One Day in Ljubljana, Slovenia’s Charming Capital City

How to spend one day in Ljubljana

Charming, fairytale, idyllic, welcoming…all words I would use to describe Slovenia’s capital city of Ljubljana. Ljubljana is a small, pedestrian friendly city that, while popular among visitors, does not have the overcrowded feeling of other popular capital cities in Europe (like Paris and Prague). You’ll get everything you need from one day in Ljubljana. A castle on a hill overlooking the city that has a winding river running through it, flanked by charming cobblestone streets that are lined with cafes. I visited in the summer, but I can only imagine that Ljubljana is even more stunning during an Autumn in Europe when the changing colors of the trees provide a colorful backdrop to the dragon lined streets.

Did I mention Ljubljana has a thing with dragons?

How to spend one day in Ljubljana
The Triple Bridge of Ljubljana, Slovenia

While one day is enough, I always suggest more than one day anywhere you go. This way you can take your time exploring and not feel rushed to check everything off of your list. But, I’m aware, not all of you can just up and quit your jobs to travel around for a year, so you’re likely on a bit of a time crunch. You could definitely accomplish all of these items in one day or you could pick one or two of your top “must sees” and focus your time and energy. Additionally, Ljubljana makes a good base to explore Slovenia with day trips to other destinations like Bled and Piran. However, you decide to plan your trip to Slovenia, you’re going to have an epic time in Ljubljana.

One Day in Ljubljana

Make sure you wear your walking shoes for today because you’ll be doing a lot of it! Ljubljana is a very pedestrian friendly city and it’s the best way to see it! I’ll provide you with a general overview of which direction to walk so you can see most of the highlights efficiently, however, definitely veer into the alleyways and random side streets.

Breakfast at La Petit Cafe & Restaurant

Start your day off right with breakfast at La Petit Cafe & Restaurant. This French inspired gem of a restaurant is set a bit away from the old town on a charming street where you can choose to dine inside or outside. They are open daily from 7:30 – midnight, serving breakfast until 12:00 pm during the week and brunch until 5:00 pm. So even if you sleep in you’ll have a chance to enjoy a Croque Madame and a smoothie.

Have breakfast at Le Petite Cafe with one day in Ljubljana
Croque Madame at Le Petite Cafe

Walk Off Breakfast

After breakfast stroll along the river front towards the center of the old town, Preseren Square. Either side of the river will do, however, I quite enjoyed the castle side of the river. So cross over Cobbler’s Bridge, which is where cobblers used to sell their shoes. This bridge provides a great view of the castle and the river running through the city.

Cobblers bridge in Ljubljana
Cobblers bridge in Ljubljana

Check Out a Few Cafes

Along this route, there are a number of cute cafes to pop into. I suggest checking out Cafetino for coffee lovers and Cajna Hisa for tea fanatics (like me!). Another good option (on the opposite side of the river) is Kavarna Zvezda. But really, each cafe has a slightly different vibe, but they’re all a welcome break from sightseeing for people watching!

A Matcha Latte and Raw Cake from Zvevda in Ljubljana
Always in search of a good Matcha latte

Ljubljana Cathedral

Along the way, you’ll pass by Ljubljana Cathedral. Its green domes are a part of Ljubljana’s skyline and it’s interior much more stunning than its exterior. I’ll admit, I didn’t enter the Cathedral as each time I passed by it happened to be closed. However, the pictures of the interior make me wish I made a bit more effort in getting in, it is free after all!

Central Market

Just beyond the cathedral is Central Market which is really a one-stop shop for all your produce needs. Here you can pick up a wide range of fresh veggies, fruits, and flowers. There is also a section for clothing and stalls selling handmade, local goods. Try the cheese samples – so good! I recommend picking up some snacks from here or even gathering some produce for a homemade dinner. It’s very budget friendly! Some of the vendors speak English and if not, hand signals and a smile always come in handy.

Central Market in Ljubljana
Central Market in Ljubljana

Get a Photo Opp at Dragon Bridge

Dragons are a thing in Ljubljana, well not just a thing, they’re the city’s symbol of power, courage, and wisdom. There are a number of legends as to how the dragon came to be the city’s symbol, whichever one you believe, it’s evident that the dragons are there to stay. You can find symbols of the dragon all throughout the city, but the most popular place to find them is on the Dragon Bridge. There are four of them guarding either side of the bridge. It’s also a pretty spot for a photo opp with the Cathedral and Castle as a nice backdrop on a sunny day.

Dragon Bridge in Ljubljana
Dragon Bridge in Ljubljana

Have a Treat at Cacao

The ice cream at Cacao is so freaking good on a hot summer’s day. Stop by here and continue your stroll along the opposite side of the river ice cream in hand.

Ice cream cone from Cacao in Ljubljana
Rain or shine, I was eating ice cream from Cacao

Walk Through Tivoli Park

As we head into the afternoon, the tourists come out to play, so head to Tivoli park for a bit of respite from the city. On your way to the park you will pass through the center of old town, Preseren Square. Here you’ll find the pink church and statue of Preseren. This location serves as a gathering place for many people as it’s easy to find.

