Visit Ljubljana | A 2-day itinerary

With a small coastline along the Adriatic Sea, Slovenia is a small country bordered by Croatia, Hungary, Austria, and Italy. Often underrated for tourism in the past, Slovenia has come out as one of the most loved destinations in the past few years.

View of Ljubljana
Contains affiliate links.

Ljubljana is and has been the capital of this region under different empires and regimes. It was the historical capital of Carniola, one of the regions of the Habsburg Monarchy. After World War II, when Slovenia became a part of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Ljubljana was still the capital of the Socialist Republic of Slovenia.

Ljubljana hasn’t always been famous for getting a lot of tourists but it has come a long way and even won the title of European Green Capital in 2016.

Ljubljana has a lot to offer and in this post, Nisha from 'Nerdy Footsteps', shares with you a 2-day itinerary featuring all the top attractions in Ljubljana.

Day 1 in Ljubljana


On the first day in Ljubljana, we will be heading out of Ljubljana. I know it seems counterintuitive but stay with me here.

Postojna Caves


You cannot come to Slovenia and not see the Postojna Caves. In the first half of the day, we will be exploring the wonderful Postojna caves and the baby dragons, the caves' most famous inhabitants. Yes, baby dragons, even GRR Martin visited them.

Postojna Caves

These caves are also home to the olm (aka ‘dragon’), the largest troglodytic amphibian in the world. On January 30, 2016, a female olm at the cave laid over 50 eggs. This rare event made news worldwide and Postojna Caves became very famous. From the end of May to mid-July 2016, twenty-two baby olms successfully hatched. And you can visit them in the cave. How cool is that!

The caves offer a lot more than the olms. They are made up of magnificent formations of the stalagmites and stalactites, and diverse fauna. These beautiful stalagmites and stalactites grow just a millimeter in a decade and now, they have reached a height of more than 16 meters! You can explore a small chunk of these caves in an unforgettable ride on an underground train.

Predjama Castle


Just 9km away from the caves, you can find the renaissance style, Predjama Castle. What makes this castle special is that it is built within a cave and is the largest cave castle in the world. The impregnable castle has been carved out in the middle of a 123-meter-high cliff and has been there for more than 800 years.

Fun fact: According to legend, Erasmus of Lueg, the Lord of the castle, came into conflict with the Habsburgs when he killed the commander of their army. Fleeing the vengeance of the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick III, Erasmus reached the family fortress of Predjama. The emperor ordered the capture and killing of Erasmus. He was killed after a long siege. Although the legend says that, he was betrayed by one of his men in his lavatory.

Metelkova


After spending most of the day in the caves and the castle, now it is time to head back to the city and visit the alternative scenario of Metelkova.

Metelkova is an autonomous social and cultural center in the center of Ljubljana. It used to be the military headquarters of the army of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and then later for the Yugoslavian National Army.

Once the site was vacated, groups of squatters moved in and made the old buildings their own. The Slovenian government tried to demolish the old barracks, but nearly 200 activists, artists, and protesters took over the site and saved it from destruction.

Now, Metelkova has become a punky-political art squat. You will find it covered in naive art, graffiti, punk rock visuals, folk art, tile mosaics, and weird sculptures. The district is increasingly attracting more and more tourists and the buildings are increasingly being transformed into shops, bars, and clubs.

Metelkova in Ljubljana

Different activities like concerts, art exhibitions held at Metelkova attract a lot of tourists and the young population of Ljubljana. Now, the municipality of Ljubljana sees its presence in a rather positive way because it contributes to the promotion of the capital city.

Day 2 in Ljubljana


On the second day in Ljubljana, we will see the major highlights of the capital.

Ljubljana Castle


Ljubljana Castle has been standing on the hill above the city for about 900 years now. It was initially used as a defense structure and now is used as a cultural venue including family entertainment, dance evenings, and open-air film screenings in the summer.

The castle offers some of the most beautiful views of the city. It also has an exhibition on Slovenian history, a puppet museum, and a number of historical rooms such as the Chapel of St George and the Prison. It even has a video presentation room called Virtual Castle.

You can participate in an hour-long Escape Castle game where you set out on the mission of saving the famous dragon, with your friends.

The exhibition on Slovenian History covers the entire known history of Slovenia. It takes you back about 200,000 years in history, to the earliest traces of human presence in the area of present-day Slovenia.

The puppet museum is set up by the Ljubljana Puppet Theatre and introduces you to the history of puppeteering in Slovenia and the creativity of contemporary Slovenian puppeteers. I have to warn you, it is pretty creepy.

Ljubljana Puppet Theatre

Prešeren Square


This square in the middle of Ljubljana is named after a Slovenian poet France Preseren, who is best known for his sonnets. It is part of the old town's pedestrian zone and a major meeting point, where festivals, Ljubljana carnival, concerts, sports, political events and even protest take place.

Ljubljana is probably one of the few cities in the world whose central town square is adorned with a statue of a poet rather than that of some political or military hero.

Prešeren Square


The Pink Church


The Franciscan Church of the Annunciation is the church located on Prešeren Square in Ljubljana. Its red/salmon-pink colour is symbolic of the Franciscan monastic order. Its unique colour makes it very easy to spot. Since 2008, the church has been protected as a cultural monument of the national significance of Slovenia.

