Ljubljana: The Top 20 Attractions - Global Storybook

Ljubljana: The Top 20 Attractions

Matjaz Drobne

Matjaz Drobne

Matjaz Drobne is the Local Contributing Writer at Global Storybook (Slovenia).

Matjaz is a translator from Slovenia who enjoys traveling, writing, reading, and watching movies. He believes that a person's character grows and becomes richer by meeting new people and discovering new cultures and places.
Matjaz Drobne

Ljubljana – a small, though majestic capital located in the heart of Europe, is a gem waiting to be discovered.  From a number of outstanding museums, charming cobblestone streets, breathtaking architecture and spectacular views, to unlimited scenic hikes in unspoiled nature – there’s always something to explore, see or taste in this alluring city.  Below you will find the top 20 sights to see in Ljubljana, along with some interesting facts.

Ljubljana, Slovenia - Global Storybook1. Ljubljana Castle

Like any medieval town, which was later transformed into a noble European city, the Slovenian capital is full of historic treasures, such as its magnificent castle, located on a prominent hill in the center.  The castle is home to numerous exhibitions held throughout the year, a nice restaurant, some guided tours that will take you back in history, and a cool gift shop.  The castle’s courtyard hosts numerous musical events, as well as an open movie theater, during the Summer.

Undoubtedly, the best feature of the castle is its breathtaking panoramic view, which stretch over the entire city, up to the Kamnik-Savinja Alps.

There are several pathways leading up to the castle.  The one via a paved road is not as steep as others, via cobblestone streets or footpaths.  Each route to the castle requires only 10 to 15 minutes of walking at a normal pace.  If you want to reach the castle faster – use a funicular ride, which only takes about a minute to get to the top.

  • Address: Grajska planota 1
  • Time required: 1 – 3 hours
  • Hours of operation:
    • Castle: January, February, March, and November 10:00am – 6:00pm; April, May, and October 9:00am – 8:00pm; June, July, August in September 9:00am – 9:00pm; December 10:00am – 7:00pm (viewing tower until 9:00pm).
    • Funicular: January, February, March, and November: 10:00am – 8:00pm; April, May, and October: 9:00am – 9:00pm; June, July, August, and September: 9:00am – 11:00pm; December 10:00am – 10:00pm.
  • Price: Funicular €4, Castle € 7-10
  • Official website: https://www.ljubljanskigrad.si/en/the-ljubljana-castle/

2. Tromostovje (The Triple Bridge)

The Triple Bridge is probably the most known and photographed place in all of Ljubljana.  This famous three-bridge construction is the work of an architectural giant, Jože Plečnik, and is a unique feature of Ljubljana.  Along with the monument of France – Prešeren of a famous Slovenian poet, it’s the most popular square in town.  It also acts as symbolic and literal crossroads – a place where numerous locals and tourists mingle peacefully.

Prešernov trg Square, located across the bridge, is also a popular spot for numerous concerts and performances during the Ljubljana Festival in Summer, as well as the festive concerts each December.

  • Address: Stritarjeva ulica
  • Time required: 30 min – 1 hour
  • Hours of operation: 24/7
  • Price: free

3. Tivoli Park

The largest, greenest and probably the most beautiful park in Ljubljana is Tivoli.  It extends for over 503 hectares.   The park has numerous small hills which contribute to the uneven terrain of its meadows, where children (as well as adults for that matter) can run free.  Bike lanes, walking trails, a small forest, as well as a lofty hill named Rožnik (391 m), where city dwellers can go on a lovely hike – are just some of the wonderful attractions of Tivoli park.

Furthermore, this park is not graced with the beauty of nature alone.  In addition to the quaint landscape, you will also be able to find some exquisite examples of old architectural styles.  Taking a walk on the main promenade leading up to a mansion in the middle of the park, will surely have you gasping for air.  There are also some interesting photos exhibited as part of an open-air gallery in front of this sight.

  • Address: between Celovška cesta and Bleiweisova cesta, Cesta 27. aprila
  • Time required: 1 – 3 hours
  • Hours of operation: 24/7
  • Price: free

4. Metelkova

Metelkova Street is a popular, self-proclaimed autonomous ‘city’ located within the Slovenian capital.  A number of former Yugoslavian army barracks were taken over by squatters in the early 1990s, just after Slovenia gained its independence from the former socialist republic.

Nowadays, Metelkova is a popular hangout area for young people and enthusiasts of everything alternative – from music, art, performances to poetry readings.  The area, spanning 12,500 square meters, offers almost everything that a fan of underground music or art can possibly desire.  It is also home to one of the most renowned and talked about hostels in Europe – the Celica hostel.  Visitors can spend a night in one of the old jail cells that were transformed into dorm rooms with bunk beds there – a truly once in a lifetime experience!

