Ljubljana, Slovenia

Relaxed, compact and colourful riverside capital


Imagine traipsing all the way from Greece, crossing the Black Sea, navigating the Danube, and carrying your ship overland, only to find a lake-dwelling dragon waiting for you. I’ve had better days. Jason, hero of Greek legend, upon finding himself in just such a position, immediately slew the creature, thus founding lovely Ljubljana, and leaving the modern day tourist to ponder the plethora of fire-breathing lizards adorning the city’s architecture, signage and drain covers.

These days, the Slovene capital is a beautiful and safe place, having embraced its unique identity following the breakup of Yugoslavia in 1991. It’s lively, charming and romantic, and despite being the largest city in Slovenia with plenty to see and do, feels wonderfully small. It’s so easy to get around on foot, and as the old centre is completely closed to motorised traffic, this is a great way to explore. The fortunate upside to an 1895 earthquake was the redesign of many neighbours in a classic Art Noveau style thanks mainly to Slovene architect Jože Plečnik.

Low season months in Ljubljana are January, February, March and November. During this time the weather turns cool with rain possible. On the upside, visitor numbers drop, and the city is shrouded in a soft, hazy winter light. The streets and squares of Ljubljana take on a timeless air of mystery, but the year-round feel good atmosphere remains, leaving you to discover all the hidden corners of the city that are usually reserved only for locals.

European Green Capital

In 2016 Ljubljana was recognised for its stance on environmental friendliness. Not only is the cobbled centre fully pedestrianised, public transport is made up of little electric buses and there’s a new cycling network. Both locals and businesses live to the principles of sustainability, which can be seen in their work and play. The city’s creative, artistic and musical soul is evident, not least in the alternative Metelkova Mesto Autonomous Cultural Zone, which was once a barracks, then a squat and now a hotspot for art, bars, events and live music. Ljubljana boasts an impressive 542 square metres of green space per capita. One of the favoured spots to hang out in nature is Tivoli Park with its protected birds, tropical greenhouse and botanical gardens.

Exploring the riverside

At the city’s very heart is the picturesque Ljubljanica River. Walking alongside the water is a lovely way to orientate your explorations. Prešeren Square is a good starting point, and the place when many roads converge. It’s unmistakable with the dramatic pink façade of Baroque Church of the Annunciation and statue of the eponymous 19th century poet Prešeren himself. It’s also here you’ll find the famous triple bridge over the Ljubljanica, crossing to the ornate, colourful cathedral with its stunning dome fresco. Follow to the riverside colonnades with stalls selling all kinds of products to the Dragon Bridge where 4 mythical protectors adorn each corner and check out the lively Central Market, open every day apart from Sunday.

Low Season Months

Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov

Featured Hotels

Top Experiences

Ljubljana Castle

High on a hill overlooking downtown Ljubljana the medieval fortress has undergone many remodellings and is today a major cultural venue. Climb on foot, or take the funicular railway. Save some energy for the spiral staircase to the watchtower for stunning views.

River Cruise

Cruising down the Ljubljanica on board a sightseeing vessel is a fun way to while away an hour one afternoon. Rest your legs and view the ‘City of Bridges’ from a whole new perspective. Cruises continue throughout the winter when boats are specially heated for your comfort.

November’s Gourmet Ljubljana

The annual gourmet festival sees several venues host a broad variety of exciting events, workshops and tastings. Select restaurants also offer delicious November Gourmet Festival menus in addition to the main events such as Ljubljana Wine Route and Slovenian Wine Festival.

Insider Tips

  • The Taste Ljubljana brand marks popular dishes that the chefs in selected restaurants prepare according to traditional methods and local ingredients. The cuisine reflects the city’s diverse culture with Mediterranean, Alpine, Pannonic and Balkan influences.
  • Ljubljana is a good departure point for trips to the high mountain skiing resorts, which are – like everything in Slovenia – surprisingly close at hand. Another good trip is to Lake Bled where you can row over to the castle on the island in the centre.
  • February's Dragon Carnival each Shrove Saturday includes a parade of figure from pagan folk traditions along the Ljubljana’s streets and an accompanying entertainment programme. It is a family-friendly event that adults and children all love.

Good To Know

  • Don't be afraid to peak behind the beautiful façades of the old buildings. Come wintertime, much of the street entertainment moves indoors, and the lively pulse of city life can be felt at event halls and clubs, or around cozy log fires in pubs.
  • Don’t miss the Open Kitchen at the Central Market. Every Friday in March to October, chefs from all over Slovenia prepare and sell their dishes right in front of you, catering to all taste preferences, traditional or exotic world cuisine.
  • In June and November, the Wine Route brings Slovenian winemakers from all the country’s wine-growing regions. The wine is accompanied by a selection of traditional Slovenian dishes and entertainment such as brass bands and folk dances.

Food & Drink

Atelje, Nazorjeva ulica 2

The first Ljubljana restaurant with a Michelin star. Top culinary creations from a team led by the young and innovative chef Jorg Zupan. The menu consists of Slovenian and international dishes, while the ingredients are always seasonal.

Na gradu, Grajska planota 1

Reviving, in its own special way, Slovenia's culinary heritage, here you’ll be served traditional dishes prepared using novel culinary approaches. All the dishes are made from fresh organic produce. Location in the old castle adds to its appeal.

Monstera Bistro, Gosposka ulica 9

Discover the innovative cuisine of the acclaimed chef Bine Volčič. His philosophy is characterised by a constant search for new flavours, by seasonal ingredients of the highest quality and by the use of extraordinary and forgotten foodstuffs.

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