Ljubljana, Slovenia took me by surprise. It had almost been a decade since my last visit and so much has changed in a positive way that I would like to share it with you.
It was like visiting a whole new city but with its old charm feel still intact from my memories of exploring the city in the past.
Ljubljana offers an unique cultural blend of Balkan, Mediterrenian and Alpine influences, and the city is nestled right in the heart of Europe.
Ljubljana is not only the capital city of Slovenia, but you also have a whole region to explore from the city’s doorstep. Making it one of the most popular cities in Slovenia to visit.
What impressed me the most in Ljubljana has to be the local cuisine that's on offer. If you're wondering what to do in Ljubljana, food should definitely be top of the list.
The food is all locally sourced, and sometimes fresh ingredients are even taken from the garden to serve on your plate. It can't get fresher than that.
Ljubljana is ready to take you on a culinary journey with the cook being the captain of your voyage with wonderful concepts which will blow you away.
Buckle up your seat belts – you're sure to be taken on a wonderful adventure around Ljubljana, Slovenia as we explore the city, the region and the local cuisine in our version of a Ljubljana city guide.
Start your holiday in the city of Ljubljana
Ljubljana, the beautiful and interesting capital city of Slovenia is one of the hidden gems of Europe. It’s a perfect location for those seeking something new and unique.
The city has transformed in recent years and is definitely worth a visit. If it’s not already on your European city bucket list, it should be.
Ljubljana is perfect for a long weekend with great transport connections and accommodation options. Below I'll give you some travel tips on what to see and do around the city of Ljubljana.
Get a Ljubljana city card from the Tourist Information Centre
You can purchase your Ljubljana card from the Tourist Information Centre. This will help to save on entrance prices to over 20 of Ljubljana’s top attractions as well as cover bus transportation costs around the city and to the airport. All major things to do in Ljubljana will be covered.
It's a great value, and with a Ljubljana map, you’re off to a good start.
There are two Tourist Information Centres in the city:
Unique things to do in Ljubljana
How about a Moustache Tour around Ljubljana?
This tour is done by bicycle with a guide and it takes place around the city, as you follow the story of three mighty historical mustachioed men who lived in the city of Ljubljana.
Cycle through the most beautiful streets of Ljubljana and feel the lifestyle of the architect Jože Plečnik, the writer Ivan Cankar and the painter Rihard Jakopič. The tour is full of history and includes a scenic cycle with tea or Cankar's coffee and the Slovenian traditional dish "Potica" which is a type of sweet pastry, at the end.
The tour will take around 3.5 hours to complete and can be booked here.
Head to the top of Ljubljana hill and visit Ljubljana castle
My advice would be to visit the castle twice. With the Ljubljana card, this is possible and won't cost you any extra.
The easiest way to the top of the hill is with the castle funicular which is almost like a tram ride and is located across the road from the Slovenian Tourist Information Centre. The ride up the hill is included in the card.
For your first visit, arrive early in the morning and you can book in advance a very special and locally sourced breakfast at restaurant Gostilna na gradu, located in the courtyard.
It’s a wonderful way to start your first day exploring Ljubljana.
Walk around Ljubljana castle and enjoy the displays and exhibitions on offer and take in the history of the castle with loads to offer for visitors.
Apart from the exhibition and amazing views, Ljubljana castle offers many cultural, historical and entertaining events throughout the year. They offer different castle experiences and guided tours. Be sure to ask at the tourism office for more information about what's going on.
For your second visit, head back in the evening, just before sunset to enjoy a stunning vista view of the surrounding city below. Magical.
Where to stay in Ljubljana: Central Hotel Ljubljana capsule rooms
Why not try something a little bit different for your accommodation in Ljubljana? You can book your stay at the Central Hotel Ljubljana in one of the newly opened capsule rooms.
You might have come across the concept of capsule rooms in Japan and now you can try them out in Europe too, right here in Ljubljana.
The idea is that you get your own little private space in the form of a high-tech pod where you sleep for the night and can also use the hotel's other facilities.
The hotel is located in a great central place and is an affordable option for your stay in Ljubljana. Have a bit of fun with your stay and sleep somewhere a little bit different for the night.
Central Hotel Ljubljana is a modern hotel with loads of super cool facilities and features with a bonus of having an awesome rooftop bar terrace where guests can enjoy a stunning city view.
Also, their stylish "normal" rooms are worth checking out, if a capsule is not the bed you are looking for.
Ljubljana food: The Open Kitchen Food Market
One of the most popular eating attractions in Ljubljana has to be the Open Kitchen Food Market, open every Friday from March to October.
As long as the weather is good, the food market will be open.
Walk around over 50 stands, each offering a unique concept or dish.
Each stand is specially selected as being the best at what they do in Slovenia and the options available on the day are always world-class.
From smokehouse BBQ style to vegan burgers, the options are endless, and they have something for every taste bud.
I advise you to come along with an empty belly and a clean plate, so you can enjoy this unique lunch spot.
The prices for lunch are very affordable and offer a great chance to try some of the restaurant dishes made by Ljubljana’s top chefs and to get a taste of what’s on offer around the city and country.
