Are you looking for things to do in Ljubljana?
Don’t let anyone tell you this ‘small big city’ lacks attractions! There is are
so many things to do in Ljubljana, from cultural hotspots, beautiful green spaces
and a few eye-raising attractions as well.
When I was researching things to do in Ljubljana,
I was disappointed to read the city described as ‘boring’. Being from a city
that is oft described as ‘boring’ by people who don’t know how to have fun (do
I sound bitter?), I was convinced I’d still give Ljubljana a red hot try.
I don’t know what city these people visited, but
Ljubljana is far from boring! I loved Ljubljana’s commitment to sustainability,
which means the city is clean, beautiful and pretty quiet without cars rushing
by. Then there’s the fairytale-esque architecture and cobbled streets.
Perhaps my favourite thing about Ljubljana, however, is its quirky underbelly. Look past the fairytale facade and you’ll find an uber cool place, boasting plenty of quirky attractions, fabulous street art and amazing galleries.
I’d have no hesitation in recommending Ljubljana
to anyone. To help convince you (or assist with planning your own trip to
Slovenia’s gorgeous capital), here are fifteen fabulous things to do in
to do in Ljubljana
Are you looking for the top things to do in
Ljubljana? Here are the most unmissable attractions in the city.
(or take the funicular) to Ljubljana Castle
You can’t visit Ljubljana without at least seeing
the city’s spectacular castle. Even from ground level, you’re sure to see it
peeking out over the city. Not only is the castle one of the best things to do
in Ljubljana, but it’s one of the city’s most iconic attractions. You’ll even
find it depicted on the Ljubljana coat of arms!
As with most European castles, it has a long and
rich history. Archaeological evidence suggests the area has been occupied for
thousands of years, while the first castle in the area was probably built in
the 12th century.
Over the centuries, the castle was often fought
over and changed hands many times. In the 15th century, most of the
existing castle was demolished and rebuilt. This is most of what you can see
Although the history of the castle is pretty
cool, the best part of it (in my opinion) is the beautiful views from the top.
You get a great panorama back over Ljubljana, and it’s especially beautiful
To get up to the castle, you can either take a
short and easy walk (which is about 15 minutes in total), or you can take the
funicular. We walked, and it was a comfortable walk with the chance to wander
down some pretty streets. However, I also hear that the funicular is a fun
attraction – so the choice is yours! (You could also get the funicular up, and
walk back down).
To enter the castle, you’ll need an admission
ticket which can be bought online (or on the door, however that option is 10%
more expensive). The cost online is 13,00 euro for adults and 9,00
euro for students, seniors and children. A return ticket on the funicular
is included. Personally, I don’t think the inside of the castle is an absolute
must-see, however if you’re particularly interested in history then it may be
Cross Dragon Bridge
There are a number of beautiful bridges in
Ljubljana, but for me – Dragon Bridge was easily the most memorable! The first
thing you notice is the fierce green dragon, mouth open to scare tourists who
are wandering by. Look closely, however, and you’ll see he’s just the first of
six dragons on the bridge!
By European standards, the bridge is actually
relatively modern. It was built in the early 1900s to replace an older bridge
that was destroyed in an earthquake. So, why the dragons? Well, dragons are an
icon of Ljubljana. In fact, legend has it that a historic hero slayed a number
of terrifying dragons to settle in the area.
Funnily enough, that legend isn’t even the most
memorable story associated with the dragon bridge. Legend also has it that the
dragon’s tail moves every time a virgin crosses the bridge. It sounds like a
story parents tell to scare their teenage children… but hey, you never know!
Stroll through Tivoli Park
It’s no surprise that the EU’s green city of the
year boasts a beautiful park, Tivoli, that’s easily one of the best things to
do in Ljubljana. Honestly, the city isn’t the kind of place that’s likely to
overwhelm you – but it’s still nice to head for the beautiful park for some
Admire the Cathedral of St Nicholas
If you’ve spent much time in Europe then chances
are you know that every city boasts an impressive religious building or ten.
Ljubljana is no exception, with several beautiful churches and Cathedrals
throughout. Arguably the most beautiful of all is the Cathedral of St Nicholas.
From the outside, it’s not necessarily the most
impressive place (although it is an instantly recognisable symbol of
Ljubljana), however it is the interior that really wows you. Sticking with the “more
is more” approach to covering things in gold, the result is fairly
jaw-dropping. As well as the gold, you’ll find an abundance of Biblical
artworks, which are each incredibly intricate and beautiful.