5. Ljubljana Zoo

Like almost any major capital in the world – Ljubljana has its own zoo, which extends for over 20 hectares.  The magnificently designed footpaths lead from one extraordinary species to another.  All are perfectly balanced with the astounding nature and some fresh air – courtesy of the nearby forest, which is part of the Rožnik hill, located in the centre of the Tivoli Park.

Enfolded within peaceful surroundings, the zoo offers a perfect nature experience in the middle of the Slovenian capital.  You might not only admire the beautiful animals – you can also take advantage of the numerous special offers, such as becoming a zookeeper for a day, or helping the zookeeper feed the animals, or even enjoying camping in the middle of the wildlife.

  • Address: Večna pot 70
  • Time Required: 3 – 5 hours
  • Hours of operation: January, February, November, and December: 9:00am – 4:30pm; March, October: 9:00am – 5:00 pm; April, September: 9:00am – 6:00pm; May – August: 9:00am – 7:00pm
  • Price: € 8
  • Official website: http://www.zoo-ljubljana.si/

6. Dragon Bridge & Cobblers’ Bridge

Photos speak volumes of Ljubljana truly being a city of bridges.  There are 27 bridges in Ljubljana in total, with more than 10 of them in the city centre alone.  Each of the bridges has its own unique architectural design and features.  Besides Tromostovje (the Triple Bridge), the two most popular tourist attractions are: the Zmajski Most (the Dragon Bridge) and the Čevljarski Most (the Cobblers’ Bridge).

The Dragon Bridge reveals the story of a dragon killed by the first resident of Ljubljana – Jazon, who came to the city with the Argonauts.  The Cobblers’ Bridge dates back to the 1930s, when there were numerous shoemaker shops spread across the bridge.  The amazing design, as well as the gripping sculptures of the bridges can leave almost any visitor mesmerized.

  • Address: Resljeva cesta 2 and river bank Gallusovo nabrežje 1
  • Time required: 30 min
  • Hours of operation: 24/7
  • Price: free

7. National Gallery of Slovenia

The National Gallery of Slovenia, located in the vicinity of the Tivoli Park, is probably the most visited cultural center of the entire country.  If you are a fan of the arts, you are bound to find something to your liking among the numerous exhibitions that are put on display here.  Combining and intertwining the old traditional pieces with the modern art, this museum is a must.  One can also find some interesting experimental installations, using children’s Legos, for example.

  • Address: Prešernova ulica 24
  • Time required: 1 – 2 hours
  • Hours of operation: Tuesday – Sunday: 10:00am – 6:00pm, Thursdays until 8:00pm; December 24th and 31st 10:00am –  3:00pm.  Closed on Mondays, January 1st, May 1st, November 1st, and December 25th
  • Price: € 5 -10
  • Official website: http://www.ng-slo.si/en/

8. The Old City Centre

Although it is rather small – the old city centre is bustling with life, at almost any hour.  Small boutiques, quaint cafés, delicious pastry shops, as well as mini art galleries, will not leave your heart unmoved.  Walking through the narrow cobblestone streets, with huge window displays, and numerous inviting restaurants and bars, will bring you back in time and surely charm you with its romantic atmosphere.

  • Address: the area around Stritarjeva ulica
  • Time required: 1 – 2 hours
  • Hours of operation: 24/7
  • Price: free

9. National Museum of Slovenia

The National Museum of Slovenia, located close to the cultural centre by the name Cankarjev dom, was established in the 1820s, although it’s been in its current location since the 1880s.  This monumental museum boasts great architectural features and is a work of art in itself.

The museum speaks volumes of the rich and empowering cultural and historical heritage of Slovenia.  It offers plentiful of exhibitions, among which the Emona installation, that marks the 2,000th anniversary of Emona (Ljubljana’s predecessor in the Roman times) is especially worth seeing.  Another captivating piece is the 60,000 year old Neanderthal flute – one of the oldest artifacts of its kind in the World.

  • Address: Prešernova ulica 20
  • Time required: 1 – 3 hours
  • Hours of operation: daily 10:00am – 6:00pm, Thursdays and Saturdays 8:00am – 10:00pm.  Closed on Mondays, January 1st, May 1st, November 1st, and December 25th
  • Price: € 4-6
  • Official website: http://www.narmuz-lj.si/index.php?lang=en

10. The City Museum of Ljubljana

Located right in the heart of the city, in the old Auersperg’s Palace, near a popular event site named Križanke – the City Museum of Ljubljana offers its visitors a deeper look into Ljubljana’s majestic history, spanning more than 4,500 years.  One of its most fascinating expositions is the original Roman settlement, dating back to the times of Emona.

