Follow this itinerary for 3 days in Ljubljana. It covers all the must-see sights and things to do in Ljubljana, a half-day trip to the Postojna Caves and Predjama Castle and more. It is ideal for a short winter visit to Ljubljana and solo travellers.
Planning a summer trip? No problem! You can easily follow this itinerary in the summer too. Simply ignore my tips for visits during the winter, as they don’t apply for the rest of the year.
I visited Ljubljana as part of a larger trip in Slovenia. For the first part of the trip, Christos and I went on a road trip through the Julian Alps. Then, Christos returned to London and I continued my trip to Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia. It was my first time in the city and I wanted to see as much as possible. Below, you can find the itinerary I followed that includes things to see and do in and around Ljubljana.
3 Days in Ljubljana: Itinerary Overview
- DAY 1: Ljubljana’s Must-See Sights
- Prešeren Square, Triple bridge, Cobbler’s bridge, Town Square, Ljubljana Cathedral, Ljubljana Central Market, Dragon Bridge, Butcher’s Bridge, Plečnik’s Arcades, Castle Hill, Ljubljana Castle
- DAY 2: Around Ljubljana
- Lake Bled
- Postojna Caves, Predjama Castle
- Škocjan Caves
- DAY 3: Ljubljana’s Museums
- Plečnik’s House, City Museum of Ljubljana, National Museum of Slovenia, National Gallery, Museum of Modern Art, Tivoli Park, National Museum of Contemporary History
Planning your trip in Ljubljana
How to get to Ljubljana?
The easiest way to get to Ljubljana if you don’t live in a nearby country, where you can simply drive or take the train or bus, is to fly into Jože Pučnik Airport. It has year-round connections with more than 25 European cities.
To get to Ljubljana from the airport, you can take the bus to Ljubljana bus station (Avtobusna postaja Ljubljana). The route is about 1 hour long and costs €4.10 per way. You can purchase a ticket from the driver, but I suggest you have exact change, in the case the driver does not have/give change. The bus runs hourly (on the hour) from early in the morning until 8 pm.
If there is no flight to Ljubljana from your country, then you can fly into a nearby airport and then take the train/bus from there. For example, you can fly into Venice or Zagreb. From Venice Airport there is a direct bus to Ljubljana (about 3 hours long). Similarly, from Zagreb, you can take a bus to Ljubljana (about 2.5 hours long), but you first need to get to the city’s bus station.
How to move around?
Ljubljana is a very compact city and if you choose a centrally located hotel, you can walk everywhere included in this itinerary (apart from the day trips). There is not even the need to use public transport, but if you purchase the Ljubljana Card it will be included anyway.
For the around Ljubljana activities, you can follow an organised tour or rent a car. I don’t recommend going on your own as public transport is not very frequent (or is non-existent in some cases) during the winter.
For more information about public transport in Ljubljana click here.
Should I purchase the Ljubljana Card?
If you are going to visit all the places I recommend below, follow a walking tour and use the bus to and from the airport, then I suggest purchasing the card for three days as it will pay off itself. If you are following the full day trip option on day 2, then you may want to swap days 2 and 3, so that you purchase the card for two days instead of three.
Where to stay in Ljubljana?
As I said above, choosing a centrally located hotel is your best choice in this case. I stayed in City Hotel Ljubljana [AD], which is a few minutes on foot from the main attractions of Ljubljana, as well as many dining and shopping options. The rooms of the hotel have a modern touch and a feel of the city. I originally booked a single room which according to the online description would be tiny, but as they had availability they upgraded me to a more spacious double room.
Day 1: Ljubljana’s Must-See Sights
Arrive in Ljubljana the previous evening or early in the morning so that you have a full day ahead.
10:00 Ljubljana City Centre Walk
Start your day with a walk in the city centre of Ljubljana. Cover most major sights in a long walk on your own and then revisit them (and more places) with the company of a guide to learn more about them.
The Ljubljana Card includes a 2-hour walking tour of the city which takes place every day except Sundays at 11 am. Note that you need to book that tour at least a day in advance.
Alternatively, you can join a free walking tour. The Ljubljana Free Tour organises daily Classic Ljubljana Tours and no booking is required. The tour departs at 11 am and lasts for 2 hours.
As you can see both tour options start at 11 am, so you should have time to go for a walk on your own earlier. Follow the route in the map below (no more than 30 minutes long) to get a glimpse of the main sights, buildings and bridges of the city without a large group of people on your back.
Prešeren Square is the main square in Ljubljana’s city centre. It took its name from the romantic poet France Prešeren, whose statue lies in the centre of the square. The square is fully pedestrianised, as it is a large part of the city centre of Ljubljana.
