Travel Through Ljubljana by Boat on the River Ljubljanica

The Ljubljanica River is among the most fascinating natural wonders of Ljubljana. The beautiful river runs steadfast, witnessing the history of the people of Slovenia. If you want to make the most of your visit, a boating trip on the Ljubljanica is the only way.

The Ljubljanica River is a long body of water that goes around Ljubljana and to other locales in the area. Spanning 25 miles (41km), the river became a crucial transportation artery for the Old Town. A river boat tour can help you see many of the prized treasures of Ljubljana, many situated around the Ljubljanica.

Are you in Ljubljana now? If you’re planning to visit the Old Town, you’ll truly enjoy a boating trip on the Ljubljanica. Here’s everything you need to know and what to expect from Slovenia’s favorite river.

The History of Ljubljanica River

The Ljubljanica was known during its initial settlement as the Sava in the middle ages. It was the primary source of water in the locale. The Ljubljanica lies on the southern part of Ljubljana, and much of it runs far and beyond the Old Town itself. 

The Ljubljanica River starts to rise south of Vrhnika and flows into the Sava River, 6.2 miles (10km) south and downstream from Ljubljana itself. The length of the entire river comes at 25 miles (41km) if you include Mala Ljubljanica (Little Ljubljanica).

Mala Ljubljanica will join Velika Ljubljanica (Big Ljubljanica) after 4,300 ft (1.3km) and it will continue flowing as is.

The river Ljubljanica has one of the most special positions among the many rivers in Slovenia. The waters that flow through it come from karst influent streams. These streams belong to Cerknica and Pivka, two main catchment areas that offer a unique situation to the river. 

Ljubljanica’s course is quite long and varied, with the water vanishing into the ground and resurfaces. Much of the river’s many names come from the fact that its sources change along its course. 

Much of Ljubljanica’s water takes its source from the foothills of Mount Snežnik, where it is known as the Trbuhovca. Much later, it gets its name Obrh, then it becomes Stržen, Rak, Pivka, and Unica rivers.

Once it passes, the waters will then surface near Vrhnika, starting its role as the Ljubljanica River. The springs for its water divide into Močilnik, Retovje, and Bistra. These three supply the waters together with smaller springs, wells, and affluents.

The Value of The Ljubljanica River to the City

From its time as a Roman outpost until the construction of the local railway in the 19th century, the Ljubljanica was a crucial supply route. It was central to trade in the region, interconnecting several Slovenian locales.

It is the heart of social life in Ljubljana, all thanks to the embankments of the river itself. Slovenians always had a strong respect for the river, adding lively cafes with outdoor seating to see the river better. Ljubljanica is naturally beautiful, especially with the vista of the old city center in sight.

Many of the famous bridges in Ljubljana run over the Ljubljanica. The city is also more picturesque from its central position. For centuries, Slovenians always knew the value of the river to their heritage.

The quality of the bed of the Ljubljanica river always had deep scientific value. The river itself is one of the most significant archaeological sites in Slovenia. The river is a treasure trove for scientists, with many underwater archaeological adventures in the locale.

Many scientists have found several artifacts from various periods of Ljubljana’s existence. These started from as early as the prehistoric age and comes back as far as the modern age.

Many of the items found, come from rich localities and the finds were unbelievable in amount. Many of them even come back during the time when Slavs settled this part of the Ljubljanica.

What Will You See Around Ljubljanica?

If you’re visiting Ljubljana, a boat ride in the Ljubljanica River is among the best ways you can move and see different tourist attractions. Many of Ljubljana’s best sights are along the river while you relax on a sunny day.

When you start moving via boat, you’ll see many famous buildings, bridges, and even sculptures. You’ll see everything with a variety of perspectives as you safely float down the beautiful Ljubljanica.

The Ljubljanica Canal follows a U-shaped route that offers two types of perspectives. First, you’ll see the Old Town and many of the structures built before Slovenian independence. These legacy structures show the long history of Slovenia in general.

On the other hand, you’ll also see the newer parts of the town, seeing the creeping modernity within the Old Town. You’ll see how Ljubljana faces forward and embraces the future.

