LJUBLJANA Mon Amour: What Not to Miss During Two Days in Slovenia’s Beloved Capital

Ljubljana mon amour: In fact, already the city’s name sounds like a tender song and derives from the word ljubljena which translates to beloved. Various charming bridges are crossing the picturesque river Ljubljanica. With an amazing number of captivating buildings from the Renaissance, Baroque, and Art Deco, onion-domed churches, and an imposing fortress high above the city, Ljubljana absolutely lives up to her lovely name.
And since Ljubljana is small but definitely mighty, you can explore the city’s most iconic spots and landmarks easily in just two days.

The Dragon Bridge in Ljubljana, Slovenia
Like in every decent fairy tale, you have to make it past the dragon to get to the beautiful princess. Ljubljana is no exception.

Although the city is no secret anymore and can actually get quite busy in the high season, Ljubljana has kept its sleeping beauty charm and is a sparkling gem.

Ljubljana’s Everchanging Past

The first time I heard about Ljubljana was when many years ago, an extremely quirky band named Laibach, which is the city’s German name, caused sensations among the underground clubs. And scandals in their home country which at that time was still Yugoslavia. Socialist Yugoslavia.
And this catapults us right in the middle of Slovenia’s ever-changing history.

National Museum of Slovenia in Ljubljana.
Near the city’s Tivoli Park is the National Museum, housed in a building from 1896 designed by the Czech architect František Škabrout. A walk in Tivoli Park is a wonderful summer activity while a visit to the museum is a fantastic way to learn more about Slovenia’s ever-changing past.

I spare you the very beginning when the Illyrians settled in. Later came the Romans, then, Charlemagne followed and made the territory part of the Frankish Empire. Eventually, the region came under the hegemony of the Republic of Venice and finally became part of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. This empire fell apart with WWI and, subsequently, Slovenia became part of the State of Slovenes, Croats, and Serbs.

Becoming Yogoslavia

After WWII, they added a couple more countries, and – whoomph! – Yugoslavia was created. It was a socialist yet in comparison pretty liberal state of various ethnicities, led by Josip Broz Tito till his death in 1980 in the very Ljubljana.

Following Tito’s death, some of the states, primarily also Slovenia, preferred to become independent which led to a series of some of the most gruesome and barbaric military conflicts of the 20th century.

Fortunately, Slovenia was involved very shortly. Although it was the first country to be attacked, the conflict there lasted only ten days, then they were good to go – literally.

This is an extremely short and not very thorough recap but I presume that you don’t want to know all the details, and if so, probably not from me.

My job is to guide you to the city’s beautiful sides that made me fall in everlasting love with Ljubljana.
Therefore, love is the golden thread of this post.

Something Old: The Historic Center

Looking for something old, the historic center of Ljubljana doesn’t disappoint. After passing the bridge with the iconic dragons, walk one block further and turn right into the Vodnikov Trg. At the corner is the Slovenian Tourist Information in case you need free maps and friendly advice. Right next to it, you can stock up on some fresh snacks at the farmers market which takes place every day except Sunday from 7 a.m. till the early afternoon.

Ljubljana's Dragon Bridge, Plečnik's Arcades, and the Cathedral of Saint Nicholas in the backdrop.
Ljubljana’s Dragon Bridge, Plečnik’s Arcades, and the Cathedral of Saint Nicholas in the backdrop.

The river and the city hill on which the castle stands influence the course of the street in the old center of Ljubljana. A ring road runs from the market square in a wide arc around the mountain, all sections of which are called Trg, which translates to market. Even though there is no longer a market here today, this elegant pedestrian zone is still a shopper’s paradise.

Cathedral of Saint Nicholas in Ljubljana
Strolling down Ciril Metodov Trg, you can spot the Cathedral to your right.

This ring road is lined with some imposing structures.


The most significant one is clearly Stolnica Svetega Nikolaja, hence, Ljubljana’s Cathedral of Saint Nicholas.

Portray of the bishops of Ljubljana on the door of Saint Nicholas Cathedral.
While the main gate depicts the history of the Slovenes, sculptor Mirsad Begić portrayed the bishops of Ljubljana in the 20th century on the side gate.

It was rebuilt in its current baroque style by the Italian Jesuit brother, painter, and architect Andrea Pozzo and completed in 1706. In 1996, on the occasion of the visit of Pope John Paul II, two massive bronze doors with relief depictions of Slovenian history and the bishops of Ljubljana were added. If you want to admire the remarkably well-preserved ceiling fresco by Giulio Quaglio and the altar designed by Francesco Robba, you can visit the church for 3 €uros on weekdays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. On weekends, visiting hours differ according to the services, obviously.