While there’s been a Church on the site since at
least the 13th century, the Cathedral actually dates from the 18th century.
Hang out in the Town (Preseren) Square
You really can’t miss Ljubljana’s Town Square
while visiting the city. It’s the geographic and cultural heart of Ljubljana,
with several beautiful buildings. While standing in the town square, you’ll be
able to see attractions including the Cathedral and the Town Hall, which are
Ljubljana is so fairy-tale like, and the Town
Square is really one of the most picturesque spots in a very picturesque
city. If you’re short on time, just wandering through it is a delight – but the
cafes and restaurants nearby are a great place to sit, do some people watching,
and really soak in the atmosphere.
Enjoy a meal alongside the canals
Part of what makes Ljubljana such a beautiful
place to visit is its position alongside a canal. Sure, it’s not quite the
sprawling network of Venice but it definitely adds some extra pizazz to the
If you’re looking for a great spot to enjoy some
Slovenian food and wine, then along the canals is a great option. You’ll find a
bunch of the city’s best restaurants and bars – which are especially gorgeous
when the weather is agreeable and you can sit outside.
We ate at Slovenian House, which did some
seriously good cheese and produce platters. And wine, of course. Wine, platters
and beautiful views? That’s my idea of heaven!
things to do in Ljubljana
Do you prefer your Ljubljana attractions a little
more off-beat and quirky? If so, you’re in luck – Ljubljana has an abundance of
fun but weird things to do. Here are my favourites.
If you are on the lookout for unusual things to
do in Ljubljana, then you can’t miss Metelkova. Metelkova began when the army
moved out of its city barracks, and a group of squatters moved in. Although
they weren’t the cleanest of residents, they were creative – and the barracks
were soon turned into a living gallery.
For a number of years, Metelkova and the local
government were locked in a fierce stand-off. The local government thought
Metelkova was a stain on the city – turns out, most of the city’s residents
disagreed. Metelkova eventually became an iconic part of Ljubljana, and today it’s
one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city.
By day, you can explore Metelkova and admire all
the super weird art scattered all over it. There are also frequent events such
as art fairs and other cultural events. Things get even cooler once the sun
goes down, however, and it’s a popular nightlife hotspot.
While I loved Metelkova, I had to admit that it
felt just the tiniest bit contrived to me. Maybe it was something about the
suits enjoying their Friday night drinks there – but some of the anarchy seemed
to have been lost. That’s why I really enjoyed checking out the unusual
Ljubljana attraction that is Tovarna Rog.
Fair warning – this place isn’t for everyone. I
can’t imagine my dear father wandering into a graffiti-covered crumbling
factory, where you’re greeted by little else than a sign that says ‘Welcome
to the re-education camp.’ However, if you’re willing to deal with the
weirdness and anarchist vibes, this place is a super cool thing to do in
Tovarna Rog was once a factory that made the Rog
bicycle, the most popular in Yugoslavia (actually, hipsters still love them to
this day.) Eventually, the factory in Ljubljana was abandoned and bicycle
makers were replaced by an ‘autonomous commune’.
With a focus on art, activism (and/or anarchy,
depending on who you speak to), as well as doing a bunch of good deeds on the
community, those who live in Rog are not as scary as they may seem. They are,
however, currently locked in a dispute with the local government – so their
days may be numbered.
In the meantime, you’re welcome to go and browse
through the abandoned factory and have a chat with some of the people who live
there. It’s free to visit, although they do ask for a donation if you’re taking
Check out the Museum of Illusions
As a proud adult-refusing-to-properly-grow-up, I
freaking loved Ljubljana’s Museum of Illusions. There’s something so
interesting to me about your eyes deceiving you – and boy do they in the Museum
There are exhibits set over two storeys, as well
as a third room that is devoted to brain teasers and puzzles (I could solve
exactly zero.) The exhibits range from typical illusions, such as where two
equal-length lines appear wildly different, to more complicated illusions like
the “house of a thousand mirrors”.
My absolute favourite, however, was the vortex – it
had me cackling away like a kid who’d had too much red cordial at a birthday
party! Just be aware, it’s kind of stomach-flipping, so maybe not ideal if you’re
prone to queasiness.
