If you are planning to spend your holidays in Slovenia and its capital city and have been wondering about the best what to see in Ljubljana in one day, then this article will give you some interesting ideas. In the capital, you will discover many sightseeing spots, including remarkable urban architecture.

The capital is also a city of culture and a home to many theaters, museums, and galleries. It boasts about one of the oldest philharmonic halls in the world. There are many things to do in Ljubljana, as more than ten thousand cultural events take place each year. The city offers excellent cuisine and many points for socializing and recreation. The capital has repeatedly won the award for the greenest and most environmentally friendly city in Europe.

1. Ljubljana Castle

Ljubljana Castle, which proudly stands above the city, is a magnificent medieval building with a fortress that represents a unique symbol of the city. You can climb the castle along a path or you can take a funicular ride from Krekov Square. From the outlook tower, you will have a wonderful view of the whole city.

The Castle is one of the most popular Ljubljana attractions, where you can discover the mysterious history of the castle and see:

  • The chapel of Saint George
  • Permanent exhibitions: Penitentiary and Slovenian History
  • Three castle towers
  • Sales gallery of arts and crafts
  • Time Machine guided tour: learn about the history of the castle, its architectural development, and archaeological findings.

2. Open Kitchen

The Open Kitchen is a unique culinary project that takes place every Friday in Pogačar Square in the city center. Trying out delicious street food and drinks at an Open Kitchen event is one of the best things to do in Ljubljana. A gourmet walk between many food stalls is something special, as you can taste different dishes prepared by the best Slovenian restaurants.

So far, almost 100 restaurants have presented their various traditional Slovenian and international dishes on Open Kitchen food stalls. So, you can try Asian specialties on one stall, home-made brandy on the other, or order a grilled juicy burger on the third. The advantage is that you don’t have to dig deep in the pocket, because the prices are very reasonable.

3. Stand-up paddling and boat cruising along the Ljubljanica River

In the city center, you can paddle on the Ljubljanica River with SUP or river kayak. The SUP journey on the river offers a unique experience because you will see the center from a completely different scenery. Most SUP trips start just ten minutes from the center, on the Špica embankment, from where the river flow will lead you towards the city center.

If you are wondering what to see in Ljubljana in one day, then a tourist boat ride on the Ljubljanica River is a perfect choice. Wooden boats will take you past the river banks and under the famous bridges, from where you will see the important local sights next to the river.

4. Museum of illusions

Three-storey Museum of illusions invites you into the world of optical illusions and distorted images. If you would like to know what to see in Ljubljana for a high dose of fun and laughter, then enter the museums’ bizarre rooms that create illusions.

  1. Upside room: take pictures in incredible poses in the 180-degree room
  2. Endless disco room with countless mirrors
  3. Ames Room: you will be as small as a dwarf in one corner of the room and a giant in the other corner of the room.
  4. Optical illusions: a variety of images and installations that play tricks with your brain and at the same time remind you that the assumptions about the visual world are often distorted.

5. Best cakes in Zvezda Cafe on the Congress Square

Zvezda Cafe with a long confectionery tradition stands on the corner between Wolf Street and Zvezda Park in Congress Square. The cafe is best known for its excellent cakes and pastries. To taste the best desserts in the Zvezda Cafe is one of the most enjoyable things to do in Ljubljana Slovenia since here you can also try traditional Slovenian desserts.

The specialty of the cafe is also in its location as from the outdoor terrace you can observe lively events in Congress Square and in Zvezda Park. From here you will have a brilliant sight of the philharmonic hall and the building of the University of Ljubljana, which was once a state palace.

6. Ljubljana Marshes

The unique landscape of the Ljubljana Marshes Regional Park, the natural area of swamps and peat bogs with the river bed of the Ljubljanica River, is the ideal answer to the question of what to do in Ljubljana when you would like to spend a day in nature. The 160 square kilometer landscape offers hikes or cycling tours along the marshes and former settlements where the oldest inhabitants of the modern city lived during the Stone Age.

In Črna Village, a small village at the edge of the swamp, you can visit the Church of St. Michael, one of the greatest cultural and architectural monuments designed by the renowned architect Jože Plečnik.

7. Triple Bridge

The Triple Bridge, leading from the Prešeren Square towards the old city center, is among most beautiful Ljubljana attractions. It is constructed of one main bridge and two side bridges for pedestrians. It is exceptionally enchanting during the Christmas season, when this part of the city is decorated in festive lights and when the biggest Christmas tree stands on the Prešeren Square.