Triple Bridge


The Triple Bridge is a group of three bridges across the Ljubljanica River. It connects the historical town on one bank, and the modern city on the other. To prevent the central old bridge from being a bottleneck, the architect Jože Plečnik designed its extension. This extension included two footbridges at a slight angle on each side of the main bridge. You can easily spot the Venetian influence on the bridge, which is heavily inspired by Italian designs.

Butcher’s Bridge


This bridge is full of historic sculptures. The largest sculptures on the bridge represent two prominent figures from Christian/Jewish mythology: Adam and Eve. The sculpture mimics them being shamed and banished from paradise, after having been induced by the serpent to taste from the Tree of Knowledge.

Some other sculptures include a Satyr, startled by the Serpent, Prometheus, running and disembowelled, in punishment for having given knowledge (of fire) to mankind. There are also some smaller sculptures of frogs and shellfish on the top of the bridge's fence.

Like the Parisian Pont des Arts, you will find love locks on this bridge as well.


Dragon Bridge


The Dragon Bridge was built at the beginning of the 20th century when Ljubljana was part of the Austro-Hungarian empire. It is frequently quoted as one of the best examples of reinforced concrete bridges. Like many other constructions in the city, it is influenced by Italian designs of the time. And as the name indicates, it has dragon sculptures.

Fun fact: According to local legends, when a virgin crosses the bridge, the dragons will wag their tails. Some locals have nicknamed this dragon as "mother-in-law" because of its fiery nature. Some sense of humour there!

The beautiful fantasy-themed bridge was ahead of its time and holds titles like first Slovenian paved bridge, first reinforced concrete bridge in Ljubljana, and the third for the largest arch in Europe at the time of its construction.


Central Market


The Ljubljana Central Market was designed by Jože Plečnik. Yes, the same guy who clearly constructed half of the city’s masterpieces. The market building stretches between the Triple Bridge and the Dragon Bridge

The market is divided into three areas. On the riverbank side, the daily catch is sold in the fish market. In the covered area of the market, small businesses sell homemade bread, cheese, local honey, wine, traditional pumpkin oil, and more Slovenian specialities. In the outside part of the market, you can buy locally produced fruit and vegetables.

The Ljubljana Central Market

Every Friday from mid-March until the end of October, the market square hosts a unique food market where chefs of Slovenian restaurants prepare dishes from all over the world. And it was indeed a pleasure to be there for this food festival. From shawarmas to rolled ice creams, it had a wide variety of foods to sample.


Ljubljana Cathedral


Ljubljana Cathedral is officially named St. Nicholas’s Church. Originally, it was a Gothic church but in the early 18th century, it was replaced by a Baroque building with its classical green dome and twin towers. It stands at Cyril and Methodius Square by the nearby Ljubljana Central Market and Town Hall.

Križanke


The Križanke Summer Theatre is one of Ljubljana's principal architectural attractions. In the mid-50s, the architect Jože Plečnik (again? yes!) converted this former monastery into one of the city’s main cultural venues. He used the Renaissance style in his approach to transforming the Križanke complex. The open-air theatre can host 3,500 viewers with a seating capacity of 1,360. It is a superb venue for classical, jazz, and rock concerts.

Robba Fountain


The Robba Fountain is the city's most recognizable symbol and stands tall in front of Ljubljana Town Hall. It was made in 1751 by the Italian sculptor Francesco Robba.

The Robba Fountain is inspired by the famous Roman fountains. It consists of three male figures with jugs, that represent the gods of the three rivers of the region: the Ljubljanica, Sava, and Krka.

After Slovenia declared independence from Yugoslavia, the Robba Fountain was portrayed on the Slovenian banknote and was in circulation until the introduction of the euro in January 2007.

The Robba Fountain in Ljubljana

Since 2001, the fountain has been protected as a cultural monument of national significance. In 2006, the original fountain was renovated and moved into the National Gallery. What you see at Town Square, is a replica.

Where to stay in Ljubljana


Penzion Kmečki Hram - Penzion Kmečki Hram is set in the part of Ljubljana called Tomacevo, 5 km from the city centre. A bus stop with several bus lines is 60 m from the Kmečki Hram. We absolutely loved our stay at this small BnB style hotel. Though it was a bit away from the center, it was easily accessible by public transport.

Tips and suggestions for visiting Ljubljana


Ljubljana is a small city where you can walk around easily. I highly recommend just walking between the attractions.

There is a good network of buses available if you want to use them. You can get a card from the convenience stores and top it up with the required amount. With every trip, the fare will be deducted from your card.

Another fun way to get around the city is by using the Biciklj system. This is similar to other city-bike schemes, but you can use the bikes for free for the first 60 minutes. If you plan smartly and keep checking the bike stands, and you can get around for free, except the small registration costs.

If you have more time in Slovenia, I highly recommend going to Triglav National Park. It is the best experience you can have in Slovenia. From the emerald river, stunning waterfalls, mirror lakes, mountain peaks, and splendid nature, everything is spectacular.

Another Slovenian highlight you can explore easily from Ljubljana is the small town Bled and the namesake lake Bled. This picturesque town makes for a perfect day trip from Ljubljana.

No comments

Powered by Blogger.