Things to Do in Ljubljana
Ljubljana, the capital city of Slovenia, is one of the most charming cities in all of Europe, and is filled with museums, theatre, historic sites, and many other attractions.
Arguably the best part of town to spend a day in, Ljubljana's Old Town is filled with churches and buildings dating all the way back to medieval times. The old world charm continues in Ljubljana Castle, whose tower provides a magnificent view of the city.
At the city center lies Prešeren Square, which features the famous statue of Slovene national poet France Prešeren. Right off of the square is Cop Street, one of the main shopping streets in the city.
For history buffs, the Square of the Republic and the Roman ruins are a must, as well as the turn of the century Dragon Bridge. Subculture thrives in Metelkova, a section of the city autonomously declared as an alternative gathering place for artists and other youths, and is replete with bars and nightlife.
For the young at heart, take in the Ljubljana Zoo and the Water City of Atlantis Water Park, as well as Tivoli Park. Museums of all kinds are the main attractions of the city, including the Architecture Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, the National Gallery, the National Museum, the Slovenian Museum of Natural History, and many more.
Between Ljubljana’s medieval hilltop castle and the Ljubljanica River lie the narrow cobblestone streets and charming pastel-colored buildings of Old Town. The neighborhood’s impressive architecture, picturesque bridges, riverfront walkways, and heaps of cafés and bars with terrace seating help make Ljubljana a true jewel of Central Europe.
Since 2006, the Ljubljana Castle Funicular has been transporting passengers between the city center in Slovenia’s capital and Ljubljana Castle, perched on top of Castle Hill. Featuring a modern design, the glass-enclosed cable railway also offers spectacular views over Ljubljana, as well as the ruins of a medieval defensive wall.
One of Ljubljana’s most recognizable landmarks, the Triple Bridge over Ljubljanica River connects the city’s historic center with the popular meeting point, Prešeren Plaza. The bridge’s three interconnected pedestrian-only pathways are the inspired masterwork of Slovene architect Jože Ple?nik and stand among his many humanist architectural gems in the city.
Spanning the Ljubljanica River in the heart of Old Town Ljubljana, the Dragon Bridge is one of the most popular landmarks in the city. Four menacing bronze dragons guard the bridge, two at each end, with 16 smaller dragons adorning its span. These mythical beasts are symbolic of the city’s founding and have become the emblem of Ljubljana.
Located at the foot of the iconic Triple Bridge over Ljubljanica River—and dedicated to beloved national poet France Prešeren—Prešeren Square is one of Ljubljana’s most famous public spaces. Perched by the riverside, the square is connected to many of the city’s main thoroughfares, making it the perfect spot from which to explore the city.
Challenge your mind and test the limits of your perception at Ljubljana’s immersive Museum of Illusions. The museum—which features a series of interactive exhibits, mind-bending optical illusions, stereograms, and holograms—provides an entertaining and educational experience for all ages.
With pretty landscaped gardens, shaded woodlands, and peaceful walkways, Tivoli Park is Ljubljana's most popular green space. The 2-square-mile (5-square-kilometer) expanse features walking and cycling trails, mini golf courses, and playgrounds as well as important cultural institutions such as Tivoli Mansion and the Museum of Contemporary History of Slovenia.
Congress Square (Kongresni trg) is a historically significant Baroque piazza uniting some of the city's most beautiful landmarks and attractions. The peaceful square and the tree-filled Star Park at its center is a popular place to relax like a local, while admiring the iconic Ljubljana Castle at a nearby hilltop.
With its enormous green dome and twin clock towers, the St. Nicholas’ Cathedral (Stolnica Sv. Nikolaja) towers over Ljubljana Old Town and is one of the city’s must-see attractions. The cathedral’s lavish interior is its biggest draw; nearly every inch of the inside is covered in art from the baroque-style frescos and portraits to the magnificent carved altar and bronze doors.
