sLOVEnia – the world’s most sustainable and greenest country has love in its name.
Hey! Even Ljubljana, the capital city of Slovenia has love in its name. Ljubljeni means beloved in Slovene.
How can you not feel LOVE when in Ljubljana 🙂
Ljubljana, the European Green Capital is an intersection of diverse epochs. A Roman city, Emona stood in place of Ljubljana about 2,000 years ago.
You can witness the ruins of Emona in the contemporary Ljubljana.
How to Pronounce Ljubljana
Okay. I make sure to learn how to pronounce the name of the city or place I’m planning to visit (especially the tricky ones like Ljubljana and this) because how would you feel if someone pronounces your or your city’s name wrong.
Ljubljana is pronounced as lyoo-blyah-nuh. More often than not, locals pronounce it as loo-blah-na skipping the J’s altogether. Listen here.
So, J’s in Slovenian are pronounced as Y’s in English. J’s make all the difference here!
The Legend of Ljubljana Dragon
The Ljubljana Dragon is the symbol of Ljubljana. You’ll see it everywhere…buildings, Ljubljana castle, bridges, wall art, even the car registration number plates…literally everywhere.
How did it become the emblem of Ljubljana? There are a few explanations for it.
The most interesting and popular legend about the origin of Ljubljana has it that the city was founded by Jason, the Greek mythological hero. The story goes that he stole the golden fleece from the king Aeëtes and fled with his fellow Argonauts aboard Argo ship.
Journeying back home (Greece) across the Black Sea and up the Danube, Sava, and Ljubljanica rivers, they made a stop at Ljubljana Marshes, the monster’s habitat. Jason fought and killed the monster, called Ljubljana Dragon now.
Jason thus became the very first citizen of Ljubljana and the dragon found a place on the Ljubljana coat of arms.
Another story about how Ljubljana became the dragon city has to do with Christianity. The wall murals at St George Chapel in the Ljubljana Castle showcase the saint killing the dragon.
Do You Need Visa to Travel to Ljubljana?
You might. Many nationals need a Schengen visa to travel to Europe. Read our Guide to Schengen Visa to know more.
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Best Time to Visit Ljubljana
The best time to visit Ljubljana, Slovenia is during the months of April, May, September, and October. These months of spring and autumn offer comfortable weather and lower accommodation prices.
We visited in July and it was too hot and too crowded to enjoy the city.
How Many Days in Ljubljana Should You Spend?
We were able to explore most of the must-see attractions in a day but yes it was a bit rushed.
If you want to go slow and are keen to discover the museums and galleries, set aside at least 2 days for the wonderfully cozy capital of Slovenia.
Where is Ljubljana in Slovenia?
Ljubljana is the capital and the biggest city of Slovenia. Located right in the center of the country, it stretches between Vienna (Austria) and Venice (Italy), at an intersection of the major ancient trade route that connects the northern Adriatic to Danube region.
It lies at the intersection of four major motorways in Slovenia and thus, effortless access from any of the cities in Slovenia and neighboring countries.
Getting to Ljubljana
Ljubljana’s strategically excellent position makes traveling to and from Central Europe, Western Europe, and the Balkans easy.
By Car or Bike
Traveling by car is the easiest, fastest, and the most flexible way to travel. I’d recommend renting a car especially if you are traveling as a family.
We traveled to Ljubljana from Kranj by a rented car. It’s a quick 40 minutes drive. You can take a detour to Škofja Loka if you have time.
Road Toll Vignette
Be aware that a road toll vignette is needed to drive on the Slovenian motorways and highways.
You don’t need a vignette If you drive the regional roads through quaint little villages and towns. Of course, the time to reach your destination will be doubled as the speed limit through village roads (50 km per hour) is nearly half than through motorways (130 km per hour).
Weekly, monthly, annual vignettes are available for sale at all the petrol stations, most newspaper kiosk, some toll booths, and shopping centers in Slovenia. I’d recommend you to purchase one just before entering Slovenia from a petrol station located in a neighboring country (the country you are exiting) close to the border. For more information, visit the website here.