Three of the best master chefs from Slovenia even have a table spot which shows the talent that is on offer here at the open kitchen, and I wouldn't miss it as it's unique to Ljubljana and the concept started here in the city.
Enjoy a boat ride under the Triple Bridge and into the region of Ljubljana
The best way to end your time in Ljubljana is to head out on the water and enjoy a city boat ride with a view. It definitely tops the list of things to do in Ljubljana.
This will give you a unique view of the iconic Triple Bridge (Designed by Jože Plečnik who you learned about earlier on the Moustache Tour) that consists of three bridges. It has become one of the important landmarks to the city of Ljubljana.
It's a nice way to explore the city, just sit back and relax on the boat.
If you fancy doing something a bit more adventurous, you could try paddleboarding which is also an option in the city.
You can depart from the city and head out into the region of Ljubljana by boat if you wish to take life in the slow lane, which brings us onto the Ljubljana region part of the guide.
Explore the Ljubljana region & day trips from Ljubljana
Did you know that there is more than just the city of Ljubljana? You can find a whole region surrounding the capital of Slovenia.
Ljubljana offers an exciting region close by to explore. Discover great day trips that can be easily done from the city of Ljubljana.
So, what are you waiting for? Escape the city, grab a rental car or a bike and explore the outer region of Ljubljana!
With endless mountains, scenic views, nature and wildlife all on the city’s doorstep, the region is surely not to be missed.
Trnulja country estate
Take the scenic boat cruise along the river from the city of Ljubljana and you will soon arrive at the Trnulja Country Estate.
The owner will be more than happy to pick you up from the riverside by cart to take you to the farm.
Be sure to stay here for a few nights in one of their cosy farm style rooms and enjoy the wonderful hospitality and organic fine dining on offer.
You will not leave with an empty stomach, that's for sure as a lot of the food is produced at the farm. You can also charge your electric car here, if you need some more battery for your onward journey. They also have a small two-seater electric car, which you can borrow for a short trip.
Cycle to the Church of St. Michael
Once you've settled in, the surrounding area is perfect to explore on an E-bicycle.
Close by you will find the Church of St. Michael, which was built around 1940 on the Ljubljana Marshes, and this work is from the local architect, Jože Plečnik.
The design is a perfect fusion of a Greek temple and local Slovenian church design. Due to the marshy like conditions, the church is built on support legs and is mostly made of wood.
A unique design from the region and worth checking out on your bike tour.
Saint Anne's church on the hill
Another spot worth visiting is cycling through the farmland fields and up to the top of the hill where you will reach Saint Anne's church.
It's visible from afar and one of the most popular visiting spots in Ljubljana.
It is located on the viewing hill above Podpeč and Lake of Podpesko jezero. On a clear day, you can see the city of Ljubljana from a distance as well as the Slovenian Alps.
This has to be one of the most scenic spots in the Ljubljana region to enjoy the surrounding vista views. It's not to be missed.
The church hill is a perfect location to enjoy a sunset from and end your day exploring the countryside.
Polhov Gradec Mansion
On the next day exploring the region of Ljubljana, you can enjoy a scenic drive to the Dolomites of Polhov Gradec.
This can easily be done as a day trip option from Ljubljana if you're looking for ideas outside of the city and is fun for all the family.
Once you arrive here you can arrange a special experience and enjoy tea with the Count Blagaj himself and his wife Antonija at the Polhov Gradec Mansion.
Count Blagaj’s land was famous back in the day for its botanical gardens and unique flowers which grew in the area.
The flowers were used for making medical teas. Here you can also find the Museum of Slovenian Post and Telecommunications.
Close by is the Božnar, also known as the House of Honey. It’s a private company that was established in 1990 and focuses on the organic production of Slovenian honey products from local bees.
The raw materials are obtained from the beekeepers and you can also learn about honey production as well as buy honey to take home.
The town of Kamnik
The beautiful town of Kamnik is a perfect place to base yourself whilst you explore the mountains of the Ljubljana region.
Walk around this charming town which offers a unique insight into local life in Slovenia. It incorporates a large part of the Kamnik Alps and the surrounding area offering an incredibly scenic backdrop.
You can also find ruins of two castles in the town as well as a selection of bell towers and churches that all add to the scenic and historic architectural charm.
I'd recommend staying at Hotel MD. It is the only hotel in Kamnik but offers a delightful stay and they will happily allow guests to charge electric cars as well.
Volčji Potok Arboretum botanical park
Volčji Potok Arboretum is the most visited botanical park in Slovenia. It covers an 85-hectare site and features 3,500 plants from all over the world.
Streams and lakes, offering habitats to water plants and animals, bring a special dynamic to the park.
In the old part of the park, you can take a break in the summer café.
For something a little more special, you can arrange a picnic brunch in advance at the summer cafe, which is a wonderful idea paired with the setting.
The Velika Planina mountain plateau
Velika Planina is home to one of Europe's few surviving high mountain herdsmen's villages where traditional Alpine herdsmen's culture is still alive to this day.
