What to see in Ljubljana

La verde Lubiana in un giorno- Triplo Ponte- Tromostovje- Ljubljanica- Battello

Things to Do and See in a Day in the Green Slovenian Capital

Embarking on a road trip in Slovenia or planning a day trip to Ljubljana? Discover what to see in Ljubljana in a day with our guide.

Ljubljana was once an underrated destination, overshadowed by more famous tourist spots. However, thanks to the efforts of Slovenian institutions, the Slovenian capital has experienced a significant surge in popularity in recent years. Intrigued by glowing reviews, after exploring the Slovenian Istria in Koper and Piran, we were compelled to visit Ljubljana.

Contrary to the bustling and polluted image often associated with capitals, Ljubljana is an absolute gem. Abundant in greenery, the city is best explored on foot, by bike, or using the kavalirs, free electric transport for residents and tourists. One of the measures implemented by the administration that earned Ljubljana the title of the 2016 European Green Capital.

In addition to its greenery, Ljubljana is an elegant city, with the historic center adorned with baroque and Art Nouveau buildings, along with beautiful bridges connecting the medieval and modern parts. Dominating the skyline is the Castle, perched on Grajska Planota, Ljubljana’s green lung.

To assist you in your visit, we’ve crafted a brief itinerary highlighting the main attractions to see in Ljubljana in a day!

What to See in Ljubljana in a Day: Metelkova

Many visitors immediately head to the historic city center upon arrival by train or bus. However, just a few meters from the station lies an intriguing neighborhood that perfectly reflects Ljubljana’s vitality: Metelkova. Occupied by a vibrant community of artists in 1993 to prevent its demolition, this district, once Yugoslav army barracks, now bursts with color and life. 

What to see in Ljubljana- Metelkova- Artists' Quarter- Murals-Street art- Graffiti
One of Metelkova’s former barracks (Credit to Matteo Marongiu)

Despite ongoing debates about its existence, Metelkova continues to attract tourists and contemporary art enthusiasts. Annually hosting exhibitions, shows, and concerts, this open-air art laboratory is sure to capture your attention.

What to See in Ljubljana in a Day: Riverside Promenade and its Bridges

Another must-see in Ljubljana in a day is the Riverside Promenade with its bridges. The city is traversed by the Ljubljanica River, offering beautiful urban views from its banks. Architect Jože Plečnik, who transformed Ljubljana in the 1920s, is credited with much of the charm. The Riverside Promenade is a string of small venues where you can savor Slovenian delicacies, observe street artists, and painters. We were particularly impressed by the skill of the painters, some of whose works made their way to Italy with us!

Ljubljana’s Bridges

During your stroll along the Riverside Promenade, you’ll encounter several bridges defining the stretch of river between the medieval and modern parts. Starting from Metelkova, you’ll encounter in order:

  1. Dragon Bridge (Zmajski most): Constructed in 1901 to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of Emperor Franz Joseph’s coronation, it stands as one of Ljubljana’s finest examples of Art Nouveau. Named after the four green dragons (the green dragon is the city’s symbol) guarding the passage.

    What to see in Ljubljana- Drago- Dragon Bridge - Zmajski most-
    One of the Dragons of the Dragon Bridge (Credit to Matteo Marongiu)
  • Butchers’ Bridge (Mesarski most): Inaugurated in 2010, despite the idea of building a bridge there dating back to the 1930s. A highly contemporary bridge with glass flooring on the sides and a steel wire fence. It not only hosts statues by Jakov Brdar but has also become a pilgrimage site for love-struck couples leaving padlocks—a kind of Slovenian Ponte Milvio!
  • Triple Bridge (Tromostovje): The name says it all; a group of three bridges connecting the heart of the old town with the more modern part. Originally, until the 1930s, it consisted of a single bridge. Then, due to traffic, Jože Plečnik designed two pedestrian walkways on the sides, perhaps inadvertently turning it into a symbol of Ljubljana.
    - Triple Bridge - Tromostovje - Ljubljana
    The Triple Bridge (Credit to Matteo Marongiu)

    This corner of Ljubljana is adorned by the beautiful Prešeren Square (Prešernov trg), surrounded by elegant Secessionist-style buildings and the Franciscan Church of the Annunciation.

  • Cobblers’ Bridge (Čevljarski most): This bridge, in its current form, was also designed by Jože Plečnik and is the furthest downstream of Ljubljana’s historical bridges. For centuries, cobblers displayed their tools here.
    Ljubljana- Shoemakers Bridge-Cobblers bridge- Šuštarski most
    Shoemakers’ Bridge (Credit to Matteo Marongiu)

    What to see in Ljubljana in a Day: A Mini-Cruise on the Ljubljanica

    A delightful activity in Ljubljana in a day is a mini boat cruise on the Ljubljanica. Several companies offer these cruises at reasonable prices, with young and friendly staff. From here, you can view the city from a different perspective, focusing on the upper levels of buildings or enjoying unique views..

