Written by Ljubljana Free Tour Team
It might be small, but in terms of beauty & history, it can look any city straight in the eye. From small alleys, hilltop castle, cobbled roads, baroque churches, Art Nouveau facades and endless green spaces, Ljubljana, capital of Slovenia, really has it all.
It is for this reason that we found it REALLY difficult to present what we believe are the top attractions of the city. And so, without further ado, following multiple brainstorming sessions, with white smoke and gray, here is our official list of Not-to-Miss attractions in Ljubljana.
1. Take a Free Tour – Yes, we really do believe that in order to get the most out of your stay in any city, the very first thing you should do when you arrive (after checking in to your hotel) is take the free tour. It will give you such a good knowledge base for the city that everything you do from that point will make more sense. Today the free tour really is one of Slovenia's most popular attractions. In Ljubljana, free tours run every day at 11am (all year), but in season there are also 3pm and 6pm tours. See exact schedule here.
2. Prešeren Square & Triple Bridge – It's not its unimpressive size or Art Nouveau architecture that makes this square what it is, but rather the special energy it carries, constant movement, street shows and overall vibe. It may not be the largest square in town, but it is definitely the center of it all. It is for this reason that the Ljubljana Free Tour chose this pretty square as its starting point. The neighboring triple bridge has an interesting story too, but you'll have to join one of our tours to find out what it is.
3. Ljubljana Castle – With unbeatable views of the city and surrounding hills, this is a must for all visitors. It is the epicenter of Ljubljana and symbol of the city (if you ignore the dragons for a moment). While most tourists think they must pay entrance (due to the ticket office at entrance), this is not true unless you plan to visit the tower or museum. You can also hike up the hill (10 min) to save the funicular price. For a free tour of the castle, check out our Old Town & Castle Free Tour.
4. Boat Ride – Ljubljana has the Ljubjanica river crossing right through its center. Considering it's less than 20 meters wide, some consider it a canal – but it does create a vibrant cafe-filled promenade along the waterline. But in fact, this is a VERY special river. Join us on our tours to find out why. We do of course have a favorite boat, it's the only hand made wooden boat on the river – Barka Ljubljanica. All boat prices are set by the city – 10 Euro per person for 45-50 minute ride. We can book for you if necessary.
5. City Museum – There are several museums in Ljubljana, but in our opinion, this is the best one. Lets face it, Ljubljana art museums cannot compete with leading European institutions, there are no Da Vincis or Van Goghs here as we cant afford them, but our history is as good as it gets. This little museum has 3 floors – the first (basement), is an excavated part of old Emona (Roman Town that stood here in the past). The next floor shows development of the city through the ages (it is here you will find the oldest hinged wheel in the world). while the last floor is packed with all the Yugoslavia memorabilia you could muster.
6. Šmarna Gora – There are several woodland hills in the city, all of which are pretty, but for the very best views of the entire area (including snowy mountains & city), Šmarna Gora cannot be beat. It's a 15 minute drive and 45-60 minute climb to the top, where an old church , a playground, and modern restaurant await you. Hot tea, strudels and hearty Slovenian meals are super popular taking in the views. If you go on weekends, you'll see all the latest outdoor training fashions running up & down the hill.
7. Metelkova – This place is one of a kind. An old Yugoslavian army base turned into Ljubljana's surrealistic alternative cultural center. It's a mishmash of outdoor art, indoor clubs, bars, art galleries and lots and lots of wacky artistic creations, including mesmerizing building facades. It really feels like you just fell down the rabbit hole holding Alice's hand. Go by day to take photos of this marvelous urban creation or by night to party till you drop.
Simply put, why don't you do yourself a favor and come down to Ljubljana, before the mass crowds arrive and turn it into the next Prague.
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