Important building from different eras surround the square. The pink building in the middle is a Franciscan church of the Annunciation, dating to the 17th century. An earthquake at the end of the 19th century forced many buildings to be rebuilt as they had experienced severe damages, including part of the church.
Around the square, you can also see signs of the Art Nouveau architecture style, with the building housing Galerija Emporium, being a prime example. Galerija Emporium is a luxury department store which also doubles as Ljubljana’s first department store. It opened in 1903, but rumours around the city mention that it will not be a department store for much longer, with plans underway to convert it into a private residence.
The Triple Bridge was the last addition to Prešeren Square, connecting it to the other side of the Ljubljanica River. As the name suggests the bridge consists of three adjoining sides, but it wasn’t always like that. Originally, only a single lane bridge used to exist, until the 1930s when Jože Plečnik designed two other lanes on each side for pedestrian traffic. Today, no vehicles are allowed to enter the area, so all lanes are used by pedestrians.
Walking a bit further along the river towards the south, you will find Cobblers’ Bridge. The bridge took its name from its original purpose: to accommodate Cobbler’s workshops. Similarly to the Triple Bridge, this one was also built by Jože Plečnik at around the same period. Other similarities they pose are the material from which the bridges were created: artificial stone and their style with pillars being the main focus.
Returning back to the city centre you will encounter the Town Square (Mestni trg in Slovene). There, you will find the Town Hall (of course), as well as the Roba Fountain, also known as the Fountain of Three Carniolan Rivers. If you have been to Rome before, the fountain may look familiar as it is a replica of the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi at Piazza Navona. Surprisingly, the fountain in the Town Square is also a replica, with the original being inside the National Gallery to protect it from natural elements.
On the other side, the town hall building features Venetian and Baroque influences. Normally, the interior is closed to the public but weekly Town Hall Tours allow visitors inside the building. Another way to enter into the Town Hall is to visit one of the temporary exhibitions organised there.
Next to the Town Hall Square, you can find the Ljubljana Cathedral, which is also known as the Church of St Nicholas. It originates in the 13th century, but it was largely rebuilt after it was burned down by the Ottomans in the 15th century. The current structure dates to the 1700s (excluding the dome which is a later addition) and it has a Baroque style. Inside the church, there are many impressive frescos, and if the church is open when you pass by, I suggest you take a look inside.
Ljubljana Central Market
The Ljubljana Central Market is an outdoor market where locals come to shop fresh produce and more. It is open every day except Sunday from early in the morning until late in the afternoon. Next to the outdoor market, there is a covered market, but more on this in the Plečnik’s Arcades section below.
Dragon Bridge is another famous bridge of Ljubljana. The bridge features 20 statues of dragon’s (four larges ones and 16 smaller ones on the lamp posts of the bridge), which are also the symbol of Ljubljana. There are many interesting facts around this 20th-century bridge. For example, the original design referred to lion decorations instead of the dragon, and this was the first road in Slovenia to be covered in asphalt.
Return to the market area by crossing the Butchers’ Bridge. This unique bridge surprises visitors with a weird -at first- name, some “creepy” statues by Jakov Brdar and numerous love padlocks on the parapet of the bridge. Unlike the other bridges in Ljubljana, this is a new one (only build in 2010). However, it is based on an earlier design by Plečnik, who wanted to create a covered bridge to provide space for the butcher’s of the market, but his plans were stopped due to the WWII.
Plečnik’s Arcades/Covered Market
The last point of interest of this walk, is the Plečnik’s Arcades, two covered sections of the market. As you can guess from the name the arcade was designed by Plečnik, during the first half of the 1940s. At the covered market, you can find small shops selling local products, fresh fish and meat, as well as cafes and restaurants. Similar to the outdoor market, this section is also open Monday to Saturday, with the exact hours to vary for each shop.
Who was Jože Plečnik?
Jože Plečnik was a Slovene architect who lived from 1872 and 1957. His work appears in central European cities, such as Vienna, Prague and Ljubljana. Plečnik was hugely influenced by classical architecture, while one of his unfinished projects (“Plečnik’s Ljubljana” as it was called) was to model Ljublajna on ancient Athens. In the walk above, you will see many of Plečnik’s creations in the city.
Other notable buildings and public spaces he designed in Ljubljana apart from those mentioned already above are the National and University Library, the Žale Cemetery and the Church of St. Micheal in the Marshes. Despite this impressive list, there were still many projects which were never implemented, such as work on the Castle Hill and the Town Hall. You can find more about him at his house/museum, which included in Day 3.
For lunch, you can try one of the places in Plečnik’s Covered Market. I tried a place called Moji štruklji Slovenije (My Dumplings Of Slovenia) which makes traditional Slovenian dumplings. They make them in different flavours both sweet and savoury. Besides, you can also find various stews both coming in meat and vegetarian versions.
