When you hear the country's capital city you probably think about stunning architecture, numerous museums and galleries, churches, delicious food in the restaurants, but you probably don't think about hiking.
Well, Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, is a green gem of Europe offering active and unique opportunities to embark on hiking trips inside the city area.
There is no doubt Ljubljana is one of the greenest cities in the world. The city boasts an astounding per capita green space provision of 542 square metres, some of which can even be found in the heart of the historic city centre. Lush green and wooded areas offer a perfect opportunity for active holidays in the city.
It is a green and active city with a vibrant culinary scene, wealth of museums and galleries to explore, and tours and trips to take within the city or nearby. Time to make you plan for the future travels!
We’ve collected the TOP 10 activities in Ljubljana to have the ultimate active holidays in the city:
First Impressions of the City
When arriving in Ljubljana make sure to stop by Ljubljana Tourist Information Center (Adamič-Lundrovo nabrežje 2, 1000 Ljubljana), take the city map, say hi to the welcoming staff, get all the tourist information you need, buy Ljubljana Card and book a tour to get to know the city.
Purchasing a Ljubljana Card will help you save on entrance prices to over 20 of Ljubljana’s top attractions as well as cover a bicycle hire, access to wi-fi, bus transportation costs around the city and to the airport. All major things to do in Ljubljana will be covered.
To get familiar with the city's streets it is best to book a guided tour in the begining of your trip. Would you rather explore the city on foot, by bike, perhaps by boat? Ljubljana offers many interesting options which are thematically different and tailored to different interests. Check the guided tours here and let the pleasant stroll through the city begin!
Get to Know the City's Main Attractions
The picturesque image of the centre of Ljubljana has been marked by different historic periods and most notably by the works of the world-famous architect Jože Plečnik. Take a walk through the Ljubljana Old Town, be amazed by the Baroque and Art Nouveau buildings and visit Ljubljana Castle, the city's main attraction. You can reach the castle by funicular railway or climb it on foot. The castle's tower and ramparts offer the most beautiful views of the city.
Get your cameras ready while visiting the Prešernov trg Square, the heart of the historic Ljubljana. It includes three of the most recognizable images of Ljubljana: the pink facade of the Franciscan Church, the monument to the Slovenian poet France Prešeren, and the Plečnik`s Triple Bridge.
Another picture perfect spot is the famous Fountain of the Three Carniolan Rivers (Robba Fountain) standing in front of the Town Hall. The baroque masterpiece is the work of the renown sculptor Francesco Robba.
And last, don’t forget to meet the dragons on the Dragon bridge and find out why Ljubljana is also called the Dragon City. It is considered that if you did not take a photo with the dragon, you were not really in Ljubljana.
Cycle Around the City and Chill in Park Tivoli
Ljubljana is the cyclists’ idea of a city. Its' centre is car-free and the network of bike paths and circuits is constantly expanding. No bike? No problem! Bikes can be rented literally all over town. You can join the locals and rent one from Bicikelj, the city's bike sharing system or you can hire one in the Ljubljana Tourist Information Center for a very affordable price. Ljubljana Card holders are entitled to free four-hour bicycle hire.
Make sure to make a stop in the largest city park, Tivoli. Ljubljana’s central park is a popular place for socialising and relaxing. There you will find joggers, walkers, slackliners, yoga practicioners, kids enjoying the playgrounds, mini golfers, and people taking rests on the grass enjoying the parks’ charming tranquillity. You can also sit down in a popular café called Čolnarna next to the park's pleasant green fish pond area.
Tivoli Park is crisscrossed with walking and recreational paths that continue into the slopes of Rožnik hill and allow an escape to nature from the centre of the city.
Hike in the City
There are not many cities where the old town centre offers you a hike through the woods to the top of a hill, but Ljubljana has it all.
The network of hiking trails starts spreading out from the city centre and becomes more and denser as we move outwards. The green hearts of the city are the Rožnik and Šišenski hrib Landscape Park, Golovec, Rašica and the popular Šmarna gora (Mt. Saint Mary), the scenic "roof of Ljubljana" with the city’s favourite viewpoint. At the summit of Šmarna gora you can indulge in a snack or lunch at Gostilna Ledinek, with a menu consisting of traditional Slovene dishes.
Visit Central Market and Have a Picnic
The central market is the heart of any city. This is certainly true of Ljubljana market, which was designed by renowned architect Jože Plečnik. It is more than just a place to shop. Traditionally, it has also been a place for the locals to meet and enjoy themselves together. Taste some seasonal produce from local farmers and growers, have a little chat with them and buy the ingredients for your picnic.
Luckily Ljubljana has plenty of relaxing hidden spots for treating yourself to a picnic. You can relax on the Trnovski pristan embankment, up on the castle hill, in the Tivoli Park or park Špica, etc.
Paddle Through the City Center
The river Ljubljanica, with its interesting bridges and picturesque old city centre embankments, is one of Ljubljana's most notable landmarks. The heart of Ljubljana's social life are the Ljubljanica river embankments, densely scattered with lively cafés offering outdoor seating. A good way to see the old city centre and its famous bridges, picturesque buildings and vibrant embankments from a completely different angle is to join a tourist boat cruise along the river.
