Ljubljana: Slovenia’s Capital – Top 10 Places of Interest
Have you ever been to Ljubljana? No? Well, that’s a shame. We hope you have a good reason for that. The city on the Ljubljanica River is such a diverse place, you just have to see it for yourself. There’s a lot to experience here, so much so that we see new things every time we visit – you will surely find something that interests you in Slovenia’s capital city!
If you’ve never been there before, you should definitely put the city on your list of places to visit in the future. To give you an idea of what you can do in Ljubljana, we have compiled the most exciting facts about the city itself and the top 10 best places to visit. Come and discover Ljubljana for yourself!
Ljubljana in a Nutshell
Slovenia isn’t just a stopover on the way to Croatia. This small central European country with just under 2 million inhabitants is perfect for a city trip! The capital of Slovenia, Ljubljana, is located in the heart of the country.
People also call it “The City of Dragons”. This name comes from a legend, in which a man named Jason allegedly escaped from King Aietes. Supposedly, he took both the Golden Fleece and his beloved Medea, the daughter of Aietes, with him to Greece. However, the river water was too shallow, so they disassembled the boat and brought it to the Adriatic Sea.
The low temperatures thwarted their plans, so they had to wait. A dragon attacked them while they were waiting. Together with Medea, Jason managed to kill the dragon, bringing peace to the country. As the weather cleared up, they moved on. However, some members of the crew stayed and thus the city of Ljubljana was born. To this day, the dragon is of great importance to the residents, which is why it adorns the coat of arms.
If you want to know more about the dragons of Ljubljana, you should plan your trip in early summer or autumn, when the weather is just right for a sightseeing tour. You might need an umbrella, though. In general, the climate in Slovenia varies greatly depending on the region.
There is also a debate about which national dish is characteristic of Slovenia. There are many delicious national dishes to choose from. Our favorite is definitely the Krainer sausage (Kranjska klobasa). You simply have to try it.
During the summer months, you can discover Slovenian cuisine at the Open Kitchen Food Market in Ljubljana. Every Friday, you can taste your way through to your heart’s content. They also offer delicious international dishes.
Another event is the Ana Desetnica Theater Festival. Whether jugglers, clowns or tightrope walkers – at the beginning of July various street artists demonstrate their skills. The Ljubljana Festival is also worth a visit, especially if you are into operas, ballet dancers and symphonies.
During your trip you can easily get around by bus, rental bike or on foot. Driving with the so-called Kavalier – an electric car that drives you around the city center for free – is a particularly amusing way to get around. Pretty convenient, isn’t it?
The Top 10 Places of Interest in Ljubljana
As you can imagine, Ljubljana has a lot to offer. We have compiled a list of the ten best sights in Ljubljana, so you can see for yourself. We can’t decide on a favorite attraction because they are all very impressive! What do you think?
The Bridges in Ljubljana
The city on the Ljubljanica River is famous for its bridges. We recommend you take a relaxing afternoon stroll, during which you can have a closer look at our four favorite bridges. The walk will take about 15 minutes, that’s not too strenuous of an exercise.
It is best to start at the Dragon Bridge (Zmajski most). Its name comes from the mythical creatures that are part of Ljubljana’s history. If dragons were real, they would probably look exactly like these statues. This is also the perfect place to take a souvenir selfie – Say Cheese!
The next stop is the Butcher’s Bridge (Mesarski most). Even though the name may not sound that romantic, it is a popular spot for lovers. That’s why there are many locks hanging on the railing, in order to immortalize their love. If you are traveling with your sweetheart, this is the place to go.
Next you will come across the Three Bridges (Tromostovje). These are near Prešeren Square, so you can visit both at once. It all started with a wooden bridge, which burnt down in the 17th century. Some time later, it was rebuilt by an Italian architect in the form of a stone bridge. Many years later, a new pedestrian bridge was added on each side, giving the bridge its name.
Lastly, you can stroll to the Shoemaker’s Bridge (Čevljarski most). It is not only made of the same material as the Three Bridges, but was also built by the same architect, Jože Plečnik. What makes this bridge special are the beautiful columns of different heights.
The Prešeren Square
The name of the square derives from the 19th century poet France Prešeren, whose poem called “Zdravljica” became the Slovenian national anthem. Today, a bronze statue is located in this special place to commemorate him.
Another sight is the red Franciscan church, built in the style of the early baroque. It is one of the most impressive attractions on the square and features a statue of the Virgin Mary with Child on the gable. The church’s splendid interiors are also worth seeing.
In addition, Prešeren Square is a place of social gathering and celebration for the whole city. Special events in Ljubljana are very likely to take place right here. You won’t get bored on this square any time soon!