Parking in Ljubljana
Like all other European Capitals, parking in Ljubljana is a hassle.
There are a number of parking garages, park & ride garages, and parking lots in Ljubljana. Street Parking in the center aka short-term parking has a limited parking time of a maximum of 2 hours.
We parked our car at a centrally located Congress Square parking garage. The parking cost is 1.20 Euros per hour for the first 3 hours and 2.40 Euros after 3 hours.
The Ljubljana bus station, Avtobusna postaja Ljubljana has bus connections throughout Slovenia and to and from other European countries. Check their official website for routes and timetables.
The Ljubljana train station is next to the bus station at Trg Osvobodilne Fronte, a short walk from the center of the city. Local and International rail connections to and from Ljubljana are good.
There are direct train connections to Budapest, Graz, Salzburg, Vienna, Zagreb, Rijeka, Pula, Frankfurt, Munich, Zurich, and Belgrade. For more information check the official website of Slovenian Railways (Slovenske Zeleznice).
Joze Pucnik Airport, Ljubljana’s main airport is 26 km away from the center. Adria Airways (Slovenian airlines) serves affordable flights connecting Ljubljana with major European cities. Check Ljubliana Airport’s portal for the details.
We recommend Skyscanner for the best flight deals.
There’s an hourly public bus service between the airport and the Ljubljana Bus Station daily that costs 4.10 Euros per person. Also, less frequent private shuttle bus service is also available that costs anywhere between 9 Euros to 19 Euros.
A taxi from the airport to the city center can cost about 35 Euros to 40 Euros.
Getting Around Ljubljana
With free admission to the city’s major attractions, museums, and galleries plus unlimited free travel on public transportation during the card validity period, Ljubljana Tourist Card can save you some Euros for sure.
You can purchase the card for 24, 48, or 72 hours. You get a 10% discount if you buy your card online.
Our favorite way to explore any place is on foot. And more so if the city is as compact as Ljubljana.
Ljubljana’s strong bus network connects the entire city and its surrounding areas. To use city buses you need to have the Urbana Card which you can buy from Ljubljana Bus Station, newspaper kiosks (trafika), tourist information centers, post offices, Bicikelj bike-sharing systems, and many other locations in the city. The city buses don’t sell the Urbana Card and don’t take cash either.
The card costs 2 Euros and needs to be topped up. A single bus ride fare starts from 1.20 Euros that covers up to 90 minutes journey and allows you to change as many buses as you can in that time period.
Cycling is our second most preferable way (walking being the first one) to explore the destination.
Ljubljana Tourism runs Ljubljana Bike project that makes bicycle hiring easy. You can hire a bike from the Slovenian Tourist Information Center located at Krekov trg 10.
The bike rental is 2 Euros for 2 hours hire period and 8 Euros for more than 2 hours hire period.
Alternatively, you can rent a bike from Bicike (LJ) who have huge number of docking stations in Ljubljana city center.
The first hour is free, the second hour costs 1 Euro, the third hour costs 2 Euros, and each additional hour after 3 hours costs 4 Euros.
If you are to stay in Ljubljana, you can hire a bike for a full week by paying just the 1 Euro weekly registration fee.
You can save money by returning the bike after an hour and hiring a new bicycle again for an hour. Yes.
You can easily find a taxi in the city center, though the cost will be less if you book one over the phone.
Urban Electric Train
Urban is an environment-friendly train in Ljubljana that takes you on a circular tourist trail connecting the famous tourist attractions. The tour starts at Town Hall and takes about 1 hour 15 minutes to complete.
Best Ljubljana Tours
Where to Stay in Ljubljana
Pint-sized Ljubljana has an overwhelming number and variety of accommodation options to choose from.
Here are our recommendations for you-
Hotels in Ljubljana
Hostels in Ljubljana
Apartments in Ljubljana
Airbnb in Ljubljana
Never tried Airbnb? We just love and recommend them. You can use this discount code to get off on your first Airbnb booking.
Where to Eat in Ljubljana
Ljubljana is a compact capital but there’s no dearth of great restaurants, cafes, bistros, pizzerias, and street food stalls.