Not far from the cathedral is the town hall. The Robba fountain in front of it is far more impressive than the building.

Robba Fountain in Ljubljana
The Robba Fountain in the central town square.

The Fountain is named after its sculptor Francesco Robba. However, it’s also called the Fountain of the Three Carniolan Rivers. Robba designed it in 1751 after Bernini’s Fountain of the Four Rivers in Rome. As a matter of fact, this one is only a copy since the original stands at the National Gallery.

Robba Fountain in Ljubljana
The three rivers Ljubljanica, Sava, and Krka are grouped allegorically around a ten-meter-high obelisk

You have probably noticed that almost all of the builders and other artists mentioned so far were Italian. It should not be forgotten that Slovenia was under the rule of the Republic of Venice until its dissolution in 1797. Eventually, it passed seamlessly to the Austrian Empire. Autonomy looks different.

Glorious Structures

Magnificent, well-preserved houses, mostly from the Renaissance and Baroque, line the pedestrian street. These architectural gems mostly house cute little specialty shops where you’ll want to stock up on original souvenirs like traditional lace, carved wood, and anything you can imagine made from honey. And if you need a break from marveling and shopping, there are also a variety of cozy little cafes.

fountain of girl with a jug ljubljana
The Ribji Trg passage is an absolute gem. It connects the pedestrian ring road with the waterfront promenade along the Ljubljanica River and is embellished with a neoclassical fountain. On top stands a gilded statue of a Greek girl holding a jug. The sculpture, created in the 19th century, was moved to its current location from a garden next to the Tivoli Mansion.

I will not lie to you: If you don’t get up too late and don’t take your sweet time snacking and browsing, you can easily visit the most important sights of Ljubljana in two days.

Outdoor café in Ljubljana.
Musing and enjoyment are an essential part of a visit to Ljubljana.

But not taking your sweet time would actually be a shame and you’d miss out on a major part of what’s Ljubljana’s charm all about: The small, unpretentious beautiful corners, alleys, and things. So lower your pace and go with the flow.

My Home is My Castle – Literally

A visit to Ljubljana Castle is indispensable. There are several ways to get up there. The most convenient way is of course to take the funicular. The lower stop is at Krekov Trg opposite the farmers market.

Castle of Ljubljana
The courtyard can be visited free of charge. The amazing skies are included.

However, if you’re not particularly tired of walking, climbing up on foot is much nicer and not that hard. Almost at the end of the pedestrian ring road, which runs along the castle hill, between the churches of Saint James and Saint Florian, a gentle slope winds uphill. The idyllic path is very well signposted. Don’t forget to look over the wall along the cobblestoned street every now and then, because at your feet lies the city in all its beauty and splendor.

Road to the Castle in Ljubljana.
Walking to the castle.

Once you arrive at the castle, you can enter the site for free if you just want to walk around, enjoy the views, and grab refreshments at the restaurant. You only have to pay an entrance fee if you want to visit the exhibitions and climb the tower.

View of Ljubljana.
Hike with a view.

The castle was built as a medieval fortress from the 11th century. However, most of the structures were added only in the 16th and 17th centuries.

Then, in the 19th century, parts of the castle were converted into a prison. It’s ironic: At first, the fortress protected people from the intrusion of villains, and later it protected them from their escape.
Nevertheless, its use from 1905 to 1963 was particularly unusual. During that time, it served as communal accommodation for poor families.
What a lovely assignment!

Plan Your Visit

From October to April, you can visit the castle every day from 9 to 6, from May to September it only closes at 8. The restaurants have longer opening hours, but they are not open every day.

There are different ticket options with or without the funicular and audio guide. The visit alone costs 12 €uro, including the funicular 16 €uro. Of course, you can also take the funicular without visiting the castle, then the one-way trip costs 3.30 €uro and the round trip costs 6 €uro. Since there are many other offers, it’s best to check their website before visiting to find out which offer best suits you.

View of Ljubljana from above.
View of Ljubljana from the castle. In the front is the tower of Saint Florian and right behind the even higher spire of Saint James.

It is absolutely worth strolling through the park and forest area around the castle and taking a break on one of the many benches while looking down at the city. Don’t miss the so-called Šance area which was created by Jože Plečnik. Grandmaster Plečnik designed it based on the remains of a fort that was connected to Ljubljana Castle by the castle walls back in the 16th century.

