Ljubljana is the capital of Slovenia and the country's largest city. It offers all the ingredients for a perfect weekend break - from quirky cafes and a vibrant nightlife to the famous Tivoli park, an impressive art scene, bustling food markets and the Ljubljana castle. Whilst Ljubljana is compact and easy to navigate, there is plenty to explore, inside and outside the city. Whether it is during the day or at night, Ljubljana has an electric and inviting atmosphere, and one that leaves a lasting impression.
Ljubljana's international airport is Jože Pučnik Airport, also known as Brnik Airport. The airport is located near to the village of Brnik which is around 24km northwest of the city.
To reach Ljubljana from the airport, you can either take a bus, a shuttle, a taxi or you can rent a car. If you head outside of the arrivals door you will find plenty or taxis and Arriva buses that will take you to the centre of Ljubljana. The journey time is around 30 minutes by taxi and 45 minutes by bus. Bus tickets are around €4 and they will drop you off close to the centre at the main bus station.
Ljubljana's main train station is situated in the middle of the city, and within 10 minutes walk of the old town. To get to the centre of the city from the station or vice versa, just walk down Miklosiceva Street.
Ljubljana's train station has several daily arrivals and departures to and from other European cities. Ljubljana has links to (not exhaustive list):
Whilst you do not have to buy your ticket in advance, we suggest buying your ticket from the train station rather than from the conductor onboard as it works out cheaper!
Ljubljana is also connected with other European cities with a fantastic bus services. The bus services are regular and can be booked either online or at the bus station, which is right next to the train station. Buses go to and from (not exhaustive list):
- Florence / Milan
The buses tend to arrive and depart from outside of the train station. Ticket prices vary but if you book in advance, you can pick up some real bargains. All the staff are super helpful so if you have any questions, just ask them, or check out their information online. They also have a luggage storage facility so if you have a late bus but want to explore the city for the day, just drop your bags off in the morning and pick them up before you leave.
Ljubljana is a small city, and very pedestrian friendly. Unless you would like to explore more of Slovenia or head out of the city, you can get by easily without using public transport. The locals do not cross zebra crossing when the light is on red - not only is it dangerous but you also be fined if you do. And watch out for cyclists - they are everywhere!
Ljubljana's city buses are operated by the LPP. There are 42 lines that connect all parts of the city and outer suburbs. Most of the buses run until midnight or 1am, depending on the line, and start again at 4/5am.
If you are travelling by bus, you must buy an Urbana Public Transport Card, which are available from LPP ticket offices, tourist information desks and newspaper kiosks, stands and post offices dotted around the city.
It costs €2 to buy the card and then you top it up with further credit. You can top them up at the places mentioned above or at the various Urbanomat ticket machines dotted around the city (mostly next to bus stops). A single us journey costs €1.30 from Zone 1 and that covers up to a 90-minute journey, regardless of the distance and number of buses you take.
Go Travel and Talk Top Tip: If you keep your receipt when you buy your Urbana Card, you can return it at the end of your trip and get the €2 refunded!
When you get on the bus, make sure you tap your Urbana card on the scanner (there are usually two on each bus), when you hear the beep sound, the transaction has been completed.
For more information head here.
Ljubljana has plenty of taxis roaming the streets and they are clean safe and reliable. Most drivers speak English but we advise having your destination written down so you can show it to the driver just in case.
There are no Ubers in Ljubljana, so your best bet is getting one on the street, or even better, calling ahead. There is a list of numbers here.
However, not all taxi drivers are honest and fair, read these tips, before you take a taxi to make sure you are getting an honest fare.
Renting a Car:
If you plan on renting a car for your time in Ljubljana, you can do so at the airport. Or if you are in the city, head to Platform 1 in the main train station and you will find Sixt car rentals. The cost will depend on the length of time you would like to hire the car for and the size/make. Please be aware that when you hire a car, you have two options.
- To hire with insurance (which I advise) which means paying a deposit (variable depending on length of car hire/make/size) and a fairly expensive hire fee
- To hire without insurance, which means a much higher deposit (€1000) but a much lower care hire fee.
I strongly advise hiring with insurance. Whilst I am sure your driving is excellent, there can be some thoughtless people on the roads. Other car renting options can be found here.
Ljubljana is a very bike- friendly city and it is relatively flat, so it is a brilliant way to explore. And once you have explored the old town and city centre, why not head out of the city for more distant sights like the architectural exhibitions in the Fuzine Castle. The greener suburbs are also worth exploring. Bike rental is cheap, from as little as €5 per day. You will find bike rental shops and kiosk all over the city.
I always think this is the best way to explore a new place and meet interesting people and Ljubljana is no exception. Head to the pink church in Presernov Trg (main square in Ljubljana) and look out for the guides in yellow. Duration of the walking tour is 2 hours and it is completely free – donations welcome at the end.
Don't forget to keep an eye out for the Dragons! The Ljubljana Dragon is one of the most recognisable symbols of the city. It symbolises courage, grandeur and power. You will see it on buildings, car registration plates and standing majestically over the Dragon Bridge. If you want to learn more - go on the walking tour!
You can book a private tour if you would like to. Available in English, German, Italian, French, Chinese and many more. This costs €60 per group.
High Season (1st May – 31st October): Daily at 11am and 3pm
Low Season (1st November – 30th April): Daily at 11am
For other available tours, check out their website or give them a call on +368 40 604476. I can recommend the Medieval Town and Castle Tour and Urban Treasure hunt!
Ljubljana castle sits above the old town on Castle Hill and it is absolutely stunning. Originally a medieval fortress, Ljubljana castle dates back to the 11th century and it is a key landmark of the city.