Here are some of our favorites plus a few recommended by fellow travelers.
Mid-Range Restaurants in Ljubljana
One of the best in Ljubljana Old Town, Julija is a mid-range restaurant with a great medieval ambiance that serves Mediterranean cuisine with a Slovenian touch.
Address: Stari trg 9, Ljubljana
Luxury Restaurants in Ljubljana
A nice place to enjoy Slovenian cuisine away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Address: Eipprova ulica 1a, Ljubljana
A great place for fine-dining and a fancy meal. The restaurant has been featured in San Pellegrino’s Top 100 World’s Best Restaurant list in 2010.
We didn’t get a chance to experience it but have got recommendations from friends and relative while we were planning our Slovenia trip.
Address: Mikloshicheva cesta 17, Ljubljana
Great Food. Great Service. Great Location. A bit high-priced.
Address: Petkovshkovo nabrezhje 21, Ljubljana
Vegetarian and Vegan-Friendly Restaurants
This is our other favorite in Ljubljana. Taman serves fresh organic food only. Innovative food served with love. Seriously.
If you are a vegan or a vegetarian, you gotta give this place a try.
Address: Nazorjeva ulica 3, Ljubljana
Cheap Easts in Ljubljana
Great spot to have a quick bite. Pop’s Place = quality plus quantity both at decent prices. You can enjoy yummy burgers with fries and drinks in a beautiful outdoor seating.
Address: Cankarjevo nabhrezhje 3, Ljubljana
If you love non-vegetarian, you gotta visit here for their famous traditional Slovenian dish, Kranjska klobasa (Carniolan sausage).
Address: Ciril-Metodov trg 15, Ljubljana
I had to visit here for two reasons – 1. I love falafel 2. I’d heard a lot about Abi Falafel
It lives to its name. Such delicious and crispy falafel at such reasonable prices in such large quantity – couldn’t ask for more!
Address: Trubarjeva ceste 40, Ljubljana
Durga Violina literally translates to Second Violin. This restaurant is special not just because of its food but also because of its noble gesture – they employ people with disabilities.
Address: Stari trg 21, Ljubljana
Best Pizza in Ljubljana
Now, this is where you can eat the best pizza in Ljubljana. They have a great choice in vegetarian, non-vegetarian, and gluten-free pizzas.
Address: Gregorchicheva ulica 3, Ljubljana
Verace has a great selection of pizzas, wines, and snacks. They are consistently rated high for their excellent services.
Address: Streliska ulica 22, Ljubljana
Ljubljana Street Food
BTC City apart from a great shopping destination is an amazing food destination. Its open-air street food market with local and international delicacies attracts foodie travelers from all around the world.
The street food vendors offer anything and everything from burgers, wraps, to international culinary range. There’s even a stand that sells vegan Indian food 🙂
Odprta Kuhna (Open Kitchen) is a food market where Slovenian chefs cook then and there and sell their Slovenian and other International delicacies on stalls.
The choice is varied from Slovenian to Japanese, Mediterranean, European to fast-foods.
The market takes place every Friday from March until October. You can enjoy live performances with good food.
Address: Pogacharjev trg 1, Ljubljana
Away from the crowds, located at the junction Petkovškovo bank and Usnjarska street overlooking the river, Ek Bistro is a lovely place to enjoy a good breakfast or just a cup of coffee or a glass of beer with snacks.
Address: Petkovškovo nabrezje 65, Ljubljana
It’s the best in Ljubljana! We had a traditional Ljubljana breakfast here. Tasty food served tastefully.
Address: Gosposka Ulica 9, Ljubljana
Located in the charming quarter of Ljubljana, Le petit is a great place for breakfast or brunch. We had a great cup of coffee with yummy cakes and croissants.
Address: Trg francoske revolucije 4, Ljubljana
Slovenska Hisa is a great place for drink and appetizers with a nice seating area overlooking the river.
Address: Cankarjevo nabhrezhje 13, Ljubljana
Ljubljana Food Tours
Want to know the culinary scene of the place when you travel? Take a food tour!
