The Coronavirus pandemic has finally started to impact the lives of Slovenians and tourists. At some point, the health measures implemented by the government in order to limit the propagation of the virus imply that the most entertaining services can be closed from time to time in Slovenia. But the inhabitants of Ljubljana know how to make the most of these restrictions.
Slovenia is known for its amazing outdoors. If everything is closed and you cannot enjoy the Slovenian terraces, you can still go out and appreciate the beauty of this fantastic green oasis. Ljubljana and its immediate surroundings make no exception, offering you a wide range of activities to enjoy even during Covid.
To learn more about the restrictions currently affecting Ljubljana and the rest of the country, you can go check our weekly update on the Covid limitations in Slovenia. If you are limited to the exploration of the capital area (Ljubljana and its immediate surroundings), you will still be able to get a real sense of Slovenia’s wonders. This top is made for outdoor lovers, so prepare your hiking shoes and a negative Covid test, and you are ready to go!
1. Climb Up to the Beautiful Ljubljana Castle for a View
Ljubljana Castle, one of the most impressive attractions in town, will probably be closed for a while because of covid restrictions. However, it will not stop you from discovering its massive walls from the outside and admire the views on the whole city. This medieval castle, which was rebuilt during the Renaissance era, is something you cannot miss in Ljubljana.
Climbing up to the castle will allow you to discover some beautiful and hidden alleys since the funicular is also closed. Do not worry, it will only take you about twenty minutes up there, while you will have plenty of time to rest on the top of the uncrowded hill. There is something really special and unique in discovering this beautiful city in deep quietness.
After touring the walls of the castle, you can choose to extend your walk and go down by the park of the castle. In a few minutes, you will get the feeling of being inside a forest in the middle of the countryside. You will have the chance to catch some more amazing views on Ljubljana and to come across the castle’s very own vineyard, gifted with a grapevine coming from the oldest living one in the world, which actually resides in Maribor.
If you go down through this side of the hill, you will arrive in the southern part of town. Do not miss an opportunity to visit the botanical garden nearby. Even if its open-air tea salon will be closed, it is always lovely to wander through its beautiful alleys.
2. Get Lost in Tivoli, Ljubljana’s Huge City Park
I guarantee you cannot get bored in Ljubljana when everything is closed if you have the chance to go to Tivoli. The Tivoli Park is the biggest one in the capital, extending in the western part of the town on about 5 kilometers square. This vast playground has a lot of different elements that are all worth the visit.
Your first steps in Tivoli could start with a visit to the park’s main entrance. You will be pleased with the views on the magnificent Tivoli Castle, a Renaissance building gifted with the most enormous and beautiful garden in town. Its lovely forecourt is always highlighted by a beautiful photography exhibition and fantastic sculptures, so make sure to stop by. This is also the place of residence of one of the park’s most beautiful fountain.
You can then head towards the park’s pond and its beautiful waterlilies and ducks, not far from the greenhouse and the marvelous rose garden. This is a great place to rest, admire the views, and read a book. If you still have your child’s heart or want to entertain your kids, the park is also full of playgrounds where they will have the best time ever.
Nevertheless, the best parts of Tivoli Park are definitely hidden in the massive forest. Searching for the incredible pink church of the park, the Church of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, will keep you busy for a while, and it will provide you a feeling of quietness and the impression of being inside of a fairytale. Right next to the church, you will be pleased with the amazing sights in the park.
Your last walk in the park should be dedicated to a visit to the fantastic ski slopes in Mostec, in the northern part of the park. They are still open and rarely visited, even during the covid restrictions. If you are in the mood for climbing a few (well, it may be a little more than that), you will live your dream in Mostec!
Once you are at the top of the stairs that serve the slopes, you will have the most fantastic view ever of the forest, but also of the mountains and the city nearby. Whatever the season, the sights are absolutely amazing from this beautiful point of view. In Fall, the warm colors and the fog are giving the most fantastic atmosphere to this very unique place.
