If you are looking for great things to do in Ljubljana, Slovenia, your search is over! This capital city is firmly planted on the European backpacking route and for good reason.
Whether you’re planning to stay for the week or just a weekend, there is plenty to keep you busy during your stay!
Ljubljana is located smack dab in the center of the country. This clean, forward-thinking city was the 2016 winner of the European Green City Award.
In fact, it’s so progressive regarding harmful CO2 emissions that the entire downtown area is car-free and completely pedestrian-friendly.
When planning your time in central Europe, and considering what to do in Slovenia, make sure to leave yourself at least a few days to explore this charming city.
Best Things to Do in Ljubljana
Explore Old Town
Once you arrive, start strolling the Old Town to marvel at the magnificent art-nuevo architecture. These buildings are located right in the center of the city, and a self-guided walking tour is all you need to see these impressive structures. This is actually one of the best free things to do in Ljubljana, especially if you are visiting for the first time.
Of course, if you’d rather, you can join a guided tour. There are several great options to choose from.
Wander the Castle and Go Back in Time
After your walking tour, explore Ljubljana Castle. The main courtyard is free to enter. In addition, there is a watchtower you can climb for a small fee that will give you a fantastic view over the city. That entrance fee will include a Time Machine Tour, which will transport you back in time to see the castle through six different eras. Tickets cost €13 ($13) for adults and €9 ($9) for children between the ages of 7-18. Children under seven are free.
Once you’ve taken a tour or explored the grounds, you can take advantage of the other amenities on the property. The castle courtyard has a cafe, nightclub, art galleries, and even a restaurant for you to enjoy.
Pro Tip: Reserve a spot on the Ljubljana Castle’s website ahead of time or go right when it opens.
Castle Escape Room
If you are looking for something different, you should try Escape Castle. While you could opt for a simple tour of the castle on your own or with an audio guide, why not experience it through an escape room? This scavenger hunt/escape room will lead you through five challenges as you explore the castle and attempt to save a dragon.
This is one of the best things to do in Ljubljana on a rainy day. Escape the weather, learn about the castle, and solve a puzzle? How fun is that?
Head to the Market in Ljubljana
The best place to go shopping in Ljubljana is the Central Market. It’s packed with stalls that sell herbs, spices, and a wide variety of handicrafts. There are also covered sections that sell baked goods, cured meat, fresh fruit and veg, and other delicious finds.
The market is open every day except for Sundays.
Wondering what to eat in Ljubljana? Definitely try a Burek. This specialty pasty is famous all around the Balkans, and you can find them stuffed with spinach and cheese or meat.
Hunt for Street Art in the Metelkova District
When you are ready to experience some of the unusual things to do in Ljubljana, start by enjoying the street art and crumbling buildings just outside of Old Town. This impressive art highlights a totally different side of the city.
Sleep in a Prison
It is possible to spend the night in a former political prison. The Celica Hostel is situated in the very hip Metelkova District and has converted rooms from old prison cells. Each room has its own unique design.
Things to Do in Ljubljana at Night
Wander the Castle at Night
You can take the funicular up to the castle in the evening to enjoy a glimpse of the castle at night. The cars run until 9 pm in the winter and 9:30 pm in the summer.
Eat Like Royalty
Make a reservation to have dinner at the castle. You’ll enjoy a delicious meal with an even more impressive view.
Check Out the Nightlife
If fancy dining isn’t for you, sip a glass of wine at Vinoteka Movia or enjoy a beer at Club Daktari—two top-rated nightlife spots. You should be aware that Slovenia stops selling alcohol in the shops at 9 pm. However, you can still purchase drinks at bars and restaurants.
Take a Day Trip from Ljubljana
If you have more time on your hands and can spare a day or two, consider taking a day trip.
Of course, no trip to Slovenia would be complete without a trip to Lake Bled. This is the scene with the beautiful church in the middle of an island inside a lake. This spot makes for some spectacular pictures, with the Alps as a stunning backdrop.
As an added bonus, Lake Bled is only 55 km (~34 miles) away from the capital.
However, a more unknown destination is Kranj, Slovenia. Kranj is the cultural center of the Slovenia Alps and is home to a network of tunnels that kept the town safe during WWII.
There is a beautiful gorge carved out by the river Kokra, a fantastic place to go for a hike in the summer. Kranj is packed with lovely cafés, museums, and the Khislstein Castle, an interesting place to explore for an afternoon.
You can easily get to Kranj from Ljubljana by bus, train, or private transfer in less than an hour.
Where to Next?
When you’re ready to experience a new country, you’ve got options.
You could head to Zagreb, Croatia. Only two and a half hours away, the capital is the perfect place to spend an afternoon.
Zagreb is full of fascinating museums, beautiful architecture, and a charming Old Town. Plus, you can easily get from Ljubljana to Zagreb by bus for under $15 per person.
Another nearby option, just waiting to be explored, is Italy.
It is only three hours from Ljubljana to Venice by bus, and this happens to be the perfect introduction to Northern Italy.
No matter how you spend your time in the city, you are in for a sensational holiday. There are so many great things to do in Ljubljana. You’ll definitely be planning your return to Slovenia before you know it!
Lyoo-BLYAHN-nah. In English, you will pronounce the “j” more like a “y.”
You can easily get to the lake by taking the public bus, which takes approximately one hour. The bus costs between €3-15 ($3-15), depending on the seat you book. It is also possible to take a train or rent a car and drive yourself.
Slovenia closes alcohol sales in all shops, including duty-free, at 9 pm. The only place you’ll be able to buy a bottle of wine or a case of beer is at a bar. You can’t buy anything stronger than beer or wine before 10 am. Keep this in mind if you plan a boozy brunch at your accommodation.