The best things to do in Ljubljana

  1. Tips for studying abroad in Ljubljana – Study abroad in Ljubljana
  2. How to get to Ljubljana – Getting to Ljubljana by plane, train, bus or car
  3. Public transport in Ljubljana
  4. Accommodation for students in Ljubljana & Cost of living
  5. Save money in Ljubljana - Tips for living in Ljubljana on a student budget
  6. Ljubljana neighbourhoods – The most important districts of Ljubljana
  7. Ljubljana Nightlife – A guide to nightclubs and going out in Ljubljana’s
  8. Where to eat in Ljubljana – Slovenian cuisine and gastronomy in Ljubljana
  9. The best things to do in Ljubljana
  10. Festivals in Ljubljana – Festivals and events in Ljubljana
  11. Day trips from Ljubljana – Places to visit and Excursions around Ljubljana
  12. Ljubljana in 3 days – what to see and do in 3 days

Ljubljana is not the biggest city in the world and some people say you can see everything within one day. Maybe that is true if you want to have a day tour, maybe it is not true if you really explore it. The Old Town is preserved quite well and the Castle is definitely worth a visit. Furthermore you can explore a lot of nice restaurants and bars, have a look at interesting exhibitions in the museums, visit the photo gallery, enjoy walks in the nature and get to know the history of the city better by doing a free walking tour.

Sites of historical and cultural interest

The Castle – Ljubljana Grad

The Castle of Ljubljana overlooks the city as it is placed on a hill for about 900 years now. To reach the castle there are different ways. If you have a car you can drive there as they offer some parking places at the hill. Otherwise there is the funicular that takes you from the Old Town up the hill to the Castle. It runs every 10 minutes and they say that 33 person can take place in the funicular. A return ticket for students is 3€, a single one 1,50€. If you feel more sportive, of course you can also cycle up the hill or walk. There are two walkways, the one which connects with the street the cars take as well and another one that starts in the Old Town and is a bit steep but worth it as you will be at the castle in less than 15min.

At the tower and the ramparts you have beautiful views over the city and inside the castle there is an exhibition about Slovenian history, a puppet museum and there are some historical rooms like the Chapel of St. George and the prison. The exhibition is divided in 6 sections and it covers the entire known history of Slovenia back to about 200 000 years ago. In Slovenia puppet shows have a long tradition. Therefore in the permanent museum exhibition set by the Ljubljana Puppet Theatre, you can learn about the history of puppeteering in Slovenia and the creativity of contemporary Slovenian puppeteers. You can also watch a video presentation called “Virtual Castle”.

If you feel like taking a guided tour you will be brought back in time in 6 different decades in time and with 6 costumed characters that show you the history of Ljubljana Castle and the development of the city Ljubljana. The tour starts at the former place of the observation tower, goes on to the castle entrance, the courtyard, the Pentagonal Tower, the penitentiary and finally the tour ends in the courtyard again. At all these stations people from former times will meet you and tell their story and it lasts for about 1 hour. In the Summer months (July, August and September) the tour will be held at 11am and 3pm, in the other months of the year it starts at 11am. You can take a ticket just for the tour which will be 7€ for a student. If you take a combi-ticket with the funicular, it will be 8,40€.

In the castle itself they have space for art exhibitions, a café, two restaurants (Strelec and Gostilna na Gradu) and a nightclub. They have a shop as well in which you will find sweets, handcrafts, jewelry, liqueurs etc. Furthermore events are to be held at the castle for children and families as well as people can participate in art workshops, dance evenings and an open-air cinema in Summer (Film under the Stars: International movies will be shown and chairs are set up on an grassy area. The ticket sale works on a first come first serve base and the movies start at 9.30pm after sunset). Each weekend in the Rock Hall of the castle you can hear Jazz, Soul, Funk, Rock and Blues, Rhythm and Blues and Latin as the Ljubljana Castle Jazz Club hosts live music events to socialise and enjoy the music of renowned Slovenian and foreign musicians. The opening hours of the castle are:

  • January to March, November from 10am until 8pm daily
  • April, May and October from 9am until 9pm daily
  • June to September from 9am until 11pm daily
  • December: 10am until 10pm daily

Ljubljana Cathedral

Its official name is St. Nicholas Church and it is located at Dolničarjeva ulica 1, close to the Central Market and the Town Hall. It was a Romanesque church in the 13th century. After a fire in the 14th century the church was refurbished in Gothic style and got some alterations. In the 15th century it became a cathedral but burned down again. The cathedral was redesigned in Baroque style and it is orientated to the east. It is quite remarkable with its green roofs and the yellow walls. The church tower have 6 bells, one of them is the second oldest you can find in Slovenia from 1326. At the entrance you will find bronze sculptured doors, they are from 1996. By building those doors Slovenia celebrates the 1250 birthday of Christianity in the Slovenian territory and the visit of Pope John Paul II. Inside you find Baroque décor remains with frescoes painted by Guilio Quaglio. Services are held daily at 6am, 7am, 8am, 9am, 10.30am, 11.30am, 12.30pm, 4pm and 6.30pm.

Franciscan Church (or Pink Church)

At Prešernov trg square you find the Franciscan Monastery and Church of the Annunciation. Until the end of the 18th century, Augustine monks where living in the monastery and the Church of the Annunciation was built between 1646 and 1660. If you have a look at the facade you will see Ljubljana’s largest Madonna statue and in the inside there are frescoes from the painter Matevž Langus. The place in front of the church is a common one to meet up with people and often young people are to be found sitting on the chairs to the church enjoying the weather, listening to music or just chatting.

Dragon Bridge - Zmajski Most

If you google Ljubljana, the picture of a green dragon with an open mouth might appear is this is one of the symbols for Ljubljana. There are 4 dragon statues on each side of the bridge and the bridge itself is a unique construction in Art Nouveau architecture. It was constructed between 1900 and 1901 and replaced an old wooden bridge (Butcher’s Bridge) which was there before from 1819. Around 1900 it was one of the largest bridges in Europe and the first structure in Slovenia to be paved with asphalt. Originally instead of dragons, lions should adorn the bridge but the architect Jurij Zaninović decided to place dragons instead. You can see the parapet lamps as well at the bridge, in former times they were powered by gas. If you have dragons somewhere, a legend is not far away so here it comes:

It is said that Jason (the founder of Ljubljana) and his Argonauts killed a dragon. One of the dragons on the bridge is the this dragon and if a virgin crosses the bridge, the dragons wag their tales.

Old Town

I have mentioned the Old Town several times in this guide already as you find many bars, restaurants, points of interests etc. in it. Nevertheless the Old Town itself is a point of interest as well. It is the area on the right bank of the Ljublanica (the river that goes through Ljubljana) and you can have a nice walk through picturesque streets with nice little shops, bars and restaurants. Either you walk alongside the river or in the streets, have a look at the nice bridges connecting one side of the river with the other (e. g. the Glassbridge Ribja Brv) and you do not have to worry about cars as they are not allowed to go through that pedestrian area. Although this might be the most touristy area of Ljubljana, the prices in the bars and restaurants are affordable and you can see many locals sitting next to the river enjoying a coffee over a chat even when there are only 10 degrees outside.

Prešernov trg Square and Triple Bridges

Just in front of the Franciscan Church you will find the Prešernov trg square which was a road junction in former times. On this square you will find the Monument of France Prešeren who is known as the greatest Slovene classical author. He wrote the first Slovene ballad and the first Slovene epic. Influenced by personal experiences, his poetry was about unhappy love and an unhappy, oppressed homeland. He was in conflict with the civil life as well as religious belief and could not get along with the provincial bourgeoisie of Ljubljana. He had drinking problems and tried to kill himself at least twice. Furthermore he was surrounded by close friends that died tragically and he was suffering from unfulfilled love towards his muse Julija Primic.

The statue is situated right in the middle of the square and faces an old building nearby. It is said that his love Julija lived in the building the statue is looking at. One of his fingers seem to be pointing somewhere, people say he points towards Juiljas window. There is a women above the statue which shall represent the muse from which France Prešeren gets his inspiration from.