In 1932, metal fences were removed from the old bridge. They have built a two-line structure with carved stone pillars. The street lamps were installed by the bridge. This gives the Triple Bridge, which connects the old historic town with the modern one, an additional charm and a touch of romance with a perfect spot to get a picture taken.

8. Metelkova City

In Metelkova City, the center of the alternative culture located in the former barracks, many cultural events, art performances, exhibitions, and various festivals take place throughout the year. It is known for being one of the most successful autonomous cultural centers and urban squats in Europe. Metelkova City is also home to art galleries and studios, cafes, NGOs and a youth hostel.

In the evening, Metelkova City turns into a vibrant place for parties. That’s why going to Metelkova City’s nightclubs and concerts are one of the best things to do in Ljubljana at night. Have fun in seven different alternative clubs, featuring music artists from all over the world.

9. Town Hall and Robba Fountain

If you are interested in the cultural heritage and would like to know what to see in Ljubljana old town, then a visit to Town Hall is the perfect opportunity to learn about the rich baroque history of the city. In the Town Hall of the 15th Century, that is now a registered seat of the municipality, you can see:

  • Glass and historic atrium
  • Narcissus Fountain
  • Conference, wedding and banquet halls
  • Statue of Hercules

On the square in front of the Town Hall stands the 17th-century Robba Fountain, one of the most majestic Baroque monuments in the city. It is also known as the Fountain of Three Carniolan Rivers, as statues of the gods represent the Ljubljanica River, Sava, and Krka River.

10. National Museum of Slovenia

The National Museum in the city center keeps various objects with historical value as they were found in the Slovenian territory. The National Museum with its magnificent collections that represent the Slovenian cultural heritage is one of the most impressive places to visit in Ljubljana, as here you can see many permanent exhibitions:

  • Prehistoric treasures with important archeological finds. These include the world-renowned Neanderthal flute, one of the oldest musical instruments in the world.
  • Archaeological finds from the time when the country was part of the Roman Empire.
  • Roman Lapidarium: a collection of two hundred stone monuments with Roman inscriptions dating from the Roman era on the Slovenian ground.

11. Cycling down the streets of the old town

One of the top things to do in Ljubljana is cycling down the picturesque streets and squares in the old medieval part of the city, between the foot of the Castle Hill and the riverside of the Ljubljanica River. You can start the cycling city tour in the Prešeren Square with the famous Franciscan Church, past the Plečnik’s Triple Bridge, and along the lively riverbank with many restaurants and bars.

Discover the Mestni Square with its baroque buildings and strike out into the medieval part of the city with many boutique shops and cafes. From here you can take a ride to the romantic Gornji Square, which is located at the foot of the hill. Then you can cycle towards the Novi Square, home to the National and University Library.

12. Križanke

If you would like to know what to see in Ljubljana in one day, then exploring the medieval Križanke complex in the Novi Square in the old part of the city is a great choice. The 12th-century Križanke was once a well-known Monastery of the Holy Cross Order. In the middle of the 20th century, the famous architect Jože Plečnik reconstructed some parts of the monastery into a summer theater.

Križanke is considered one of the most beautiful and acoustic outdoor venues in Slovenia. Theatrical performances, operas, symphony orchestra, and popular music concerts take place in the four different courtyards of the monastery. The open-air theater welcomes 1400 visitors, which is why there are many cultural events as part of the Ljubljana Festival.

13. The Tivoli Park and Rožnik Hill

A carefree walk or picnic in Tivoli Park in the heart of the city is one of the most enjoyable things to do in Ljubljana Slovenia. You can walk through chestnut avenues, flower gardens, impressive statues, and fountains. By the pond, you can also visit a small botanical park with a greenhouse or go for a stroll around the Jakopić promenade, where photo exhibitions take place throughout the year. Tivoli Park also has tennis courts, mini-golf courses, and children’s playgrounds.

You can also climb the 391-meter-high Rožnik Hill that is accessible by several footpaths and recreational tracks from the Tivoli Park. The hilltop with a smaller church has always been a popular hiking spot for locals.

14. Dragon Bridge

The famous Dragon Bridge, adorned with great dragon statues, is among the most recognizable Ljubljana attractions. Take some photos of the dragons with their mighty appearance that has been stirring imagination since the bridge was built in 1901, on the 40th anniversary of the Austro-Hungarian emperor.