Something New: Autonomous Culture Projects

This first part was rather a tour of Ljubljana’s classic, exquisite sights’n’structures. However, sweet Ljubljana has also a rough and edgy side. She’s kind of a runaway bride.

Let’s explore it by crossing the Dragon Bridge and after one block, turn right into Trubarjeva Cesta. This narrow lane and its side streets are kind of Ljubljana’s Greenwich Village with tons of small coffee shops, international eateries, quirky specialty shops, and galleries. Absolutely worth lingering and exploring.

Street in Ljubljana
Village life right in the city center.

The skate park is at number 72. Until not so long ago, the Avtonomna Tovarna Rog, the autonomous Rog factory, was located here. It was an arts and community center that was somewhat reminiscent of Christiania. I assume you know the anarchist Freetown Christiania in Copenhagen. If not, check out my post about Denmark’s capital.

Mural in Ljubljana
This undeniably beautiful mural by Serbian muralist Jana Danilović symbolizes the development of the Rog site from one for Hotbed subversive projects to a sanitized complex for established art.

Rog bicycles were manufactured here between 1953 and 1991. It was abandoned until activists occupied it in 2006 and converted it into an autonomous community and cultural center. Despite its great service to the community, the city began demolishing the center in 2016. Ultimately, the residents were evicted in January 2021, the buildings were demolished and replaced with a chic building that houses, among other things, a photo gallery and hip cafés.

Phoenix From the Ashes

Fortunately, Rog was by far not the only alternative cultural center in Ljubljana. The Kino Šiška is located in a northern and non-touristy part of Ljubljana. Built in 1961, it was one of the city’s first modernist buildings. From 1964 until the late 1980s, it was actually a cinema. When visitor numbers declined, the building was used for various events. After some back and forth, which is unfortunately quite common in projects of this kind, it is now the main Slovenian venue for the contemporary music scene, complemented by performing arts as well as exhibitions.

Mural in Ljubljana
Where Ljubljana sheds its fairytale innocence.

However, the most famous alternative cultural project is Metelkova.
This building complex was built in the late 19th century and served as barracks during the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It later became the headquarters of the Yugoslav National Army.

Mural honoring  Slovenian philosopher and cultural theorist Slavoj Žižek.
Mural honoring Slovenian philosopher and cultural theorist Slavoj Žižek.

The history of the creation of today’s cultural center goes back to 1993, when the northern area of ​​the building complex was occupied by around two hundred volunteers at the initiative of a few artists and activists in order to save it from demolition.

This developed into a center of alternative culture, which was initially inhabited by artists and activists and is now a place for creative activities of various kinds. There are several music clubs, artistic performances, and exhibitions.


I’ve always been to Ljubljana during the summer months, so I can’t imagine bad weather there. But Slovenia is in the middle of Europe, and the city will get its fair share of rain and winter snow. Fortunately, there are some very nicely curated museums such as the Museum of Modern Art and the Historic Museum, which are located southeast of Tivoli Park. Just south of the Metelkova, however, are the Slovenian Ethnographic Museum, a place where you can learn basically everything about Slovenia and its people in an entertaining way, and the Muzej Sodobne Umetnosti Metelkova | + MSUM, Ljubljana’s Museum of Contemporary Art.

The Ethnographic Museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. On Thursdays, they stay open until 8 p.m. The entrance fee is 6 €uros. The + MSUM is open from Tuesday to Sunday between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m., and the admission is 5 €uros.

Something Borrowed: All About Food

Borrowed – well, I’d like to rephrase since it’s rather adopted. One of the most interesting and fascinating sides of Ljubljana is its rich international heritage. Italians, Austrians, the Balkans – all these nations’n’neighbors left their culinary specks. Today, you can add Asian and Arabic food and, of course, there are great places for Vegetarians and Vegans, too.

Nevertheless, traditional foods are an important part of Slovenia’s national identity. Apart from exquisite produce, Slovenian artisan products are sold at markets and in specialty shops. You get excellent cheese and dairy products, sausages, local wines, schnapps, and, above all, honey of the highest quality.

Yummy Staples

Kranjska Klobasa, hence, Carniolan sausage, is the most famous Slovenian staple, and you get it in excellent quality at every eatery. It is served with mustard, sour cream, and horse reddish. If a half sausage is on the menu, go for it, it will be plenty as it is actually half of a pair of two sausages.

Carniolan sausage
This is a very posh version of Carniolan sausage. They usually come on the plate as a pair, and each half is as thick as a nightstick.