3. Discover Some of the Most Beautiful Churches in Slovenia (From the Outside)
If you have an artsy mind and the soul of an architect, or simply love to come across architectural masterpieces like churches during your travels, Ljubljana and its surroundings are made for you! After the Tivoli Church, you can find another famous pink church in the capital: the beautiful Franciscan Church of the Annunciation, located in the central square of Ljubljana, Preseren Square.
It is one of the most beautiful religious buildings in town, along with the Ljubljana Cathedral. This impressive church, also called St Nicolas, is one of the most recognizable structures in town, nestled around the castle, the beautiful Ljubljanica, and the famous halls designed by Jose Plecnik.
However, if you want to discover the true spirit of Slovenia, you have several possibilities to leave town while staying in the delimited area. You will soon notice that what makes Slovenia memorable is its fantastic outdoors. When they are combined with beautiful monuments as churches in the middle of nowhere, it gives you exceptional pictures and unforgettable memories.
Among your many options, the determined hikers can choose to visit Sveta Jakob, one of the most charming small Slovenian churches, nestled on the top of a rolling hill. The whole hike from the beautiful town of Medvode is about 5 hours long, allowing you to spend time in the middle of nature and enjoy the quietness of the place.
You can also head to the small town of Jezero by bus or bike and climb up to the lovely Sveta (it means church in Slovene) Ana. During your short hike, you will have the chance to spend time in a real forest and admire the beautiful Ljubljana Marshes while on top. It is definitely worth it!
4. Have a Cycling Ride to the Ljubljana Marshes or on the POT
Even if the Tourism Office cannot rent bikes anymore due to the covid situation, you can still enjoy a fun ride around Ljubljana and even to its marches. You can always bring your own bikes or use the self-serve town bikes scattered all around Ljubljana, or even rent one in a private shop. Slovenians love to ride bikes, and the capital is a fantastic playground for that!
You can start your stroll in the pedestrian center of Ljubljana, unbothered by motor vehicles. There are a lot of cycle tracks around town that will quickly lead you to the Path of Remembrance. This 32 kilometers long path is stepped into history, following the ways of the barb-wired fence that was installed all around town during World War II, between 1942 and 1945.
This beautiful cycle track allows you to tour the city and have beautiful sights on its surroundings. You can also enjoy the Blueberry or Chestnut bike paths, among many others. But if you want to make the most out of your reduced possibilities, I advise you to bike ride to the Ljubljana marshes.
This wetland area located in the south of the capital is a great place to explore. You can go admire the Iski Vintgar, or visit cute villages such as Ig, Lipe, or Brest. In only a few pedal strokes, you will be transported from the biggest city of Slovenia to the most authentic countryside.
5. Take Some Photos in Metelkova’s Outdoor Art Center
If you want to visit Ljubljana’s fantastic cultural venues but are worried about the covid situation, you can still experience some open-air museum if the other ones are closed. However, make sure to check because they are good chances that visits will still be allowed with appropriate measures. During your trip to Metelkova, you can fall in love with the Modern art museum or the Ethnographic Museum, among many others.
Then, you will come across Metelkova, one of the most exciting curiosities in town. This artistic complex is made of a group of empty barracks turned into a really popular alternative and cultural center with few parallels in Europe. Metelkova is an open sky museum with many shelters (closed during the reinforcement of covid measures) where you will still be welcome and able to enjoy the outside.
You can always visit the Metlkova center, whether it is a sunny day or not, but I would rather go there when it is not raining since the barracks may be closed. If you are lucky, you may still be able to assist in an outside temporary exposition, even if the many concerts and parties usually organized by the clubs of the center will not take place during this period.
Suppose Metelkova pleased you much and left you eager to visit other alternative places in the area. In that case, you can take a look at the Cukrarna center, another alternative place, located in a former sugar fabric. You may be able to see the inside, and if not, you can still shoot great photos of both places.
