If you're planning a trip to Slovenia, you'll want to visit Ljubljana.
Lake Bled usually steals the spotlight with its picture-perfect scenery, but let me tell you, Ljubljana has so much to offer that's just waiting to be discovered.
Let’s check out the best things to do in Ljubljana.
1. Ljubljana Old Town
Ljubljana Old Town is full of impressive buildings, and the whole area is made for walking, so we recommend grabbing a coffee and watching the world go by.
If you are after shops, there are plenty here – from cool local stuff to the usual souvenirs.
What's nice about Ljubljana is it's pretty tiny and has a more relaxed feel than other old towns in Europe. You get a mix of locals just going about their day and tourists checking out the sights. Speaking of sights, don't miss the river views, and the castle looks like something out of a storybook.
You'll love Ljubljana Old Town, and it's the kind of place that's just easy to hang out in and enjoy. It’s also one of the free things to do in Ljubljana.
2. Lake Bled
We mentioned at the start that Lake Bled steals the show. It's only a 40-minute bus ride from Ljubljana, so it's on our list of things to do in Ljubljana.
Picture brilliant blue waters, snow-capped mountains, and a quaint island that looks straight out of a fairytale. A member of the Frugal Expat team once visited the island in the middle, and the whole wedding party went across and drank wine on the island. If you get the chance to head over to the island, then do it.
You can do many cool things here, like leisurely walking around the lake, hiking up to the Osojnica viewpoint for some stunning views, paddling across the lake in a hired boat, or hopping on a taxi boat to the island. Our top tip would be to rent electric bikes to cycle around the lake; it's just a fun way to get around at your own pace.
The best times to visit are from April to June and September to October – that's the shoulder season when it's not too crowded. Summer can get pretty packed, and accommodation might be hard to find.
3. Lake Bohinj
You may never have heard of Lake Bohinj, as its famous neighbor, Lake Bled, overshadows it, but it's just as beautiful.
You can enjoy boat rides on the serene water, hike along the north bank to the stunning Savica Waterfall, explore Mostinca Gorge, or catch the Vogel Cable Car for some jaw-dropping aerial views of the lake.
If you're short on time, you can visit Lake Bled and Lake Bohinj, as they are both things to do around Ljubljana. But if you've got more time, consider taking a bus or driving from Ljubljana to Bohinj for a fuller experience. Stay on the bus until Camp Bohinj to easily access Savica Waterfall and the Vogel Cable Car.
3. Union Brewery Tour
One of the fun things to do in Ljubljana is to drink beer! This is a crash course in beer-making with a technology twist. First, you get to rock some VR goggles – a terrific way to kick things off. You'll see how they brew their beer today through the goggles.
The highlight is the tasting room, of course. You get to try different beers and ask all your questions. Tomaz and Ana are great at keeping things lively and answering everything. It's not just about the beer but the stories and old-school brewing tools they've used.
This tour's a winner, even if you're not into beer. It's a fun afternoon activity, and you might find a new favorite beer.
4. Triple Bridge
One of the things to do in Ljubljana that everyone does is visit Triple Bridge, and it’s not your average bridge – it's a trio that adds a quirky touch to the city.
Right where the old meets the new, these three bridges span the Ljubljanica River, creating a cool geometric look from the riverside.
This area is always packed as it is between Stritarjeva Street and Preseren Square, right in the thick of things. What started as a single bridge now gives tourists and locals a great place to stroll without worrying about cars.
If you want to get a picture of all three bridges in one shot, then good luck – you might need a drone for that!
5. Preseren Square
Preseren Square is where you'll find some lovely buildings, like the salmon-colored Franciscan Church and a statue of Slovenia's favorite poet, France Preseren, who is very popular here.
Preseren Square might be small compared to other European squares, but it has character and is excellent for a meetup, people-watching, or just taking a break from walking around the city.
Don't miss the quirky little statue of Preseren's crush, Julija, on Wolfova Street – the guy's statue is gazing at it.
6. Tivoli Park
Tivoli Park, not to be mistaken for Copenhagen's Tivoli Gardens, is Ljubljana's biggest green space. Just a short walk from the Old Town, it's perfect for a peaceful break, especially if it is a nice day, and is good if you are after things to do with kids in Ljubljana.
We recommend you walk down Jakopič Promenade, which is often full of art displays, or check out the International Centre of Graphic Arts housed in Tivoli Castle – which feels more like a grand manor than a castle.
7. The House of Illusions
This place is filled with optical illusions and challenging 3D puzzles to entertain you and the family. It's one of the best things to do with kids in Ljubljana.
Spread across three floors, each corner of the House offers something different and mind-bending to explore.
Visiting The House of Illusions is easy on the wallet, which we like as Frugal travelers, and perfect for a spontaneous adventure.
It is easily accessible as it’s located in the city center and has friendly and welcoming staff, adding to the overall fantastic experience.
8. Cathedral of St. Nicholas
With an entrance fee of just 2 Euros, it's one of the cheapest things to do in Ljubljana. The Cathedral of St. Nicholas offers a rich visual experience, featuring stunning decor from the ceiling to the altar and the impressive organ.
The cathedral may be smaller than those in larger cities, but its unique design and eye-catching architecture make it a standout.
The bronze doors are what most visitors like, which set the tone for the beauty within.