It's a unique place to stumble across in Europe and I haven’t seen anything quite like this before.
Be sure to pass by and say hello to the friendly Alpine herdsmen during your visit. We bumped into Peter during our visit and enjoyed a shot of local schnapps which was made using local Alpine flowers.
You can even stay with Peter if you like, but you must help out around the house and fields with daily chores to cover your keep.
Dairy production is very popular up in the mountains and during the summer season. You can sample the local Alpine cheese which they make up in the mountains, still using traditional methods.
Throughout the year, Velika Planina is accessible by aerial cable car and chair lifts. It takes around 30 minutes to reach the top from the carpark.
The scenic Velika Planina is also accessible on foot for those who enjoy hiking, via several popular mountain routes.
It's a popular hiking destination in the summer amongst locals and visitors, but it is also worth checking out in the winter when it's completely covered in snow.
Getting around Slovenia - Try renting an electric car in Ljubljana
The best way to explore the outer region of Ljubljana from the city is to rent a car as everything within this guide is easily accessible by road.
The great thing about Ljubljana is that the city is very green and focused on the environment. Ljubljana even won the title of European Green Capital of 2016.
So, why not make your rental experience extra special and go for an electric car?
This is possible for international visitors by simply registering your passport at Ljubljana International Airport at the Avant2Go desk.
Discover the amazing cuisine of Ljubljana
Ljubljana is full of culinary delights from its regional cuisine to Balkan, Mediterrenian and Alpine influences. You will be left with nothing but delicious meals dish by dish.
Here are a few of my top places worth checking out during your culinary adventure around Ljubljana.
We have already mentioned breakfast at the top of the castle courtyard at Gostilna na gradu, dinner at the organic farm stay Trnulja and the Open Kitchen concept in the city centre of Ljubljana on Fridays.
Now, here are some other noteworthy recommendations for dining options.
Best restaurants in and around Ljubljana
Druga Violina is located in the city centre of Ljubljana, and it’s a very special little gostilna-style restaurant employing several people with special needs.
It serves traditional Slovenian food and is a great spot in the city to check out. The meals are big and tasty for a good price.
Landerik is a new local restaurant which has recently opened in the old part of Ljubljana.
It’s a perfect location for late-night dining. What makes Landerik so unique is that everything in the restaurant is locally sourced from Slovenia, even the dining plates have been specially made in the country by a local designer.
They go to great lengths to ensure that every part of the experience is local and that has proved to be a challenge but also a learning experience for the restaurant creators.
Fine dining can be found here, and I would recommend either doing the lunch experience to get a taste of the local dishes – or how about a 4-course dinner with a wine pairing?
Another note is the coffee that is served here. It was impossible to source locally grown coffee, but the beans are still roasted and ground in the city of Ljubljana.
Grič restaurant is located in the village of Šentjošt nad Horjulom, and it’s a different type of concept restaurant set up by local chef Luka Košir.
He draws his inspiration from his garden each morning and the menu adapts to the organic produce on offer.
Expect the menu to change frequently and always be up for a surprise as Luka doesn't like to stick to things, you never know what you might get. But whatever it will be, it will be on a very high level of cooking and it will be an experience for your taste.
Ljubljana food offers many organic and eco-friendly dining options, and this is a great option to showcase the incredible dining experiences that can be enjoyed around the region.
The cuisine served at Grič has a strong connection with local tradition and historical heritage, fused with modern cuisine. Worth checking out if you have a rental car.
For a spot to eat in Kamnik, be sure to check out Korobač. This is a restaurant with an awesome chill hipster vibe, also good vegan meals and local beer on offer.
I'd recommend grabbing the falafel wrap and deep-fried vegetable dish which were a wonderful combination with a Mali Grad beer.
If you're lucky, they might even have live entertainment on offer playing some local tunes.
If you enjoy a good glas of wine, which fits nicely to your meal, then the restaurant Repnik won't dissapoint you. The local somelier can recommend you the perfect matching wine to your chosen dish. Expect top-notch Slovenian cuisine with local and fresh ingredients, a very good service and that all for a good price.
Mali Grad Brewery and Gin Distillery
Why not end your time in Ljubljana at the Mali Grad brewery & Gin Distillery? Park up your rental car for the night and enjoy some tasty local beer on tap or a refreshing G&T.
From Belgium style to IPA, they will surely have something refreshing to tingle your taste buds. Be sure to try also their tasty gin they also produce on-site.
Thank you for reading all about the city of Ljubljana, Slovenia
Thank you for reading my guide about exploring the Ljubljana food scene, the city sights, the region and all that Ljubljana has to offer.
I hope you also enjoy our video guide to Ljubljana also full of amazing travel tips.
I hope you're prepared and ready for your visit to the heart of Europe in the close future, and I wish you a delightful trip. There certainly are many amazing things to do in Ljubljana - from eating delicious slovenian food and visiting Ljubljana bars to getting into the great days and enjoying the many day trips from Ljubljana.
Be sure to arrive with an open mind and an empty belly and you will have a wonderful time.