14:00 Castle Hill
In the afternoon go for a walk around the castle hill. The climb to the top is not long nor difficult. Once there, you can enjoy great views of the city. Then, walk around to find Plečnik’s Šance, a new outlook to a former fortress designed by Plečnik. Other points of interest on the hill include a monument to the Peasant’s Revolt, the Castle Avenue and the Castle Vineyards.
How to get there?
You can walk there from the town centre. There is a path that takes you to the castle parallel to the funicular, as well as in different sections along Mestni trg.
15:00 Ljubljana Castle
After you finish your walk on the Castle Hill, visit Ljubljana Castle. The castle dates to the 11th century and features a lot of items of historical and cultural importance. Get an audio guide to accompany your visit and start exploring the different rooms.
Each room has a different theme and items on display. Some of them even accommodate temporary exhibitions. At the castle you can also visit the chapel of St. George. Lastly, climb the viewing tower and enjoy beautiful views of Ljubljana.
As it will get dark, by the time you end your visit, I suggest taking the funicular to get back to the town centre.
Find out more about the castle here.
There are many restaurants in the city centre. During my short stay (4 nights in total), apart from the places I mentioned I had lunch, I tried the following casual and cheap places: Hood Burger Center, The Wok, Rex Bistro and Joe Peña’s Cantina y Bar. All have vegetarian options available.
Day 2: Around Ljubljana
Take this day to explore another destination in Slovenia. Popular day-trips / half-day trips from Ljubljana include Lake Bled, Postojna Caves, Predjama Castle and Škocjan Caves.
If you choose a half-day tour, in the afternoon you can wander around in Ljubljana, do some souvenir shopping around Mestni trg and Stari trg or visit some museums. Talking about souvenir shopping some of my favourite shops in these streets are Honey House Ljubljana, Čokoladnica la Chocolate, Babushka Boutique and Pravična trgovina 3MUHE.
Below I present you some information about each place to help you decide where to go. For the records, when I was following this itinerary I went on a half-day trip to Postojna Cave and Predjama Castle, and during the first part of my Slovenia trip, I visited Lake Bled.
Note: You can always append more days to your trip to visit more places around Ljubljana.
Lake Bled is one of the most beautiful places in Slovenia, not to mention probably in the world. The small island in the middle of the lake is the centre of attention, offering beautiful views from whenever you are looking from. You can get to the island either by taking a Pletna boat trip or renting a rowboat. Other things you can do in the area, including visiting the Bled Castle, hiking to Mala Osojnica and trying a piece of the traditional Bled Cream Cake.
Postojna Cave is another must-see sight of Slovenia. It the second-longest cave system in the country with almost 25km of underground trails. The cave park is located in the Karst region of Slovenia and it includes Postojna Caves, Vivarium and Expo Cave Karst. The Vivarium is an underground centre taking care of the life found in the caves such as the baby dragon (Olm; Proteus Anguinus). The Expo Cave Karst is an exhibition about the geology and history of the area that completes the visit to the complex.
To visit the Postojna Cave you need to join one of the tours that run throughout the day. Once in, you will take a ride with the electric train 3.7km in the caves, before continuing the tour on food for another 1.5km. You will pass many impressive rooms with stalactites and stalagmites forming unique shapes. At the end of the 1.5 hours tour, there is a small glass compartment with baby dragons. Note that the temperature in the caves is constant year-round at 10oC.
Find out more about Postojna Caves here.
Predjama Castle is the world’s largest (and probably only) cave castle. Despite its fairy tale look in a cave, the castle was mostly used for defensive purposes, so the interior does not have much to offer. Regardless, the castle is worth a visit. There, you will be given an audio guide which walks you through all the rooms including the part of the castle that is actually built inside the caves.
During the summer, there are walking and adventure tours organised in the cave that lies underneath the castle. The cave is one of the largest in Slovenia, covering a total length of 14 kilometres. Unlike, Postojna Caves, there is no electricity inside and visitors are given flashlights.
Predjama Castle is part of the Postojna Cave Park and can be easily combined with a visit to Postojna Cave.
Škocjan Caves form another cave system in Slovenia and their natural significance have earned them a place in the UNESCO World Heritage List. In the caves, you will find more than 6km of trails and going for more than 200m below the ground. Insight the caves you will find one of the largest known underground camber as well as waterfalls and other water streams.
Visitors can experience the beauty of the Škocjan Caves in group tours. There are three trails available, as well as a small museum and restaurant.
Find out more about Škocjan Caves here.
Why book an organised tour?
The reason I am recommending to book an organised tour, instead of going on your own is that during winter public transport to these (mostly touristy) places is not very frequent.