While some might find it similar to other cathedrals, the details here – especially the doors – are worth a closer look. If you're lucky, you might stumble upon a ceremony like a baptism, which you will be allowed to watch.
9. River Ljubljanica
Running through the heart of Ljubljana's old town, the river offers a unique and relaxing way to experience the city.
With boat rides available for around €10-12, it's a budget-friendly activity that lets you enjoy the city differently. These rides, typically 45-60 minutes, are not just about sightseeing but also about soaking in the calm atmosphere, especially if you go early in the morning.
While the river might not be the prettiest, it's integral to Ljubljana's charm.
Sitting by the river at one of the many cafes is also really nice, allowing you to people-watch and watch the boats go by.
The famous Dragon Bridge and Triple Bridge over the river add to its appeal. Walking along the river is equally as lovely, especially in the evening, with opportunities for great photos and stopping by at some street food places. It's one of the best things to do at night in Ljubljana.
10. Eat at Restavracija Cubo (A Michelin Star Restaurant)
This Michelin Star restaurant is more than just all style with no substance. Their truffled chicken liver pate and salads with high-quality feta are just the start. The pasta dishes? They're on another level – well-prepared and seasoned to perfection.
But it's not just the food that makes Cubo stand out. The staff are super friendly, and the atmosphere is just right, creating the perfect dining environment.
Whether you're a wine connoisseur or enjoy a good glass, their selection won't disappoint. It's the kind of place that leaves a lasting impression, making any occasion extra special. Whether you're celebrating big life achievements or just in the mood for an unforgettable meal, Cubo delivers and is one of the best restaurants in Ljubljana.
11. Dragon Bridge
Famous for its stunning dragon sculptures, one at each of its four corners, this bridge is one of the best things to see in Ljubljana and is where you should take your photo.
These dragons aren't just ordinary statues; they're impressively large, each one to two meters high, each with a slightly different design. The beautifully decorated lighting columns full of dragon motifs add to the bridge's appeal.
This bridge can be found just past the market area and is more than a crossing over the river; it's a piece of art and a symbol of the city.
A lot of people find it better than the nearby Triple Bridge. Even though you need about five minutes to take it all in, Dragon Bridge is essential to any Ljubljana trip.
12. The Ljubljana Castle
Ljubljana Castle is the city's most visited attraction, and it's here where you will find a lovely blend of past and present.
There is plenty going on, such as the immersive experiences like the Virtual Castle projection and exhibitions revealing Slovenia's past, including the intriguing Penitentiary and Castle Armory.
But Ljubljana Castle is more than its history. Foodies will also love it, with restaurants like Gostilna na Gradu and Strelec, where modern flavors meet traditional recipes. The castle's vineyard story is something wine enthusiasts will love.
It also hosts events throughout the year under the stars, from music and dance to film festivals, including a unique Jazz Club. Getting to the castle is easy, and you can ride the funicular or take a more scenic walk along the castle wall.
13. Cankarjevo Nabrežje
This area of the city is known for its funky graffiti and street art, and it's just a short walk from the city center.
Metelkova is slightly different, as it's more on the edgy side. You might find it rough around the edges, and some people there might be using drugs.
It's not a family-friendly spot, and we wouldn't recommend going alone; despite all that, it's not unsafe. It’s one of the more unique things to do in Ljubljana, especially since the old town is so clean and picture-perfect. It's like seeing the real, unpolished side of a big city.
14. Odprta Kuhna
This is a fabulous outdoor street food market in Ljubljana, and it is open every Friday in the summer.
You'll find a wide variety of food, including vegan and gluten-free options, which is always great. The food's tasty, and the portions are decent, but just a heads-up, it's not exactly cheap for Frugal travelers. You might spend around 32€ for a couple of meals and a dessert.
Service is quick for the most part, but be ready for a wait if you're eyeing those desserts, especially at the popular stands. For example, the famous pancake stand can have a bit of a queue because they've got just one waffle iron. Despite the cost, Odprta Kuhna is worth visiting!
15. The Franciscan Church
The Franciscan Church in Ljubljana is a place that people always talk about when they visit the city. It has a striking pink facade in the city center, facing the Triple Bridge and sitting on the main square.
It's known for its stunning interior, with beautiful frescoes, an impressive altar, and fantastic decor. The best part for frugal travelers? It's free to enter.
It's worth visiting, offering a glimpse into history and artistry that's sure to impress, no matter how many churches you've seen before.
16. National Museum of Contemporary History
The National Museum of Contemporary History offers a look into the history of both Slovenia and Yugoslavia.
One of the highlights is the ground floor, dedicated to Slovenian athletes' achievements. Still, the museum doesn't shy away from the darker chapters of history, with substantial space devoted to World Wars I and II. These wars significantly shaped Slovenia, and the exhibits do a great job of illustrating this impact.
The communist era exhibition is particularly eye-opening, with both nostalgic and harrowing stories. The journey through Slovenia's history concludes with its ascension to the European Union, marking a significant milestone.
Are you planning on visiting Ljubljana? If you have any questions for the Frugal Expat team on anything to do on this list, please let us know in the comments below.
I’m Steve. I’m an English Teacher, traveler, and an avid outdoorsman. If you’d like to comment, ask a question, or simply say hi, leave me a message here, on Twitter (@thefrugalexpat1). Many of my posts have been written to help those in their journey to financial independence. I am on my journey, and as I learn more I hope to share more. And as always, thanks for reading The Frugal Expat.