Ljubljana (pronounced lee-yoob-lee-yana) is a mouthful to say, but is still absolutely worth visiting. I arrived to the Slovenian capital knowing next to nothing about the city, only to find that is an incredibly charming and underrated European capital. While you can see most of the main sites in a day, I’m definitely glad I was based here for my trip to Slovenia. Here are my recommendations for any first-timer visiting Ljubljana!
Triple Bridge is the heart of the Old Town—it is a three-part bridge that spans the Ljubljanica River, which runs through the city. Other notable bridges are Dragon Bridge and Cobblers Bridge.
St. Nicholas’ Church is located right next to the river and is full of frescoes. It also has very intriguing doors. There is no entry fee here, either.
The Franciscan Monastery is one of the most famous buildings in Ljubljana’s Old Town: it’s the pink church building that you see on all of the postcards. There is no entry fee.
The Central Market is a great place to visit, especially if you happen to be there on a Saturday morning, like I was! The place was packed with stalls and vendors, musicians and dancers, and was great to stroll through for the atmosphere.
Ljubljana Castle sits on top of a hill overlooking the city. While it’s a bit of a hike, the views are definitely worth it. While the castle has been heavily reconstructed and today is much more of an event venue than a castle, there are a few parts worth checking out: the Museum of Puppetry (not kidding, it was really cool), the Viewing Tower, the Virtual Tour (telling the history of the castle settlement), and the extensive Slovenian History Exhibit. There are information signs (in English), so I don’t think an audio guide would be necessary.
Ljubljana has several museums, the most popular of which are the National Gallery, the City Museum of Ljubljana, and the National Museum of Slovenia. The National Gallery showcases art from the late medieval period to the twentieth century; the City Museum is centered around the history of Ljubljana; and the National Museum of Slovenia is focused mainly on archaeology and the history of the settlement of Slovenia.
Cafés are incredibly popular in Ljubljana, and I highly recommend experiencing this slice of the city’s culture! The most bustling cafes are along the Ljubljanica River.
The Basics: Ljubljana is the capital of Slovenia, and has a population of about 272,000. The national currency is the Euro, although paying with small bills and exact change is appreciated. I found that many people spoke English (or at least enough to get by) everywhere in the touristy Old Town. Ljubljana is most easily connected to Italy (Trieste), Austria, and Croatia (Zagreb).
Getting Around: Ljubljana has an extensive bus system, but everything within the Old Town is easily within walking distance. It’s also less than 10-minutes to walk from the train/bus station to the Old Town. I never used public transportation during my stay here and walked everywhere. Biking is very popular here, with lots of designated bike lanes!
Where I Stayed: I stayed at Zeppelin Hostel for my trip in Ljubljana. The location was ideal, less than a 10-minute walk to the Old Town in one direction, less than 10 minutes to the bus and train station in the other direction. My boyfriend and I had a private double bed, which was huge. It was also ensuite with its own toilet, sink, and shower. The staff were very helpful and friendly, and there was a basic breakfast in the kitchen/common area. The hostel had key locks as well as a door code to get into the common area—so security was good. I snuck a peak inside the dorm rooms, which looked pretty spacious and had huge lockers. The hostel also had phenomenal wifi. Overall, I would definitely stay here again!
Ljubljana is an incredibly charming city, and made for an excellent base for visiting more of Slovenia. The winding, cobblestone streets are made for exploring, and the café culture challenges any of the more well-known Western European cities. This underrated capital definitely has a lot to offer!
Have you ever been to Ljubljana? Share your thoughts in the comments!