6. Enjoy the Slovenian Culinary Culture with some Street Food or Sweets
Even if the covid restrictions mean that you will not have the chance to sit at a terrace and enjoy the slow Slovenian way of life, it does not prevent you from trying the very best of Slovenia’s culinary tradition. Instead of the terraces, you can pick an ice cream or an excellent Slovenian coffee to go and enjoy it in the beautiful and quite empty pedestrian streets.
Make sure to stop for a burek, the Yugoslavian fantastic street food, in one of the numerous bakeries or fast foods in town. Some of them, like Nobel Burek, are open at any time within the limits of the possible curfew. It is also possible to order them on Wolt or Ehrana.
To discover Slovenia’s sweet side, you can stroll the streets of the capital to stop in one of the numerous Zvezda’s stores. This is the best place to eat sweets, from creamy cakes to delicious ice creams, and they are still open during covid. You can take it home or eat in on one of the numerous benches scattered all around Ljubljana.
7. Head to Kamnik for a Hike in the Mountains
Since the middle of October 2020, the covid measures imply that the travels are not allowed between several different red areas. Luckily, the red zone that includes Ljubljana is not limited to it, so you can still visit some picturesque villages around the town. Kamnik is one of the most beautiful villages in this part of the country, the Kamnik-Savinja Alps area.
This medieval town has many highlights, such as two impressive castles, charming alleys, and streets with fantastic colors, but also a monastery, and artisan workshops, among many other things.
More than a visit to a picturesque town, spending a day or more in Kamnik also allows you to visit Velika Planina, Slovenia’s best hiking trail. It is also near Terme Snovnik, one of the famous Slovenian thermal baths. There is a lot to do in this beautiful place, even if most services and shops remain closed.
Velika Planina should definitely be your first stop in the region, especially if you are in town when the lovely cows with charming little bells are taken to the pastures. You will be warmly welcomed by the shepherds. However, note that there is some (not that) hard climbing to do to get there, considering that the funicular might be closed because of covid.
8. Go Pick Mushroom and Berries in the Forest
There is another free and timeless activity that you can enjoy in the Slovenian outdoors by the beginning of Fall: mushroom picking, one of Slovenia’s national sports. Each year around September, the local goes into the forests hunting forceps, but also for many other forest fruits. The country is made for mushroom lovers since Slovenia’s forests are everywhere (they cover almost 60% of the country) and provide an extensive range of varieties for locals and tourists.
Even outside of the Fall season, you can enjoy a stroll in the forest and look for seasonal berries at any time of the year. You can even do it in Tivoli! Look for chestnuts, mushrooms, and any berry of your choice.
It is easy to access the Slovenian picking trails and forest paths by yourself if you cannot take a guided tour with a guide, as long as you avoid the poisonous mushrooms. You also have to make sure not to pick more than 2kg each, in order to respect the Slovenian legislation.
9. Take Away a Great Lunch from the Best Restaurants in Ljubljana
Just as the desserts shops and fast foods, the best restaurants in town have learned to adapt to these difficult times and to propose delivery or take away services in Ljubljana. The covid will not prevent you from tasting Ljubljana’s best pizzas, falafels, curries, risottos, and way more!
Ljubljana has a very varied offer that you will be able to enjoy from the comfort of your home. Vegetarians, vegans, and meat lovers will be pleased in this fantastic city. You can check our article that provides the best tips to know where to eat local in the town for the most authentic experiences!
If you crave pizzas, some of the best places in town, like Foculus and Pop’s, are still open and determined to offer you the best meal ever! And if you are eager to try Slovenian beverages like wine or beer, know that some bars are still offering a takeaway service. You will be able to get hot wine in the streets and a good beer in front of some bars or beer shops, so everything is fine!
Travel Safe and Have Fun in Ljubljana!
Whether you booked a trip to the Slovenian capital before the reinforcement of the covid measures or are looking for a nice place to spend your vacations without being bored, coming here is a great choice! Now that you are aware of the many fun activities that you will be able to enjoy in Slovenia, make sure to check the covid restrictions that are applying to you regarding your departure country.
Have the best time ever in Ljubljana, and keep exploring the wonderful outdoors of this great country!