Rich in history, beautiful architecture, and friendly locals, Ljubljana is one of Europe’s finest hidden gems.
While Slovenia’s small capital doesn’t cover a lot of surface area, there is plenty to do in the pedestrian-only city center. This list of the 7 best things to do in Ljubljana is all you need to discover this lovable city in one day.
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7 Best Things to Do in Ljubljana
1) Visit Prešeren Square
To get a real taste of Ljubljana, begin your visit by strolling through Prešeren Square. This plaza is perhaps the city’s most recognizable location thanks to its famous Triple Bridge. The celebrated bridge was built as an underwhelming single-span bridge nearly two centuries ago. However, in the 1930s, two pedestrian side bridges were added as the original bridge was unable to handle both vehicle and pedestrian traffic. Thus, it was transformed into the Triple Bridge as it is now known today. Constructed with a great deal of Italian influence, the Triple Bridge takes on quite the enchanting appearance in the evening when the reflection of the street lamps over the river makes everything seem to glow.
Surrounding the plaza you’ll also note the sweetest pink church which often serves as a lovely backdrop to local street performers who come to the square to demonstrate their talents. You’ll see that it’s quite easy to spend a few hours here simply people-watching!
2) Have Coffee Beside the Ljubljanica River
Second on the list of the 7 best things to do in Ljubljana is to plop yourself down at one of the many riverside cafes. This is the perfect place to enjoy a delicious cup of coffee while basking in the sunshine beside the Ljubljanica River. You’ll notice many other locals doing the same as this is a beloved tradition among Slovenians.
This is not just a summer activity – most cafes offer blankets and have outdoor heat lamps so that you can sip your coffee on the water at any time of the year.
Tip: If you visit during carnival season (usually in February), be sure to pick up a locally baked, jelly-filled donut at one of the street stalls to accompany your coffee.
3) Stop by Ljubljana’s Central Market
Adjacent to Ljubljana’s Prešeren Square lies the central market where you can meander through the stalls of seasonal produce, organic honey, and unrefined cheeses while the local sellers offer you samples of their goods.
The Central Market is divided into three main parts. The fish market, located directly on the riverbank, is where the daily catch is sold and locals come to pick up a variety of fresh seafood. Bordering the fish market is another covered area where butchers come to offer their best cuts of meat and women display freshly made cheese from the surrounding villages. Outside, in the third section of the market, you’ll find an endless rainbow of fruits and vegetables covering a sea of tabletops beneath ivory umbrellas.
You’ll also notice the vending machines selling cold, locally produced yogurt and milk!
A section of the outdoor market is also dedicated to fresh cut flowers as well as even dried and preserved florals. Depending on the month, you can find all sorts of blooms here – we happened to be wandering through during tulip season (my favorite!).
4) Peruse the Boutiques
The streets of Ljubljana are bursting with adorable vintage shops and darling boutiques concealing all sorts of treasures. You can find anything under the sun including old-school records, 70s sweaters, and handcrafted ceramic products. One of the many boutiques we entered was Babushka Boutique, the cutest little gift shop selling beautifully curated items made locally or by small designer brands. Take your time to admire the shelves of handmade jewelry, delightful stationery, and precious home decorations.
5) Relax in Tivoli Park
A gorgeous green spot, Tivoli Park stretches across five square kilometers, providing an excellent escape from the city’s tourist center. The park is landscaped with ponds, flowerbeds, and tree-lined pathways zigzagging into the slopes of Rožnik Hill. If you’d rather explore than relax, some points of interest located in Tivoli Park include Ljubljana Botanical Gardens, Museum of Contemporary History, as well as a collection of sculptures that dot the grounds.
6) Admire the Ljubljana Castle
The Ljubljana Castle is a landmark that simply cannot be missed – no matter where you are in the city, it always seems to be in sight.
There are many ways of appreciating this notable fortress:
Admire the Ljubljana Castle from the town streets, taking in the many angles of its imminent presence.
Ride the funicular to the top of the hill and marvel at the Ljubljana Castle up close. At the top, you can choose whether or not you want to enter the castle for a history lesson and even more spectacular views of the city from above.
The most innovative way to visit the castle is through Escape Castle. This is a unique and exciting adventure game that allows you to experience the Ljubljana Castle in a totally twisted way. Find out more about this one-of-a-kind castle visit here.
7) Take a Stroll Through Congress Square
Last on the list of 7 best things to do in Ljubljana is to take a stroll through Congress Square. Other than uninterrupted views of the castle on the hill, you’ll find important buildings like the University of Ljubljana, Slovenian Philharmonic as well as the Slovenska Matica (Slovenian Publishing House) surrounding the perfectly manicured park.
This particular square serves as a stage for a variety of activities that take place throughout the year in Ljubljana including concerts, events, and even exhibits.
Just off Congress Square is Lars & Sven, Slovenia’s most delicious burger bar that prides itself on locally sourced meat and social responsibility. Though not technically a traditional Slovenian meal, their burgers are finger-licking-good and it’s nice to know you’re doing good by eating them!
That rounds off my list of the 7 best things to do in Ljubljana. Have you ever visited this city? What are your recommendations on the best things to do in Ljubljana? Let me know!
If you’re traveling around the area, be sure to check out my post on Laghi di Fusine (The Secret Lakes of Italy) that are located just over an hour away from Ljubljana!