WHAT ARE THE BEST THINGS TO DO AND SEE IN LJUBLJANA?
The capital of Slovenia, one of the smallest in Europe, has a very pleasant atmosphere. You can discover architecture with multiple influences, which charmingly combines medieval, baroque and Art Nouveau styles. It also has many green spaces and is a relatively small city on a human scale, which can be visited easily on foot in one day if you concentrate on the old historical centre and its charming cobbled streets. Ljubljana is above all a good base for exploring the region, especially the Bled and Bohinj lakes.
If this is your first time in Ljubljana, this list of the best things to do and see can help you plan your visit.
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Here are 10 things to do and places to visit during a weekend in Ljubljana:
1. Discover Ljubljana by bike
The Slovenian capital is ideal for cycling: it’s flat and there are enough cycle paths to explore the city and its various districts. You can rent them at the Slovenian Tourist Information Centre (STIC); Youth hostels can also offer them for rent. This is the first thing to do when you arrive if you have limited time in the capital and want to discover as many places as possible in as little time as possible.
2. Ljubljana Castle
The castle is located at the top of a hill overlooking the city and from where you can admire a very beautiful view of the capital. It can be reached on foot or by funicular (drop the bike!). Admission to the main courtyard is free, but some parts of the castle are subject to a charge. There are two restaurants (excellent and cheap) and there are exhibitions and other artistic events.
3. Explore the old town
Without being exceptional, the old town is both simple and very pleasant to visit. You can walk along the cobbled streets and discover small shops and nice cafés. The Town Hall deserves a look at it for its interior architecture (free admission).
4. Walk along the Ljubljanica River (or take the boat)
A nice walk to do is to follow the river that passes through the center. There are many restaurants and cafés. Don’t miss the dragon bridge, northeast of the old town. If you don’t have the courage to go for a walk, take a tour boat that will give you a different perspective on the capital. The walk lasts about an hour and costs 8€.
5. Take a walk in Tivoli Park
Opened in 1813, this 5km² park is very pleasant to visit but given its size, plan a few hours ahead if you plan to visit it. It’s about a hundred metres from the city centre and is therefore very easily accessible. Photos are displayed all year round in the large driveway of the park that leads to the fountain.
6. The Žale cemetery
It’s the largest cemetery in Ljubljana, which was transformed in the 1940s by the architect Joze Plečnik in a very original style. It’s the Slovenian equivalent of Père Lachaise cemetary in paris, because many Slovenian celebrities are buried there. It’s located in the northeast of the city, beyond the station (see google map).
7. Visit the central market
Located along the river between the Dragon Bridge and the Tromostovje (the triple bridge), the market is worth a look to stock up on provisions or just to stroll and discover local produce. There are sometimes events to present organic products or culinary specialities. The Ljubljana Central Market is designed by Slovenian architect Jože Plečnik (the one who designed the Žale cemetery). The market is open every day except Sunday.
8. Visit the Cathedral of St. Nicholas
St. Nicholas Cathedral is easily identifiable thanks to its green dome and two twin towers. It’s located on Vodnik Square near the Tromostovje (Triple Bridge). The interior is decorated with baroque frescoes dating from the 18th century.
9. Admire the view from the Nebotičnik tower
The very first skyscraper in the capital (70 metres high), where you can enjoy a superb 360° view from the outdoor bar on the 12th floor. Go there to admire the sunset. You can see the castle, the old town and the Julian Alps in the distance.
10. Visit the Metelkova Mesto district
Located not far from the station: it’s an artist’s squat where the Yugoslav army headquarters used to be located. The area was to be demolished by the municipality, but it finally remained after residents opposed its demolition. Today, there are artist studios, alternative art galleries, bars, nightclubs and a youth hostel (Hostel Celica) that was once a prison. The premises are now decorated with graffiti and mosaics. The place is free to visit during the day and you can come for a drink on Friday evening.
All photos are © Wikimedia.org unles mentioned
Also worth seeing in Ljubljana:
- If you have children: the zoo and the Natural History Museum
- The Botanical Garden
- The Museum of Modern Art (moderna galerija ljubljana)
- The currency used in Slovenia is the Euro.
- The closest airport to the capital is Jože Pučnik (also known as Brnik). It’s located to the north and it takes about 30 minutes to reach the centre by taxi.
- Ljubljana is easily accessible by minibus from Venice in Italy (2 to 3 hours by car).
- From Ljubljana, it’s possible to take a bus day trip to Lake Bled and Lake Bohinj (however, it’s better to spend a night there because both lakes are beautiful).