What to Eat in Ljubljana
Barley Risotto or Beetroot Risotto @ Monstera Bistro
Real Gelato Ice-Cream @ Gelateria Romantika
Burek @ Nobel Burek
Kranjska klobasa (Carniolan sausage) @ Klobasarna
Potica @ lePotičke
Prekmurska gibanica (Prekmurje layered cake) @ Gujžina Prekmurska Gostilna
Štruklji @ Moji Struklji
Things to do in Ljubljana in Slovenia
Named after the greatest Romantic Slovenian Poet, France Prešeren. A statue designed by Maks Fabiani and sculpted by Ivan Zajc in the center of the square depicts the poet and his muse and love, Julija Primic.
The square is dominated by a bright pink 17th-century Baroque building, Franciscan Church of Annunciation.
Triple Bridge connects the Prešeren Square to Old Town.
Stroll the Colorful Streets of Ljubljana
I loved walking the cobbled streets of medieval Ljubljana.
Our favorite is Trubarjeva cesta that starts at Prešeren Square and ends at Resljeva cesta.
The colorful, lively and bohemian Trubarjeva street is dotted with lovely cafes, restaurants, international stores, antique shops, and graffiti painted walls.
Walk the Lovely Ljubljana Old Town (Staro Mesto)
Right below the Castle Hill on the right (eastern) bank of the Ljubljanica River lies the prettiest part of the capital of Slovenia, Ljubljana Old Town. The old city center spans three squares – Mestni trg, Stari trg, and Gornji trg.
You can spend hours and hours wandering through Cankarjevo nabrežje (waterfront pedestrian-only street) dotted with impressive architecture, lovely restaurants, cozy cafes, and bars, and many top tourist attractions and still not get bored or tired.
I just loved the relaxed and laid-back aura of the historical quarter. It looks enchanting at night all lit up.
Mestni Trg or Town Square is defined by the Town Hall (Magistrat or Mestna hiša), a 15th-century building that houses the government of Ljubljana. You can join an hour-long guided tour of Town Hall conducted every Saturday at about 1 pm.
The Francesco Robba’s Fountain of Three Carniolan Rivers in front of the Town Hall graces the square.
Other attractions worth-seeing at Mestni trg include Gustav Mahler’s statue, Souvan House, Drofenig House, City Art Gallery, and Lichtenberg House.
Stari trg with its Baroque buildings is the first settled part of old Ljubljana. Schweiger House and Hercules Fountain are worth-stopping attractions at Stari trg.
Gornji trg (Upper square), once a site of one of the medieval town gates is distinguished by the Church of St. Florian.
Other notable attractions in the Old Town are Church of St. James and Gruber Palace or Mansion at Levstikov trg, Šentjakob Bridge (St. James Bridge), Saturday Art Market and Zois Palace at Breg embankment, and Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts and National and University Library at Novi trg.
Trg Francoske Revolucije and Vegova Ulica
Križanke Summer Theater, Auersperg Palace that houses the City Museum of Ljubljana, and the Illyrian pillar dominate the Trg francoske revolucije or French Revolution Square.
Vegova Ulica’s (Vega Street) strategic location at a point where medieval town wall and town wall of the Roman city of Emona blends makes it historically and archeologically significant. The street runs from the Congress Square to the Roman Road junction and the French Revolution Square.
Indulge in Activities on Ljubljanica River
You can cruise the Ljubljanica River and admire the city through its waters in a way you want to.
- On a guided or self-guided boat tour
- By renting a kayak
- By renting a paddleboard
Bridges of Ljubljana
A picturesque Ljubljanica River is adorned with a group of three bridges side by side called Triple Bridge or Tromostovje that connects the old town with the new town.
The most famous and the most photographed of all Ljubljana’s bridges, Dragon Bridge or Zmajski Most is embellished with four raging dragon statues.
A not so famous of all Ljubljana’s bridges, Butcher’s Bridge.
It’s called Butcher’s Bridge as it stands on the former butchers’ booth site. Jakov Brdar’s (Slovenian sculptor) creepy sculptures on and around the bridge narrate the story of the past.
