Ljubljana City Guide
This was my second time in Ljubljana and it has firmly established itself as one of my favourite cities in Europe. The mix of beautiful architecture, history, student life, cafes and art really make this city a great place to spend a few days, or weeks! Plus, it's location in the middle of Slovenia means it's the perfect base to explore the rest of this amazing little country.
During my visits I have collected all the info you need to enjoy your time in Ljubljana to the fullest. Welcome to the Ljubljana city guide!
Need to know
Language: Slovenian but most people spoke good English and many also spoke German.
Price of a 0.5l beer: €2.50-€3.50
Where to stay in Ljubljana
There are plenty of hostels and small hotels in Ljubljana but accommodation becomes much more expensive and often gets booked out during the summer months.
Hostel Celica is located in the alternative district of Metelkova and is a converted prison. Each cell room is designed by a different artist. There is also a great cafe/restaurant onsite.
We stayed with some amazing couchsurfing hosts and learnt a lot about life in Slovenia and got a locals perspective on the city. There is an active couchsurfing community in Ljubljana but they are often inundated with requests during the summer months.
What to do in Ljubljana
This is the major attraction in Ljubljana and is worth checking out. The walk up the hill takes about 15 minutes from the old town and provides some great views of the city. You can enter the grounds free of charge and walk the walls of the castle. There are some exhibitions which charge an entrance fee.
This is an area of the city that used to be army barracks and has been turned into an autonomous, creative street art space by squatters. The walls buildings are all painted and decorated and there are many art installations in place. There are cafes, bars and art galleries open at various times and often hosting events.
NUK - Ljubljana University Library
This beautiful library is only open to visitors during certain hours and mainly in summer. Usually 14.30-18.00 Mon-Sat and 11.00-18.00 on Sunday but check these times on the website or the sign outside. It costs €2 to see the main reading room which is stunning but the exhibition room is free and open daily so only make the commitment if you're a library lover like me!
Tivoli park and Roznic Church
The park takes up a fair chunk of the city and is like being out in the wilderness again. There are many lovely, peaceful places to stroll and relax including the Library Under the Tree Tops - a free place to chill and read. It's also a good place to cycle to/around if you rent bikes. There are city bike stops on either side of the park.
Take the walking tracks up to the top of the hill to the church. The views on the way up are nice and at the top there is a cute little local restaurant to grab a beer and something to eat before heading back down to the city. Use googlemaps to find the right path, it takes about 30 minutes to reach the church.
The market square is the heart and soul of the city. Every day there is a large farmers' market selling fruit, vegetables, cheese, honey and snacks. There are also a number of souvenir stalls that take advantage of the constant stream of tourists and set up each day. On Saturdays there is a larger market and on Sundays a flea market stretches along the river.
Wander the old town
The pedestrianised old town is a gorgeous place for a wander. The streets are lined with little cafes, restaurants and gift shops. Buildings with shuttered windows and cute little balconies are the norm in the old town and make for some great photos along the riverside.
Find the cultural street 'Krizevniska ulica' which is particularly beautiful. Also make a stop by the famous dragon bridge. There are free walking tours of the old town which are a great way to learn about the history of Ljubljana.
Where to eat and drink in Ljubljana
Coffee is a big thing in Ljubljana. Most cafés will offer decent coffee but head to Črno Zrno where the Colombian owner imports beans from Colombia and makes excellent cold brew.
For breakfast we also tried out Robba which did amazing eggs plus had really funky (award-winning) interior design. We took advantage of the breakfast deal at Slovenska Hisa (Slovenian House). Buy any coffee or drink and you can help yourself to homemade bread, jams and honey. A great way to stick to the budget and still squeeze in a good coffee! These guys also offer a great range of affordable Slovenian food and cocktails.
For international food you can't go past the Friday Street Food Market. Every Friday from 10am-10pm the market square is home to food stalls from all over the world showcasing the best of the Ljubljana food scene. It's worth going to for lunch and dinner!
The beer of Ljubljana is Union which is around €2.50 for 0.5ml at most bars and restaurants. We enjoyed an evening at Dakarti trying some local craft beer. There are also lots of good craft beers and cocktails on offer at the food market.
Almost everywhere in Ljubljana is walking distance but if you're not just wandering the best way to get around is by bike. There are lots of cycle lanes throughout the city and many locals cycle. You can hire bikes from a variety of outlets in the city for around €5 per day. But if you sign up online you can use the public cycle hire system for just €1 per week! Bikes are free for the first hour and can be picked up and dropped off from any of the many bike points throughout the city. You can sign up here.
There is also a decent public bus system, you can check routes and times here.
Day Trips from Ljubljana
Technically everywhere in Slovenia is a day trip away from Ljubljana but here are a few spots that are easily done in a day.
Lake Bled and Lake Bohinj
If you’re travelling to Slovenia you’ve no doubt made plans to go to Lake Bled. And you should, it is absolutely stunning. Hire a bike and ride around the outside, take a dip anywhere you can enter the water or take a 15 minute hike the hill to the castle which has amazing views and interesting exhibitions. Bled is reachable by public bus, tour or by hitchhiking in the busier months.
But if you have your own transport take some time to visit Bled’s less touristy cousin Lake Bohinj. Just half an hour away along some beautiful winding roads you’ll come across this even larger lake. It’s not as easy to walk around the outside but there are some great spots for swimming and admiring the views.
Triglav National Park
This is the area around lake Bohnij and is perfect for cycling, hiking and camping.
Rakov Škocjan Valley and Postojna Caves
The Rakov valley is an old cave that collapsed forming a valley of smaller caves, rivers and natural bridges. The area is just 30 minutes drive from Ljubljana and makes a great place for hiking and relaxing. The nearby Postojna caves are very crowded in the summer but the Skocjan ones are just as impressive and less full.
Yes, Slovenia even has it’s own little patch of coast. For us it didn’t nearly compare to the beauty in the rest of the country but there are some cute little harbour towns and areas to relax in the sun and go for a dip. It’s about and hour and a half from Ljubljana so if you’re really craving a salt water fix then you can make a day of it.
So there you have it. A guide to Ljubljana to help you make the most of your time in the brilliant little capital. I'd call it the best little capital in the world if I didn't come from Wellington!