First-timer’s Guide to Visiting Ljubljana, Slovenia

Guide to Visiting Ljubljana, Slovenia

The colorful city of Ljubljana is one of the most underrated gems in Central Europe and definitely a must-see if you’re in the area. We had the awesome chance to explore the capital of Slovenia for the first time on a cloudy, but beautiful day last September. Unfortunately for us, we only stayed in the city for a day. In truth, Ljubljana has plenty to offer for an extended stay, or at least for a long weekend. Nevertheless, I decided to share our short itinerary and even include a few attractions we missed, but will surely include in a future visit. 

Here’s a first-timer’s guide to visiting Ljubljana: 

How to Get to Ljubljana

Located at the heart of the city, Ljubljana can easily be reached by air. A large number of regular flights bring in hoards of people daily to Ljubljana Joze Pucnik Airport, situated 26 kilometers northwest of the capital. Low-cost carriers as well as passenger airlines connect the Slovene capital to some of the biggest cities in Europe.

If you like driving, then you’ll be happy to know that the capital city offers easy access to all four exits of Slovenia in all directions. Large cities from neighboring countries are just a few hours’ drive away: Zagreb (Croatia) = 150 km ~ 2 hours; Graz (Austria) = 200 km ~ 2.5 hrs; Venice (Italy) = 250 km ~ 3hrs; Budapest (Hungary) = 490 km ~5hrs.

Ljubljana also offers quick and budget-friendly connections through rail and bus routes to some larger European cities. Consult the official site of the Slovenian Railways and the national bus transport for further info on tickets, passes and timetables.

Fortress View, Guide to Visiting Ljubljana, Slovenia

Where to Stay in Ljubljana

To be perfectly frank, we didn’t actually spend the night here. However, if you would like to sleep in the big city after a long day of visiting Ljubljana, then you should check out the list of accommodations in Ljubljana on Booking.com, to get a complete overview of lodgings in the city. The capital has plenty to offer, from central hostels to peripheral apartments, all you have to do is pick one!

If Airbnb is more of your thing, use this coupon to get $20 off your first booking on my favorite accommodations site!

What to See in Ljubljana

Ljubljana Castle

Protectively overlooking the Old Town, Ljubljana Castle is an unmissable attraction in the capital of Slovenia. You can access the fortification on foot, by car and even by a cool funicular which starts at the bottom of the hill, near the historical part of the city. The castle is surrounded by a lush green forest, ideal for a nice afternoon walk under the shade of the trees which you can enjoy alone, with your significant other, your children or even your pet.

As you reach the entrance to the castle, you’ll notice a wide variety of tickets, some including entrance to the historical exhibition, others gaining you access to the look-out tower. Depending on your interests, take a look at the official website and plan your visit accordingly.

You can easily spend an entire day here, but since we had a only a few hours at our disposal, we had to limit our time in the castle. We checked out the quirky, but cool Puppet Museum, visited the history museum and of course climbed up to the look-out tower.

Ljubljana Fortress, Guide to Visiting Ljubljana, Slovenia

Museum of Puppetry, Guide to Visiting Ljubljana, Slovenia

View from Ljubljana Fortress

As you’ve probably already guessed it from the photos above, the view from Ljubljana Fortress is truly remarkable. It offers a 360-degree panorama of the entire city and features unobstructed views of the colorful Old Town. But the absolute best vista can be enjoyed from atop of the castle’s viewing tower – a steep climb, but all the more rewarding. The tower itself is open daily from 9 am to 9 pm, can get a bit crowded at times, but should definitely be on your itinerary if you’re in the city.

Guide to Visiting Ljubljana, Slovenia

Fortress View, Guide to Visiting Ljubljana, Slovenia

Fortress View, Guide to Visiting Ljubljana, Slovenia

Ljubljana Center and Ljubljanica River

The central square of the city is located by the banks of the charming Ljubljanica River. It features religious edifices, historical landmarks and red-tiled houses.