The entrance to Tivoli Park in Ljubljana
The entrance to Tivoli Park in Ljubljana

But don’t linger here long, take your snacks and ice cream to Tivoli Park, a large green space just a few minutes walk outside of the city center. There are a number of wooded trails you can walk through, plenty of benches to relax in for a bit, an open-air art gallery, and even a sports complex. Even though Ljubljana is small and not as crowded compared to other capital cities in Europe, a breath of fresh air in a park is always welcome.

Sunset at Ljubljana Grad

When you’ve gotten enough fresh air head back to town and cross Triple Bridge – an iconic bridge in the city. Supposedly there is a funicular that will bring you up the hill to the castle, I never saw it! I followed a path just behind Central Market up to the top. It took about 20 minutes and is a steady uphill climb, which I desperately needed. But if you’ve had it with walking ask around about the funicular.

Sunset from Ljubljana Grad
Sunset from Ljubljana Grad

The castle is a great spot to watch the sunset over Ljubljana and watch the city lights come on. You can see most of the castle without paying an entrance fee. There is a viewing deck you can climb up, former jail cells, and much more you can do here for free.

View of Ljubljana from the Castle
View of Ljubljana from the Castle

Enjoy a Drink Along the River

The riverfront is a very lively place. It’s lined with restaurants and bars. On a nice evening, have a seat at one of the tables lining the river and enjoy a drink. It’s a great spot for people watching and also to enjoy music from street performers. Another option for enjoying the river is to take a river cruise, which I did not do, but it looked like fun.

The river front is a lively place to be in Ljubljana
The river front is a lively place to be in Ljubljana

If You Have More Time

Simply spread this itinerary out. There is a lot in this one-day itinerary. You’re likely feeling exhausted at the end of this day trying to cram it all in. If you have time, just spread this itinerary out over two days. Check out different cafes. Walk as far away from the city center along the river as you can. One of my favorite streets is called Trubarjeva Cesta, which I discovered one night while I was in search of dinner. This street has plenty of unique shops and cheap eats and is just a few blocks away from the Dragon Bridge, but most people reach the bridge and turn around.

Ljubljana is a great city to get a little bit lost because it’s so small. You’re never too far from where you want to go and you just might find something really cool. Use the castle as your guide to orient you when you do get a bit off track. I really hope you enjoy this charming city and the rest of Slovenia!

 

 

The streets of Ljubljana are just so freakin cute!
The streets of Ljubljana are just so freakin cute!

FAQ

How to Get to Ljubljana?

Ljubljana is well served by buses from neighboring countries such as Hungary, Croatia, and Austria. From wherever you happen to be in Europe search for bus routes to Ljubljana. Ljubljana is also a great jump off point for many day trips around Slovenia. I recommend checking out Get By Bus and FlixBus to find the best routes to Ljubljana. 

There is also an airport about 28km outside of the city. You can fly into Ljubljana airport (LJU) and then take a bus to the city or even to Bled.

Where to Stay in Ljubljana?

I stayed at Turn Hostel which is located above an English Pub. It had solid WiFi, comfortable beds, and clean showers. However, there was no kitchen which is one drawback. On one of my walks out of town along the river, I passed by Vrba Hostel. It took me about 15 minutes to get there but is on a cute tree-lined street with plenty of bars and restaurants as well.



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Solo Female Travel Safety?

I never felt unsafe in Ljubljana. I walked back from the castle well after dark and felt completely safe. There were plenty of people going on runs in the area. Of course, always be aware of your surroundings and if your gut is telling you something is off, then pay attention.


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8 thoughts on “One Day in Ljubljana, Slovenia’s Charming Capital City

  1. Alice | Girl with a saddle bag says:

    I loved Ljubljana and can’t wait to return one day. The city is completely underrated but full of things to do and has such an enjoyable, laid-back atmosphere. We loved exploring the many woodland walks in Tivoli, buying fresh fruit off the market every morning and found some great places to eat. Thanks for bringing back a lot of good memories!

    • justchasingsunsets says:

      I loved it too, so glad you had a great experience as well. One of my favorite places ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Silly Little Kiwi Blog says:

    I’ve heard nothing but good things about Slovenia in general, and I’ll be heading there this summer, so to have an actual guide help me plan my trip is fantastic! Love your photos too!

  3. linnea says:

    Loved this guide! I’m trying to go here sometime next year with a stop in Lake Bled and Zagreb too. Any other restaurant recommendations for dinner? Are their any free walking tours that you did?

    • justchasingsunsets says:

      I cooked the majority of my meals and ate some street food so I don’t have too many recs in the restaurant area. I was on a budget. I also didn’t do any free walking tours, but they do have them in each city. In Zagreb go to the Museum of Broken Relationships! So cool

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