Ljubljana is one of those cities where you can spend a day, a month, or a year and still find things to do. It’s a small city without much to see, but plenty to experience. It has all of the benefits of being in a big city like great food, nightlife, and culture, but is small enough to be walkable and welcoming. Plus, there is lots of green space inside and outside the city.
Here’s what to do in Ljubljana
Day one: Wander the city
It doesn’t have famous landmarks, but the city is full of color and charm. The bridges and streets are quirky and worth wandering around for a few hours. Because I didn’t know much about Ljubljana, I opted to see the city with a free walking tour. The tour guide was informative and funny. He shared things about the city I wouldn’t have known just wandering by myself. If you do opt to wander by yourself there are a few can’t miss sites.
The Dragon Bridge
Dragons are a symbol for Ljubljana and are scattered about the city. According to Greek myth, after Jason and the Argonauts took the golden fleece, they fled the Trojans via the Save river. They hit a marsh and had to disassemble the ship and proceed by foot through the area that is now Ljubljana. They came across the protector of the marsh, a dragon, who they promptly defeated. Now, the dragon is considered the protector of the marsh, despite being quickly defeated during the only battle it ever participated in.
The Central Market
This market is held every day next to the Ljubljana cathedral. It has fresh produce from areas all around the city and some traditional foods like pickled cabbage. Right next to the market is the most unique vending machine I’ve ever seen. This vending machine dispenses farm fresh milk straight into your bottle. Bring your own bottle or buy a new one from the machine. This milk is as close to the farm as you can get without actually being on the farm.
Metelkova Alternative Area
Metelkova is the alternative, artistic area of of the city. During the day, you get a good view of the creepy and colorful art decorating all of the buildings. At night, you get Ljubljana’s coolest party scene.
This castle sits high above the city, like most ancient castles, acting as a vantage point against invasion. Get to the castle by hiking up, or take a funicular railway to the top. Tickets to get in the castle are around 9 dollars, but enjoy the view for free.
Day two: Check out Slovenia’s lakes
Lake Bled and Lake Bohinj are both within about two hours from Ljubljana via bus. You can do both of them in a day, if you start early. If you can only choose one, Lake Bled is closer and quite easy to get to. It’s small, you can walk around the entire lake in a little over an hour. There’s an island in the center of the lake with a church on it that you can sail out to and visit. There is also a castle overlooking the lake that offers great views of the lake and the city. From the bus station in Ljubljana, you can buy a bus ticket that includes entrance to the castle and church.