This capital and largest city of Slovenia is exuding both the sophistication of a large metropolis and the charm of a small town. Its name derives from the word ‘’ljubljena’’ meaning ‘’loved’’ which is not a surprise since it is beloved both by its citizens and visitors alike. Also, Ljubljana happens to be one of the Europe’s greenest capitals receiving the title Green Capital of Europe for 2016. Famous sights, culinary delights, rich cultural scene… let’s get to know this unique city which merges German, Slovenian and Mediterranean culture!
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Getting to Ljubljana
By Plane: The Ljubljana Airport is located 26 km away from the Ljubljana center, and getting to and from it is quite easy with several ways of transport on offer. Depending on your budget, you can choose between the public bus (4 €), which is a slower option that takes around 30 minutes, and a taxi (30-35 €) if you prefer a faster and a more cosy ride.
By Train: Ljubljana Railway Station may be small but it is very well connected with many big European cities such as Trieste, Frankfurt, Munich, Prague, Vienna, Budapest etc. Besides the international routes, Slovenian railway also has a good intercity connection with the affordable prices. There is an option of storing your luggage at the station, and since it is located in the city center, it can be a great starting point. Check the possible routes here.
By Bus: The main bus station in Ljubljana is located near the railway station so you can reach the center in a few minutes. Here you also have an option of storing your luggage at the station. As in case of the railway, Ljubljana Bus Station offers up to 1400 destinations across the Europe, with more than 100 different companies. Check the possible routes here.
The public transport in Ljubljana is operated by Ljubljanski potniški promet d.o.o. (LPP) which covers the entire City Municipality of Ljubljana and 16 suburban municipalities. Although Ljubljana had an era of tram and trolleybus system, today the transport is operated by buses only. The transport network in Ljubljana is dense and wide with the total of 42 bus lines. If you plan on using it, you will need to buy Urbana card for a one-time fee of 2 € which you can get at tourist information center, street kiosks and post offices. The journey costs 1,20 € and allows you to change as many buses as you need within 90 minutes.
Since Ljubljana is not a big European city, you can easily explore all of its corners. This charming city has a variety of cultures from different periods in history which reflects in its architecture, and we are going to name just a few of the places you shouldn’t miss.
Preseren Square (Prešernov trg)
This is the main square in Ljubljana and it is dedicated to its greatest poet, Franc Prešern, with his statue in the middle of the square. It is a place from where you can see the magnificent secession buildings surrounding it. All of the main events are happening here and it serves as the main meeting point for both locals and visitors. Meet the locals, watch them stroll by or simply use this place as a perfect start to explore the city.
Dragon Bridge (Zmajski most)
This is Ljubljana’s trademark and one of the best known sights, and if you haven’t taken a selfie with one of the four green dragons, you can hardly claim that you have visited Ljubljana. The bridge dates back to 1901, built for the Emperor Franc Jozef, and it carries an interesting legend: if a virgin crosses it, the dragon is said to wave its tail.
This green heart of Ljubljana is one of its largest and most beautiful parks. It stretches right into the city center and has various facilities such as playgrounds, ponds, fountains, exhibitions, mansions etc. Take a break, go for a walk or simply relax in this beautiful green area.
60 meters above the Old Town, on a small hill, another symbol of the city is placed. This Ljubljana’s main attraction is 900 years old and it has served as military housing and a royal residence for several centuries. Today, it is a beautiful oasis where you can relax or go for a walk, but also visit the exhibition of a Slovenian history that takes you back 200,000 years in history. The castle’s Outlook Tower offers one of the best views on the city and its surrounding areas, and the Puppet Museum introduces you to the history of puppeteering in Slovenia.
For all the alternative souls, this is a place to go! Metelkova Mesto is an alternative cultural center that developed from a squat in the former army barracks. The history of this place goes back to 1993 becoming a thriving place for all the creative spirits. It is definitely a place with huge variety of different artistic events and practices and offers many bars and clubs that perform concerts and music of underground artists. Besides the nightlife, the daily program offers exhibitions, art performances and countless other events.
This city has some real geographical diversity which is why it offers you numerous types of activities. Ljubljana has an outstanding number of nice green areas, marked cycling lanes and playgrounds that make hiking, jogging or cycling a great experience. Regarding the cycling lanes, Ljubljana is constantly expanding the cycling web ranking itself among one of the most cycling-friendly cities. The are 3 main cycling routes: the River route, Plečnik’s route and The Forest route. The Path of Remembrance and Comradeship, a path long 33 kilometers, is considered a monument and follows the route of the barbed wire that surrounded the city during the WW2 occupation, and it can be a perfect hiking or a cycling route.
The city also has some very well maintained parks and gardens where you can find an outdoor exhibitions but also enjoy their beauty anytime. Try not to miss one of the most famous ones, Volčji Potok Arboretum with 3500 species of trees, flowers and other plants, and Ljubljana Botanic Garden with 4500 vegetal species.
Fishing enthusiast can find excellent opportunities for freshwater fishing while enjoying the amazing nature. Although a small city, Ljubljana has a huge number of springs, rivers, waterfalls and gorges, and over 20 freshwater fish species such as huchen, chub, brown trout etc. The best destination for fishing is probably the river Ljubljanica which flows through the city but you can find numerous spots suitable for fishing.
For all the adventurous types, Ljubljana offers various adrenalin sports and the largest number of them such as flights in hot-air balloons and hovercraft rides can be found in Krvavec Summer Park. Besides that, this is one of the most popular destinations for white water sports including rafting, kayaking, canyoning etc. In Ljubljana, you can find a lot of tourist farms which offer horse riding, many golf clubs and more.