If you’re very hungry, you can order Žganci as a side dish with the Carniolan sausage. Žganci is a so-called spoon-bread and is usually made from buckwheat flour. This gives the dish an earthy and slightly nutty flavor. One of the most typical ways to eat Žganci is with cracklings made from roasted pork fat.

A vegetabel chowder accompanied by a bowl of Žganci, Slovenia's iconic spoon bread.
A vegetable chowder accompanied by a bowl of Žganci, Slovenia’s iconic spoon bread.

Štruklji is another traditional staple. Sheets of dough are spread with various savory or sweet fillings, rolled up, and then cut into pieces. This means that Štruklji are not only delicious, but also very pretty to look at.

Štruklji filled with vegetables and sour cream. The topping is breadcrumbs roasted in butter.

The most popular fillings are cottage cheese, vegetables, walnuts, and various fruits.

Arcade in Ljubljana
Plečnik’s famous arcades are housing some of the city’s nicest restaurants.

After having eaten at a number of different restaurants, I’d argue that the best place to try absolutely authentic Slovenian food is Moji štruklji Slovenije. It’s housed in the iconic Arcade alongside the river Ljubljanica. Since opening times vary according to season and day of the week, check them out on their website.

Fine Dining on Street Food

A particularly good opportunity to discover Slovenian cuisine and many other dishes from around the world is from March to October at the popular market Odprta Kuhna, which translates to Open Kitchen.

Since 2013, this popular food market has been held in the heart of the city every Friday in the summer between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m., unless it rains.

The Odprta Kuhna stalls are located on Pogačarjev Trg between the Plečnik’s covered market and Saint Nicholas’s Cathedral. Restaurants from all over Slovenia offer their delicacies here.
In addition to meat dishes, the open kitchen also offers vegetarian and vegan meals.

Whether locals or tourists: Everyone gets their favorite food from one of the stalls, accompanied by a glass of Slovenian wine or a craft beer. You have to improvise a bit when looking for a comfortable place to sit, but that’s really complaining at a high level.

Heavy Snacking

Especially if you are looking for a yummy snack to take with you on a day trip or just a hike, there are tons of bakeries, so-called Pekarna, selling filled puff pastry. The hearty kind is called Burek and is stuffed with different fillings like potatoes, spinach, cheese, minced meat, or vegetables. This snack is popular across the Balkan area, up northeast in Russia, in Türkiye, and probably in a couple more places that I don’t know of.
The sweet kind often contains fruit like apples, or it is filled with a thick layer of curd with raisins or poppy seeds.
If you are into carbs, you definitely came to the right country.

Burek with minced meat
Burek filled with minced meat: My personal slice of carb heaven!

You’ll get some of the best Burek just one block from the train station at Nobel Burek. Note that these guys never let you down since they are open 24/7.

Le Petit Déjeuner at Le Petit Café

If you should get tired of Burek for breakfast, I urge you to check out Le Petit Café at the Trg francoske revolucije not far from the Križanke Summer Theatre that I’m introducing below.

Usually, I prefer hearty food, but seeing this makes me drool.

You should be able to overlook the fact that the waiters are not always the friendliest. But they are fast and quickly bring you what you have ordered from the extensive menu. Everything is excellent and skilfully prepared from the best ingredients. Whether it’s eggs Benedict on salmon, avocado toast or the fluffiest pancakes of your life: you won’t be disappointed. Quality comes at a price, so Le Petit Cafe is certainly not the cheapest breakfast option in Ljubljana, but the food and drinks are worth every cent.

Le Petit Café is even not that petit, however, it’s extremely popular. Therefore, you should make reservation by calling +386 1 251 25 75. Otherwise, prepare for a longer wait especially on weekends during popular breakfast hours. They are open every day from 7.30 a.m. to midnight.

Something Blue: The Ljubljanica River

As you know from the Robba Fountain, there are three Carniolan rivers, namely Sava, Krka, and Ljubljanica, whereby the latter flows into the Sava which then exits into the Blue Danube. It flows like a melodic song.

Cruise with a view.

Somehow a visit to Ljubljana without a cruise on the Ljubljanica doesn’t seem to be complete.

Glass of sparkling wine enjoyed during a cruise on the Ljubljanica river.
Is there a better way to celebrate life and enjoy a city break in lovely, beloved Ljubljana than gliding along the Ljubljanica river with a glass of Slovenian bubbly in hand?

Not only does the river pleasantly divide the city, making lots of beautiful bridges necessary, each of them an alluring and interesting sight. Slowly gliding down the river gives you an additional perspective of all the great buildings to your left and your right.