Close to the Square you will find Tromostovje or the Triple Bridge. Among students the name “the Three Bridges” is also quite popular. The bridge was constructed by Jože Plečnik and by admiring the it you will realise that the middle bridge is by far the largest, whereas the two others left and right are smaller. During Medieval times only the middle bridge was there, made out of wood and being used that carriages could pass it. The architect added those 2 other smaller bridges between 1929 and 1932 to give pedestrians give a chance to cross the bridges without being in danger of a vehicle. Furthermore the bridge had metal railing but Jože Plečnik replaced it by stone railings. From the bridge you have a beautiful view towards the old buildings of the Old Town and sometimes you can see boats on the rivers. There is a public toilet as well which will cost something in Summer times because of the touristy season. But if you are living there for some months as an exchange student, I would say paying for a toilet you have been to before for free is not really necessary.

Central Market

The Central Market is located between the Triple Bridge and the Dragon Bridge on the east side of the river. It is an open-air market at Vodnikov trg and a covered market at Pogačarnev trg square. There are several small food shops along the river Ljubljanica as well. Usually you can see locals here buying their food and the selection consists of fresh Slovenian fruits and vegetables grown by local farmers as well as tropical fruits, dry-cured meat products, balcony flowers, plug plants and also some cloths or bags or umbrellas. At the covered market you get dry-cured meat products, fresh meat, homemade bread baked in a wood-fired oven, homemade biscuits and sweets, homemade cheese, dried fruits and nuts, homemade olive and pumpkin seed oil and so on and so forth.

Each Wednesday at Pogačarnev trg square there is an organic market at which you can try organic food produced by Slovenian farms. The opening hours are:

  1. Open-air section:
    • Weekdays 6am until 6pm
    • Saturday 6am until 4pm
    • Sunday and holidays closed
  2. Inside section at Pogačarjev trg square:
    • Weekdays 7am until 4pm
    • Saturday 7am until 2pm

Tivoli Park and Botanical Garden

I already mentioned Tivoli Park and the Botanical Garden so I am going to keep it short. Tivoli is the largest Park in Ljubljana and it was designed in 1813 by the French engineer Jean Blanchard. It covers an area of approx. 5 square kilometers and you will find several notable buildings, art works, flowers, trees, statues and fountains within the park. Since 1984, the park is protected as a part of Tivoli–Rožnik Hill–Šiška Hill Nature Park. There is a little castle inside with a promenade and a mansion in which you find the Museum of Contemporary History of Slovenia. If you are a sportsfan, you can visit the Tivoli Hall indoor sports arenas. They play ice hockey insideand and basketball. In the south of Tivoli you will find the greenhouse with tropical plants and the rose garden which includes 160 different types of roses. If you walk up Rožnik hill you will find a pink chaple and a traditional Slovenian restaurant.

The Botanical Garden of Ljubljana was established in 1810 and is Slovenia's oldest natural, scientific, educational institution. Within the garden you will find over 4 500 different species and supspecies while one third of them are from Slovenia and the others are from all over Europe and other continents. You can also visit the tropical glasshouse which was built on the Garden’s 200th anniversary. It contains over 380 plants and the entrance for students is 1,30€. This garden is really nice to relax as there is a café that offers some snacks, beverages and breakfast. You can study there or read a book and enjoy nature just as in Tivoli park. The opening hours are:

  • April to October from 7am until 7pm
  • November to March from 7am until 5pm
  • June to August from 7am until 8pm

Zoo Ljubljana

You can find the Ljubljana Zoo near the Rožnik hill (Večna pot 70) and see animal species typical for the Alpine, Pannonian and Metiterranean area. They offer special family-orientated animal experience activities during which the children can get in close contact with the animals. You can take a guided tour through the zoo if you want to during daytime or at night and visitors can join the zookeepers at feeding time. You will find about 119 species of animals in the zoo and the price is 5,50€ for students. The opening hours are:

  • May to August from 9am until 7pm
  • January and February, November and December from 9am until 4pm
  • March and October from 9am until 5pm
  • April and September from 9am until 6pm

Other things to see and do in Ljubljana

When it comes to nature and culture, there are more activities you can do. In the following I list them.