The Dragon Bridge that crosses the Ljubljanica River near the Central Market on Vodnik Square, is an Art Nouveau, Vienna Secession masterpiece that symbolizes the capital’s history, beauty, and architectural style. These dragons, which are part of the Dragon Bridge, are also included in the city’s coat of arms and can be found elsewhere throughout the city in forms of statues and monuments.

15. Central Market

If you would like to know what to do in Ljubljana, if you want to experience an everyday city throb, then do some shopping of first-rate organic foods at the Central Market, which is considered as the heart of the city. The lively atmosphere of an outdoor market takes place on the Pogačar and Vodnik Square. The covered market in two floors, designed by Jože Plečnik in 1940, is located right next to the Ljubljanica River.

Food stalls in Vodnik Square offer plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables from local farmers. You can buy meat products, bread and pastries, cheeses, and home-made oils at covered shops and food stalls by the river. Central Market on Pogačar Square is known for organic products from Slovenian farms.

16. Vibrant nightlife in the city center

There are many things to do in Ljubljana at night, as the city center along the Ljubljanica River is a very lively place, offering lots of party events in different bars with popular mainstream music or particular music genres. Here you can find clubs with jazz and ethno music. In city squares, especially in the summer, there are numerous concerts and performances. You can experience the nightlife in the best nightclubs in the city:

  • Circus Club: a popular nightclub with several dance floors and bars
  • K4 Club: modern electronic music in the nightclub, that has been operating for 30 years
  • Top Six Club: a nightclub with mainstream music located on the sixth floor of the skyscraper in the very city center

17. The Nebotičnik Skyscraper

The Nebotičnik Skyscraper, a thirteen-storey and 70 meters tall building in the city center, is one of the most recognizable sights in the capital. The Skyscraper, constructed in 1933, was considered as the highest building in the Balkans and the ninth tallest building in Europe. If you are wondering what to see in Ljubljana in one day, then the upper terrace of the Skyscraper is an ideal choice, since from here you will have the most beautiful view of the whole city.

Take an elevator up to the top floor and enjoy in a cup of coffee on the café’s outdoor patio. Downstairs is an à la carte restaurant, and one story below, there is a Nebotičnik Lounge Bar, which turns into a nightclub in the evening.

18. Hostel Celica

The Celica Hostel, located in the city center, has received many recognitions from travel guides who have ranked it among the most unique hostels in the world. The hostel is part of the Metelkova City since the buildings in this area served as prisons and barracks for over 100 years. Now the former 20 prison cells have been transformed into accommodation rooms. Each cell is a separate piece of art, where the windows and doors still have original prison bars.

The Celica Hostel is one of the best places to visit in Ljubljana, as it also has a bar, restaurant, and concert stages. Here young travelers and Slovenian youth meet and socialize at various concerts, parties, travelogue evenings, round tables and art exhibitions.

19. The Cathedral of St. Nicholas

The magnificent Baroque Cathedral of St. Nicholas boasts with majestic towers and a big green-colored dome. In the area of today’s cathedral, there had been standing a Romanesque church from the 13th Century, dedicated to Nicholas, a patron of fishermen and boatman. If you’re wondering what to see in Ljubljana in the old medieval part of the city, then stop by the famous cathedral, which you will recognize from the outside artwork with a large solar clock and beautifully carved bronze gates.

The richly decorated interior of the cathedral is adorned with Quagli’s illusionist paintings, an altar painting of Saint Nicholas in gilded brass, a marble statue of Saint Peter and Paul and a baroque hall with chapels. The Cathedral of St. Nicholas is one of the city’s most beautiful artistic monuments.

20. Plečnik House

Slovenian architect and urban planner Jože Plečnik had strongly marked the architectural image of the Slovenian capital, as he had a vision of transforming the city into a national capital. A guided tour of Plečnik House is one of the top things to do in Ljubljana, as his house where he lived and worked gives you an insight into his artistic life and personal legacy in the permanent museum exhibition. In Plečnik House you can see:

  • Permanent exhibition of the architect’s work with original models and building designs
  • Model of the capital with all architectural masterpieces designed by Plečnik
  • Exhibition of renovation, restoration, and conservation of Plečnik House
Altitude Activities Trip Advisor Travelers' Choice 2023 Award

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Trip Advisor 5 stars

Aleksandra (our guide) provided an excellent day out with lots of beautiful sightseeing and lovely hikes! It was a full jam packed day (10 hours) which had enough breaks with a lovely spot for lunch. We loved it so much that we are going to go on another tour with Alpine Activities!

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DECEMBER 17, 2023

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