It’s Ironically is also called Ljubljana’s Lover’s Bridge. Lovers have attached love padlocks etched with their names along the parapet. Conflicting?
Cobbler’s Bridge at the point where Mestni trg and Stari trg blends, was designed by Jože Plečnik. It has been named after cobblers’ workshops that occupied the bridge in the past.
Located where the Gradaščica channel drains into Ljubljanica river, this bridge is special with a quite a dynamic history.
Constructed in 1867, Hradecky was originally located where the Cobbler’s Bridge is located now.
It’s one of the very first hinged bridges in the world. Also, it’s the first and only preserved cast-iron bridge in Slovenia.
This 17th-century bridge connects the oldest Ljubljana suburbs of Trnovo and Krakovo and was built as a part of Jože Plečnik’s Gradaščica channel embankment renovation project.
Admire the Ljubljana’s Art Nouveau Architecture
Vurnik House or Cooperative Business Bank (Vurnikova hiša) at Miklošičeva cesta, Urbanc House (Urbančeva hiša), Hauptman House (Hauptmanova hiša) at the Preseren Square are some of the finest Art Noveau buildings in Ljubljana.
The largest square in Ljubljana, Trg Republika Square features important buildings – Slovenian Parliament, Monument of Revolution, Cankarjev dom (Congress Center), Ljubljanska Bank, and TR3 Business Tower.
Its huge central area holds mass gatherings. It’s where Independence of Slovenia was declared in the year 1991.
We started our Ljubljana exploration from Kongresni Trg Square after parking our car at Congress Garage.
The square is colossal with a beautiful park, Zvezda where stands the replica of Emonian, a gilded bronze Roman statue excavated during the construction of Kazina, a neoclassical building.
Congress Square also boasts exceptional examples of Baroque architecture; Ursulina’s Monastery and Church of the Holy Trinity.
The other distinguished buildings that call the square their home are University of Ljubljana, Slovenian Philharmonic, and Slovenian National Drama Theatre of Ljubljana.
Perched on a hill above the city, Ljubljana Castle is Ljubljana’s most distinguished landmark. It adds oomph to the city’s skyline.
The castle’s Outlook Tower (Watch Tower) offers stunning views over Ljubljana.
The permanent exhibitions; Slovenian History (showcases the history of Slovenia) and the Puppet Museum ( tells the history and techniques of puppeteering) are worth a stop.
You can take one of the walking paths leading to the castle if walking is what you love! Or can take a quick funicular ride to the castle. You can choose to take a guided or non-guided tour.
Kids don’t like touring the castle with an audio guide? I know. Escape Castle is for those little curious darlings. It’s a thrilling adventure where kids can learn history with fun. They have to solve five knight riddles placed at different locations inside the castle walls in an hour and save the dragon.
Ljubljana Castle and Funicular are open daily.
- January, February, March, November: 10 am – 8 pm; April, May, October: 9 am – 9 pm; June to September: 9 am – 11 pm; December: 10 am – 10 pm
- €10 per adult (castle only); €13 per adult (castle and funicular)
- €7 per child aged 7 to 18 years, students and senior citizens(castle only); €9 per child aged 7 to 18 years, students and senior citizens (castle and funicular)
- €24 (castle only); €31 (castle and funicular) per family (2 adults + one child)
- €4 funicular round trip
Nebotičnik – Skyscraper
Nebotični Skyscraper’s rooftop terrace affords beautiful views over Ljubljana.
You can climb it for free to enjoy the views or can also enjoy a cup of coffee and snacks with the panoramic views at Nebotičnik Cafe.
Located between the squares of Vodnikov trg and Pogačarnev trg is Central Market of Ljubljana that includes an open-air market and indoor market aka Plečnik’s Covered Market.
The open-air market has stalls that sell fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers and a covered market along the river is lined with small food shops selling Slovenian specialties.
Cathedral of St. Nicholas
One side of the Outdoor Central market area at Dolničarjeva ulica is bordered by the Cathedral of St. Nicholas, a Baroque church with charming frescoes adorning its interiors.