Over 200,000 objects, such as an ancient wooden wheel and a wooden axle, paint the picture of Ljubljana’s compelling cultural heritage.  The museum also offers a nice interactive tour, taking you through a narrated history of Slovenia’s capital.

City Museum of Ljubljana - Global Storybook

Photo: Cortyn – Shutterstock.com

  • Address: Gosposka ulica 15
  • Time required: 1 – 3 hours
  • Hours of operation: Tuesdays to Sundays: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m, Thursdays: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.  Closed: Mondays, January 1st, November 1st, December 25th
  • Price: € 2.50 – 4
  • Official website: http://www.mgml.si/en/city-museum-of-ljubljana-377/

11. Ljubljanica River

Emona, as Ljubljana was once called during the Roman times, was established along the banks of the majestic Ljubljanica River, which still continue to be the centre of Slovenia’s capital.  It seems that it is Ljubljanica which gives life to the city, promoting its heartbeat.

The river meanders through the whole town, including the old centre, emphasizing its charm.  There’s nothing really better than going for a perfect stroll among the numerous cafés located along its banks.  Moreover, if you want to see Ljubljana from another stunning angle, then do not miss jumping on one of the numerous boat or fun canoe rides.

  • Address: Ljubljana’s city centre
  • Time required: 30 min – 3 hours
  • Hours of operation: 24/7
  • Price: free

12. Ljubljana Skyscraper

The Ljubljana Skyscraper is not your average modern-looking building, since it continues to preserve all of its original features.  It was constructed in the early 1930s and at that time it was considered one of the tallest buildings in Europe.  Initially this skyscraper served as a residential building, though now it is home to numerous shops and offices.

Ljubljana Skyscraper - Global StorybookThe top three floors feature a nice café, a bar and an observation deck.  From here you will be able to observe the true extent of the beauty of Ljubljana: on one side you’ll find the magical Ljubljana Castle, and on the other – the beautiful Kamnik and Savinja Alps.  Arguably, it’s only from the top that you can truly see and soak in all that this inviting city has to offer, no matter the hour of the day.

  • Address: Štefanova ulica 1
  • Time required: 30 min – 2 hours
  • Hours of operation: Cafe: Sunday – Wednesday: 9:00am – 1:00am, Thursday – Saturday: 9:00am – 3:00am
  • Price: free
  • Official website: http://www.neboticnik.si/

13. The Open Kitchen Food Market

The Open Kitchen food market, or Odprta kuhna, as it is known in Slovenian, graces the area of the main market in Ljubljana every Friday from mid-March until October.  If you take delight in gourmet dishes – then this is the right place for you.  Here you can find anything from traditional Slovenian dishes, such as the Carniolan spiced pork sausage, gibanica, struklji to different types of burgers, as well as Spanish, Thai, Chinese, Indian, and other world cuisines.

The market’s vibe is really something that everyone should experience.  You will find people sitting outside, merrily chatting with their family and friends while enjoying a delicious meal.  The accompanying music enlivens the atmosphere, occasionally interrupted by boisterous laughs.  Be aware that this event might be cancelled in case of rain.

  • Address: Pogačarjev trg 1
  • Time required: 30 min – 3 hours
  • Hours of operation: Fridays from early Spring to late Autumn (see event confirmation on the website)
  • Price: free
  • Official website: http://www.odprtakuhna.si/en/

14. Kongresni trg Square

Ljubljana has three main squares, where something always seems to happen.  Besides the already mentioned Prešernov trg Square (sight #2), there is also the Trg Republike Square, where the Slovenian government had proclaimed its independence from Yugoslavia, in 1991.  And finally there’s the Kongresni trg Square.  The latter is located only a minute away from the Prešernov trg Square, yet it was designed in a completely different manner.

Tucked in between the University of Ljubljana and the main city road, the square boasts a wonderful park with countless tall trees that provide locals and tourists with the much needed shadow and rest area.  This is also the site where numerous performance events take place during the Summer, as well as during the Christmas holidays.  If you’re looking for a perfect place to grab a coffee, sit on a bench, relax and enjoy a good read – then stop by this charming square.

  • Address: Kongresni trg Square
  • Time required: 30 min – 3 hours
  • Hours of operation: 24/7
  • Price: free

15. NUK – National University and Library

This architectural gem was designed by Slovenia’s most renowned architect, Jože Plečnik, whose work also graces the streets of one of Europe’s most visited and beautiful capitals – Prague.  The biggest library in Slovenia – it holds over 30,000 books.

The library offers a large reading room, where you will find a lot of students taking advantage of peace and quiet, plus a couple of exhibition rooms, where a number of old books were put on display, with an accompanying note on their history.  The library also has a nice café, located within the inner courtyard, where you can enjoy your book along with a cup of freshly brewed coffee or tea.  Organized tours are also possible – inquire at the front desk or check the official website.