For example, there is a shuttle bus that connects Postojna Caves and Predjama castle and makes it possible to visit the two nearby sites on a single day. Unfortunately, this shuttle bus only runs during the summer when there is more demand. This means that the only way to get there on your own if you don’t have a car is to walk (~2 hours) or take a taxi.
Another example, involves visiting any of the caves which only allow visitors to enter in guided tours. Naturally, during the winter, there are fewer tours and public transport timetables may not align with tour timings.
Of course, if you have your own wheels or visiting during the summer, I suggest to visit these places yourselves as it gives you more freedom to visit other places available nearby or do any other activities offered there.
Day 3: Ljubljana’s Museums
The last day is dedicated to Ljubljana’s museums and galleries. The city has a wide variety of museums from history to art to architecture. Below, I list some of the museums but feel free to add or remove museums based on your interests. All museums are open from 10 am to 6 pm and require 1-2 hours to see the exhibitions. Note that Ljubljana Card includes many of these museums.
10:00 Plečnik’s House
The first museum of the day is Plečnik’s House. The museum has a permanent exhibition about the life and work of Plečnik’s, as well as temporary exhibitions relating to him. You can visit the parts of the building that used to be his house, only in guided tours which run through the end. Before leaving don’t forget to go for a stroll in the gardens of his home.
Find out more about Plečnik’s House here.
11:30 City Museum of Ljubljana
The City Museum of Ljubljana features permanent and temporary exhibitions about the capital of Slovenia. One of the permanent exhibitions looks at the history of the city from the prehistoric ages to the present. The temporary exhibitions change every few months and their topics range from religion to history to art.
Find out more out the City Museum of Ljubljana here.
On your way to the next museum, stop for lunch around Jurčičev trg or Stari trg across the river.
I had my lunch break at Gujžina which had a sign of a traditional eastern Slovenian dessert and I couldn’t resist. I swapped my lunch for a piece of Prekmurska Gibanica and it was delicious. The dessert is made of strudel dough, poppy seeds, walnuts, cottage cheese and apples. If you are interested in their main dish options, they serve traditional Slovenian dishes adapted for vegetarians and vegans.
14:00 National Museum of Slovenia | Natural History Museum of Slovenia
The National Museum of Slovenia focuses on the history of Slovenia, with rooms for different periods. One of the most important exhibits of the museums is the Neanderthal flute, which is said to be the oldest musical instrument in the world. The collection then continues with the Iron Age and the Roman Empire.
At the same building, you can also find the Natural History Museum of Slovenia. So, if you prefer natural history instead of history you can explore the exhibitions of this museum instead. The permanent exhibitions include discplays of mammoth’s skeletons, minerals, conches as well as information about plants and animals.
15:30 National Gallery of Slovenia | Museum of Modern Art
Next in the list are National Gallery of Slovenia and the Museum of Modern Art. Feel free to choose whichever museum you prefer, or visit both if you have time.
The National Gallery of Slovenia houses the largest art collection in the country. The art pieces range from the Middle Ages to 20th-century art and come from European and Slovenian artists. This is where you will also find the Roba Fountain.
A minutes’ walk from the National Gallery is the Museum of Modern Art. This museum houses permanent collections of artists from the previous century, as well as temporary exhibitions of modern art forms.
16:30 Tivoli Park
Tivoli Park is the largest park of Ljubljana and with a great selection of trails and green spaces. Enter the park through the Jakopič Promenade (designed by Plečnik) and continue your way towards Tivoli Castle. On the promenade you will often find a photography exhibition. Walk around the Ribnik lake, or take a short break at one of the benches, before heading to the next museum.
17:00 National Museum of Contemporary History
The National Museum of Contemporary History is the last museum for the day. It is housed at Cekin Mansion in Tivoli Park. The permanent exhibition of the museums covers important events in the history of Slovenia that happened in the previous century. It includes information about the two world wars, the technology revolution, the Ten-Day War which granted Slovenia its independence and more. Temporary exhibitions may also be available.
Find out more about the National Museum of Contemporary History here.
Find a nice place to spend your last evening in Ljubljana. Nebotičnik, the Slovene word for Skyscraper, is one of the tallest buildings in Ljubljana. The building is over 70m tall, and when it was built in 1933 it used to be the tallest building in the Balkans.
As you can guess, Nebotičnik has a restaurant with views of the city. The restaurant is on the 12th floor and has local and international dishes. The building also has a cafe and night club, open until late.
Walking route directions
P.S. My original plan did not include visiting so many museums in the last day. Instead, I was going to visit Škocjan Caves, Lipica Stud Farm and Piran on a tour which was eventually cancelled as I was the one one who signed up! 🤷♀️
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