The Cathedral’s main entrance door sculptural relief narrates the history of Christianity in Slovenia and the side entrance door relief depicts 20th-century Bishops of Ljubliana.
Seminary Palace and Library
Just next to the Cathedral of St. Nicholas is the very first public library in Slovenia. It’s a treasure for books and library lovers.
You can book a private guided tour by emailing the tourist center in advance like a day or two before the visit. It’s not open to the public to walk in without the tourist center’s permission.
Entrance Fee: €2
Experience the Green Ljubljana
You can’t leave the European Green Capital before you see its green soul. Can you?
Tivoli Park is the largest and most beautiful open green space right in the city center! You can walk Tivoli’s Jakopič Promenade and many beautiful paths and recreational trails along the length of Tivoli Park to reach the Rožnik hill.
Ljubljana Botanic Garden, one of the oldest still active botanic gardens in Europe contains over 4,500 vegetal species.
Former abandoned army barracks restored by volunteers, Metelkova has developed into an alternative art and culture center where you can see Ljubljana’s best graffiti art.
It’s just 10 minutes walk across the river from the old town.
Museum Quartier on Metelkova street houses The Museum of Contemporary Art, National Museum of Slovenia-Metelkova, and The Slovenian Ethnographic Museum.
Its many nightclubs and bars make it a great place for college students and artists.
But for me, as we strolled through the graffiti painted streets, I was reminded of Copenhagen’s Freetown Christiana. I experienced the same creepy feeling.
Museums are a great way to learn while having fun. Plus, they offer a great respite from the summer sun and chilly winter.
Ljubljana has a good number of national, historical, and art museums.
The Slovenian Museum of Natural History, House of Experiments, and City Museum of Ljubljana (MGLM) are the best museums to visit with kids.
If you’re an art connoisseur like me, you’d appreciate the National Gallery, the Museum of Modern Art, and the International Centre of Graphic Arts.
The Union Beer Experience
Tour of Pivovarna Union Brewery includes a visit to the brewery’s production line and the Brewery Museum and a beer tasting.
€14 per adult; €7 per child aged 6 to 18 years
Monday to Friday at 12 pm, 2 pm, 4 pm, and 6 pm; Saturdays at 2 pm, 4 pm, and 6 pm; Sundays and holidays closed
Note The tours start at Union Pub and Bar run by Pivovarna Union brewery.
Walk Krakovo and Trnovo Suburbs
Ljubljana’s oldest suburbs – Krakovo, and Trnovo outside the old town attract travelers for their rustic charm.
You can see the remains of the Roman city of Emona (Roman Wall and the Emona House of Archeological Park), Trnovo Church, Trnovo Bridge, Plečnik House while strolling the suburbs.
Or can just take a relaxing walk along the beautiful Krakovski nasip and Trnovski priston promenades.
Shop at Matija Čop’s street (Čopova ulica)
One of the most famous and the busiest street in Ljubljana, Copova is brimming with beautiful cafes, restaurants, hostels, hotels, high-end shops, shopping centers, and chocolate shops.
Youll find a number of street artists displaying their art as you stroll along the length of Copova Street.
Have you ever been to Ljubljana? How did you like it? We’d love to hear from you.
Or Are you planning a trip to Ljubljana? Hope our guide to Ljubljana helps you plan a great trip. If you have any questions, let us know in the comments section below. We’ll be happy to help.
Also, I’d be obliged if you could take five minutes of your time to share this post with the world if it helped you in any way.
Europe posts on our blog that might help you:
- Vintgar Gorge, Slovenia
- Lake Bled, Slovenia
- Kranj, Slovenia
- Bratislava, Slovakia
- Vienna, Austria
- Wachau Valley, Austria
- Hallstatt, Austria
- Salzburg, Austria
- Driving the Epic Grossglockner Hochalpenstrasse
- Undredal – a Fjord Village in Aurland, Norway
- Oslo, Norway
- Finnish Lapland in Summer
- Copenhagen, Denmark
- Dragør, Denmark
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