So hop on and let’s cruise for an hour. The cruise departs from the Ribji Trg Pier, takes 45 minutes, and sets you back 14 €uros. However, it is included in the Ljubljana Card that I’m introducing in the Cash, Cards, And Discounts section of this post.

Southern bank of the Ljubljanica river.
There are corners in Ljubljana that seem downright rural.

Another very relaxing activity – isn’t relaxing and activity an oxymoron? – is just lying down on the lush lawns on both shores of the river, a little bit outside the city center. You can walk there or rent a bike and cycle – you’ll feel like being in the countryside.

Father of the Bride: Jože Plečnik

What a good father Jože Plečnik was to Ljubljana! He practically showered her with beautiful, unique, and meaningful architecture to make her one of the prettiest around.

Born in 1872 in Slovenia during the hegemony of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Plečnik studied with Viennese uber-architect Otto Wagner and worked at his workshop till 1900. Although his fantastic structures can be found for instance in Vienna, Belgrad, and, of course, Ljubljana, his most famous achievement is the renovation and remodeling of the Prague Castle from 1920 to 1934. He was commissioned by the first president of the Czechoslovak Republic Tomáš Masaryk.

Yet, this good father left his beautiful daughter Ljubljana a remarkable chest full of jewels. In 2021, UNESCO summarized Plečnik’s buildings under the title The Works of Jože Plečnik in Ljubljana – People-Oriented Urban Design and added them to the World Heritage List.

Triglav Insurance Company

You’re not even in the city center yet when you can already admire the first of Plečnik’s masterpieces: Not far from the train station, on the corner of Trg Osvobodilne Fronte and Miklošičeva Cesta is the magnificent building of the Triglav Insurance Company. Completed in 1930, it impresses with its unusual shape and a magnificent façade.

Triglav Insurance Company
Beauty at every corner.

It is stylistically divided into two parts, with the lower part having a smooth façade cladding and the upper part being decorated with bricks. The frieze above the windows on the third floor is decorated with figures connected by ribbons. This symbolizes reciprocity. The small frieze above is decorated with children’s sculptures representing generational solidarity.

National and University Library

That’s all well and good, but the undisputed most impressive building is the National and University Library.
The building was designed in the style of an Italian palazzo. It is a solid block with a square plan. The façade facing Turjaška Ulica was designed as a combination of brick and stone and complemented by some archaeological finds from the site. Take a closer look: the windows are designed to look like open books – another stroke of genius from Plecnik. The side entrance on Gosposka Ulica is decorated with a Moses sculpture by Lojze Dolinar.

National Library of Ljubljana
The National Library – where the upper windows are shaped like open books….

The interior consists of a central entrance hall from which four wings branch off. The staircase and its 32 columns are made of dark Podpeč marble.

National Library of Ljubljana
…and the entrance hall looks like a Greek temple….of wisdom, of course.

On weekdays the building is open from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. and can be visited free of charge. On Saturdays, there is an entrance fee of 5 euros between 2.30 p.m. and 6 p.m. Guided tours where you can see the central staircase with the lobby, the reading room, and the current exhibition.


Very close to the famous Dragon Bridge below the castle hill is an unusually shaped building. Plečnik designed it in 1932 to replace a building damaged by an earthquake.

Peglezen, Ljubljana's very own Flatiron Building.
Peglezen, Ljubljana’s very own Flatiron Building.

Adhering to the narrow floor plan was a real challenge even for this mastermind. But Plečnik wouldn’t be Plečnik if he hadn’t designed an almost unique design and given Ljubljana a Flatiron building – unique in the world other than the one in Manhattan.

Plečnik’s Covered Market

Along the Ljubljanica River, the market building designed by Plecnik was completed in 1944. The master builder was clearly influenced by the Renaissance when designing it.

Plečnik's Fish Market Arcades seen from his famous Tromostovje, the triple bridge.
Plečnik’s Fish Market Arcades seen from his famous Tromostovje, the triple bridge.

He designed the market hall as a two-story building. It follows the bend of the river. Large semicircular windows open onto the river. On the street side is a colonnade in front of which the innkeepers set up tables and chairs. This is also where my favorite restaurant Moji štruklji Slovenije is located.

Križanke Summer Theatre

From 1952 onwards, Plečnik was commissioned to transform the building of the former Križanke Teutonic Order into an arts and crafts school. Plečnik used elements of the Renaissance and Baroque. Outside the walls, Plečnik built three late Baroque portals from the remains of demolished houses.

