If I’m being honest, I knew very little about Ljubljana a few months ago. I struggled to even spell it! Then I asked on my Facebook page where we should visit in Europe and I was surprised by the amount of responses that included Slovenia! Next thing I knew, here we were! And I am so glad we came.
Ljubljana is the capital of Slovenia. With a population of about 270,000 it is nowhere near the largest city in Europe. However, it is a good size with plenty of attractions and things going on to give it a great vibe. It also has a beautiful Old Town and central area with many pedestrian only streets and a crazy amount of outdoor eating options.
Its central location in the middle of Slovenia also makes it a great base for a trip to this country. It is easy to get everywhere from here and possible to day trip pretty much everywhere.
We spent a week in Ljubljana and enjoyed it a lot. As much as we loved Italy, Slovenia was the perfect antidote for a crazy week and a half seeing as much as possible in hot and tourist filled Italy.
Below you will find my list of what to see in Ljubljana, our best Ljubljana attractions for kids, information about public transport in Ljubljana, our accommodation, our budget and other information about our stay.
There is a surprising amount of things to see in Ljubljana – this is what we enjoyed doing!
The best place to start exploring Ljubljana has to be at the picturesque Ljubljana Castle. This castle is up Castle Hill behind the Old Town and is visible from many points of Ljubljana. This means it also has great views.
In addition to the views, there are a few attractions here as well as a superb restaurant (more below). You can visit some of the attractions for free and you can also walk up for free. However, if you are feeling lazy, have problems walking or are with kids, then we recommend the funicular that runs up the hill.
We bought the entry ticket for the castle which meant we could walk up the watchtower (entry worth it for views here alone), view a film of the “virtual castle” and visit the Exhibition on Slovenian History.
The “virtual castle” film told us the history of the castle and the area where it stands. It was simple but good and captivated the kids so we were able to watch it all which is a bonus! The exhibition was mostly multimedia so requires the time to watch a lot of films to get the most out of it.
Adult castle tickets plus funicular are 10 Euros. Kids under 7 are free. Ljubljana Castle is probably the main must see attraction in Ljubljana.
On the south east side of the Ljubljanica River lies the oldest part of Ljubljana. This is home to the most important historical buildings including the Ljubljana Castle. It is a lovely place to take a stroll with many car free streets, colourful buildings, plazas, monuments shops and restaurants and walking around here is one of the top things to do in Ljubljana.
Its worth taking a look around including the main plazas – Presernov Trg, Mestni Trg, Stari Trg and Gornji Trg. Also don’t miss the triple bridge and the dragon bridge across from Central Ljubljana.
The centre of Ljubljana is on the opposite side of the Ljubljanica River from the Old Town. It may not be as old, but it’s still a very beautiful place to take a stroll. Many Ljubljana tourist attractions are here including the city’s museums and shops.
There was an interesting installation when we were in Ljubljana – an area of Preservnov Trg was somehow set up to be like it was under a rain cloud. I am not sure how they did it but it was fun.
One of the popular places to visit in Ljubljana is the City Museum, located in central Ljubljana. It is a great way to get to know more about the city through interactive displays and multimedia. The museum has a lot of potential, but is a bit confusing with how it is put together. We particularly enjoyed the top floor exhibition where the lives of Slovenes from the dark ages until now is detailed.
Prices vary depending on what you want to see. More information here.
Just southeast of the Old Town is this small, low key botanical gardens. It’s great for a game of hide and seek and the best part was that we had it pretty much to ourselves during our visit. It’s a nice place to take a moment to relax, but it’s not worth going out of your way.
Everything we read and our Airbnb host said that Gostilna na Gradu is the best restuarant in Ljubljana so we had to try it! It turned out to be my personal favourite thing to do in Ljubljana 😀
Its known for cooking only traditional Slovenian meals and using the best Slovenian ingredients. It’s also in a fabulous location in Ljubljana Castle.