Ljubljana Center, Guide to Visiting Ljubljana, Slovenia

As you approach the heart of the city, you’ll probably bump into the old Post Office, an impressive 19th century building. In its Atrium, a spacious hall with good acoustics, various events and banquets are held year-round.

Post Office, Guide to Visiting Ljubljana, Slovenia

The banks of the Ljubljanica are filled with cafes, terraces, taverns and restaurants. It’s an excellent place to enjoy a beer and do some people-watching. Thanks to its picturesque location, places here tend to be overpriced. So for a more budget-friendly meal you might want to steer clear of the Old Town area.

Ljubljanica River Banks, Guide to Visiting Ljubljana, Slovenia

Ljubljanica River, Guide to Visiting Ljubljana, Slovenia

Town hall, Robba Fountain and Ljubljana Cathedral are also not to be missed!

Ljubljana Center, Guide to Visiting Ljubljana, Slovenia

Guide to Visiting Ljubljana, Slovenia

The Pink Church

You really can’t miss the Franciscan Monastery and the Church of the Assumption. Standing out among other historical buildings, this religious edifice is a sight for sore eyes thanks to its strong pink color. The 17th century church was renovated in 1993 and gives home to the largest Madonna statue in the capital. The inside of the monastery is equally awesome. I don’t want to give away too much, so go see it for yourself!

Franciscan Church, Guide to Visiting Ljubljana, Slovenia

Franciscan Church, Guide to Visiting Ljubljana, Slovenia

The Triple Bridge of Ljubljana

In front of the Monastery you’ll find the triple bridge, on of the capital’s symbols. Its history goes way back to medieval times. Its function is to connect the old part of the city with the newer neighborhoods. It’s definitely one of the starting points of visiting Ljubljana, so you’ll probably won’t miss it.

Triple Bridge, Guide to Visiting Ljubljana, Slovenia

Triple Bridge, Guide to Visiting Ljubljana, Slovenia

What I would’ve loved to see in Ljubljana

Unfortunately for us, due to lack of time, we missed out on quite a few things. We didn’t see the famous Dragon Bridge, another iconic construction joining together the two banks of the Ljubljanica River featuring a bunch of dragons. We also missed out on a chance to walk in the lush Tivoli Park. The Museum of Illusions would’ve probably been a ton of fun! And I would’ve also loved to explore the Slovenian Museum of Natural History. But you can’t have it all. Only next time!

On our way back to our car we stumbled upon this small food stall selling Puffy Lil Pancakes, which we absolutely loved and I truly recommend!

Guide to Visiting Ljubljana, Slovenia

Since you’re in the area, why not check out another charming Slovene city? Maribor is a great destination to do some sightseeing and sip on some fine wine! It’s located right at the heart of Slovenia’s wine country, so make sure you include it in your itinerary!

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Guide to Visiting Ljubljana, Slovenia

4 Responses to “First-timer’s Guide to Visiting Ljubljana, Slovenia

  • Pretty! Loooooved your photos! It kind of reminds me of Bucharest (its good parts) and Prague. I’d love to visit, I saw they recently added direct flights from Bucharest, I feel a city break coming soon 😀
    Vlad recently posted…Our First Time In America In PhotosMy Profile

    • Thank you for your kind comment, Vlad! 🙂
      That’s great news 😀 You should definitely visit Ljubljana (and all of Slovenia for that matter), I think you would really love it! 🙂

  • A great post and very nice photos, Adri. Yes, the view from Ljubljana Castle is fantastic, but then of course you don’t see the castle itself when you are there. There is a skyscraper in the downtown, called Nebotičnik with an observation deck on the top floor. I think the view from there is the best in Ljubljana, because from there you can see how the castle hill dominates the panorama of the city.

    • Oh wow, I didn’t know this!
      Thanks so much for sharing this useful info with us, Tom, I am sure the readers will definitely appreciate it! I sure do! 🙂

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