The Central Market Square
Next to the Triple Bridge, architect Jože Plečnik also designed this market in the early 1930s. This beautiful colonnade on the edge of Prešeren Square houses stalls where you can buy herbs, spices, and handicrafts.
Further down, you can find bakeries, salted meats, dried fruits, dairy products, fresh fruits and vegetables. The market is closed only on Sundays and holidays, so you will have many opportunities to buy some local products.
If you look up at the castle from one of the many great squares in Ljubljana’s pedestrian zone, it will probably appear frighteningly large. You can walk up the path to the castle, but you can also use the funicular. In our experience, the walk is a bit steep but manageable with a bit of stamina!
Once you have reached the top, you will marvel at the sight! The old walls are not only beautiful to look at, but they can also be visited. Here you will find exciting museums, a café and even a disco. But that’s not all! The view from the medieval fortress overlooking the city is beautiful – especially at sunset!
St. Nicholas Cathedral
On Ciril Metodov Square you will find the beautiful St. Nicholas Cathedral, built in the Baroque style. Unfortunately, it has been destroyed by flames and then rebuilt several times. This is how the once Romanesque church got its present baroque charm. The many elaborate paintings and the beautiful altar are particularly worth seeing.
As you may suspect from the name, this religious building was dedicated to St. Nicholas of Myra. As the patron saint of sailors and fishermen, he has been immortalized practically everywhere in the interior of the building.
In the otherwise rather nondescript Ljubljana, you won’t be able to believe your eyes when you see the colorful Metelkova. The former barracks has been decorated with many colorful graffiti and serves as a venue for concerts mainly for alternative artists. This will be an evening you will never forget!
The Tivoli Park
Just a few minutes’ walk from the Ljubljanica River, there is a huge green area that stretches over more than 2 kilometers. The largest park in the city features the elegant gardens and avenues and extends up the slope of the Rožnik Hill, which is crisscrossed with nature trails.
Especially in summer, it’s the perfect place to have a picnic under the shade of the trees. At the foot of the hill, you will find several magnificent estates, one of them being the baroque Cekin Castle, where you can visit the Museum of Contemporary History. You can also explore a tropical greenhouse in Tivoli Park.
The number one reason to visit this park is to take a walk along the Jakopič promenade. This is a dead straight avenue that leads you from the eastern entrance to the neoclassical Tivoli Castle. It is the ideal place to leave the stress of everyday life behind you.
The National Gallery
Located right in front of Tivoli Park, the Slovenian National Gallery is probably the most important historical art museum in Slovenia. Here you will find works from the Middle Ages to the 1900s. The museum is located in a palace from the Renaissance period, where you can see more than 600 exhibits. Come and admire the Gothic and liturgical works of art, as well as the works of Italian Baroque painters and sculptors.
You can also learn more about the Slovenian Impressionist movement through works by Rihard Jakopič, Ivan Grohar and Matija Jama. Moreover, the original sculpture of the Robba Fountain, probably the most famous fountain in Ljubljana, can be found here. The sculpture is placed in a modern glass case to protect it from the weather conditions in the city.
The Museum of Modern Art
This is where you will get to know modern Slovenian art at its best. It is located in a strikingly modern building. The art may not be to everyone’s taste, but every modern art fan should pay this museum a visit. The exhibition isn’t that huge either. In fact, it’s perfect if you’re short on time and want to get a small impression on modern art.
The House of Illusions
The House of Illusions is particularly exciting. This museum of optical illusions is a hit even with young adults. Learn how your brain can be tricked and take some funny snapshots to remember your stay. You will have a lot of fun there.
If you are not very fond of museums, you will certainly change your mind after this visit. Moreover, it is the perfect activity to do in case of rain.
If Ljubljana is not perfect for a short trip, then no city is! The small city in the middle of Slovenia holds everything you are looking for in a trip! One attraction follows another – whether it’s cultural, culinary, or historical!
There are numerous festivals worth seeing, ranging from food to music to street performers. The old impressive buildings, such as the St. Nicholas Cathedral or the castle, are also worth a visit. We particularly like the numerous bridges, as they give the cityscape a special flair. In order to absorb all the impressions, you can round off your day in Tivoli Park. Don’t forget your picnic blanket!
Hopefully we could inspire you to visit the City of Dragons. Now you are ready to plan your next city trip. Thanks to the city’s excellent infrastructure, it’s also perfect for backpackers! A dream come true, really. However, all of Slovenia is perfect for traveling, not just the city.
Finally, we have only one question for you: when are you going to visit the capital of Slovenia? We would be happy to help you plan your trip with our WebApp!