Ultimately, the complex was used as a cultural center from 1955 onwards. Cultural events still take place here today.

Just around the corner is an impressive monument to Napoleon on the Trg Francoske Revolucije. But why do the Slovenes honor the French emperor? Well, in 1809, Napoleon founded the province of Illyria. It stretched from Slovenia to the Dalmatian coast. Napoleon thus protected the western part of Slovenia from the Habsburgs. Among other things, he made Slovenian the province’s official language. This remained the case even after the Austrians re-conquered the territory.

Kongresni Trg

Plečnik didn’t just build a house here and there, he was entrusted with the redesign of the entire congress square in the late 1930s!

The Kongresni Trg is the most significant square in Ljubljana. In its current appearance, it was constructed on the site of the ruins of a Capuchin monastery in 1821. Among the stately buildings surrounding the square are the Slovenian Philharmony, the main building of the University of Ljubljana, the neoclassical casino building, and the early baroque Ursuline Church of the Holy Trinity.

The Ursuline Church of the Holy Trinity on Ljubljana's Congress Square
The Ursuline Church of the Holy Trinity on Ljubljana’s Congress Square was designed by Carlo Martinuzzi. Francesco Robba, yes, the designer of the fountain, designed the large altar out of African marble. Of course, Plečnik also had to get involved and designed the stairs in front of the entrance in 1930.

The square has played an important role in Slovenian history: In 1918, independence from Austria-Hungary and the founding of the state of Slovenes, Croats, and Serbs was proclaimed in this very spot. Yugoslav leader Josip Broz Tito spoke here after WWII in May of 1945. Then, in 1988, the first free protest for the release of four Slovenian journalists took place in the square. This upheaval marked the beginning of the so-called Slovenian Spring, which culminated in Slovenia’s declaration of independence on June 25, 1991.

Triple Bridge

The Tromostovje, or triple bridge, consists of three footbridges that lead over the Ljubljanica River. It connects the historic old town with the central Prešeren Square. It dates back to the 13th century and is the oldest bridge in Ljubljana. Jože Plečnik redesigned and expanded it in the early 1930s.

Ljubljana's iconic Triple bridge with the likewise iconic Franciscan Church in the backdrop.
The master’s masterpiece: Tromostovje, Ljubljana’s iconic Triple bridge with the likewise iconic Franciscan Church in the backdrop.

Along with the Dragon Bridge, Triple Bridge is undoubtedly one of the city’s most momentous landmarks. If you want to experience it a little quieter, you have to get up very early as there’s a lot going on here from morning till late after dark.

Cobblers’ Bridge

Nowadays it is hard to imagine that there used to be a covered wooden bridge where the so-called Cobblers’ Bridge now crosses the river Ljubljanica. That bridge provided space for shoemakers’ workshops and gave the overpass its name, obviously. At its southern end, it was decorated with a statue of Christ. This sculpture is now kept in the Saint Florian Church.

Romantic Šuštarski most, the famous Cobblers' Bridge.
Romantic Šuštarski most, the famous Cobblers’ Bridge.

In 1932, Jože Plečnik replaced the wooden bridge with today’s stone Cobblers’ Bridge.

Trnovo Bridge

The Trnovo Bridge is a bridge over the Gradaščica River. It is located in front of the Trnovo Church in the south of the city center and connects the districts of Krakovo and Trnovo, hence, the oldest and still rural-looking suburbs of Ljubljana.

Trnovo Bridge in Ljubljana
The Trnovo Bridge leads straight to the Parish Church John the Baptist

A bridge has stood at this location since the late 17th century. Designer Matko Curk built the new bridge between 1928 and 1932 according to Plečnik’s plans. A special feature is certainly that it is lined with trees instead of pillars or statues.

Butcher’s Bridge

Mesarski Most, hence, Butcher’s Bridge got its name from the nearby butchers’ stalls. Today it would be better to rename it the Love Bridge: Optimistic couples seal their love here by locking padlocks on the bridge railing. The keys are then usually thrown into the river below. Romantic? Probably?
Environmentally friendly? Certainly not.

By the way, you can book cruises on the Ljubljanica on the Butcher’s Bridge.

This is a list of Plečnik’s most iconic constructions around Ljubljana’s old center. If you are interested in seeing more of his works, there are the Church of St. Francis of Assisi, the Žale Cemetery, and more.

