If there’s one thing I hate, it’s not having enough time in a city. But, I know often, people come to a country and want to bounce around, so 3 days in Ljubljana seems like a good starting point, especially because you have a lot more to see in Slovenia!
I’m going to share the top tourist attractions and how you can see them at a really relaxed pace. If you wanted to you could actually see all the “tourist stuff” in just a day. It’s a very small city.
3 days in Ljubljana: stuff you need to know!
I’m going to share transportation tips, the top tourist attractions, food you’ll want to try, some options on where to stay, and a section on shopping because there are a lot of cute shops here.
Getting In & Out of Ljubljana
The flights here are not aplenty, and it’s a small airport so it’s likely your route here will be obnoxious. It took me 30 hours from India! You can look into flying into Trieste, Italy as well, which is right at their border and since it’s Europe you can cross with ease, even in a rental car. There are local buses that take you from the airport to the city center.
The best way to travel Slovenia is a rental car, but I would wait until you are leaving Ljubljana to get the rental car. This is because you can walk everywhere in Ljubljana AND there are no cars allowed on the city center roads anymore. Lastly, parking is limited right now (they are set to build an underground parking lot soon). You’ll save money by renting a car the day you leave to see the rest of Slovenia.
Pictured above is one of the little green cars they have in the city center that take people around since no cars are allowed. When your bus/taxi drops you off at the city center, you can ask your hotel to arrange this. It’s free but only runs until 8 pm!
Places to See in Ljubljana / Tourist Attractions in Ljubljana
Everywhere you look here, you’ll see beauty. You could actually walk around the whole day and accidentally see everything there is to see in the city center area. I forgot one thing I love about European cities like this: they have a tourist information center! You can go and get maps and advice for free. I’ve been in Asia too long!
Have a meal in the Ljubljana Castle in a tower
I didn’t do a tour at the castle and just enjoyed it’s beauty from below until I went for dinner one night. I was a little castle’d out, as you’ll see a lot of castles in Slovenia! This one has cute cafes and restaurants inside and it’s FREE to enter.
We ate at Strelec restaurant. FYI before you go, it’s pricey. You get the cool experience of eating in a tower and the people who serve the meal are dressed up, the dishes are all bronze. It’s pretty cool. The meal is WAY fancy. Although you’d think this would be cool for children, it seems more like a fine dining adult experience.
my appetizer… I’d tell you what it is but no clue! Something like goose liver pate, something something
To get up to the castle, you can take a cable car. It’s 4 Euro there and back for one ticket. But, it only goes until 9 pm so we missed our ride down and had to walk. We took a shortcut through the forest in the dark – but weren’t scared because every Slovenian we met had told us how safe Slovenia was lol
view from the cable car – worth it!
Tivoli City Park
I didn’t go to the park, but if you wanted to get a picnic and go it would be so nice. I drove past it and it did look beautiful. If you want to go here, it’s best to rent a bike which you can get at the tourist information center.
Visit the Market
The market is every day except Sunday and they sell fruit/veg and local products. Of course, I was interested in the woven baskets. But, in Slovenia, you’ll see baskets, sheepskin, beeswax products (candle, soap, honey), pumpkin seed oil, and other items you might want to buy as souvenirs. There is also a part of the market inside which has meat, cheese, and nuts. Then the last part is a fish market which is also inside.
Open Kitchen (food market) on Fridays
On Friday, there is a courtyard which is turned into a food market. Sadly, it rained the Friday I was there so I didn’t get to see this. Here, you can try all kinds of foods at once! Food markets are basically my dream come true. It’s only on from March-October when it’s warmer.
“The choice of food on offer is wide and varied. Each Friday, the market features around thirty different food providers, including modern restaurants, traditional gostilnas, tourist farms, and independent chefs wanting to promote their offerings. The cooking is done to the accompaniment of music and entertainment.” -Slovenian tourism website
Old Town: Triple Bridge / Lock Bridge “Butchers Bridge” / Dragon Bridge / Ljubljana Cathedral / Preseren Square: (Pink) Church of Annunciation
So, Old Town you can’t miss, it’s right in the middle just beneath the castle! Ljubljana has a lot of famous bridges. Trip Bridge was the invention of Jože Plečnik. The lock bridge is where you put a lover’s lock on it like many cities have.
Pretty much all the must see things in Ljublana are right here in the “Old Town”. Just take some time to walk around and I highly recommend getting a map from information. You can see it all in an hour if you wanted. You can also take a walking tour to learn more about the history, which I did, and I won’t bore you with (although I found it interesting and LOVE walking tours in Europe). Plus, with a walking tour you can learn about why dragons are so important here and why they planted trees outside the main church (it’s a crazy reason!).
Walk along the Ljubljanica river
The river is usually emerald green, so I’m told. But, it was horrible and rainy most of my time in Slovenia so the river was churning up a lovely mud color. Still, beautiful. Along the river are these beautiful weeping willows just about a 10-minute walk down the riverside.
You can do SUP (stand up paddleboarding) and rent little boats to go on the river, but the river can’t be moving as fast as it was in these pictures.
