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Ljubljana - 10 attractions for a great weekend - Slovenia

Ljubljana - 10 attractions for a great weekend - Slovenia

  • In charming Ljubljana, we discovered a perfectly sized capital with affordable food and exciting statues and architecture. Join my 10 favorites for a lovely weekend!

High on a hill sits Ljubljana Castle, looking down over the city's beautiful houses and the meandering Ljubljanica River. Here Södermalm's hipster quarter has been mixed with Vienna's baroque architecture and here and there you can also see a bit of raw brutalism. It's a lot to take in on a small surface, but it's all very inviting and lovable.

Ljubljana Castle looks down over the old town

Most of Ljubljana's historical sights can be found in the old town below the castle. The "new town" district, which is side by side with the "old town", has more architecture and museums. Within these two areas, everything is within walking distance.

The taste buds sing as much as the wallet (even though Slovenia has the euro) and the city is full of quirky and weird little sights that cost nothing to explore. Ljubljana is one of Europe's smallest capitals and has a city center just the right size for a weekend trip and is perfect as a base for exploring the area's beautiful nature around Bled. Just avoid holidays, because then most things are closed!

Ljubljana Castle looks down over the old town

1. Walk across the triple bridge

One of Ljubljana's most famous sights is the unique triple bridge in white stone. Designed in 1929 by one of the city's most prominent architects, Joze Plecnik, to solve the traffic problems of the time, he managed to divide the car traffic and the city's pedestrians by simply building three beautiful bridges in the same place.

The white triple bridge on an autumn day
The white triple bridge on an autumn day but a pink church in the background

2. Look for dragons

According to local legends, the marshlands outside Ljubljana were once ruled by a giant dragon. The great hero Jason of Greek mythology passed by here during one of his adventures and killed the dragon in a fierce battle. Perhaps that is why Ljubljana has had a dragon as its symbol since time immemorial – both in the city's old coat of arms and in numerous decorations and statues around the city.

The most famous dragon in Ljubljana can be found at the beautiful Dragon Bridge, which is lined with large copper dragons.

A copper statue of a dragon by a bridge in Ljubljana
Bridge and houses by the Ljubljanica

3. Visit the castle in Ljubljana

Ljubljana's most popular attraction is the castle, which has sat on its hill since the 12th century. Take the cable car up and enjoy the beautiful views of the city and visit the Museum of Slovenian History.

Weather permitting, the courtyard is usually full of restaurant visitors and music and theater events. The castle's restaurant Strelec has a Michelin star and is one of Slovenia's best restaurants.

Tower and wall of the castle overlooking Ljubljana
The courtyard of the White Castle in Ljubljana
Ljubljana from above on an autumn day

4. Look at strange statues on Butcher's Bridge

The Butcher's Bridge is also called the Bridge of Love, because of all the love locks that have been locked here over the years. The bridge was built in 2010 and has a large number of slightly unpleasant statues of strange animals and animal parts to remind the history of the area. It is a bit unclear if the statue with the skulls on the bridge railing are sheep skulls or dragon heads? Regardless, it's hard not to look a little extra at these statues.

Row upon row of love locks on a bridge
Statue of skulls on a bridge over the river Ljubljanica

5. Try local sausage at Klobasarna

If you see a large sausage ring hanging on a facade - then you've come to the right place! At Klobasarna, Carniola sausage is served - a typical Slovenian dish that you must try. The sausage originated in the ancient region of Carniola, located in the southern part of present-day Slovenia. The recipe is today protected and only 11 manufacturers have permission to manufacture according to the original recipe.

The sausage is served with horseradish, mustard and bread and is best washed down with a beer.

Carniola sausage with bread and mustard on a table with a beer

6. Walk along the river Ljubljanica

The river Ljubljanica flows through the center of Ljubljana, lined with trees, stone houses with orange roofs and well-visited cafes and restaurants. The area is suitable for pedestrians and it is a pure pleasure to stroll here on a warm evening.

Beautiful view of Ljubljana and the river Ljubljanica with a pink church, white bridge and many boats.

7. Look at Art Nouveau architecture

At the beginning of the 20th century, the city's architecture was affected by a large building boom. The majority of new apartment buildings and offices were built and most were designed by the three Art Nouveau architects Koch, Fabiabi and Vancas.

The most beautiful house is the Hauptman house, with a facade decorated with flowers and leaves mixed with rings and checkered patterns. Today the house is a cultural monument.

Other beautiful Art Nouveau houses to visit are Centromerkurhuset, Krisperhuset and Cudenhuset.

Hauptmanhuset
Hauptmanhuset

8. Coffee at one of the many cafes

Ljubljana's Habsburg history has paved the way for a widespread coffee culture. Today, the number of cafés is increasing every day, and the whole world's coffee is represented here. Most cafes also serve alcohol and have generous opening hours.

Some of the most famous Slovenian pastries you should not miss to order in are the classic Cream slice with vanilla cream (also called Bled creme cake – my absolute favourite!), Potika (a nut-filled sponge cake that looks like a roll cake and is served mainly during high holidays) and Prleška gibanica (layer-on-layer cake with cottage cheese, apples and nuts).

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Yellow rubber boots with pink roses planted in them

9. Visit the market

Ljubljana's Central market is a place both to buy fresh produce, but also to hang out with friends and eat well. In addition to an outdoor market square, there is also a two-story indoor market right on the edge of the river.

Outside, the stalls are mostly filled with local farmers' vegetables and flowers, while in the indoor market you can buy local delicacies and cheese, bread, pastries, meat and fish.

10. The milk machine

Who doesn't want to be able to buy milk around the clock? Although Japan is the country I've visited with the most weird vending machines, Ljubljana's milk vending machine ranks high on the list. Here you buy milk in a vending machine directly from the farmer without intermediaries and the rich and delicious milk is delivered in a glass bottle. Today, there are over 100 milk machines around Slovenia, and these have been joined by cheese, egg and meat vending machines.

You will find the milk machine at the Central market.

How do I get to Ljubljana?

Ljubljana is in the middle of Slovenia and there are no direct flights from Sweden. The nearest major airport is in Zagreb in Croatia, where Croatia Airlines flies.

We visited Ljubljana for three days during the autumn holidays, but it turned out to be public holidays in Slovenia and very much was closed. Therefore strongly recommend to check about public holidays before you book.

Do you want to read more about Slovenia? Look into my Slovenia page!

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Read comments (2)
  • Agree that a visit to Slovenia is well worth the trip. Drove from Sweden to Piran where we rented a studio by the water. Many walks in the alleys, quite hilly which can be difficult if you have problems walking.
    After Piran we traveled to Ljubljana where we stayed centrally by the river and all the outdoor dining.
    Nice city where most things were within walking distance if you live in the center.
    The rest of Slovenia offered us wonderful nature experiences, an incredibly beautiful little country that is highly recommended.
    By the way, I want to thank you for your great travel tips.

    • Sounds like a really great trip! It is shorter than you think to drive from Sweden and worth a lot to be able to control your journey how you want with the car. Even though we had rather gray weather when we were in Piran, it was a very cozy city that I would very much like to go back to. I'm actually wondering if we shouldn't go there this summer too :)

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