Ljubljana is Slovenia’s capital, and it is the first city you must visit if you are a tourist in the country. Ljubljana is the heart of Slovenia, both geographically and culturally. There, you will be less than two hours from every dream destination in Slovenia, and you will get to discover a wonderful city.
To get a good idea of what Ljubljana is like, you should stay there for two days. You will visit the Castle, the city center, walk along the Ljubljanica, taste culinary tradition, explore Tivoli Park and Metelkova, and many other great activities.
I have been living in Ljubljana for a few months, and the city keeps surprising me every time. You never get enough of Ljubljana and Slovenia. However, it still is a relatively small city, and if you want to travel to other places in the country, which I would strongly recommend, then 48 hours in Ljubljana is plenty of time to discover its beauty.
Visit the City Center
When you arrive in Ljubljana, the first thing you have to do is visit the pedestrian city center. It is easy to find because it follows the Ljubljanica.
There, you will find some of the most famous buildings and constructions in Ljubljana, like the Dragon Bridge, the Triple Bridge, the market place, the Town Hall, Preseren Square, and the Franciscan Church of the Annunciation.
The Old Town city center is where you will find most of the attractions, shops, and restaurants in the city. It is where both Slovenes and tourists go to relax and enjoy the terraces along the River Ljubljanica.
The best thing to visit the city and understand its center and history is to take one of the town’s tours. You will learn about Jože Plečnik’s masterpieces around town, the Art Nouveau buildings, the Slovene history, and the numerous traditions with a walking tour.
A guide will be the best person to recommend restaurants, undiscovered parts of the city, or shortcuts to the main tourist attractions.
Take a Walk Up to the Ljubljana Castle
During your visit to the city center, you will necessarily notice the Ljubljana Castle overlooking the capital. After your tour, you will want to go up the hill and visit the Castle.
The way to Ljubljana Castle is very easy. You will need to take one of the paths that leave from the Town Hall’s street. The path I would recommend is located after the Market place in Studentovska ulica, near the Puppet Theater.
From this path, the way up the Castle is a 15 minutes walk; however, if you cannot walk up there or do not feel like you can always use the funicular, which is in the neighboring street.
The Castle is charming, and you can enter the courtyard for free. However, we do not recommend visiting the tower which you would have to pay for. There is a perfectly good viewpoint for free on the right part of the Castle’s courtyard, you have to go up a metal staircase, and there you have it.
There is also a sweet chapel on the left part of the courtyard where we got our names written in medieval letters the first time we visited the Castle. You can also see a small exhibition about medieval weapons and armory for free next to the metal staircase.
Once you are done with your visit, you can take a coffee or a refreshment at the Castle’s cafe. The terrace is in the middle of the Castle, and it is lovely.
If you prefer walking, you can visit the Park on the other side of the Castle from where you arrived. In some places in the Park, you will get beautiful viewpoints from the city. You can even check out a plantation of the oldest vine in the world that comes from Maribor.
Explore Tivoli Park
Now that you saw the Castle and the city center, it is time for you to discover Ljubljana’s green heart: Tivoli Park. From the city center, you are less than ten minutes away from the entrance of the Park.
Tivoli Park is an immense park of about 5 square kilometers. There are so many things to do in Tivoli Park that you could spend entire days visiting it. However, you do not have that much time, so these are the main parts of the Park:
- The Tivoli Castle, at the end of the Jakopič promenade. It is now a graphic arts gallery.
- The Ljubljana Zoo, it the National Zoo of Slovenia, where you will find animals from the world and animals native to Slovenia.
- The Cekin Manor was built in 1720 and is now a Natural History Museum, with exhibits like Slovenes from the 20th century.
- The Tivoli Pond is one of the loveliest places in Tivoli. You can rest near the pond where ducks and other birds live surrounded by water lilies. There is also a children’s park right next to it.
- The Church of Virgin Mary’s Visitation. It is a beautiful pink church on top of a small hill. It is charming.
- Hala Tivoli is a sports complex inside the Park where you can go for hockey, basketball, handball, or relaxing at the sauna.
