Best things to do in Ljubljana
Find out more about those top places in Ljubljana
Spreading out from a hilltop fortress, the leafy medieval streets of Ljubljana form one of Europe’s most charming and livable cities. Slovenia is famed for its forward-thinking attitude and its capital city is no exception. As of 2016, car traffic is near banned from the city’s picture-perfect historic center and it has been named the Green Capital of Europe by the European Union. Ljubljana revolves around the River Ljubljanica with the elegant art-noveau bridges of Jože Plečnik connecting both café-lined banks. Beyond the picturesque old quarter, Ljubljana has a host of handsome Habsburg era buildings and an ever-growing student population, which gives the city a year round buzz.
Perched above Ljubljana’s leafy Habsburg-era streets is its perfectly formed castle, most of which dates from the 16th century. Much of the castle is free to explore, except for its crowing watchtowers, but expert local guides are also available to reveal more about its rich history. The most memorable way to access the castle is by a funicular from the Old Town.
Ljubljana’s picture-perfect center is divided in half by the narrow Ljubljanica River. For one of the city’s most romantic experiences, take a boat cruise up the river where you can marvel at the graceful architecture of the Triple Bridge, Cobbler’s Bridge and the Central Market, all of which were designed by the city’s most famous son, Jože Plecnik.
Designed by Jože Plecnik, Ljubljana’s National University and Library is the city’s standout piece of architecture. Tours are available throughout the day that will take you from its jaw-dropping black marble entrance hall to the world-famous modernist style library, which has scarcely changed since it was constructed in the 1930s.
A former army barracks, Metelkova Mesto was taken over by artistic squatters in the 1990s and has since been transformed into Ljubljana’s premier creative space. During the day, the building is crowded with art students, street artists and people relaxing in its unique outdoor beer garden while at night it comes alive with several clubs opening their doors.
The tangle of streets that start south of Cobbler’s Bridge are all that remains of medieval Ljubljana’s port. The narrow streets, some of which recall the area’s role as a Jewish ghetto, remain evocative until now and guided tours are on offer to explore the complex history of this hidden gem of a neighborhood.
Standing opposite the Triple Bridge, the pastel-hued Franciscan Church of the Annunciation is Ljubljana’s de facto emblem. Opening its doors in 1660, the church’s interior is bedecked in colorful frescoes and gold chandeliers that are bound to dazzle visitors.
In recent decades Slovenia has been one of the European countries to most embrace the trend towards organic, local and sustainable produce. To see this environmentally friendly ethos active, head to the Central Market where a vast farmer’s market runs every day of the week but Sunday. Once inside you can explore stalls selling everything from honey to wild mushrooms and homemade cheeses to fresh berries.