The entire boating attraction will curve around Castle Hill, letting you see the beautiful Ljubljana Castle perched atop the moor. You have a choice of different lengths of tours, with most tourists usually spending around 30 minutes each tour.

What makes Ljubljanica perfect is that you’re not limited to a tourist boat. If you want to explore it yourself, you can use kayaks and stand-up paddles (SUP). These will help you stroll around the Ljubljanica at your own pace.

Boating around Ljubljana will also give you a way to quickly visit several docks. This will give you an easier chance to visit several cafes, restaurants, boutiques, and even shopping sites.

You will even see several animals like otters swimming around in the Ljubljanica River. You can boat around eating some gelato or enjoy Ljubljana’s mulled wine.

The Beauty of Ljubljana Through The Ljubljanica

Ljubljana owes its distinctive appearance to its most renowned architect, Jože Plečnik. He designed much of the old city center’s river embankments, creating a timeless design for the city. The riverside had tree-lined walks, with many weeping willow-lined terraced paths.

The Trnovski pristan embankment was among the many he built. It came together with the beautiful bridges you’ll see as your boat in the Ljubljanica. 

Ljubljana is famously known as the “City of Bridges”. This monicker is due to its many spectacular river crossings. You will see the majestic Triple Bridge of Ljubljana. It received a redesign through the hands of Jože Plečnik, giving it its current aesthetic. 

The Art Nouveau Dragon’s Bridge is among the most intricate of all Ljubljana’s bridges. The Dragon Bridge was designed and completed in 1901 by Jurij Zaninović. 

Cobbler’s Bridge is also among the many sights that you can set your eyes upon. The famous Trnovo Bridge is superb, with its beautiful vista from your boat.

The Ljubljanica Canal itself divides the city into the Old Town and the modern Ljubljana. The river’s banks are also beautiful even if you’re on a boat. You’ll see places where you can spend an afternoon wandering around.

With the many historic buildings and architectures, you can feast your eyes and see the vibe of the city. As you boat around, you’ll also see places where you can taste Ljubljana’s cafes and restaurants. You can even see the beautiful Trznica in the middle of Ljubljana.

Ljubljanica Visitor Tips

If you plan on looking at the old city center by boat, you need to know where to find them. If you go around the city, you’ll find several tourist boat providers that offer different lengths and routes.

Many of the tourist boats will offer multilingual support and commentary, especially in English. They will also act as your tourist guide, giving you the history of the locale the boat will visit.

Many of the boats are available around the river quays. You’ll see many under the Butcher’s Bridge, Ribji trg, Dvorni trg, Špica, and at the Gallus Embankment.

The usual 30 to 45-minute trip will cost somewhere around 10 euros, which includes the guided tour. More deluxe boat rides will offer food throughout the trip, especially local sweets and desserts.

There are many boats that will run frequently, providing service to everyone. If one boat is already out, you’ll likely find another after a few minutes of walking. In the summer, you can even hire a canoe that you can ride yourself.

The local government of Ljubljana tried to revitalize the Ljubljanica river’s embankments. They constructed new bridges and revitalized it, improving its cleanliness. They also improved how it flows around the city center, helping improve the view that the navigation boats can see.

In 2015, the local government also improved on the banks of Gruber Canal. By doing so, there are new river quays that act as docking spots for tourist boats. The canal also has a dock for emergency services now, including a boat for the police.


The Ljubljanica River is the heart and soul of Ljubljana. It has witnessed the growth of the city, from its time as a small outpost to its now rich modern history. A simple boat ride by the Ljubljanica River can tell you much of how Ljubljana changes through time.

As you ride around the Ljubljanica River, you’ll see the spirit of Ljubljana. From the embankments to the creations of Jože Plečnik to the many bridges, you will see the Old Town in all of its splendor.

Have you tried a boat ride in the Ljubljanica? If you’re looking for more things to do, there are more things to go in Ljubljana. Check out everything you can do around town and every sight you’ll find. You will fall in love with Ljubjana, for sure.

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