Established in 1774, the National and University Library of Slovenia is one of the country’s most prestigious institutions. The Jože Plečnik-designed building holds some 1.3 million books, 8,700 rare manuscripts, and major collections of Slovenian artifacts and maps, available to view in ornate exhibition rooms.
More Things to Do in Ljubljana
Located in Ljubljana’s cobbled Town Square (or Mestni Trg, the baroque-style Town Hall (or Magistrat was renovated with Venetian inspiration in 1719 by famed Slovenian architect Gregor Maček and houses the city’s mayor and administration. Ljubljana’s Town Hall is a popular landmark for visitors and many walking tours of Ljubljana Old Town set out from here.
Crossing over the Ljubljanica River, the 13th-century Shoemaker’s Bridge connects two major areas of Ljubljana’s historic Baroque center. Redesigned by beloved Slovenian architect Jože Plečnik in 1931, the stone bridge is a popular gathering point for street artists and stallholders when the weather is warm.
Connecting the Petkovšek Embankment to the Central Market, Butchers' Bridge (Mesarski Most) features a slick modern design, with slender glass walkways, steel railings, and avant garde bronze statues by Slovenian sculptor Jakov Brdar. Since its construction in 2010, couples from all over the world attach padlocks on the footbridge to symbolize their eternal love.
In stark contrast to the tidy, postcard-pretty streets of Ljubljana is Metelkova, a funky graffiti-strewn enclave packed with grungy bars, nightclubs, and artist workshops inside the abandoned barracks of the defunct Yugoslav People’s Army. This fiercely anti-establishment, autonomous cultural center hosts rock and punk shows and events promoting human rights.
The Ljubljanica River flows right through the center of Old Town Ljubljana and was once an important trade and supply route. Today, the river embankments are the heart of Ljubljana’s social scene. Lively outdoor cafes and restaurants, street markets, and picturesque buildings line the canals and tourist boats cruise up and down the river.
Located inside a former medieval monastery in Ljubljana’s historic center, Križanke Summer Theatre is one of the city’s most popular spots for prestige musical concerts and theatrical productions. During the warm summer months, live performances are held in the courtyard’s romantic open-air amphitheatre.
Dominating Ljubljana’s skyline to the north, the twin peaks of Grmada and Mount Saint Mary (Smarna Gora are popular outdoor recreation spots for locals and visitors. Mount Saint Mary is the eastern of the two peaks and panoramic views of the Julian Alps and the Ljubljana basin can be enjoyed at the summit where you’ll also find a popular restaurant and an 18th-century baroque church.
Housed in a restored 16th-century Renaissance castle, the Ljubljana Museum of Architecture and Design is one of the city’s most intriguing museums. The museum’s vast collection of design plans and model structures of Slovenia’s most celebrated buildings draw visitors interested in architecture and design. An exhibition of works by celebrated Slovenian architect Jože Ple?nik is the museum highlight.
Perched on top of Castle Hill overlooking Slovenia’s capital city, the mighty medieval Ljubljana Castle (Ljubljanski Grad) dates back to the 11th century. This well-preserved fortress is visible from most everywhere in town and is a must-see for unbeatable views of the city. Tour the castle’s Museum of Slovene History for a fascinating introduction to Slovenia’s past.
Formed by the Reka River, which still flows through this underground canyon, the Škocjan cave system is a 4-mile (6-kilometer) network of interconnected caves and one of Slovenia’s most impressive natural attractions. The UNESCO World Heritage Site includes cavernous chambers, pools, sinkholes, and jumbo-size stalactites and stalagmites.
Named after the Slovene writer and political activist Ivan Cankar, the Cankar Centre (Cankarjev Dom) is Ljulbjana’s arts and cultural hub. Designed by postmodernist Slovene architect Edvard Ravnikar, this vast complex features several performance venues and hosts hundreds of annual events such as the Ljubljana Jazz Festival and the Ljubljana International Film Festival as well as numerous conferences and other cultural events.