We did not get to try many restaurants in Slovenia, so I can’t say for sure that its the best. However, we had an absolutely fabulous meal here and the prices are very reasonable as well. There are even some vegetarian options. You can see the menu and read more here.
Slovenia is not a very big country and it’s possible to day trip to many places from Ljubljana. If there is one day trip you have to do, its to the famous Lake Bled about an hour’s bus ride from the capital.
This lake is known for being stunningly beautiful and it is! It wasn’t the best weather when we visited but it was still gorgeous and just seemed like a special place.
There are a few things to do in Bled from visiting Bled Castle to taking a gondola ride out to Bled island to cycling and tobogganing. In summer you can also go swimming and in winter, ice skating! Read more winter activities at Lake Bled here.
My number one thing to do in Lake Bled is to just walk around the lake and soak it all in. It’s only about 6 kilometers. There is also a hop on/hop off bus in summer (it was still running in early September when we were there despite signs saying it finishes in August) and a kids train that can take all people on a loop around.
I also thought the town was quite cute – despite reading a few blog posts saying it is ugly before I went – sometimes I wonder if people even visit the places they write about?! – and if you have the time, I’m sure a couple of days here soaking it all up would be great.
Buses leave from Avtobusna postaja Ljubljana next to the train station and arrive about a block from the lake in Bled town about every hour. They also return about every hour. You can see schedules here.
It cost about 7 Euros for adults (strangely the price changed every time we bought a ticket), half price for our 5 year old and 1.50 Euros for our 3 year old on the way there and nothing on return! You can buy tickets from the driver or the bus station in Ljubljana.
There are also trains but the station is about 4km from the lake and take longer so we stuck to the bus which was very comfortable with free wifi.
If you don’t have much time and you are wondering what to see in Ljubljana in one day then you could fit everything above into one day excluding Lake Bled.
There is no reason that kids can’t enjoy all the same attractions as adults and our kids did everything listed in this guide. However, if you are looking for some attractions in Ljubljana for kids specifically, here’s some great ones.
This science museum is located near the dragon bridge and is a great place to visit if you are in Ljubljana with kids.
It is basically exactly what it is called – a house of experiments! There are many experiments set up to try and S and I spent a great couple of hours here. The museum is in Slovenian but there are books in other languages which explain how to do each experiments and the science behind it. This made it very easy for us.
We had fun making massive bubbles, steering a remote car under the influence of alcohol (not real alcohol of course!), making river beds and learning about the viscosity of liquids.
Entry cost us 6 Euros for me and Miss 5 was free. You can find more information here.
Alongside Bleiweisova Cesta, in the south east corner of Tivoli Park, lies a pretty cool playground that kept S and Z occupied for hours. It has lots to do and play on, including a bridge over a (dry) pond, tunnels, a couple of sculptures to climb on and of course the usual slides and swings.
It was popular with lots of kids when we were there and is a good park for all ages. As a nice bonus there’s a couple of free and open wifi points you can connect to help keep you occupied while the kids play. Surrounded by trees it was a peaceful spot – even next to a busy road.
Tivoli Park is one of Ljubljana’s main open spaces and has a lot of other things besides the playground. There’s a mini-golf course, a hamburger restaurant that serves horse (it wasn’t so bad at the time…) and a small fun park called Lumpi Park (keep reading!). The zoo is located in Tivoli Park, too, although tucked away at the southern side of the park.
In Tivoli Park, there is a kids amusement park, Lumpi Park. Ideal for younger kids but enjoyed by kids of all ages (and their parents). Lumpi Park is like a large outdoor play centre. Built around five bouncy castles and inflatable slides, there’s actually a lot to do and you could easily spend a few hours here without your kids getting bored.
Entry is quite cheap – we paid 3 Euros for Z and 4 for S. Each kid got a token as part of their entry. The tokens are used on anything electronic – like arcade games – or mechanical – like the basic go-karts or boats. Everything else, the bouncy castles, trampolines, play equipment and big slides are free.