Add your love lock to Butcher’s Bridge
Place names don’t come much less romantic than
Butcher’s Bridge. However, gruesome name aside, this is definitely a spot for
the lovers. Just like the famous one in Paris (and the less famous one in my
hometown of Adelaide), Butcher’s Bridge is known for the many locks placed on
Ever the hopeless romantic, I do love going for a
stroll and taking a peek at all the locks. It’s fun to wonder about the stories
behind them – and whether the relationships really did last forever!
If you’d like to add your lock to the bridge,
then there are plenty of souvenir shops selling them nearby. They’ll even
provide a marker if you ask! In keeping with Ljubljana’s green commitment, they
do ask that you throw the key in the bin rather than the canal. Sure, it might
not be the usual romantic gesture – but what says ‘I love you!’ more than a
mutual commitment to saving the earth?
Things to do in Ljubljana when it is
Weather got you down? Don’t worry – there are
still plenty of fun things to do in Ljubljana when it’s raining. Here’s a few
ideas for Ljubljana attractions to enjoy, even when it’s cold outside.
Visit the Modern Art Museum
If you’ve checked out Metelkova and/or Rog, then
you may have realised that Ljubljana enjoys an abundance of great modern art.
It makes sense, then, that it would also house a pretty fabulous (but much more
high-brow) Museum of Modern Art.
There’s a focus on local Slovenian artists,
however the collection does extend beyond Slovenia’s borders. There are also
quite a few works that related back from the period when Slovenia was part of
You’ll find the Museum of Modern Art in Tivoli
Park, so it’s great to dip into if the rain arrives while you’re enjoying the
It’s pretty hard to visit Slovenia without
hearing the name Jože Plečnik repeated over and over. The Slovenian architect
has had an amazing impact on the face of Ljubljana, designing many of the city’s
most famous landmarks such as the Dragon Bridge.
The museum is housed inside the home that Jože lived in during the most productive years of his career. The house itself has been preserved exactly as Plečnik himself had designed it. It’s really interesting to walk around and see how the famous architect designed his own living space.
There’s also a beautiful garden, as well as many
personal possessions throughout. Mostly found within the cylindrical annex of
the house, there are many sketches, letters and plans. On Plečnik’s death in
1921, they were left to his nephew who carefully looked after them and allowed
them to be exhibited to the public.
Definitely a must for any architecture buffs
looking for Ljubljana things to do!
There are tons of ethnographic museums through
the Balkans, but few hold a candle to the amazing one in Ljubljana. This
excellent museum is housed in an impressive modern building – and what’s inside
is even better.
Like most ethnographic museums, there are exhibits
on Slovenian culture including the customs and national dress of the past.
However, this museum also focuses heavily on modern times and even the present
– covering issues like the Slovenian diaspora and how the country
A number of the exhibits are interactive and
there’s a definite emphasis on stirring up conversation and reflection. At
various times, the museum also hosts various workshops and fun activities which
are great for the young and old.
The Ethnographic Museum
is very close to Metelkova, so the two can easily be combined (although
Metelkova may not be ideal if it’s raining).
House of Experiments
I don’t care what anyone says, science museums
are the best. And the one in Ljubljana is no exception! In fact, it’s one of
the most fun and hands-on science museums out there – which definitely makes it
a winner in my book.
Ljubljana’s House of Experiments is one of those “I
can’t believe I’m learning!” places. It makes science fun, with lots of
hands-on activities for kids, and adults who keep pretending their kids (I.e.
me). There are over 50 exhibits are set out over three levels, and there’s all
kinds of fun stuff like a bubble maker… because really, who doesn’t love bubble
There are also short performances, although they
are mostly in Slovenian. However, the staff are totally science-mad and will be
happy to provide information in English.
If all that learning makes you hungry, there’s
also a pretty decent restaurant on-site.
Tour a brewery
It seems that pretty much every city in the
Balkans has a great beer, and Ljubljana is no exception. The famous beer of
Ljubljana is the Union beer, and it’s pretty damn good. It comes in both an
unfiltered and filtered variety; personally, I preferred the filtered one
however, which one is better seems to be a pretty contentious issue.
You can easily try Union beer in a restaurant or
café – I don’t think I found one in Ljubljana that doesn’t serve it.
However, it’s even more fun to do a brewery
tour. You know, where you wander around “learning” about
how you make beer, a.k.a. waiting for the good part – actually tasting it!
Best of all, the tours are free! They’re held at
12 noon and 2pm on weekdays, and 2pm on Saturdays. There’s also a great
restaurant (with plenty of beer on offer) that you might like to enjoy before