Lively, colorful and charming – these are the three words that describe Ljubljana perfectly. The picturesque, lush banks of the Ljubljanica River, which flows through the city center, gave the city its nickname – Little Venice. And while visiting Ljubljana means exploring its rich cultural heritage and world class architecture, it also leaves space for checking out some great restaurants and bars and its active clubbing and cultural scene. One day in Ljubljana definitely isn’t much time, but it is surely enough to fall in love with the charm of the Slovenian capital.
What’s the best time to visit Ljubljana?
Ljubljana is best visited during the warm months. Basically, any time between April and October would be the ideal time to visit. Since Ljubljana is truly one of the greenest cities in Europe, spring may be the most beautiful part of the year. The cafes set up terraces along the river bank, and the whole city just turns outdoor. Make sure to always check out the events and festivities, since there are many great concerts and events in Ljubljana at that time.
a Few facts about Ljubljana
Ljubljana is the capital and the largest city of Slovenia. It was given the title of the Green Capital of Europe in 2016, which makes it one of the greenest cities in the EU. And yes, the very center of the city has been declared a pedestrian-only zone, so the whole place is even more charming. Also a very active student city, Ljubljana has a pretty active cultural scene with loads of great events and concerts. Ljubljana is well known for its rich architectural heritage too, especially Art Nouveau buildings and early modern architecture, with Jože Plečnik being the leading architect of the movement.
One Day in Ljubljana Itinerary
Follow this guide and make the most of your trip even if you’re short on time. These are the top sights and things to do during your one day in Ljubljana.
Start your day at the Prešeren Square
Start your morning in the heart of the city – Prešeren Square. It’s pretty much the city’s central point and the best place to start your walking tour around the Old Town. It’s named after France Prešeren, Slovenia’s greatest poet whose monument stands at the center of the square. Just next to it, you can see the colorful Baroque Franciscan Church. Originally, it was painted red, which is the symbolic color of the Franciscan order, but today it has faded to salmon-pink. The interior boasts Baroque elements and ornate marble, with a beautifully carved main altar made by Francesco Robba. The entrance is free.
Pass the Triple Bridge
Just next to the Prešeren Square, you’ll find the Triple Bridge across the river Ljubljanica. It connects the historical medieval town with the modern city of Ljubljana. First, there was only the old central bridge, but due to the high traffic, which even included a tram line that was crossing it, two pedestrian bridges were added on each side in 1930.
It’s a very picturesque place, so you’d better take some photos while there. A lot of musicians and performers around the bridge create a pretty vibrant atmosphere. It’s a perfect place to stop for a moment and people watch.
Visit the Central Market
Pretty close, on Vodnikov Square, you’ll find the Central Market – an open-air daily market with products from local farmers. It’s a great place to shop for some fresh fruit or farmer’s products and have an amazing full breakfast or just a morning snack. Pretty close to it, on Pogačarjev Square, you’ll find the stalls with even more local products – cheese, honey, chocolate, sausages, anything that comes to your mind. In the covered part, inside of the colonnade, you can find some unique handcrafted souvenirs.
Have an amazing breakfast at Ek Bistro
There are numerous places that serve breakfast in Ljubljana, but you’ll have trouble finding something as amazing as Ek Bistro. The place is so good you mostly need to book your table in advance. They serve amazing egg dishes like Eggs Benedict and Shakshuka, but save some space for their amazing sweet bites. No matter if you pick an outdoor seat near the canal or an inside seat with beautiful decor, you’re going to thoroughly enjoy the nice atmosphere.
Stroll the Trubarjeva cesta
There are many nice, narrow streets around the city center. However, one of the most interesting ones that you simply shouldn’t miss is Trubarjeva cesta. The street is lined with small shops, book stores, gift shops and some nice little cafes. Don’t miss to take a stroll around it! Also, check out the Dragon Bridge with the dragon statue just around the corner.
Walk along the River Ljubljanica Canal (Cankarjevo Nabrezje)
River Ljubljanica Canal is a place of lively atmosphere with cafe terraces and lush nature all around. During the warm months, the whole area gets full of people enjoying the sun and some nice canal breeze. It’s a great place to drink coffee and eventually eat something.
Have fun at the Museum of illusions
The museum of illusions is not the kind of museum you’re used to visiting. It’s actually a pretty amusing museum that holds many optical illusions and tricks, and it can be especially fun for kids. However, it’s not just a place for kids, and it’s widely popular among adults, too. Make sure to bring your camera, since many illusions can only be seen in photos.
Take the funicular to Ljubljana Castle
You can reach the Ljubljana Castle on foot, but taking the funicular is more fun and saves you time, which is nice since you only have one day in Ljubljana. The medieval castle that dates back to the 15th century is situated on a hill 60 meters above the Old Town. Combining city and castle sighseeing in a tour is another great option if you want to get most of the city in a short time.
Today the castle is fully restored and it has become a venue for cultural events. One of the few museums that can be visited is the Museum of puppets. Don’t miss the chance to climb the tower for an amazing view.
Stroll down Gornji trg street and have some lunch there
Get down the castle hill and reach Gornji trg. It’s one of the most picturesque streets in Ljubljana and a great place to have some lunch. If you crave some delicious meat dishes or an amazing pizza, restaurant Gostilnica 5-6 kg is a must try. After your lunch continue your stroll to the beautiful Stari trg where you’ll find many nice shops and cafe bars.
Relax in the Tivoli Park
The biggest city park and the green heart of Ljubljana is definitely Tivoli Park. It’s a great place to relax after a whole day of walking. Playgrounds, fountains and sport facilities can be found around the park as well as alleys with art exhibitions. On a sunny day, especially on weekends, the park gets full of locals. Grab a blanket and some drinks and have a chill afternoon in the park.
Night out at Metelkova
Metelkova is an alternative cultural center, developed from a squat into a lively, cultural and artistic urban area. With an abundance of bars and clubs, it’s a great place for a night out, meeting locals and a social and intellectual gathering.
The place boasts uniqueness and charm thanks to the many public art and graffiti that cover the whole area. One of the symbols of Ljubljana and one of the most amazing creative spaces in Europe that definitely must be visited!
In case you want to stick to the city center, Pritličje is a great place to spend your night in. This trendy bar looks something like a comic book shop and offers a wide range of very affordable drinks, cocktails and even some nice snacks. Check out their events schedule, since they host live concerts and other events at night.
Where to stay in Ljubljana?
In the city center
Close to the Airport
Celovška cesta 469, 1000 Ljubljana
The Nox Hotel is a boutique hotel with 24 completely uniquely equipped rooms designed by various Slovenian designers. The hotel also features Nox Lounge café and the Nox Interior furniture salon. It is located next to the Ljubljana-Šentvid highway from where you can easily reach Ljubljana Airport.
Extra tips for visiting Ljubljana
– Every first Sunday of the month, most of the museums around the city are free.
– From March to October, every Friday the food market Open Kitchen takes place in the Central Market, with local and international specialties cooked on site.
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Anca is a travel writer and the founder of One Day Itinerary - the biggest collection of travel itineraries for those who are time-limited or just want to maximize their time while traveling. Although she easily becomes homesick for Croatia, she thinks travel is essential to her happiness. She has traveled to more countries than she is years old and doesn’t plan on changing that fact. In her travel guides she aims to inspire people to travel whenever they have a spare day (or two).