The Audacious Wedding Planner: Ivan Vurnik

There is no doubt that Jose Plečnik was a master builder and was to Ljubljana what Antoní Gaudí was to Barcelona. UNESCO agrees and has listed works by both architects as World Cultural Heritage Sites. And while Plečnik was undoubtedly substantial, he was not the only innovative and great architect in Slovenia.

Ivan Vurnik, who died in Ljubljana in 1971, did not achieve the international fame of his colleague Plečnik, yet, he is responsible for several important buildings in Ljubljana and beyond and was also involved in the founding of the Ljubljana School of Architecture. His early style in the 1920s in particular is characterized by the search for creating a national identity. He was inspired by Slovenian folk art, but also by the Viennese Secession style of architecture.

Vurnik House in Ljubljana
The Cooperative Bank building is one of the most famous buildings in Ljubljana. The façade frescoes and interior murals of the building are the work of the architect’s wife, Helena, who was born in Vienna. It is a beautiful example of how Slovenia’s national symbols emerged from its eventful history.

After Vurnik adopted the Viennese functionalist concept in the 1930s, he clashed’n’competed with the more conservative approach of Jože Plečnik. Nevertheless, the cooperative bank, designed by Vurnik and his wife Helena Kottler Vurnik, with its eclectic façade in the colors of the Slovenian tricolor, is still considered one of the most beautiful buildings in the city.

Hidden Gems

One of my favorite works by the Vurnik power couple, however, is the Parish Church of Saint Peter which is one of the oldest houses of worship in Ljubljana. Between 1938 and 1940, Vurnik completely redesigned the façade, while his wife contributed new interior decorations and mosaics. Here, too, the strong influence of Balkan folk art and the Art Deco of the Vienna Secession cannot be denied.

Saint Peter's Parish Church in Ljubljana.
Saints in bold colors.
Saint Matthew
I assume this mosaic depicts Saint Matthew.
Francis of Assisi by Helena Vurnik.
If one compares this portrait with a work by Helena Vurnik in the town of Radovljica, this should be Francis of Assisi.

Another work by Vurnik that gets far too little attention is the Sokolski Dom. Commissioned by the Sokol sports club, Vurnik designed one of the first indoor sports facilities in Slovenia. The building was completed in 1926 in a Slovenian folk style.

Sokolski Dom Tabor
Sokolski dom was built according to the plans of Ivan Vurnik between 1923 and 1926 by order of the Sokol sports club; it was one of the first major indoor sports facilities in Slovenia.

While the house looks like a stately villa from the outside, inside it has a large vaulted gymnasium and two smaller gyms. The spacious interior is well-lit by windows and a glazed part of the roof.

Practical Information

How to Get There

Air Travel

Letališče Jožeta Pučnika Ljubljana International Airport is located 26 kilometers north of the city center. The flight schedule can certainly still be expanded, even regarding destinations within Europe. The only non-European destination is Dubai.

Booking.com Search FlightsImage

There is a regular connection by public buses not only to and from Ljubljana, but also for instance Bled. A trip to the city takes about 45 minutes.
Taking a private shuttle is a little more costly but it might be more comfortable.

Land Travel

Slovenia is located right in the heart of Europe, nestled between Italy, Austria, Hungary, and Croatia. This makes it quickly accessible from many regions by train as well as long-distance bus.

Ljubljana’s train station is about 10 to 15 minutes north of the city center, hence totally walkable.

The bus terminal is located right next to the train station. You can buy tickets at the till and sometimes on the bus. Just get there early so you have enough time to inquire and figure things out. Keep in mind that you might not be able to pay by credit card, hence, have enough cash on you. Otherwise, you can get money from an ATM at the station.

How to Get Around

At Ljubljana, you’ll probably be walking. There is a good bus system, but most of the rather touristy attractions are concentrated at or around the old town and a major part of this area are pedestrian streets.

If you want to get to places outside the traffic-calmed city center by bus, you can use the travelcard called Urbana. You get it for 2 €uros at many newspaper kiosks, in the tourist information centers, and at the bus company sales points, obviously.
You can then top it up with an amount of your choice of up to 50 €uros.

Note that there are two types of Urbana cards. You want the yellow one. This one is not personalized, so you can use it to pay for several people at the same time. Alternatively, you can also pay with a credit or debit card equipped with NFC.


If you don’t just want to explore the inner city area, a bike is an excellent means of transport. Like many other European cities, Ljubljana also has a municipal bike rental system. BicikeLJ is even free for rides of up to one hour. All you have to do is connect a rented bike to a docking station within an hour. If you wait five minutes, you can rent a new one for another hour.

