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Nested right in the middle of a beautiful small country called Slovenia, Ljubljana is a hidden gem of European cities. The capital of Slovenia was named Green Capital of Europe not too long ago in 2016 and once you step your foot in there, you can see why. Cobblestone streets, green hills and huge parks surrounding the city. Ljubljana is nothing but a pedestrian-friendly city with a variety of attractions right in the heart of the city.
Due to the size of Ljubljana (population around 300,000), on my trip to Slovenia, I only dedicated one full day for its exploration. I’d say that’s a pretty good deal if you want to experience more of Slovenian nature than city life or your time in the country is limited. However, if you like exploring cities and spending more time there, I would definitely recommend staying at least 2 days in Ljubljana.
How to get to Ljubljana
The closest airport is Ljubljana Airport which is situated only 25 kilometres away from the city centre. The airport connects Ljubljana to all major European and international destinations. If you want to reach the city centre all you need to do is hop on the bus no.28 which will take you right to the central bus station which is 10 minutes away from the Old Town. The journey will take up to 45 minutes and the tickets can be purchased for 4 euros from the driver.
Another convenient and maybe cheaper way to travel to Ljubljana is by bus or train. You can easily access Slovenian capital from central and eastern Europe. It will take you around 2 hours from Zagreb, 6 hours from Vienna or 8 hours from Budapest like it did for me! I managed to snag train tickets for only 9 euros from Budapest to Ljubljana. What a deal!
How to get around Ljubljana
One thing I absolutely loved about Ljubljana is that everything is within a walking distance, so the perfect way to explore the city is, of course, on foot. The majority of the city centre’s streets are cobblestoned which means fewer cars and more freedom for pedestrians.
Also, main bus and train stations are less than 10 minutes away from the Old town and the city centr, so you don’t need to worry about the transportation if you are staying somewhere near it. If not, there is a nice bus system which you can use.
If you are in Ljubljana during the warmer period, don’t hesitate to explore the whole city on foot or by renting a bike. Also, you can reach more popular Slovenian destinations like Lake Bled or Piran by bus with no trouble.
What to do in Ljubljana
Visit Ljubljana castle
Situated right in the middle of the city on the top of the hill, Ljubljana castle is a perfect starting point. Walk up the castle hill with the help of road signs or simply take a funicular up which is around 4 Euros for a round trip. I personally recommend taking a walk as you’ll not only discover beautiful landscape viewing points but also you will get a bit of an exercise (stay fit while travelling!).
The entrance to the castle costs 10 Euros and includes entrance to all parts of the castle, tower and funicular. However, if you are on the budget or short on time, you can simply take a walk around the castle for free and enjoy the views of Ljubljana.
Explore Old Town
Walking from the castle, you can explore all the little streets on your way down. You will find a lot of small shops of chocolate, wine or even little cafes to grab a quick brunch.
While walking around the
Take a walk along the river
The river which flows right through the city centr offers wonderful views of Ljubljana. Stroll along the river to explore small bars, cafes or restaurants and even historical monuments. One of the musts is definitely finding all the bridges that connect both sides of the city.
See the famous Dragon bridge which has become quite a symbol of the city and is probably the most photographed monument out there. Cobbler’s bridge and Triple bridge are worth checking out as well. The Triple bridge is a bit harder to photograph as it is a combination of three bridges (hence the name!) but looks amazing in the dark when it is illuminated by various colourful lights.
Also, don’t miss a chance to take some beautiful photographs of a
Explore the alternative side of the city
Metelkova is a self-declared “Autonomous Culture Zone” or to put it more simply a more artsy and alternative district of Ljubljana. Much like Freetown Christiania of Copenhagen, Denmark or even Užupis Republic in Vilnius, Lithuania – Metelkova is a bizarre, crazy yet fascinating and cool place to explore. Maybe not in the evening through.
Brightly coloured street art, tiles cover old military barracks and host various art galleries during the day. During the night you can find various bars, people drinking beer and enjoying live concerts. A very fascinating place for those who are interested in alternative art or simply a different way of understanding the culture.
It can be a bit intimidating and scary for some but I find these places weirdly reassuring. The people there usually don’t judge and certainly don’t seem to give much attention to others. Metelkova is definitely worth checking out, hands down.
Where to stay in Ljubljana
The city offers a range of accommodation from hostels to luxury hotels. I stayed at Celica Art Hostel which is situated in the middle of Metelkova district and I cannot recommend the place enough.
The hostel is a former military prison turned to the hostel with a touch of art. You can choose from dorms to private rooms (which look like artsy prison cells!!!) and the prices start at 15 Euros. I wrote a detailed review of the hostel which you can check out.
If you are looking for a hostel, you can check out a list of all the places for your stay here.
If you prefer hotels, there is a variety of those to choose from as well. Two or three-start accommodation can cost from 30 Euros to even 150 Euros per night. More luxury accommodation ( four or five-stars) are usually around 100 – 200 Euros per night. You can check out rates and actual hotels here.
Another good option for staying in Ljubljana is Airbnb. If you plan on exploring Slovenia, Ljubljana is a great choice for a base since it is so easy to reach every part of the country from its capital. Use my referral link to get a discount (30 Euros off!!!) on your first stay with Airbnb!
This article is now available as a mobile app. Go to GPSmyCity to download the app for GPS-assisted travel directions to the attractions featured in this article
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