Ljubljana is small enough to walk around with a hilltop castle, art nouveau buildings and plenty of bridges. Here, the Russian and American embassies are next to one another. Discover the city with our guide to 24 hours in Ljubljana.
It is Slovenia’s capital, a small central European country, which tourists often overlook. Home to the Tatra mountains and Lake Bled is a country where forests cover 60 per cent of the land surface. Bees are also part of Slovenian life, with one beekeeper for every 200 inhabitants.
Travel Essentials for 24 hours in Ljubljana
Airline: Wizz Air from London Luton (LTN) to Ljubljana (LJU). From £60, return.
To the city: Take bus 28 to the city.
Cost: €4.10 for the bus or take a minibus for €5 each one way.
Journey time to centre: 30 minutes.
Need to know
Visa: From 1st January 2021, UK residents can Slovenia visit for a maximum of 90 days in any 180 day period.
Travel: Detailed information on the FCDO website.
Currency: Euro (1 GBP = £1.11 approximately).
Tips: 10-20% is recommended.
Travel Adapter: Type C and F.
Language: Slovenian and Italian. English is widely spoken.
Best time to visit: June to August.
Time: GMT +1.
First impressions of Ljubljana
- Small, compact and easily walkable.
- Lots of street art, especially near the train station.
- Plenty of space to walk around.
- Several odd-looking bridges.
24 hours in Ljubljana
- Ljubljana Castle (Ljubljanski grad) – €13 (Adult single – includes funicular).
- Triple bridge (Tromostovje) and Prešeren Square (Prešernov trg) – Free.
- Town Hall (Mestna hiša) – Free (from outside).
- Dragon Bridge (Zmajski most) – Free.
- Butchers’ Bridge (Mesarski most) – Free.
- Congress Square (Kongresni trg) – Free.
- Cobblers’ Bridge (Čevljarski most) – Free.
- Skyscraper (Nebotičnik)- €2 (for a coffee and views at the top).
- Autonomous Cultural Centre (Metelkova mesto) – Free.
Ljubljana Castle or Ljubljanski grad sits high on a hill overlooking the city. It is a 10-minute uphill walk from Ciril-Metodov Square. A standard ticket includes:
- Museum of Puppetry
- Viewing Tower and Virtual Castle
- An exhibition of Slovenian History
- Funicular railway (return ticket)
As a city symbol for 900 years, it started life as a fort in the 11th century, followed by a barracks and a prison. Being the highest point in Ljubljana, the viewing tower provides far-reaching views.
Triple Bridge and Prešeren Square
The bridge was made in 1842 from concrete and limestone, with two more bridges added in 1931. It connects the old town with the modern city, and although traffic used to cross the bridge, it is now pedestrian-only.
Prešeren Square, the main one in the city, is named after the great Slovenian poet, France Prešeren (1800-1849), whose poem is the national anthem. The square has art nouveau style buildings and a 17th century Franciscan Church. It is a meeting place where everyone congregates.
Ljubljana’s Town Hall, known Mestna hiša, was rebuilt in 1717 with a baroque style façade and Venetian influence. One of the most recognisable landmarks, Robba Fountain, is located nearby.
Dragons are part of Slovenian life. Initially seen as monsters, they became a symbolic protector of the city, representing power, courage, and wisdom. It is Ljubljana’s first reinforced concrete structure, constructed in 1900, with four dragons, which according to local legend, wag their tails when a virgin crosses the bridge.
Known as ‘the bridge of love’, couples secure a padlock to the bridge and then throw the key into the river. The bridge’s largest sculptures represent figures from Ancient Greek mythology.
The square houses the Slovenian Philharmonic building, the seat of the University of Ljubljana and the Baroque Ursuline Church of the Holy Trinity. It hosts many social events as well as political protests. In 1999, Bill Clinton became the first US president to visit Slovenia. He addressed the crowd gathered on Congress Square, quoting the Slovenian National anthem’s opening verses.
Built in 1931 but dating back to the 13th century, the former wooden bridge provided a space for cobblers to trade.
The Nebotičnik skyscraper provides the best views of the city. It is a mix of shops, offices, private apartments and a café with an observatory on the top deck. In 1933, it was the tallest building in the Balkans and the ninth tallest in Europe at the time of construction. Made with reinforced pillars, it is the city’s most earthquake-proof building.
Autonomous Cultural Centre
Metelkova, located near the bus and train station, has been transformed from the Yugoslav National Army’s Slovenian headquarters to one of the most culturally important and visited Ljubljana sites. Since 1995, the area has been a self-designated autonomous zone.
This squat art area has become a hip hangout for artists, activists, and people looking for a good night out. It is a site for street art, political action, underground music, and cultural events.
Outside Metelkova, the city is rich with creative street art and colourful graffiti. Here, it is legal, and the artwork is superb, whereas elsewhere, it is illegal. These expressions of love, hate, political and social statements are associated with an underground or subculture. Do try and visit even if you only have 24 hours in Ljubljana.
Slovenians love bees and dragons, and Ljubljana, a charming city and one of Europe’s greenest capitals, is worth adding to the list. Spending 24 hours in Ljubljana is enough time to sample the main sights.
With a pedestrian-free centre and ambiance of calm, it is hard to dislike the city. It is safe, and crime is very low. Thrill-seekers may get bored here as this is more of a ‘sit back and relax’ kind of place, especially at the cafe terraces lininh the river. The bridges and urban design adds to the city’s aesthetic.
The cuisine scene is surprisingly good, with fresh local dishes, influenced from the neightbouring countries ot Italy and Hungary. Desserts are enjoyed with several cake shops and bakeries dotted around the city.
The journey time from Ljubljana to Lake Bled is an hour with Vintgar Gorge only 4km away. Other days trips from Ljubljana include visiting the Postojna Cave and Predjama Castle. Also accessible is Bohinj inside Triglav, Slovenia’s only national park
Read about our European weekend breaks.