by Visit Ljubljana, Tresor Hostel and Bitemojo. My complimentary experience in Postojna Cave and Predjama Castle was made possible by Park Postojnska Jama. As always, opinions remain my own = honest and straight to the point.