  • Address: Turjaška ulica 1
  • Time required: 30 min – 2 hours
  • Hours of operation: Monday – Friday: 8:00am – 8:00pm, Saturday: 9:00am – 2:00pm
  • Price: free
  • Official website: http://www.nuk.uni-lj.si/eng/

16. Museum of Illusions

Nowadays it seems that every major city has its own ‘escape room’.  Well, Ljubljana is no exception.  Over the last three or four years the city has witnessed more than ten of these rooms being opened, with their popularity rising higher than before.  But what truly sparked the interest of the locals, as well as tourists, is the Museum of Illusions which opened its doors in 2016.

During the first couple of months since its opening, there were always long lines filled with people hoping to find out what the fuss was about.  Nowadays it is much easier to get in and no advance tickets are required.  Each room has its own unique illusion sets that will have you gasping for air, whether you’ll be sharing this experience alone or with friends.  The museum also has its own shop, where you can purchase trinkets of fantasy.  This museum was voted the best Summer and the nighttime activity in Ljubljana in 2017.

  • Address: Kongresni trg 13
  • Time required: 2 – 3 hours
  • Hours of operation: Monday – Sunday: 9:00am – 10:00pm
  • Price: € 5.50 – 9.50
  • Official website: http://muzejiluzij.si/en/

17. The Ljubljana Botanic Garden

Undoubtedly, the Ljubljana Botanic Garden is most beautiful during the Spring and Summer months, when everything is in full bloom.  You will certainly feel like you’ve been taken to a magical oasis, as you are taking a stroll on a path among the countless trees, bushes, and flower beds.

The Botanic Garden also provides its visitors a chance of going inside a tropical glasshouse, where they can admire plants that they would never expect to find in Central Europe.  Although the garden occupies quite a small area, it’s still a pleasant getaway, located on a brisk 10 minutes walk from the city centre.  In addition, you can also enjoy a refreshing beverage and some of the most delicious pastries in town from the garden’s café, located in the northeast part.

Ljubljana Botanic Garden, Slovenia - Global Storybook

  • Address: Ižanska cesta 15
  • Time required: 1 – 2 hours
  • Hours of operation: April – October: 7:00am – 7:00pm, July – August: 7:00am – 8:00pm, November – March: 7:00am – 5:00pm
  • Price: free; Tropical glasshouse: € 1.30 – 2.80
  • Official website: http://www.botanic-gardens-ljubljana.com/en/

18. The Flea Market

Ljubljana is still trying to live up to is old reputation, which it gained thanks to its unbeatable position – the literal crossroads between important trade routes: Italy, Austria, Hungary and the Balkans.  Taking advantage of their prime location, the residents started selling at the open markets – a custom which you can trace until this day.

Every Sunday morning, between 8:00am and 3:00pm the left bank of the Ljubljanica River is reserved for the flea market, where numerous locals sell their old relics, antiques, books, trinkets, coins and countless other things.  It is also the place to find a unique souvenir from Ljubljana, something that will make you remember the city and the country for years to come.

19. Šmarna Gora

If you didn’t know this before – Slovenians in general are huge sport enthusiasts.  Ljubljanians in particular, seem to be living their lives either on bicycles or almost entirely on foot.  Everywhere you look – you will find people exercising, running, biking or going for a stroll.

Probably the most popular hiking spot in all of Ljubljana is the famous Šmarna Gora, a 669m hill that has more than ten trails leading up to its peak.  Locals often choose to run or even pedal their bicycles to the top.  Though most of the paths are through the forest.

Depending on the path you take – the climb to the top will take anywhere from 15 minutes to 1 hour, considering your pace and physical condition.  It is well worth the effort, as you will be rewarded with magnificent vistas of the entire city, all the way from the marshes to the nearby towns.

20. The Central Market

Possibly the liveliest area in the city centre, the Ljubljana Central Market is located underneath the Ljubljana Castle, below the arches designed by Jože Plečnik.  The vast and open area of the market is bustling with life and will easily have you spend an hour or more picking through the fresh fruits and vegetables.  You will surely find yourself chatting with the local vendors, and there’s really no reason not to: Slovenians are some of the friendliest people on Earth, as you will soon discover.

  • Address: between the Vodnikov trg 6 (the open market) and Pogačarjev trg 1 (the covered market)
  • Time required: 30 min – 2 hours
  • Hours of operation: Monday – Saturday: 6 :00am – 6:00pm
  • Price: free
  • Official website: http://www.lpt.si/en/

* Please note: all prices are valid for 2017 only. 

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