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City trip to Ljubljana: sights and tips

Why Ljubljana is no insider’s tip anymore

City trip to Ljubljana: sights and tips

Ljubljana has the makings of a place of longing: a charming historic downtown crossed by the Ljubljanica river; several bridges with marvelous dragon-shaped sculptures; architecture resembling the Athena of old – and hovering above all there’s the castle of Ljubljana. Interested? In the following, we list the most important sights and tips for a city trip to Ljubljana.

As soon as you enter Ljubljana, the city’s charm will remind you of the Athena of old – and that’s no coincidence. This is due to the famous architect Jože Plečnik. His idea was to build Ljubljana just like the ancient city of Athena. 1921, after he resided in Vienna and Prague, he came back to the city of his birth and used his creativity to give the town a new shape. Thanks to him, today, Ljubljana is one of the world’s most important connected artworks of the 20th century.

Jože Plečnik designed both the library and the buildings on the river banks next to Ljubljanica. Same goes for the three bridges (Tromostovje) in the city center and the streetlights.

The old town of Ljubljana at dusk with a bridge and illuminated buildings.
The old town of Ljubljana offers numerous highlights for architecture fans. A walk at night is worthwhile to admire the street lighting. Photo: Pedro Szekely

Tatonka-tip: If you’re planning on visiting several sights on one single day it’s worth considering Ljubljana Card (for 27,90€ a day). Equipped with this card you can participate in a city tour, a boat tour, rent bikes, visit all the city’s museums and even more – for free.

Ljubljana’s historic downtown

Though, Ljubljana is the capital of Slovenia it’s not that big at all. This you’re soon going to realize by simply strolling the lanes or enjoying the buildings and stores. Within a few hours you can easily reach all the popular sights by foot.

So, it’s worth visiting Ljubljana, event though, you might just have one day for it. In this case, you are to take a picture with the numerous dragons which are the heraldic animal of the city and spread all over town.

Dragon sculpture on a bridge in Ljubljana.
Dragons can be found in Ljubljana at almost every corner.

Especially striking is all the little green busses traversing the pedestrian area and are carrying mostly elderly people but tourists as well. This service is entirely free and only one of the reasons Ljubljana was chosen 2016’s “European Green Capital” by the EU Commission. All the green areas and parks within the city of Ljubljana contribute this comfortable sensation.

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Ljubljana castle

The castle of Ljubljana towers majestically on the hill directly above the old town.
The castle of Ljubljana towers majestically on the hill directly above the old town.

Observing the everything from above is always a city trip’s highlight. Not only you can enjoy a splendid view also you’ll get an idea of the city’s structure which will improve your orientation. The best spot to do so is Ljubljana castle. For 900 years now the castle sits enthroned on a hill just above the city center.

You can reach it by foot or use the cable car. If you are there it’s definitely worth visiting the exhibition “Slovenian History” or the puppet-theater museum. Also, in summer, there’re open air movie shows in the castle’s courtyard.

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Tivoli-park

Tivoli-park extends from the very west to the city center – the biggest and most beautiful park area of Ljubljana. Formerly, it consisted of two segregated parks surrounding Podturn and Cekinov palace. Following the ideas of French engineer J. Blanchard, they eventually got connected in 1813.

Today, this green oasis contains fields of blooming flowers, magnificent trees, several statues and fountains. Dozens of walkways and exercise trails with gymnastic apparatuses (hello 70s!) are leading through the park to the nearby wooded hill of Rožnik.

Along the marvelous Jakopič-promenade art-enthusiasts can find open air large-format photo exhibitions almost all year.

The Metelkova artists’ quarter

If you’re looking for uncommon atmosphere you might want to check the artists’ quarter of Metelkova. The former barracks is in the south of Ljubljana main station and has been evolving to Ljubljanas alternative cultural hot-spot for the last couple of decades.

Fans of street art and graffiti come at their expense in the artists' quarter Metelkova.
Fans of street art and graffiti come at their expense in the artists’ quarter Metelkova.

Though, it’s relatively quiet by day leaving enough time for enjoying the local street art it’s always busy at nighttime: there’re lots of bands performing – especially in summer – and you are free to party until early morning.

Smarna Gora: a hiking trip starting in Ljubljana

For those of you intending to fly the urban hubbub for a few hours we’d recommend hiking Šmarna Gora mountain. It’s in the north of Ljubljana and about 667 meters high. To get there it’s best taking the train from Ljubljana main station to Medno. You’ll be at the mountainside within 15 minutes and can choose between several rather easy and well signposted trails to the mountaintop.

The city of Ljubljana with the mountain Smarna Gora in the background.
The train ride from Ljubljana to the foot of Mount Smarna Gora takes only 15 minutes.

The hike to the peak – which is roughly 30 to 60 minutes walking – is absolutely worth it: on Šmarna Gora summit there’s a baroque church presenting a stunning view. And don’t forget to ring the bell next to the trail just before your arrival: it’ll fulfil a hiker’s secret wishes (so the locals say).

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Tags : City Trip