If you are arriving in the winter time, remember that Slovenia is famous for its winter sports. Most of the ski resorts are located near Ljubljana so it can be a perfect base for a day trip. The closest ski resort is Krvavec with 26 km of ski runs but there are also the other great ones such as Kranjska Gora, Vogel and Cerkno.
As it is diverse in cultural sense, Ljubljana is also diverse when it comes to food. There you can find both international and traditional cuisine which can, doubtlessly, satisfy everyone. If you want to treat yourself and your travel partner with some fine dining you can head to Restauracija Cubo which offers Mediterranean cuisine with fine seafood specialties; Valvas’or with the 16th-century Ljubljana atmosphere and modern European cuisine menu or Spajza, romantic place with a lovely courtyard and an extensive menu of high-class cuisine.
If you want to taste the traditional Slovenian food, go to Manna which is set in a beautiful street in a colorful house and offers a menu based on organic and healthy food. Gostilna na Gradu is also a famous place which serves dishes using Slovenian products and old-age recipes only. Also, Druga Violina is another great place to try the traditional food with affordable prices, located right in the center of Ljubljana.
Whether Slovenia is a part of the Balkans or not, it definitely values its delicious food. For the true Balkan experience go to Gostilna Čad which serves southern Slav-style grills or Das Ist Valter, a place with one of the best street foods from the ex-Yugoslavian area.
If you would like to try some of the international places in Ljubljana, definitely try Gostilna Dela, lovely little bistro with delicious home-style cuisine. Skuhna is a unique place where chefs from diverse countries such as Sri Lanka, Tunisia and Colombia take turns cooking everyday and serve the most authentic meals you can try. Julija is also a place worth visiting if you’re a fan of risottos and pastas, because this place serves one of the best in town.
For all those looking for a vegan-friendly restaurant, Ljubljana won’t be disappointing. Bazilika Bistro is a place with a really nice selection of healthy food and Organic Garden is a healthy fast food which offers vegan burgers at reasonable prices.
If you’re looking for a fun and entertainment while staying in Ljubljana, we will point out just a few places where you can go because this city offers so much when it comes to nightlife. One of the most popular places to go is Postaja Centralna (Central Station), and as the name reveals it, it can be a good start of the night. It is a classy cocktail bar but with street art-tags on the wall and neon lights. Daktari is another interesting place, located at the funicular railway to the Castle. Its name means ‘doctor’ in Swahili and its interior is amazing, retro-distressed with shelves full of books and a piano playing in the corner. If you enjoy live music, jam sessions, cabaret and other similar cultural events, this is a place for you. If you want a cafe, a bar, enjoy the live music or a comic-book shop, Pritličje is the place which has it all. It is located in the center of Ljubljana and offers various nightly events. If looking for an authentic bar go to Slovenska Hiša which serves cocktails, meat and cheese plates using Slovenian products only. To experience big crowd and good vibes go to a popular Cirkus club, and if you’re a rock fan, Klub K4 won’t disappoint you.
But if this is all too mainstream for you, head to Metelkova Mesto, the unique alternative place in Ljubljana. This place comes to life after 11 pm when numerous clubs open their doors for partying until daylight. It is the center of independent artistic activity and that is why this place attracts large crowds with its concerts of underground music, DJ nights, LGBTQ clubs and reasonable prices.
In Ljubljana, you can find a lot of shopping streets which you can explore in the old-fashioned way, just by strolling them, but also shopping centers where you can find anything you want in one place. For the first option, explore the city center, Mestni and Stari Trg, Turbarjeva, Wolfova and Miklošičeva streets. Besides the popular brands, there you can find a lot of local brands and unusual little boutiques. You can also do some shopping at the Central Market where you can find fresh fruits and vegetables, bread, cheese, herbs, or an occasional outdoor fairs which offer anything from original art and designer items to traditional arts and crafts, books and souvenirs.
For the typical western shopping you can head to Ljubljana’s largest city center BTC City which, apart from a huge number of various shops, includes a water park, relaxation center, a leisure center, a multiplex cinema and a large number of cafes and restaurants.
In Slovenia, Euro is the official currency since 2007, for both cash and non-cash transactions. The city is full of ATMs and the withdrawal is possible mainly with MasterCard and Visa.
To exchange the money, look for ’Menjalnica’ or ‘Exchange’ but you can also do it in a few travel agencies for free, in post offices (Posta), hotel reception desks, larger supermarkets or banks.
Banks are open 09:00-12:00 and 14:00-17:00 on weekdays (some of them even on Saturdays). Have in mind that during the Sundays everything is closed.
As in other European cities, finding a free parking lot is almost impossible or you have to know the city very well. Anyway, there are streets where you can park by the side for which you have to pay a fee from 07:00 to 18:00 on weekdays and till 15:00 on Saturdays. Still, make sure you always check the sign of every parkomat once you park your car because the prices are not the same in all parts of the city. However, the parking on Sundays and holidays is free. For the parkomats, always make sure you have the exact amount of money needed to be paid since no change is given. Have in mind that, if you park on a surface which is not intended for parking, your car can be removed or your wheels can be clamped. Also, we recommend not to keep your valuables inside of your car, although Ljubljana is a very safe city.
Slovenia country code: 386
- European emergency number (includes Ambulance and Fire Brigades): 112
- National emergency number (Police): 113
- Road emergency or towing: 1987
Ljubljana Tourist Information Center (TIC): Adamič-Lundrovo nabrežje 2