- The Park’s Sculptures: Deček s piščalko, Pastirček, or Sožitje.
During summer, you will find people walking and running in the Park, enjoying the fresh air and the sun. In winter, Tivoli gets covered in snow. It is an entirely different show that I would strongly recommend if you are traveling to Ljubljana during the colder times.
If you want one of the city’s best viewpoints, you can find one in Tivoli Park. There are ski jumps that you can climb when it is not snowing to get the most Instagrammable picture of Ljubljana ever. From there, you will see the entire city as well as the woods of Tivoli, showing Ljubljana’s green heart.
Have a Drink at the Neboticnik and Discover the Best Viewpoint
After a long day of walking and visiting, you deserve a treat. My advice is to get a drink at the best rooftop bar in Ljubljana: the Neboticnik.
The Neboticnik is one of the highest buildings in Ljubljana and was the tallest in Yugoslavia. It is a historic and beautiful building where you get the most breathtaking view of the city I have ever seen.
No matter when you decide to go up the Neboticnik, you will get a fantastic view. I would recommend going before the sun sets and staying a bit after. This way, you will see Ljubljana in broad daylight, during the golden hour, and at night.
A plus is that drinks at the Neboticnik are not more expensive than in other bars, even though it is a rooftop bar. If you want, you can also get down a level and eat at the gourmet restaurant. This one is more expensive, but you will get to eat with a terrific view.
Sleep in an Unforgettable Accommodation
In Ljubljana, the most expensive thing is accommodations. Here are a few ideas of prices for all types of accommodations in Slovenia:
- Five stars hotel in Ljubljana: 130,00 € to 240,00 €
- Three stars hotel on the Adriatic Coast and other popular destinations: 70,00 €
- Two / three stars hotel in less touristic destinations: 50,00 €
- Room at a guest house (sobe): 15,00 € – 20,00 €
- Private apartment: 40,00 € – 60,00 €
- Camping in Ljubljana for two: 18,00 € – 20,00 € (+ 3,50 € to 5,00 € for electricity)
- Camping in the rest of Slovenia for two: 6,00 € – 15,00 € (+ 3,00 € for electricity)
- Hostel (dijaški dom, študenski dom): 10,00 € – 25,00 €
My advice would be to look for unforgettable and unique accommodations in the city, like sleeping in an ex-prison turned into a hostel. For this, you will have to book a room at the hostel Celica located right next to Metelkova. It is a kind of an alternative way to spend the night, but you will never forget this unusual accommodation.
Another Hostel that offers unexpected accommodations is the Central hostel. There, you will get the opportunity to spend your night in a sleeping capsule. They have ten futuristic capsules that come from a Japanese designer’s idea. The pods are equipped with everything you might need, including a TV, LED screen, fast WiFi, and air-conditioning, among other modern features.
Bike Everywhere Around the Trail of Remembrance
After a good night of rest, you will be ready to take on Ljubljana again. In Slovenia, people love bikes. It is almost like a national sport and treasure. This is why all the streets are very well adapted for bikers. There are also many trails in the country for ballads by bike.
One of these trails is the POT around Ljubljana, called the Path of Remembrance and Comradeship. This trail follows the barbed fence surrounding Ljubljana when it was invaded and occupied by Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy during World War II.
Now, the trail became a way to keep the memory of what Slovenians lived and, at the same time, visit the beautiful city. The track is a bit long, about 34 kilometers or 21 miles. You do not have to make the entire trail. I would advise trying to go to the pond, Koseski Bajer. It is a lovely place in the northern part of Tivoli Park.
There are many places and shops where you can rent a bike in Ljubljana. You can also hire a bike at the Tourism Office, but you will have to give it back before around 5 pm, or you can take a city bike with your Urbana Card.
You can take an annual pass for three euros and activate your card at one of the bike stops. Then, you will pay for the bike by the hour. The first hour is free. The second hour is 1,00 €, the third hour is 2,00 €, etc. However, these bikes are not very comfortable, they are better for short distances and to cycle in the city.
