What to visit and to do in Ljubljana?
Is there a capital city that You are able to get a feeling of homeliness and familiarity within three hours?
We, and many of our guests, have this opinion about Ljubljana. I am Primož, one of Vandrovc-Globetrotter team – as You are, dear travelers. I have been living and guiding in Ljubljana a big part of the last 14 years. After blog How and why to visit Ljubljana, you were able to find out in another blog when to visit Ljubljana. Now is time for topic What to visit and to do in Ljubljana by bike? In this blog, we listed a basic sum-up of to-do list for newcomers/beginners in Ljubljana. Like this, You will be able to plan Your Sightseeing in Ljubljana in a way that suits best for You.
In the blog You could find more about:
- Example of itinerary to experience all mentioned facts about Ljubljana in blog How and why to visit Ljubljana.
- Sightseeing in Ljubljana along Ljubljanica river - “Ljubljana coastline”.
- Sightseeing in Ljubljana - Old Ljubljana, use imagination and travel backward in time.
- Sightseeing in Ljubljana Squares - Combination of urban scenery and urban parks.
- Sightseeing in Ljubljana center surroundings - some of impressive Cultural institutions.
- Sightseeing in Ljubljana center surroundings - an important part of city diversity.
- Popular urban culture and alternative scene.
- Streets and suburbs.
- Open-air historical sites.
- Religious buildings.
- Sightseeing in Ljubljana center surroundings – recommended big final and extra.
Example of itinerary to experience all mentioned facts about Ljubljana in blog How and why to visit Ljubljana:
3 h Ljubljana city bike tour:
You could do the sightseeing on Ljubljana city bike tour all year round if the weather permits it. The best period for this Ljubljana activity is late spring, summer, early autumn - for more details check blog when to visit Ljubljana.
- Get city bike (Ljubljana Bike Tour or Bicikelj).
- Distance: Approximately 13 km.
- Terrain configuration: Mostly flat - 40 m elevation gain and loss through all the tour.
- Difficulty: Easy cycling, estimated time of cycling - 3h.
- Equipment: During the late autumn, winter and early spring beside everything else take with You gloves and during winter scarf or buff and hat. During the summer beside everything else take with You sun protection and water (Or check tab water options on Ljubljana streets - we named them oasis:)).
Sightseeing in Ljubljana along Ljubljanica river - “Ljubljana coastline”
Ljubljanica was and it is important for Ljubljana. In the past, Ljubljanica had transport and defense function. Nowadays Ljubljanica function is to raise the quality of life. Especially in the center Ljubljanica is regulated and this is where gives a special charm to Ljubljana. Especially for the area along the river in the center of Ljubljana our nickname is “Ljubljana coastline promenade”. The center turned into a kind of living room of Ljubljana with plenty of bars, restaurants, scenic spots to sit down and other points of interest. (great extra option could be boat tour on Ljubljanica river to see Ljubljana from the river point of view).
Some of the interesting sights while you are sightseeing in Ljubljana along the Ljubljanca river:
- The Ljubljanica Sluice Gate: Part of the regulated river in the center and exquisite planning of architect Jože Plečnik.
- Ljubljana Central Market: One of the main examples of architect Jože Plečnik expertee. Besides that, there is a great chance to find some good local food or to admire the Ljubljana ”coastline promenade” scenery from Dragon, Butchers and Triple Bridge. All three are offering an option for a free public toilet. During the summer there is our “oasis” close to Cathedral - drinkable tap water).
- Elegant Triple Bridge: One of the main symbols of Ljubljana had been Constructed after exquisite planning of architect Jože Plečnik. It took place in the central square where the main entrance to Ljubljana had been for several centuries. Why there are three where could be just one? In the past, the middle one was reserved for traffic. Since 2007 all three are part of the pedestrian zone.
- Shoemakers' Bridge and New Square: One of the most charming spots in the center throughout the whole year. Even more so during the summer evenings while artists are having performances and many people are sitting around there.
- Hradecky Bridge, Trnovski Pristan and Špica: Peaceful, relaxing area where You have feeling that you are far and at the same time You are close to the center.
- Trnovo Bridge, the bridge is among the rare with live trees, again the peace of architect Plečnik legacy. On the way to the bridge pay attention to bars and restaurants beside Gradaščica river, a tributary of Ljubljanica river.
