Ljubljana is a place that many people may have never thought about visiting. Most people don’t even know where Slovenia is! I felt a need to visit Slovenia because it is where a part of my ancestry comes from. Two of my great-great grandparents were Slovenian and emigrated to the United States before the First World War. I’ve always loved getting back in touch with my roots, and while my connection to Slovenia is much more distant than my connection to other Western European countries, it exists nonetheless. This small piece of my heritage is what called me to visit this beautiful Central European country!
Slovenia is a beautiful country, and in the winter it is even prettier. Visiting Ljubljana during the winter literally feels like visiting Narnia. I visited in the middle of a snowy week, and the streets, trees, bridges, and buildings were all lightly powdered in snow. It literally felt like an imaginary fairytale land, and the local Christmas spirit only enhanced that further. In fact, I ranked Ljubljana as one of the the best places to visit in winter.
Like I will mention later, Ljubljana is great all year round – not just in winter. This post will outline everything you need to know to plan the perfect trip to Ljubljana, Slovenia.
Slovenia is located to the northeast of Italy, and Ljubljana is just a few hours away from Venice by bus. As Slovenia’s capital city, Ljubljana always has fun things going on and is extremely friendly to foreigners. You can expect great holiday markets, fantastic restaurants, beautiful buildings lining the streets, and a very rustic feel. On top of that, the city has a big castle on a mountain overlooking everything below and tons of gorgeous bridges covering the river that flows through the heart of town. Ljubljana is actually somewhere I am dying to go back to soon.
This post contains affiliate links through which we may earn a commission at no additional cost to you. I only recommend products I would use myself and all opinions expressed here are my own.
How to Pronounce Ljubljana
Slovenian is a Slavic language, and Slavic languages are often hard to read for native English speakers. Ljubljana is the perfect example of that! If you’re having trouble pronouncing this city’s name, don’t worry – it’s actually not that hard. In Slovenian, the letter j makes the same sound as an i in English.
Best Things to Do in Ljubljana
For a capital city, Ljubljana is strikingly small. This city has a population of just over a quarter million people! Ljubljana feels remarkably small and quaint, giving it a very unique charm. While it is small, it is still packed with a surprisingly vast amount of things to do. Here is my list of the best things to do in Ljubljana.
1. Trek to the Ljubljana Castle
The Ljubljana Castle sits high above the rest of the city on a large hill. While it was used to defend the city hundreds of years ago, the castle has an entirely different set of functions now. Instead of acting as a fortress, the Ljubljana Castle now hosts a restaurant, a cafe, an escape room, a night club, and more! The wide array of things to do certainly makes the Ljubljana Castle one of the best things to do in Ljubljana, and I highly recommend visiting. You can either hike up by foot or you can take the cable car. If you want to do the escape room, be sure to buy tickets in advance here as it can sell out in advance.
2. Walk Across the Triple Bridge to Preseren Square
Ljubljana is known for having some really beautiful bridges, and the most iconic of them all is the Triple Bridge. The Triple Bridge is actually a set of three bridges right next to one another all crossing the main river that flows through Ljubljana. These bridges date back from 100 to 170 years ago, and are beautifully and ornately decorated.
At the north end of the bridge is the Preseren Square, which is the main square of Ljubljana. For more bridge excitement, cross the bridge to the south (away from Preseren Square) and turn east. You will pass by two of the city’s other most iconic bridges – first the Butcher’s Bridge, and then the Dragon Bridge.
3. Explore the Stunning Historic City Center
Ljubljana’s bridges are great, but the city has a lot more to offer! There is no better place to start than at Preseren Square. Here you can enter the city’s iconic pink Franciscan Church of the Annunciation. From there, I recommend walking south across the Triple Bridge and turning east toward the Dragon Bridge, where you will find the Central Market. Here you can try a bunch of fresh food and produce. I also recommend heading to the Cankarjevo Nebrezje, which is a pedestrian street jam-packed with restaurants, shops, and cafes.
4. Grab a Bite to Eat at Gostilna Sokol
In my opinion, the best place to eat in Ljubljana is Gostilna Sokol, which is located right downtown. I had a fantastic venison gulash served in a bread bowl, and I also had a drink of medica, which is a honey alcohol. This restaurant feels kind of like an old cabin, and it was a really nifty place to eat at. If you’re in Ljubljana, I highly recommend grabbing a bite to eat here. It feels incredibly rustic, and the food is fantastic!