Tokens cost 1 Euro, and nothing is more than 2 tokens for a ride/go, so the park is quite affordable. There is no need to spend anything extra if you don’t want to – there’s enough included things to spend plenty of time here.
Lumpi Park is small and simple. However, that’s part of what made it such a good place to go. Kids can run around without queues or getting lost. And most importantly, the kids had a great time.
Ljubljana has two water parks, one of which is Atlantis, which is located north east of the old town around a shopping district called BTS City.
There’s several indoor and outdoor pools, including a wave pool, two big water slides, two whirlpools/spas, plus several other outdoor areas (including a small playground for young kids) and plenty of sunbeds to lounge on both inside and out. There’s two areas for kids – a little kids’ area with its own small water slide, and an older kids area with some cool looking water squirting things.
That’s just the Adventure Zone. There’s also an adult-friendly Sauna zone, with different style saunas, quiet areas, spas and some masseuses, plus one other zone that is currently closed.
You can buy passes for two hours, four hours or all day – and for the adventure zone or multiple ones. If you buy a two or four hour pass between 13:00 and 17:00 you get a 20% discount. Because the older kids area and the wave pool were shut for maintenance we got a further 10% off. When you enter you are given wrist bands that you can use to lock a locker (of which there are lots) and buy stuff at the large kiosk they have.
It was nice and quiet given we were there just after Monday lunch time. The best two things were unfortunately shut. The other areas are nice, but nothing amazing and maybe a little boring given how quiet it was. Still, S loved splashing about and exploring.
What captured her imagination most was the water slide. There’s one for 6+ and one for 11+, and she loved going down the (almost) age appropriate on one of those big ring things. I liked it too, fast but not too fast. We did it lots of times as there wasn’t a queue.
Overall we had a good time. It would have been better if everything was operational but thanks to the water slide our two hours passed quickly. I’d love to check out the Sauna zone, too. It sounded cool. If you’re in Ljubljana and want a swim this is a good spot to do it.
Atlantis only a few minutes walk from the nearest stop for bus routes 7 and 7L. You can find more information here.
We stayed in a great two bedroom apartment near Tivoli Park and just outside of central Ljubljana. It was a bargain!
You can also find some other options for where to stay in Ljubljana here.
I only recently learned about this service and it intrigued me. Basically you can pay for a private or shared transfer. If you go with the shared option, you can pick an exact time or you can pick a time range that you are happy to be picked up or dropped off between. The more flexible you are, the cheaper the price is.
We went with three hour time windows which gave us a great price. We found out our times the morning before via sms and email and were always picked up on time. We only shared with two other people on the way to Ljubljana and one other on the way to Zagreb so it was basically like a private transfer! It suited us very well and made travel with the kids extra easy.
You can find more information here.
The best way to get around Ljubljana is by foot. Many streets in the Old Town and central Ljubljana are pedestrian only.
There are also lots of buses and we caught these around a fair bit. This is easy to do and they run often BUT we did have issues with the bus tickets.
You can’t buy tickets on board. You need an Urbana card. We had a bit of a walk to get one on our first day and then had problems topping it up. There seemed to be barely any machines around and we had problems with them accepting coins. I recommend putting enough credit on them when you buy them to last your whole stay as it impeded what we could do.
On the upside, the cards are only 2 Euros and it’s 1.20 Euros to ride a bus.
Ljubljana is an excellent value destination. We averaged only 90 Euros a day here for our family of 4.
We had a great stay here and we found a week was the perfect length of time to see everything we wanted to and unwind and just take it easy. It is also a very nice place to visit with kids.
There are nice, low key attractions and the Old Town and Central Ljubljana are very pretty. We especially appreciated the lack of cars. There are also some good fun things to do in Ljubljana with kids.
We found a nice balance in Ljubljana of some good things to do plus just an easy going atmosphere which made it easy to have a holiday where we could relax despite being in a capital city. It is definitely one of the nicest places we have visited in Europe 😀
Have you been to Slovenia? What did you do?
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