Sightseeing in Ljubljana - Old Ljubljana, use imagination and travel backward in time.
Ljubljana's historical city center - Nowadays area with unique national and international shops, restaurants, galleries, bookshops, events, etc.
Ljubljana's historical city center is located on the strategic, well-protected position between the castle hill and river Ljubljanica. From 13 century on the main entrance had been where nowadays Triple Bridge is, therefore, we will start sightseeing of Ljubljana`s historical center on:
- Prešeren square is the central, main square of Ljubljana. We could say that the square is the heart of nowadays Ljubljana. You will notice and feel it if You observe the beat, rhythm of our city. So, take Your time and sit under the statue of the most important Slovenian poet who also wrote our national anthem. While doing it You can also admire impressive buildings around the square. If you like architecture styles closely related to Art Nouveau pay attention to Hauptmann and Urbanc House. (Check Urbanc house also from the inside) Both are beautiful examples of the so-called Vienna Secession. Many buildings in Ljubljana were built or renovated in this style after the earthquake in 1895. That time we were still part of the Austro-Hungarian empire and Vienna was also our capital city.
Some of the most important parts of the historical center are:
- Old main city square Town Square with Robba fountain. Before leaving the square, we recommend You to hop into Ljubljana Town Hall.
- While You will be in the historical center try to visit also much quieter and peaceful: Old Square and Upper Square.
- Inside Ljubljana Cathedral You will be able to find great examples of baroque decorations. Try not to miss the main entrance, Slovene door. Beside the cathedral is the seat of the Slovenian archbishop.
Sightseeing in Ljubljana Squares - Combination of urban scenery and urban parks.
Besides main, Prešeren Square, there are more squares wort to visit in Ljubljana. Most of them are also kind of urban parks where You could relax in beautiful urban scenery.
To list some of this kind of urban Sightseeing in Ljubljana:
- Miklošič park, the area where renovations after earthquake 1895 are still visible. Therefore, You can find here more buildings built and decorated in the Vienna Secession style. Besides many beautiful ones in that area, on Miklošičeva street is a bit different, unique Vurnik house/the Cooperative Business Bank building. The building is one of the finest examples of Slovenian national style architecture. (in front of legendary Hotel Union).
- Congress Square, as one of the most impressive squares of Ljubljana. The square had been created thanks to the big event in the first half of the 19th century. Since that time many crucial historical events took place in the square. Even nowadays whenever something big is going on in Ljubljana it is organized on the square. For example, during the summer, Ljubljana festival and other events or in the time of protests people are gathering here. There are also many impressive buildings and views from the square. For instance:
- Philharmonic Hall, the main building of the Slovene Philharmonic Orchestra.
- Building where was till the end of 1 world war Carniola regional parliament and nowadays rectorate of the University of Ljubljana.
- Beautiful baroque facade of the Ursuline Church of the Holy Trinity.
- Yes, there are many great photo opportunities on the square to make Your Sightseeing in Ljubljana memorable. One of the best is the view of another symbol of Ljubljana - Castle hill with Ljubljana Castle at the top.
- Note: During hot summers we are thankful for another oasis-drinkable tap water and option for a free public toilet.
Are You eager to see the architecture style of the communist period?
- Republic Square with National Assembly Building, Slovenian Parliament. Independence of Slovenia was declared here on 26 June 1991. Around the square, you have the chance to see the dominant architectural style of the communist period after the second world war.
- Another attraction is Cankar Hall, the largest Slovenian convention, congress and culture center. In front of it pay attention to the interesting presentation of Ivan Cankar, one of the most important Slovenian writers.
- To add to the political importance of the area close by is also The Government Building and President's Office.
Sightseeing in Ljubljana center surroundings - some of impressive Cultural institutions
Especially if You are in Ljubljana during the summer try to attend to events in:
- Križanke Outdoor Theatre at French Revolution Square - check it inside, a really special place for a drink or just for a stop to soak up the atmosphere and details created by The architect Jože Plečnik. There You can also see deep massage from him: ”Minljiv si, le tvoja dela so tvoj spomin”( You are transient, only your works are your memory). Tip: When there is a concert many people are enjoying it from the outer side of the wall.