For a small city, Ljubljana has some museums that really pack a punch. There’s the National Gallery of Slovenia with European works dating back to the Medieval Era. There’s the National Museum of Slovenia, devoted to Slovenian history and culture. Building on that is the National Museum of Contemporary History, which focuses directly on Slovenia’s history in the 20th century, which was quite the interesting time in the country. There is also the Museum of Illusions, which is dedicated to some crazy optical illusions. There are more than just these four, but these are the ones I recommend visiting the most. You won’t regret a trip to any of them!
How to Get to Ljubljana
Ljubljana has its own international airport, and the most convenient way to arrive in Ljubljana by air is to fly right to Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport (LJU). This may not always be practical, though, as it is a pretty small airport and there may not be a ton of affordable or convenient flight options into the city.
If you can find a route that suits you into Ljubljana, by all means go for it! If not, there are a couple of other options. Zagreb, Croatia is less than two hours away from Ljubljana and operates a much bigger international airport. You have a better chance of finding flights with less connections and better prices into Zagreb (ZAG) than you do into Ljubljana. Another decent option is to fly into Venice, Italy (VCE), which is less than 3 hours away to the west. There are direct buses from each city that can get you to Ljubljana in a reasonable amount of time. I mentioned in my guide to finding cheap flights that utilizing hub airports is often the best way to find great flight routes and airfare. Neither of these airports are hubs, unfortunately, but they are both much bigger than Ljubljana’s airport and probably will offer you more options.
The best way to get from the airport to your hotel in Ljubljana is by booking a private transfer with our partners at Welcome Pickups.
Welcome Pickups offers personalized, private, comfortable rides from the airport into the city for about the same price as a standard taxi. They monitor your flight status while you are in the air, and a driver will be waiting for you holding a sign with your name on it as soon as you arrive.
If you are coming from somewhere nearby, like Austria, Italy, Croatia, or Hungary, you might be better off taking a bus or train than a flight. With where Ljubljana is located, there are very few places where a bus or train would be a better idea than flying. Unless you are in Zagreb, Venice, Trieste, or Graz, you are probably better off flying. If you want to take a bus, I highly recommend Flixbus. We actually took a Flixbus from Trieste, Italy, to Ljubljana and were very pleased with the service!
How to Get Around Ljubljana
BY FOOT | TAXI |
Ljubljana is much smaller than many of the European cities you may fantasize about visiting, which in many ways is an advantage. Ljubljana can be explored mostly on foot. In fact, having a car in Ljubljana would be pretty much useless unless you want to go on a day trip to another part of Slovenia. Getting between all of the cool and interesting parts of Ljubljana is absolutely doable on foot, and you can simply take a taxi if you ever feel like a walk is going to be too far. There is no public transportation other than buses.
How Many Days Do You Need in Ljubljana?
Due to its size, Ljubljana can be explored in a day. If a day is all you can afford to spend in Ljubljana, you’ll be able to check out most of the city’s main attractions. I recommend adding a second or third day to your itinerary, though, because it will give you more time to really enjoy the city and get to know its culture and history. Don’t just pass through! This city is extremely charming and grows on you the longer that you stay.
When Is the Best Time of the Year to Visit Ljubljana?
I personally do not think that there’s a bad time to visit Ljubljana. While the weather in the winter is not the best, Ljubljana feels like an absolute winter wonderland if you visit while there is snow on the ground. If you can tolerate the cold, I think the winter is a great time to visit.
Typically, though, people don’t want to travel to cold places. If that is the case with you, I recommend visiting in either the spring or the fall. Hotel prices are all lower during the shoulder seasons and the crowds are a good bit smaller. The weather is comfortable enough to explore without the threat of cold.
The summer in Ljubljana offers the best weather, but it comes with the highest prices and the biggest crowds. If weather is your most important criteria, then definitely visit in the summer. If you want the most local, authentic experience and the best value, consider heading to Ljubljana in the spring or fall.
Is Ljubljana Worth Visiting?
After reading this post, I hope the answer to the question “is Ljubljana worth visiting?” is clear to you! Ljubljana is one of my favorite cities on the planet due to its local, quaint feel. I have always been partial to smaller, walkable cities, and Ljubljana is the perfect example of that.
If you are in the area, or if you are looking to explore a new part of Europe that is much less frequented by tourists, Ljubljana is a fantastic place to go. I recommended heading to other parts of Slovenia, too – especially Lake Bled.
That’s all we have for you about Ljubljana! I hope this post accomplished its goal of answering the question “Is Ljubljana worth visiting?” If you have any more questions, be sure to drop a comment in the comment section or shoot us an email with the email icon link below.
If you’re planning a trip to Ljubljana, let us know! We’d love to chat ahead of time and answer any questions you have. Otherwise, have a wonderful day and stay present!