Ljubljana's iconic Triple bridge with the likewise iconic Franciscan Church in the backdrop.
Walking and cycling are definitely the best ways to get around the center of Ljubljana.

This means that using the BicikeLJ is essentially free. You have to register online. The registration fee is 1 €uro for a week and 3 €uro for a whole year. After you have registered on this website, you will receive a customer number and a four-digit PIN, which you must enter when renting a bike.

If you want or need to ride a bike for more than an hour at a time, two hours will cost a total of 1 €uro, three hours 2 €uro, and the rest of the day 4 €uros.

Where to Sleep

Although Ljubljana is still not overrun by tourists, it is becoming more and more popular as a city break destination mainly among Europeans. Therefore, there is a wide choice of accommodation, however, they tend to be surprisingly pricey.


The most luxurious hotel is arguably the centrally located Hotel Union*. However, apart from classic hotels, there are also many smaller guest houses and hostels mainly along the river Ljubljanica. Hence, we stayed at the ApartHotel Maria* at a halfway reasonable price.

Nevertheless, on this map, you can check out other suitable options according to your preferred location and budget*:


Visiting Organized

Although I’m an avid solo-travelling woman, I sometimes like to join organized tours. Not only are they a valid option to go to remote places since I’m not driving. They also allow me to meet fellow travellers – for just a short moment or a lifelong friendship.

Lake Bled and the Church of Saint Mary
A visit to the famous Lake Bled is one of the most popular day trips when in Slovenia. In my post Day Trip Into a Fairy Tale: Lake Bled by Public Bus, you get the perfect guide on how to plan this outing by yourself.

Therefore, here are some great ideas of what to do when visiting Ljubljana. Especially during high season, pre-booking online will guarantee your place at the activity of your choice*:

Cash, Cards, And Deals

Since 2001, 20 European countries have paid with €uros. Slovenia joined the European Union in 2004. It became the first of the new EU countries to adopt the €uro in 2007.
The exchange rate is 1 US$ = 0,93 EUR as of July 2024. However, you can check the conversion on this page.

Also, you can pay with credit cards even the smallest amount basically everywhere. However, keep in mind that bus tickets have to be paid in cash most of the time.

Mind you Slovenia is a surprisingly expensive country at least for visitors. Accommodation and food are pricey, hence, you’ll be happy to save a little on attractions by obtaining a Ljubljana Card. However, buying the card is only worth it if you really want to visit several of the common tourist attractions such as the inside of the castle, or take a boat trip on the Ljubljanica. The fact that the card covers public urban transport is rather pointless as the part that’s of interest to visitors is so small that you can easily explore it by walking. The picturesque streets, the magnificent buildings, the idyllic parks – you get to see all of this free of charge!

However, if you are planning on getting a Ljubljana Card, here is what you’ll have to pay:


Over the past years, Slovenia has become a popular tourist destination. Therefore, many people speak pretty decent English. Older people speak it rather if they are working in the tourist industry, but most young people have a great command of the language. Especially some of the older folks also speak German.
Nevertheless, it puts a smile on people’s faces when you can say at least thank you – hvala – and please and you’re welcome – prosim in Slovenian.

Say It Right

In this post, I’m writing out some of the Slovenian names of brands and places. You should be aware that there are letters that might not exist in other languages. 

Most importantly, the letter c is never pronounced as k. It is always pronounced like the ts in Tsar. Hence street is enunciated Ulitsa, not Ulika. 
Only when c is written č, it is pronounced like a ch in chachacha.
The same goes for s: written š, it’s pronounced sh. But only then. 
Then, there is the letter ž which is pronounced more or less like j, but rather the French way – as in jour.

So now you know how to order your Žganci correctly: Dj-gan-tsi.

People tend to overdo it with the ch and the sh – if there is no accent, it’s a simple c, s, or z, no crackjaw there.


On this map, you can see where to find all the places you shouldn’t miss on your visit to Ljubljana. Clicking on the slider symbol at the top left or the full-screen icon at the top right will display the whole map.

Pinnable Pictures

If you choose to pin this post for later, please make sure to use one of these pictures:

Note: I am completing, editing, and updating this post regularly – last in July 2024.

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*This is an affiliate link. If you book through this page, you get the best deal, and I get a small commission that helps me run this blog.
Thank you so much for supporting me!

I appreciate that Visit Ljubljana in the past supported my first blogger trip to Slovenia by granting me a private guided tour and supplying me with various tickets and free access. However, all opinions on these services are mine and weren’t by any means influenced by my cooperation partner.

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