However, the Ljubljanica with its bridges is much more than just photogenic. It offers unique experiences which you simply must try. In the summer you can treat yourself to an exciting water session in the very centre of Ljubljana and see the city from a different angle by taking a sup or a kayak tour.
Jog Through the City Center
Believe it or not, SightJogging is a real thing and is getting more popular year by year. Ljubljana with it's wide streets and squares is perfect for a pleasant run.
If you’re a runner you can combine your morning run with exploring the streets of the city. No worries, the lovely Ljubljanica River will show you the way. If you’re in good condition you can also run up to the castle hill. You can also take your run on the Path of Remembrance and Comradeship, which encircles Ljubljana, symbolizes dedication to a healthy lifestyle while at the same time serving as a reminder of the city's history. It runs along the 32.5-kilometre long course of the military barbed-wire fence which surrounded Ljubljana during the Second World War. We assure you that if you complete the whole circuit, you will be ready to participate in Ljubljana Marathon in autumn.
According to our calculations, during a one hour jog you will burn off 803 kilocalories, which equals about two cakes. Speaking of cakes, make sure reward yourself with Stolp cake in Lolita. You deserve it!
Don't Forget to Explore the Ljubljana Region
If you have any time left we suggest you don't just enjoy the city but instead take a trip off the beaten path and discover the surrounding Ljubljana Region. The city of Ljubljana is surrounded by fascinating smaller cities, lush nature and many, many opportunities for unforgetatable adventures.
You’ll wonder if you landed in Hobbit’s kingdom in the truly unique traditional herdsmen’s village on Velika planina. If you're more into adrenaline adventures we suggest you visiting the Geoss Adventure Park in the village of Slivna, which offers treetop climbing adventures, a giant zip line and a unique opportunity to spend a night in the treetops. Cave enthusiasts will be able to admire the beauty of the Mayor's Cave (Županova jama) located near the village of Cerovo. It consists of six chambers and a wealth of marvellous stalagmites, stalactites and other typical karst features. If you like hiking and cycling make sure to visit Polhov Gradec Dolomites as well and embark on exploration of the most photogenic hill in the Ljubljana area - Sveti Jakob or the hill once visited by royalty, Polhograjska Gora. If you're there, make sure to stop by the Polhov Gradec Mansion. You will not return empty-handed as the hosts will not let you leave without a Bundle of Delights from Count Blagaj’s land. If you are interested in history and the pile-dwellers unique culture, Ljubljana Marshes are the place for you. Due to its amazing natural diversity and rich heritage it is listed as UNESCO World Heritage.
Explore the Vibrant Culinary Scene
Ljubljana is full of surprises not the mention their splendid culinary scene. The city's culinary offer is strongly characterised by seasonal, locally produced ingredients. Culinary adventurers can find a rich and diverse range of foods to suit all tastes and all pockets.
We suggest you go for the local flavours and taste traditional dishes with a modern make-over represented by the Taste Ljubljana brand. Renowned Ljubljana chefs such as Igor Jagodic (Strelec), Jorg Zupan (Atelje) and Bine Volčič (Bistro Monstera), among others, have creatively adapted old recipes to contemporary trends.
For trying some local street food we suggest Klobasarna where you will be able to try a a traditional Slovene speciality – Carniolan sausage. Another affordable way of trying Slovenian cuisine is visiting the Moji štruklji Slovenije, where they serve up a daily range of more than 20 different types of štruklji – boiled strudel – with creamy or classic fillings and toppings.
To start your day healthy, we are sure Ljubljana breakfast will get you ready for your long day of exploring the city. Check Bistro EK or Slovenian House and try the most important meal of the day from top quality local and seasonal ingredients.
Take a Look at the City's Top History and Art Museums
Last but not least, mix up your active adventure with visiting at least one museum or if you are more into arts, a gallery. Trust us, you will not regret it.
In the National Museum of Slovenia you will discover the rich heritage of diverse history, and see the 60,000-year-old Neanderthal flute, which is the oldest musical instrument in the world. You can check the permanent exhibition of the City Museum of Ljubljana which shows the development of the city of Ljubljana from the prehistoric period to the present day. In the museum are especially proud of two findings – the world’s oldest wooden wheel and a wooden arrow that is about 40,000 years old. Exceptional collections of technical heritage are on display at the Technical Museum of Slovenia in Bistra plus you can admire Tito's limos there.
Ljubljana is also the city of an exceptional artistic life. Its rich legacy is complemented by a lively contemporary art scene. The National Gallery holds mainly older iconic works of art, such as works of Baroque artists, the Slovenian impressionists, and paintings of Ivana Kobilica and Zoran Mušič. The adjacent Museum of Modern Art represents artistic phenomena of 20th and 21st century, if you like to meet Eastern European avan-garde artists check the Museum of Contemporary Art (MSUM) Metelkova.
There you have them, the top ten activities for the unforgettable adventure in a beautiful city of Ljubljana. The city is maybe one of the smallest capitals of Europe, but it’s huge in terms of the variety of what you can do, see and taste there.
If you are looking for an active holidays combined with rich gastronomic experiences and a thriving cultural scene Ljubljana is with no doubt the right place for you.