One of the most unique buildings that sightseeing in Ljubljana will stay in Your memory:
- National and University Library, Masterpiece of The architect Jože Plečnik - yes him again.:) He was trying to create a building that will call for attention because he was encouraging learning. One of many interesting details are upper windows which are in the shape of an open book. To fully experience the building, we would suggest You to enter inside till where it is public access. Pay attention that at the bottom of the main staircase the architect used black marble. Going up the stairs You will notice that at the top light comes through windows. Like this, the entrance to the main reading room is highlighted. This symbolizes the central thought of the building's architecture: "From the twilight of ignorance to the light of knowledge and enlightenment".
As mentioned in Ljubljana are many great museums, galleries and theaters. Beside impressive collections and programs mostly are located in really beautiful buildings. To list some of them:
- National Museum of Slovenia: Besides other attractions, You will be able to see the oldest known instrument on the world and tombstone of lightning.
- National Gallery of Slovenia: Slovenia's the best museum of historical art. You will be able to find the collection of fine art from the High Middle Ages to the 20th century. (We do like a lot period of Slovenian impressionists like Ivan Grohar, Rihard Jakopič, etc.).
- Museum of Modern Art: The Slovenian artworks from the 20th and 21st centuries.
- Slovene National Theatre Opera and Ballet: Do not miss the building if You like Neo-Renaissance architecture style combined with a modern building.
Sightseeing in Ljubljana center surroundings – an important part of city diversity
Few suggestions to experience diversity during your sightseeing in Ljubljana:
Popular urban culture and alternative scene:
- Metelkova City Autonomous Cultural Centre - interesting part of the diversity that Ljubljana can offer. Here you will be able to find everything from events, concerts, graffiti, subcultures events till alternative pop culture.
- Part of this scene are also Rog factory and Šiška Cultural Quarter.
Streets and suburbs:
- Trubarjeva street: One of the most interesting Ljubljana streets. Few examples: You could go on graffiti hunt around Ex bicycle factory Rog. There is a great offer of Slovenian and international restaurants, bars, bookshops, etc. And for sure is worth to mention great museum: The House of Experiments which is curiosity, creativity, critical thinking and active engagement empowering center.
- Luxurious villa quarter: On Prešeren street is part of the city where is the seat of many embassies and The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Slovenia. The interesting fact is that in Ljubljana American and Russian embassy are right beside each other. Some are joking that like this they spend less money on spying equipment because they can simply open their windows:).
- The suburb of Krakovo: It is unique because You can see old village streets, houses and their gardens in the center of the nowadays city. Krakovo was once a village beside Ljubljana where they were growing vegetables for Ljubljana green market. Check their tomatoes on huge gardens and try to realize what a luxury they have. Even though the land in the suburb turned into a new building would be probably wort 3000€ per square meter:).
Open-air historical sites:
- Roman wall: South Emona's wall-Emona was a Roman settlement in the place of nowadays Ljubljana. Therefor around Ljubljana, You can find archeological sites kind of open-air historical museum. The architect Jože Plečnik redesigned the remains of the Roman walls. Interesting fact is that wall sometimes serves as a practice place for climbers. If you are interested to see more about Roman period great option for You could be City museum of Ljubljana.
Most of Slovenians are declared as Roman Catholics, therefore, we have in Ljubljana mostly Roman Catholic churches. Because of geographical and historical reasons, you can find in Ljubljana also religious centers of other religions. One of them is:
- Serbian Orthodox Church: Especially after the second world war many Serbians came to Slovenia, Ljubljana and their descendants are still in Ljubljana.
Sightseeing in Ljubljana center surroundings – recommended big final and extra:
- Tivoli park: Tivoli Park is the largest and most beautiful park in Ljubljana. An important part of the park is central Jakopič Promenade (Jakopičevo sprehajališče). Today serves as an open-air gallery with temporary exhibitions. Tivoli Park is a great place to relax, to have a drink or simply find some peace, escape from the city. Here could be a perfect spot to take a break during Your sightseeing in Ljubljana.
Don’t forget to see Ljubljana also from above:
- Terrace of Nebotičnik: We know that You will think it is a joke but the name Nebotičnik means skyscraper.
- Ljubljana Castel.
Definitely, both options are great to be there for sunset.
In another blog, we will list more attractions for a whole day bike tour around Ljubljana and its surroundings.