Ljubljana is one of the continent’s most relaxing and liveable cities. With a car-free city center, a tranquil tree and café-lined river, beautiful architecture, thriving nightlife and carefully manicured parks and gardens, it’s no surprise that Slovenia’s capital city has become one of Europe’s must-visit destinations. There are in fact many things to do in Ljubljana.
And when you consider that it’s just a short ride train ride away from endless natural beauty and several other European capitals, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t add this remarkable little city to your next rail adventure.
1. Walk the pedestrianised city centre
The pedestrianised city centre is one of Europe’s most beautiful. Take at least one morning to walk or cycle the tranquil city streets and explore Ljubljana’s best architecture and famous bridges. Be sure to walk the narrow lanes and alleyways, visit the two main squares, and walk across at least one of the four famous bridges located almost adjacent to one another in the old town.
Insider tip: Ljubljana is the perfect city to explore on a walking tour, and many are led by passionate historians and lecturers who will shed new light on this intriguing city.
2. Explore Ljubljana Castle
Ljubljana Castle sits high on a hill overlooking the city. From the moment you spot it, you’ll find it difficult to resist a walk to this picturesque building. A funicular railway will take you the top if you’re not up for the physical exertion, but the views and scenery that unfold before you as you ascend on foot make the steep walk surprisingly pleasant. Once at the castle, you’ll need to pay if you want to enter tower, but most other attractions are free. You can explore the courtyard, chapel, and gift shop at your leisure for no cost.
Insider tip: The views from the tower are spectacular and worth the price of admission. Go on a clear day for the best mountain and river views.
3. Savour several local delicacies in one place at Open Kitchen
Slovenia has a range of unique local delicacies. There are few better places to sample them than at Ljubljana’s Open Kitchen. Every Friday from mid-March to October, Slovenia’s top chefs take their food outdoors to the Central Market. You can meet the chefs in person and watch them prepare your meal before your eyes.
Insider tip: Use the opportunity to sample traditional Slovene dishes like Štruklji and Prekmurska gibanica – you won’t regret it!
4. Lake Bled
Just a short bus trip away is the iconic destination of Lake Bled. The natural beauty that surrounds Lake Bled is unsurpassed. You can expect snow-capped mountains, deep green forests, and an emerald green lake dotted with traditional rowboats. You’ll be able to explore the castle and walk part or all the way around the lake for the best photographs. You can even row to the island in the middle, and still return to Ljubljana in time for dinner.
Insider tip: If you’re planning on rowing to the island in the middle of Lake Bled – and why wouldn’t you? – take a walk to the other side of the lake. The banks are closer to the island, and the boats are often cheaper than those on the more populated side of Bled.
5. Tivoli Park
On the other side of town, towards the west of the city, is Tivoli Park – Ljubljana’s main green space. It’s perfect for soaking up the sun, relaxing on a park bench, or just enjoying nature on a tranquil walk. There’s a playground and several paths, and you can even take a short hike in the woods to the top of Rožnik hill. It offers pleasant views of the city and surrounds.
Insider tip: The park is popular throughout the week, but it generally gets busier over the weekend as locals look to relax outdoors.
6. Metelkova City
Metelkova City may feel like the gritty underbelly of Ljubljana. This self-declared autonomous region of the city is one of the most intriguing places to explore, particularly at night. Artists, creatives, and revelers of all types have turned a series of abandoned military barracks and buildings into an enticing collection of bars and nightclubs. Drinks are cheap and the setting informal. So whether you’re looking for a full club experience, or just a few cold beers among an eclectic mix of partiers, Metelkova will leave you satisfied. It’s a short walk from the main train station. There’s also a hostel located in the heart of the district.
Insider tip: If you’re looking to experience Metelkova in all its glory, visit on Friday or Saturday evening when it’s at its busiest and most vibrant.
Ljubljana’s charm is difficult to define but easy to appreciate. Many travellers to this small capital city end up staying far longer than intended. But when you consider the many things to do in Ljubljana its surrounds, this should hardly be a concern.