Špica (Gruberjevo nabrežje) means “pointed tip” in English and refers to the shape of the river embankment at Ljubljanica in the south of the city. It is formed as large stairs with grass, trees and flowers. From the Old Town it is a 10-15min walk to get there and in the past it was the beach of the city. They renovated it so nowadays it is a recreation place for everyone. They have a café which serves food as well as drinks (e. g. ice coffee and Aperol Spritz) and from Spring until early Autumn you will find comfortable chairs and beanbags to use for free.

This is the best place to study after classes, have nice chat in the afternoon with friends or read a book in the evenings and watch the sun goes down. You can see mountains in the distance and enjoy the peaceful gathering of people at this place.


The Path of Remembrance and Comradeship surrounds the Ljubljana. It is a memory of the times in Ljubljana during World War II. The Italian fascist army marched into Ljubljana on Good Friday, the 11th of April 1941. The majority of Slovenes was against the Fascism but no political party managed to agree on a resistance that was put into action. The Liberation Front of the Slovene Nation (OF) was formed in Ljubljana and the the Italian fascists crushed the resistance in February 1942. After that the Italians enclosed Ljubljana with a barbed wire fence barrier to isolate/ separate the city from the countryside. In between they set watch-towers and bunkers so that Ljubljana was strongly guarded and everyone who wanted to enter or leave the city was checked. In 1945 the Liberation Army came to Ljubljana after it was enclosed for 1 170 days. The citizens were so happy that they celebrated their freedom in going on walks in the surrounding countryside.

After this sad happening in Slovene history the city destroyed the fence and created the POT – a path of remembrance of what happened to Ljubljana. They created a way where the fence was before and it is set mostly in green surroundings. About 49 tree species has been planted and the landscape was created by youth brigades and numerous volunteers who worked more than 350 000 hours to make this path the total opposite of being violent, sad and a symbol of oppression. It is 33km long around the city and has been proclaimed by a City Council decree in 1988 as a unique historical monument of landscaped nature and is outstanding even by world standards. You can go running on the way, have a walk or bike around the whole city if you feel like it on a sunny day. The path goes over a hill so you have to be aware of taking your bike and pushing it up which might be exhausting. But on the other side, you can say that you biked the whole POT then.

Every year on the 9th of May thousands of people gather together to walk the POT in sad memory of the occupation and in happy memory of the liberation of Ljubljana. It became a tradition and it is a true event to see (and join if you want).

National Museum of Slovenia

The National Museum of Slovenia hosts some exhibitions about Prehistoric Treasures, Roman Stories from the Crossroads and the Roman Lapidarium. It is situated close to Tivoli park (Muzejska ulica 1). You can see for example the Neanderthal flute from the Divje Babe excavation site (it is considered to be the world’s oldest musical instrument, 55 000 years old), the Vače Situla (an early Iron Age ritual vessel) and a gilded bronze statue of a citizen of Emona. The admission fee is 4€ for students and it is open:

  • Daily from 10am until 6pm
  • Thursday and Saturday from 8am until 10pm

Museum of Contemporary Art Metelkova

In this museum (Maistrova ulica 3) you will find selected works of contemporary art from the Arteast 2000+ collection. They have temporary exhibitions, interactive art projects and art installations. Furthermore you can go to a library that contains 66 000 books, exhibition catalogues, professional journals and newspapers. The entrance fee is for students 2,50€ and the opening hours are:

  • Tuesday to Sunday from 10am until 6pm
  • Monday closed

Museum of Illusions

This museum hosts about 40 exhibitions, optical illusions and holograms. Especially for children this museum is nice but if you are into illusions and effects, this is something for you as well. They also have smaller installations such as the Mirror of Truth, Rubin’s Vase, Albert Einstein’s Hollow Face and so on. You can enter the following rooms with attractions: Anti-gravity Room, Rotated Room, Infinity Disco Room, Ames Room, Vortex Tunnel and the Playroom. The entrance fee is 9,50€ and they don’t have a student discount. The opening hours are:

  • Daily from 9am until 10pm

National Gallery

In here you will find the largest collection of fine art from the High Middle Ages to the 20th century in Slovenia. There is a permanent exhibition of Zoran Mušič (1909–2005), he is one of Europe’s leading modernist painters. You can also see the largest pieced of Baroque art in Ljubljana, the Fountain of Three Carniolan Rivers, it is designed by Francesco Robba. The ticket is 5€ for students and the opening hours are:

  • Monday closed
  • Tuesday to Sunday from 10am until 6pm
  • Thursday from 10am until 8pm

Galerija Fotografija

The gallery is situated in the Old Town (Levstikov trg 7) and specialised in photographic art. You can have a look at interesting photograph exhibitions in the gallery as well as buy photographic monographs (if you want to) by Slovenian and international artists. Right now there is an exhibition going on about the art work of Boris Gaberščik, a famous and productive Slovenian photographer in the country. There is a bookshop as well in which you can find loads of books about arts and photographs. They are quite expensive but having a quick look inside is for free of course. The opening hours of the gallery are:

  • Tuesday to Friday from 10am until 7pm
  • Saturday from 10am until 2pm
  • Sunday and on public holiday it is closed

National Opera and Ballet Theatre of Ljubljana

If you are into culture and want to see some opera or ballet show, in Ljubljana you will find the National Opera and Ballet Theatre (Župančičeva ulica 1). They perform classical and modern operas, ballets and concert works (e. g. in the last years they showed Faust, Aida, The Nymphs of the Rhine and The Love for Three Oranges). The theatre building itself was constructed in 1892, the Ljubljana Opera House between 1890 and 1892. Right now they perform the Wedding of Figaro, Carmen and for Christmas The Nutcracker. The Theatre Information Centre and Box Office is open Monday to Friday from 10am until 5pm. For students there is a discount but you it is best to go to the Box Office and buy the tickets there (and ask for the discount then).

Dance Theatre Ljubljana

The Dance Theatre in Ljubljana (Prijateljeva ulica 2) is small and shows exciting contemporary dance performances. It was established in 1984 and the early members of the company are now known as some of the best Slovenian contemporary dance artists. Their artistic board nowadays consists of long-established and young artists and they like to experiment. Choreographers from Slovenia and abroad create the shows and you can get student discount for the tickets as well but should ask at the counter for it.

Cankarjev dom Cultural and Congress Centre

This cultural and congress center (Prešernova ulica 10) was built between 1982 and 1983 and it has numerous halls and a lot of space for concerts, theatre performances, film screenings and conferences. You can buy tickets here to enjoy classical concerts, exhibitions of Slovenian artists that travelled all over the world and ballet shows like Romeo and Juliet. You can buy the tickets either directly at the box office or online and the box office is open:

  • Every workday from 11am until 1pm and 3pm to 8pm
  • Saturday from 11am until 1pm and one hour before the event starts


In Ljubljana you find a lot of cinemas to enjoy a good movie. The biggest one is probably Kolosej (Smartinska cesta 152) which you can find in the BTC shopping area. They show recent movies and have a student discount. The tickets are between 5-7€ for a student and most of the movies from other countries are in original language with Slovenian subtitles so you will have no problem to watch a movie if you don’t know Slovenian.

Kinodvor (Kolodvorska ulica 13) is a so-called “event cinema” as they show quality film productions of Slovenes and from foreign directors. The entrance fee is about 4€ and they show movies in French, English, Portugese etc. with Slovenian subtitles. So if you are into movies apart from mainstream this might be your address but check before if the movie is in a language you can understand.

Slovenska Kinoteka (Miklosiceva cesta 38) has been renovated recently and focuses mainly on non-commercial movies of artistic or historical value from all over the world. They show movies throughout the whole year except for July and August.

  • Go back to Where to eat in Ljubljana – Slovenian cuisine and gastronomy in Ljubljana
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