Slovenia is a beautiful country that, oddly enough, has not yet been discovered by tourists. A city trip to the capital Ljubljana is not something you often hear about. Ljubljana is one of the smallest capital cities in Europe and definitely has its charm. It covers over 20,000 km² and has a population of 2.1 million.
I have had the opportunity to visit Ljubljana several times. In the fall of 2016 I was invited to an international meeting for speech therapists. Of course, I then added some active sightseeing days to see all the sights in Ljubljana.
In the summer of 2022, I traveled to Ljubljana again as part of a 1.5 week travel of the country. If you have enough time, then traveling around Slovenia is absolutely recommended!
Top 7 sight in Ljubljana
I stayed in Ljubljana for an average of 2 to 4 days each time. The city center is relatively small, so within 1 to 2 days you will have seen all the sights in Ljubljana. The center of the city is car-free, so you don’t have to be afraid of being run over and you can stroll around in peace and quiet.
1. Prešeren Square
The centerpiece of the city is Prešeren Square with the striking pink Franciscan Church.
Every year on a certain day at the end of the year, the Christmas lights are lit on Prešeren Square. That year the theme of the lights was the beginning of life and the universe. The lights represented shooting stars, planets, DNA and even eggs and sperm, among other things. The lights are scattered throughout the city center of Ljubljana.
The famous three bridges also border the square Tromostovje, one of the more famous sights in Ljubljana. The history behind this is that this single bridge was destroyed by an earthquake when Slovenia was still part of Austria. Austria gave money to the country to rebuild the bridge. Only there was so much money left that they decided to build two more bridges next to it. These could serve as pedestrian bridges to better guide traffic.
At the moment no cars are driving over the bridge and on the square. Thanks to this change, Ljubljana can call itself the greenest city in Europe in 2016.
3. Zmajski Most
Another famous bridge and also one of the most famous sights in Ljubljana is the dragon bridge: Zmajski Most. Legend has it that the prince who founded the city murdered a dragon in the mist. The bridge was built where he killed the dragon. Large statues of dragons stand on either side of the bridge.
4. Ljubljanski Grad
Saturday afternoon we visited the castle: Ljubljanski Grad. This castle is located on a small hill that’s easily reached by a funicular (€ 4 return) or by foot. With good weather you have a good view of the city. Unfortunately it was very cloudy when we visited the castle. In the evening the castle is beautifully lit and the structure itself is quite interesting.
From Nebotičnik you may have an even better view of the city and the other sights in Ljubljana. This is also called Ljubljana’s skyscraper. The elevator takes you to the eleventh or twelfth floor in no time.
6. Metelkova district
The Metelkova district is one that you must visit during your visit to Ljubljana. I thought it was one of the nicest and most special sights in Ljubljana. The residential area is named after the adjacent street Metelkova ulica. It’s an alternative arty neighborhood that has a lively nightlife. The buildings are full of graffiti and there are special works of art.
7. Rožnik Hill and Tivoli Park
During the last day in Ljubljana, we visited the Rožnik hill and the adjacent Tivoli Park. On the hill is a pink church and there’s a restaurant. Here I ate a traditional iota. This is a sauerkraut soup with beans and potatoes. For dessert we ate štruklji. This is cooked rolled dough with a filling of cottage cheese (or a variant of this). I certainly liked that! View the recipe of štruklji here.
I had a great time in four days. I met very nice people and had special experiences. The city of Ljubljana is also highly recommended for a city trip! Use the USE-IT map made by locals for great tips about the sights in Ljubljana. Make sure to discover other places in Slovenia as well for the best travel experience.
Transportation in Ljubljana
As mentioned before, the city center is completely car-free, so transportation by cab is only possible outside the center. But the best way to explore Ljubljana is by bicycle!
With the BicikeLJ you can rent a bike anywhere in and around the city and return it at designated places. A one-week subscription costs only €1 and allows you to rent bikes unlimitedly. After purchasing the ticket for €1, you can use the bike for free for 60 minutes each time. Additional 60 minutes cost €1, the second additional hour costs €2 and all subsequent ones cost €4 each.
To rent the bikes, download the BicikeLJ app. You will need a credit card for the payment of €1 and any other costs. After one week your subscription will be automatically cancelled.
Day trip from Ljubljana to Lake Bled
Bled may not be one of Ljubljana’s sights, but it’s a fun day trip from Ljubljana. After about a 45 minutes drive, you reach Lake Bled. The beautiful pictures on Slovenian postcards are mostly taken at Lake Bled. Read more here about my visit to Lake Bled.