Metelkova – the military barracks which are now a huge art scene!
You can ride a bike here as well, it’s on the outside of town. This is an old military barracks that after years of negotiating, they decided to not tear it down and instead let it be a place for creativity. Here, you’ll find young people doing graffiti and other kinds of art, partying, and just chilling out. Apparently, it’s a cool place to go on a Friday night (the biggest night to go out in Ljubljana). I was in Ljubljana on a Friday night but I’m an old fart so didn’t go. Check it out in this article from the Guardian.
See the city from above
If you go to the Skyscraper (yes, that’s the name or you can translate it: Neboticnik) you can have a coffee and cake and take in the best view in the city. It’s the tallest building and stands out, so you can’t miss it. The views were amazing and it’s a great cup of Joe!
If you’re interested in architecture there are two things that would interest you. One is that there is a lot of Art Nouveau here and many tours for that. Also, Jože Plečnik did a lot of the buildings and bridges around town is really famous and you can do tours of his work. You can also learn about the Baroque style that is here. There is a lot of mishmash architecture going on, which makes it unique!
Food in Ljubljana
I was there as a guest of the tourism board, so they set me up on a private tour – but there are food tours online everywhere. I love trying new food when I travel but was not down with the beef tongue they love here (ick!). The sausages, though? Damn good! I wanted to bring some back to India, but my journey was way too long to keep them fresh.
The tastiest place to try sausages is above, Klobasarna. It makes such famous sausages that I kid you not, they have been to SPACE. An astronaut that went was Slovenian and apparently, each astronaut gets to take one food item, and she chose this sausage. NASA had to study it and make sure it was safe.
At all times, people in Slovenia want to drink: wine, beer, local spirits… they are down. Craft beer is a big thing here. Slovenian wine is amazing and they have a huge variety of local wines. The varieties of homemade liquor though were not my favorite, but then liquor never is. They had a blueberry one I was offered often and a honey flavor.
I don’t have a list of top restaurants as I didn’t really do my research on this one and kind of popped into places. But, one that I do want to make mention of is Druga Violina. It is a fantastic restaurant that employees people with special needs, through a program they run. The government is who they rent from, so they get a good deal on rent to keep the cost down. I love supporting places like this when I travel and bonus: the food was tasty! It’s local food so go for the special Slovenian potatoes (fried in yummy fat) and the dumplings.
Shopping in Ljubljana
You know I have to find the cutest local shops, and I did! I wrote a whole post about this though, which you can read here: cute shops in Ljubljana. I also wrote in that article the types of souvenirs you might want to buy here.
The shops are adorable, as are the cafe’s and really that is the biggest reason to stay longer. Doors like that above just look so inviting, and as you walk around Ljubljana you’ll notice that every little shop looks just like this! How frustratingly charming ;)
Where to stay in Ljubljana
I stayed at two hotels here. One when I arrived, before I went exploring the rest of the country, and then another when I came back and actually spent time exploring Ljubljana. I go into a lot more detail about these hotels with a reviews, prices, and images in my article: unique places to stay in Slovenia.
Vander – Design Hotel, Boutique, Trendy, Amazing restaurant, center of town
Hotel Slon – Affordable, 4-star, Huge rooms, center of town
Stuff you can do for FREE in Ljubljana
- Many museums offer free entry on the first Sunday of each month
- Free events are almost always happening. You can check a calendar of them here.
- Exploring nature at the Castle Hill walk, Tivoli Park, Roman Wall, and the Botanic gardens.
- WiFi is free in the city
- Exploring the markets and fairs (if you don’t buy anything)
So, that’s about it for Ljubljana! There is a lot to do in 3 days here but as you can see, you could complete this pretty fast. You should definitely rent a bike and check out the park and military barracks on the outskirts of town.
In the evenings (and anytime the sun comes out) the city really comes alive with every cafe fill to the brim, people having wine on the riverbanks, and guys playing music for cash near the bridges. It’s a very energetic city, no boring vibes here!
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I went to Ljubliana about 8 years ago and absolutely loved it! I hope to go back soon as it looks like it is better than ever!
Oh yeah, they have changed a lot recently & made the area pedestrian only (no cars allowed) very cool!
Hi Rachel, love your pictures of Ljubljana – it’s such a pretty place! I had a lovely time there a couple of years ago and arrived by train from Zagreb in Croatia, which might be an option for your readers too. It only takes about 2.5 hrs. The food market is fabulous, but it looks like I need to go back for craft beer tasting :)
Oh yes, the train is a great option! I love trains in Europe :)
Delish looking fresh fruit. I love slow travel but if I can experience a few key spots in 3 days, I am in. Thanks for sharing :)
Yeah, it’s tough but there is so much to see in Slovenia that it was so necessary for me!
Hi Rachel, Great Post, so much insight and information. I travelled to Ljubljana in the 70s and still have vivid memories of the trip. Great place, great people.
Amazing, I bet it’s changed a lot since then!
Hi Rachel, would you recommend ppl to go there in December near Xmas time (for three days)?