    What to See in Ljubljana in a Day: Historic Center

    After crossing any of the historic bridges, you’ll reach the medieval part situated between the Ljubljanica and Grajska Planota (Castle Hill). Its narrow streets and small squares surrounded by baroque buildings provide visitors with a nostalgic atmosphere. Contributing to this ambiance are numerous well-curated shops, interspersed with cozy bars and restaurants. A stroll in Stari Trg Square is undoubtedly one of the things to do in this area. Here, at the center, you’ll find the Hercules Fountain, a modern revision of a baroque fountain.

    Mestni Square

    Continuing, you’ll arrive at Mestni Square, where you’ll notice the Fountain of the Three Carniolan Rivers. Conceived and sculpted in the 18th century by Venetian Francesco Robba, this masterpiece stands between two significant buildings for Ljubljana.

    What to see in  Ljubljana in one day - Mestni Square - Mestni trg - Fountain of the Three Carniola Rivers
    Mestni Square and the Fountain of the Three Carniolan Rivers (Credit to Matteo Marongiu)

    Just steps away are both the Town Hall, a 15th-century palace with clear Venetian baroque characteristics, and St. Nicholas’s Cathedral. The former features a late-Gothic stele with a coat of arms and the statue of Hercules, originally on the baroque fountain in Stari Trg. Additionally, you’ll notice the presence of a beautiful Narcissus Fountain sculpted by Francesco Robba.

    St. Nicholas, also reconstructed in the baroque period, is prominently visible throughout much of the historic center. This church houses numerous valuable works of art, and visitors must follow predetermined routes. The bishop perhaps isn’t overly fond of the presence of tourists and art enthusiasts!

    Pogačar Square Markets, Vodnik Square, and the Covered Market

    A short walk from the church, in Pogačar Square and Vodnik Square, you can immerse yourself in the authentic atmosphere of Ljubljana and mingle with locals. Here, food markets offer a chance to discover lesser-known goods in Italy, cultivated and produced in the surroundings of Ljubljana.  Along the riverbanks, there’s also the Covered Market. Architect Jože Plečnik designed it in the 1940s, spanning two floors and following the river’s curvature. Today, the upper floor hosts shops selling Slovenian products and charming restaurants. Downstairs, you’ll find a large fish market with a small restaurant offering excellent fish-based dishes..

    What to see in Ljubljana in one day - Market Hall - Butchers' Bridge - Mesarski Most - Ljubljanica
    The Covered Market seen from the Ponte dei Macellai (Credit to Matteo Marongiu)

    A Stroll on Grajska Planota and the Castle

    Another highly recommended experience in Ljubljana in a day is a walk on Grajska Planota to reach the Castle. While there’s a convenient funicular to the top, and you could easily avoid the effort, we assure you it would be a shame. This short path through the woods creates a mountain-like atmosphere in the heart of the capital, a sensation we found captivating.

    At the summit stands the grand Ljubljana Castle (Ljubljanski Grad), one of the major attractions for tourists. In reality, the castle is not ancient except in its foundations. Completely reconstructed in medieval style in the 1960s, it lacks the charm of true ancient castles. Nevertheless, the panoramic view of the city and the Slovenian Alps from above is truly splendid. Our advice, if you want to enjoy the city in its everyday aspects, is not to spend too much time at the castle. If you’re curious about Slovenia’s history, enter and visit the museum inside

    What to see in  Ljubljana in one day- Ljubljana Castle-Ljubljana Grad- Walls- Tower-Grajska Planota
    The walls and tower of the Castle (Credit to Matteo Marongiu)

    What to See in Ljubljana in a Day: Tivoli Park

    As a final attraction to see in Ljubljana in a day, we recommend the beautiful Tivoli Park, a vast park just 5 minutes from the center. For Ljubljana residents, it’s a favorite spot for a green stroll, a short break from work, as well as a cultural and sports venue. A significant part of the park houses sports fields, but the most captivating aspect is Tivoli Castle (Tivolski Grad) at the park’s center. To reach it, you’ll traverse a long avenue displaying billboards with works by Slovenia’s most famous artists. The castle is a large neoclassical palace with an impressive staircase guarded by four large bronze dogs sculpted by Austrian artist Anton Dominik Fernkorn. Inside, you’ll find an intriguing collection of 20th-century graphic art and frequent exhibitions of Slovenian and international artists.

    Ljubljana- Tivoli Castle- Tivoli Park-Tivolski Grad- Fountain
    Tivoli Castle (Credit to Matteo Marongiu)

    You may not be able to see and fully grasp its essence in a day, but you can certainly get a good feel for Ljubljana. Now, all that’s left is for you to go!

    Final Tips

    If you want to stay in the best accommodations in Ljubljana at the best prices, click here!


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Article Name
What to see in Ljubljana
Embark on a Slovenian road trip or plan a day in Ljubljana. Discover what to see in Ljubljana with our guide. Explore the city's highlights!
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La Scimmia Viaggiatrice

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