Take a Boat Trip Along the Ljubljanica
After your bike trip, you might be a bit tired, so it is the perfect time to relax and take a boat along the Ljubljanica. Many boat tours will allow you to see Ljubljana with a new eye. Most of them will take you from the city center to the Ljubljana Marshes (Barje).
A boat tour is about 10,00 € per person, but they can be worth it. The River Ljubljanica is one of Ljubljana’s most famous attributes. It goes through the entire city center. Everywhere you go, you will see the beautiful river and get the chance to cross its many bridges.
Crossing the city by boat is an unforgettable experience that allows you to see Ljubljana’s beauty from a new perspective. With a guide, you will also learn a lot more about the Ljubljana Marshes, which is a place in the southern part of Ljubljana where prehistoric pile-dwellers used to live and where there is rich biodiversity to discover.
Visit Ljubljana’s Best Museums
Although Slovenia is a country known for being green and very natural with forests, mountains, lakes, rivers, plains, and caves, it is also a country with a deep and rich culture. In Ljubljana, you will find a significant number of museums.
Some of them are worth visiting during your 48 hours. If you love museums, you can do multiple. However, I would advise choosing only one.
The most prominent museums in Ljubljana are:
- The Ethnographic Museum: presented as a museum “about people, for people,” the Ethnographic museum presents about 40,000 objects and pieces. You will discover an exhibition about accommodation and life, an exhibition about toys, an exhibition about ethnographic films, or even about hunting, fishing, economy, transports, etc. In this museum, you will get to know everything about how Slovenians and people from the entire world used to live and live today.
- The Museum of Contemporary Arts Metelkova: in this museum, you will find permanent exhibitions of contemporary art that are interesting, but what I think is truly remarkable about this museum are its temporary exhibitions. These exhibitions usually are about societal matters such as immigration, the LGBT community, politics, etc. They are very educational and exciting.
- The National Museum of Contemporary History: in this museum, you will learn about Slovenia’s history between 1914 (the beginning of World War I) and today. It is an excellent museum about culture, education, and research adapted for both children and adults.
- The National Gallery: it is one of Ljubljana’s largest museum. It has the most extensive visual arts collection from the late medieval period to the twentieth century. It also has many temporary exhibitions for you to discover every time you come to Ljubljana.
- The Railway Museum: besides being very educational about the railway system in Slovenia and its techniques, the railway museum is also one of the funniest museums. Children can climb up the locomotives and feel like they are railroaders. Both adults and kids will love this charming museum with old trains everywhere.
- The Modern Gallery: this gallery is located right next to the entrance of Tivoli Park. There, you will find many fascinating exhibitions about different modern artists, as well as cultural treasures from Yugoslavia.
Museums are a great way to discover a city and understand its culture. However, do not spend too much time there unless you stay for a while because Slovenia is mostly a country about nature.
Discover the Amazing and Alternative Metelkova
To finish your trip, you can go to the alternative and artistic Metelkova. It is a squat where people party during the weekends at night. But during the day, many tourists visit Metelkova for its sculptures and artistic scenery. Metelkova is the perfect place to discover Ljubljana’s street art and alternative scene.
It is relatively big with various clubs and bars that open in the evening. It is also close to many museums we have mentioned, like the Ethnographic Museum or the Museum of Contemporary Arts.
Discover Other Destinations
Ljubljana is a beautiful city, and you will not get tired there, especially during summer, when Slovenians enjoy the dolce vita. In Ljubljana, you can spend hours at the terrace of a cafe in the city center, looking at the Castle and the river Ljubljanica.
No matter when you decide to come to Slovenia, you will have things to do, whether, in summer, the best time to visit in the sun, or in winter when Ljubljana wears its winter coat Christmas Market enlightens the center.
After your stay in Ljubljana, it is time for you to discover the rest of Slovenia. It is a country with thousands of activities and breathtaking places to see. Take a look at all our other Slovenia Insiders articles to discover what to do for 24 hours in Slovenia’s best destinations.