Things to do in Ljubljana, Slovenia
Ljubljana is the picturesque capital city of Slovenia. Things to do in Ljubljana include
- Triple Bridge
- Franciscan Church of the Annunciation and Preseren Square
- Ljubljana Castle (and view of the city)
- Dragon Bridge (Butchers Bridge)
- Ljubljana Cathedral
- Cobblers Bridge
- Tivoli City Park and Castle
- Boat ride on the Ljubljanica river
- Neboticnik Skyscraper (and view of the city)
- JB Restaurant
- Ice skating rink (Congress Square)
- Ljubljana Christmas lights and Christmas market
- Ljubljana Town Hall
Slovenia is a small country therefore you can make Ljubljana your base and make day trips to other towns and cities. I stayed at the Urban Hotel in the center and could walk to all the things to do in Ljubljana.
Franciscan Church of the Annunciation and Preseren Square
The pink church, known as the Franciscan Church of the Annunciation is the iconic landmark of Ljubljana. It’s prominent position on Preseren Square and opposite the Ljubljanica river makes it a very Instagrammable church. From the castle, overlooking the city, the pink church is the standout landmark. It’s architecture style is Baroque.
Triple Bridge – Things to do in Ljubljana
One of the top things to do in Ljubljana is the triple bridge. This is located in front of the Pink Church and square. Crossing the Ljubljanica river, it connects historic and modern Ljubljana. The main bridge was constructed in 1842 and is named after the former archduke of Hungary, Franz Karl. In fact, his name is inscribed on the bridge. Alongside the main bridge are 2 smaller footbridges. These were added in 1932 to improve the flow of people and vehicles over the bridge. Nowadays however, all 3 of the bridges are pedestrianized.
Ljubljana castle is located on top of the appropriately named, Castle Hill. It’s an easy 15-20 minute walk to the top. For those who don’t like to climb hills, there is a convenient funicular ride. In addition to exploring the Medieval castle, you can also enjoy splendid views of the city. I mentioned earlier that the Pink Church is prominent from anywhere in the city. Can you spot the Pink Church in the picture above?
Dragon Bridge (Butchers Bridge)
Similarly to the Triple Bridge, the Dragon Bridge was also built during the Austro-Hungarian empire. It was built in 1901 and named after emperor, Franz Josef I. However, in 1919, when the Austro Hungarian Empire ceased to exist, it was renamed the Dragon Bridge. There are statues of dragons on the bridge. In addition to being called Dragon Bridge, locals also refer to it as mother in laws bridge.
Ljubljana Cathedral – Things to do in Ljubljana
Ljubljana cathedral is huge. It’s similar to St Paul’s Cathedral in London because it’s surrounded by other buildings, making it difficult to photograph. The best place to photograph it from is the path leading up to the castle. Alternatively you can photograph the impressive interior (above). It’s similar to the Pink Church as it is also of Baroque architecture. The cathedral however has white with green domes. In addition to the Baroque architecture of the church are Baroque era frescoes. Many of these frescoes were painted by the famous Italian painter, Giulio Quaglio the younger.
The Cobblers Bridge dates back to the 13th century. It used to be a bridge full of shoe makers shops. In the 13th century it was a wooden bridge. The bridge you see today was constructed in 1911 but the Cobblers Bridge name remains. It was designed by Joze Plecnik, the same designer as the Triple Bridge.
Boat Ride on the Ljubljanica River
With so many famous bridges crossing the Ljubljanica river, it makes sense to take a boat ride. During a boat ride you’ll pass under these bridges in addition to other landmarks beside the river. It’s from the boat where you can take a perfect reflection shot of the Pink Church and Triple Bridge. Throughout the boat ride you can enjoy local Slovenian wine. If you take the boat ride during the winter months they may serve mulled wine.
Tivoli City Park and Castle
Ljubljana is known as the green city. In fact it’s often referred to as the green capital of Europe. You’ll find lots of parks and green areas around the city. Tivoli City Park is the largest park in the city center and home to Tivoli mansion (above). The mansion houses an art collection so it’s possible to see the interior.
As well as visiting the castle for a view of the city, you may visit the Neboticnik skyscraper. The advantage of viewing the city from the skyscraper is that you can see the castle (weather permitting). It’s free to ascend the skyscraper and there is a good value cafe at the top. In addition to viewing the city from the skyscraper, there’s a less visited location to view it from. If you are staying at Grand Union Hotel, you can ask the staff to escort you to the roof!
For fine dining in Ljubljana, I recommend JB restaurant. This restaurant has been voted one of the top 100 restaurants in the world. The food is exceptionally tasty and good value for money. Ljubljana could be the city to treat yourself to a luxury meal. Additionally, the food is complimented with a selection of Slovenian wines from several different regions.
Ice Skating Rink, Congress Square
Congress Square is a huge square in the city surrounded by beautiful buildings. During the winter it transforms into a large ice skating rink. What is unique about this ice skating rink is that it has ascents and descents. Most ice skating rinks in Europe and around the world are flat. Several of the staff at the rink are former Olympians. It’s worth paying attention to the staff and asking who was an Olympian. A selfie with a former Olympian will look good on your IG feed, as well as ice skating around this rink.
Ljubljana Christmas Lights
If you visit Ljubljana during the Christmas period, you will be treated with spectacular lights. The Christmas lights display is based on the universe theme. You’ll see stars and milky ways in addition to planets and comets. An exciting time to visit is the day the lights are turned on, they are turned on by the Mayor of Ljubljana himself. It’s also proven that Ljubljana Christmas light shots are popular on Instagram!
Ljubljana Christmas Market – Things to do in Ljubljana
In addition to the Christmas lights, you find the Ljubljana Christmas market. At the Christmas market you’ll find many local products and food on sale. For those who require a warm drink, there is plenty of mulled wine available. The mulled wine of course is from locally sourced wine. The Christmas market in Ljubljana is a true Slovenian experience.
Ljubljana Town Hall
I was lucky enough to meet the mayor of Ljubljana, Zoran Jankovic. He gave me a tour of the town hall and explained his vision for the future of Ljubljana. This is the man behind the green Ljubljana and he’s responsible for it being the green capital of Europe. Even if you don’t go inside the Town Hall it’s worth checking out the exterior. In addition it’s right across from the cathedral.
How to get from Ljubljana to Trieste
There are several direct daily Flixbus services from Ljubljana to Trieste. The journey time is around 90 minutes. Throughout the journey you have access to power sockets in addition to complimentary WiFi. As you can see, I was traveling on a shining, brand new bus (above).
Trieste to Portoroz. Take a day trip to Lasko from Ljubljana.