The best way to see the castle and get a true appreciation of its position, is by taking their cable car system (funicular railway). Walk past the Puppet Theatre in Krek Square and you will find the lower funicular station. From there it is a super short, but beautiful ride up to the castle.
Cost €4 for the funicular or €10 with castle entrance.
There are other ways to reach the castle: walking, bicycle or taking the Ljubljana Urban electric train. If you take the Urban train, you reach the castle via a circular route that links the city's major landmarks to the castle, including the Trnovo Pier, the Plečnik House in the Krakovo district, the Roman wall, Congress Square, parliament and many more. For the timetable and further information, click here.
The Ljubljanica is a river in the southern part of the Ljubljana basin in Slovenia, and it flows right through the centre of the old town, dividing it from the more modern centre. In our opinion, no trip to Ljubljana is complete without floating down the river on a handmade wooden boat. You can do this at any time of the day, but what is more romantic and memorable than experiencing it as the sun sets? If you would like a more intimate affair, you can arrange private tours at a higher price.
If you are happy to share with others the cost is as little as €8 per person for a 1-hour ride. Check out their website for more information.
Ljubljana's old town is a beautiful and electric place with cobbled streets, lots of funky cafes, bustling restaurants, quirky shops and frequent live music. It is one of the most visited places in Europe, receiving over one million visitors every year. It offers a mix of impressive architecture, a picturesque river lined with cafes and bars and adorned by 17 unique and beautiful bridges (Don't miss the dragon bridge!) It is quiet and relaxed and pedestrianised, so you can take your time as you wander in peace.
The Central Market:
The Central Market in Ljubljana is definitely worth a trip. Head to the open air market, Tržnica na Prostem, just across the Triple Bridge and you will find a daily farmers market (it is not open on Sundays). Once you have finished here and had a good mooch around, walk to the neighbouring square, Pogačarjev trg, and check out the many stores selling local produce from honey, homemade cheeses to wild berries and mushrooms!
The Open Kitchen:
The Open Kitchen is based in the Central Market, where you can experience first hand the delights of the Slovenian cuisine, cooked by the countries top chefs right in front of you!
Open every Friday from 10am and if you head there on a Friday evening (mid-march to end of October) you can meet the chefs personally. Try a little bit of everything, get lost in the live music and prepare for an epic sensory overload.
The best part? IT IS FREE!
If you are more of a night owl, head to the Old Town in the evening and bar hop along the river, ending your night in Cutty Sark, an Irish bar with cheesy tunes and lots of dancing. Or, if you are looking for something a little different, head to the Metelkova Mesto district which is close to the train station. A former Austro-Hungarian army barracks taken over by underground artists and intellectuals, the space is now used for programmed concerts and club nights that attract international DJs from all over the world.
Tivoli Park is Ljubljana's largest and most beautiful open green space, covering in total 5km and stretching right into the city centre. You will find ornamental flower beds, beautiful fountains and statues, botanical gardens, greenhouses, tree lined walkways, stunning landscaped gardens as well as numerous sports facilities and an outdoor pool. There are several ways to explore the park and several trails to take - why not rent a bicycle for the day to cover more ground?
Make sure you check out their website before you go, as they often put on performances, exhibitions and music concerts - what better way to spend an evening whilst in Ljubljana?
Zois Apartments are based right on the river and within 1 minute walk of the old town. Whilst a little on the expensive side (in comparison to hostels), if you are travelling with a partner or a friend, it is a gorgeous place to stay and doable if the price is split.
We paid €106 per night for a studio apartment which has a huge en-suite bathroom, kitchen facilities, table and chairs and a super comfy double bed!
Most Hostel is loved by everyone who spends time within its warm embrace! Located by Dragon Bridge it is central to everything and offers a great jumping off point for exploring Ljubljana's old town. The staff are super friendly and they man the reception 24/7, offering helpful guidance and advice. There is a guest kitchen, WIFI throughout and super comfy beds. Whilst it is nothing special in terms of amenities, it has everything you need for a comfortable stay. *They do not accept card, so bring plenty of cash with you.
Vila Veselova is great for solo travellers as it is always full to the brim with interesting and friendly guests from all over the world! They offer late check out, a delicious free breakfast, a great common room (ideal for making new friends) and WIFI throughout. Oh and don’t miss out on their cafe and sun trapped terrace!
It is no wonder they won the Trip Advisor's Travellers Choice Award last year!
- Ice cream all the way! Make sure you head to Ljubljana's famous Presernov Trg, and Cafe Cacao - the city's top destination for ice cream lovers! Cacao's selection is unbeatable, from wild strawberry to delectable chocolate. It's beautiful terrace along the banks of the Ljubljanica river creates an unbeatable atmosphere and inside, you have an amazing collection of mouthwatering cakes and smoothies! Open 8am-8pm.
- Definitely don't miss out on the Central Market and the Open Kitchen - details above in the 'What to see and do in Ljubljana' section.
- For the meat lovers, beef goulash with polenta is super popular. For those of you who love fish, there are plenty of options including seabass and chunky tuna steaks.
- Manna is a great place for any time of the day, situated in a gorgeously colourful house on one of Ljubljana's prettiest streets. There is an impressive range on the menu with a focus on organic produce. If you are a wine lover, you are in for a real treat at Manna, with a selection of over 300 wines! Great atmosphere, friendly staff, and delicious food - what is not to love?
- Do not leave Ljubljana without having breakfast at Le Petit Café, I promise you, you won’t regret it. The menu is extensive but if you head there for breakfast, don't miss out on the pancakes or eggs benedict!
- If you are a big meat lover, check out the steak house Sorbara Steak House. Based right on the river and offering insanely delicious cuts of beef and tuna steak with beautiful Slovenian wines and with the BEST customer service you will ever receive - you won’t want to leave.