To be honest I didn’t know much about Ljubljana until I stepped foot on Slovenian soil (ok that’s a lie because you know I came armed with a 3 page itinerary). But I didn’t know much until I started researching and oh my, add this city to your bucket list immediately because it’s an absolute gem.
I’m going to give you some must-sees and top tips for visiting Slovenia and I’ve also written a follow up foodie blog because I have way too much to say. Are we ready for Hannah in Ljubljana? Who knew my name rhymed with so much btw, mind blown.
You drive me crazy…
It was late when we arrived, add to that my aversion to public transport so of course we went for the taxi option but buses and trains are super cheap into the city.
- Taxi – 30 mins, €30-40 from the airport to central Ljubljana
- Urban trains – 40 mins, €8pp
- Bus – 90 mins, €1.20 – €2.50pp
Travel tip: If you’re looking to get a taxi to your hotel pre book before you arrive – it’ll save you around €20.
I’m excellent in bed – I can sleep for days: Where to stay
We stayed at the Best Western Premier Hotel in central Ljubljana located within walking distance from all of the key sites, coming in at a very reasonable £88 per night. They have a lovely cosy bar and restaurant area and a great wine selection. Beds are comfy, robes are provided and apparently there’s a gym but I can’t vouch for it as the most strenuous thing I did whilst away was unpack my bag.
Travel tip: If you’re travelling with a pup then this is the perfect choice as it’s dog friendly!
The central meeting spot: this is where it all goes down. Named after poet France Prešeren, his statue stands looking out across the city for his long lost love, cute huh. The square is pedestrian only which is nice but do watch out for the kamikaze bikes. While we were there, there was a chess tournament (which looked impressive despite me having no knowledge of the rules) mulled wine in March (deep joy) and some guy eating pizza at 10am (hero).
Travel tip: Head there in the eve to see the square illuminated sans crowds.
Triple Bridge and Dragon Bridge
The two bridges you need to see in Ljubljana are Triple bridge (Tromostovje) and Dragon Bridge. Triple bridge is located near Prešeren Square you literally can’t miss it, again pedestrian only and feels very Venetian, you’ll see there’s lots of Italian influence throughout the city. The dragon is the symbol of Ljubljana and where Dragon bridge got its name, symbolising power, courage and wisdom so well worth a peep especially if you were as invested in Game of Thrones as I was. Mother of Dragons who?
Travel tip: If you’re heading to Dragon bridge walk through central market for street food on the way through, it feels illegal to explore on an empty stomach!
Honey, prepare your stealth legs for the walk up, because it is steep. It only takes about 15 mins but it feels like 15 years when your calves are screaming. There is a funicular but we clearly didn’t find it.
Do go up the viewing tower for an amazing view of the city but if you’re not a fan of heights, don’t look down on the spiral staircase if you want to keep your lunch intact. I sat in a brace position for a good 5 minutes at the top while I tried to remember how to move my legs. You can wander for free but the €12 ticket gives you entry to the museums filled with artefacts and interactive exhibits, a return trip by cable car (if you can find it) and an audio guide.
For the best views of the city with floor to ceiling windows and outdoor seating, Nebotičnik is well worth a visit, it also has a lift… The interiors aren’t mind blowing but as you’ll spend your entire time looking out over the city it doesn’t matter too much. The staff are super friendly and you’ll be able to take in the landscape with a long island.
Travel tip: Get to Nebotičnik for sunset – for pink candy floss skies and cake, weather permitting.
Franciscan church, Vurnik House and Cathedral of St Nicholas
If you’re into Baroque or Art Nouveau style architecture then these buildings need to be seen…
- Franciscan church – located in Prešeren Square, this pink church looks out across the square and does somewhat look like a beautiful pink birthday cake and yes I dressed to match because why ever not.
- Vurnik House – originally designed by Vurnik’s wife Helena, this is said to be the city’s most colourful building and is quite frankly a work of art.
- Cathedral of St. Nicholas (Stolnica Sv. Nikolaja) – a €2 entry fee on arrival will grant access to the most beautifully designed cathedral filled with murals and gold leaf. With its green dome and twin towers you can’t miss it.
Off the beaten track wanders – Metelkova Art Centre
Ok Picasso, I like it. I’m about as edgy as a circle but I do love a bit of street art and this place does not disappoint. Previously the military headquarters of the Army of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, now home to an abundance of art. After dark this becomes an underground artists playground with exhibitions and performances from DJs around the world and even the odd festival.
Do you like Disney? Have you once considered what it would be like if Frozen was based on a true story? And do you like castles? If you’re nodding along with me then you need to spend a day at Lake Bled.
Lake Bled is worth visiting if just for the air of calm that sweeps across you when you arrive, it’s hands down one of the most serene and relaxing places I’ve ever visited. That was until I attempted boarding a gondola where quite frankly I’m amazed that I didn’t barrel roll into the lake with all of my possessions. But well worth it to get to Bled Island which is a short row away (the only rowing I did here was refusing to paddle anywhere) where you can see the lake from a different perspective, grab an ice-cream, take in the scenery and watch others try and dock their boats – hilarious.
We didn’t make it to the Gorge but I highly recommend a walk up to the Castle, get those stealth legs ready again. I’d say you need a full day here to take into account the travel, the rowing (both types) and time for a leisurely lunch in one of the many bistros nearby.
Transport and entry fees
- Organised tour – costs roughly €91 pp + includes most entry fees except the castle
- Bus 1 hour – €8 pp return * recommend this route as it was such an easy journey
- Train 1 hour 30 – €24 pp return – you’ll need to grab a taxi or bus the rest of the way (10 mins) as the train doesn’t stop at the lake.
- Taxi – 36 mins – €80 – €100
- Entry fees: Vintgar gorge: €10pp, Bled Castle, €10pp, Gondola: €10pp
Travel tip: make sure you try the local Lake Bled cream cake called kremšnita. Think layers of cream, custard and puff pastry dusted in icing sugar.
I’ve dropped a suggested route for you below, big up to Google maps. If you fancy a reasonably priced city break with gorgeous sites, delicious eats and friendly locals, that isn’t teeming with stag and hen parties then Ljubljana is the city for you. Have I convinced you yet? xo
- Best Western Premier Hotel
- Prešeren Square/ Triple Bridge/ Franciscan church
- Vurnik House
- Cathedral of St Nicholas
- Central Market
- Dragon Bridge
- Metelkova Art Centre
- Ljubljana Castle
- Nebotičnik skyscraper
- Lake Bled
For more city guides