Much like the whole of Slovenia, the city of Ljubljana continues to grow in popularity day by day. Even though it may be one of Europe’s smaller capital cities, Ljubljana is fun, safe and endearing. Thanks to its reputation, it’s become one of Europe’s top places to visit. You’d have to be made of stone not to fall for this picturesque little city.
Thanks to its size, seeing Ljubljana in 2 days leaves enough time for you to explore the city’s highlights and even take in a few other Slovenian sights. Following this Ljubljana itinerary you’ll learn what to do in Ljubljana in 2 days so you can make the most of your visit and encourage friends and family to visit too.
Best Time to Visit Ljubljana
One of the great things about traveling to Ljubljana is that there seems to be no wrong time to go. The city enjoys four distinct seasons, each with their own benefits and quirks. Summer is clearly the high season for both Ljubljana and Slovenia, but both see just a fraction of the crowds that descend on neighboring Italy and Croatia at this time of the year.
If you want to visit Ljubljana at a quieter time though, the months of May and September still offer good weather. Even the other months of spring and autumn have their charms, they just tend to be cooler and wetter. Ultimately, for the best sightseeing weather the best time to visit Ljubljana is from May to September.
How to Get Around Ljubljana
When visiting Ljubljana it should become immediately obvious that this is not a great big, sprawling city. The best of Ljubljana, in terms of sights and attractions, is almost exclusively found within a one kilometre radius from its central square, Prešeren Square. That means unless you’re staying well beyond the city centre, Ljubljana is a city best explored on foot.
That also goes for when you’re arriving and leaving Ljubljana. One kilometre to the north of the city centre you’ll find the Ljubljana train and bus stations. The centre might be one place you will want to reach by public transport, especially if you’re traveling with luggage, but the journey won’t be any quicker on a city bus than if you choose to walk.
Finally, there’s the act of getting between Ljubljana airport and the city centre. While taxi and private shuttles are certainly an option, the simplest and cheapest way to go to and from the airport is on the No. 28 bus. The journey takes a little under an hour, with tickets costing around €4 from the bus driver.
Accommodation in Ljubljana
With a compact city like this, the question of where to stay in Ljubljana is a relatively straightforward one. Either the Old Town or the modern city centre are going to be your best choices since you’ll have quick and convenient access to Ljubljana’s attractions, cafes and restaurants. Thus, the best places to stay in Ljubljana aren’t going to be as much about location as they are about the quality of the accommodation and the amenities and service provided.
For a stay where your every need is met, look no further than Hotel Cubo. Even the smallest detail in this elegant and modern hotel seems to have been treated with great care. Visitors here particularly appreciate the spacious rooms and tasty breakfast.
Much of Ljubljana’s mid-priced accommodation is made up of short-stay apartments, although there are exceptions like Hotel Center Ljubljana. Close to the Tivoli Gardens, the great staff and classic décor create quite the welcoming atmosphere.
You’ll also find quite a few budget options in and around the centre of Ljubljana, like H2O Hostel. Just along the river from Dragon Bridge, this clean and cozy hostel will help you save money during your trip.
For more accommodation options in Ljubljana check out Booking.com. They continuously offer the best rates and their custom service is on point.
The Perfect 2-Day Ljubljana Itinerary
No matter what you hope to get out of your time here, 48 hours in Ljubljana is all it takes to develop a meaningful appreciation of Ljubljana’s charms. Along the way, if you follow this itinerary we’ve prepared, you’ll be able to cover the best things to do in Ljubljana and avoid the dreaded feeling of FOMO. That’s because not only will we explore Ljubljana, but also make a day trip to another Slovenian highlight.
However, before we get to our Ljubljana itinerary we just wanted to remind you to purchase travel insurance. You never know what will happen and trust us, you don’t wanna get stuck with thousands of dollars in medical bills. As a wise man once said, “If you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel.” So don’t leave home without it.
We personally use and recommend SafetyWing. For only around $40 a month, it’s really a no-brainer. You can get a quick quote below:
Now, let’s get back to our Ljubljana travel itinerary, so that we can see what there is to look forward to with a trip to Ljubljana.
Day 1 in Ljubljana
With your first day in the city, you’ll have the pleasure of taking in all the best places to visit in Ljubljana. Starting in Old Town, you’ll get to see Ljubljana’s pretty riverfront and then the sights in the modern half of the city centre.
Recommendation: Book a guided tour with a local to really experience the historical city center of Ljubljana and get to know the city’s history, architecture and way of life through its major sights. We highly recommend this 2-hour guided tour.
Triple Bridge and Prešeren Square
Finding somewhere to start your visit can be a challenge in some cities, but not Ljubljana. Head for Prešeren Square and the city’s iconic Triple Bridge and you’ll be squarely at the very centre of Ljubljana, pun intended!
Surrounded by grand old buildings like the former palace of Hauptmann House and the Franciscan Church, Prešeren Square is a popular meeting point in Ljubljana. And yet, it just wouldn’t be the same were it not for the attached Triple Bridge. This group of three bridges, known as Tromostovje, link Slovenia’s Old Town with its modern half. The unconventional bridge setup is sure to attract your curiosity and is one of the city’s most heavily photographed spots.
Ljubljana Old Town
Once you cross the river from Prešeren Square you enter the Old Town of Ljubljana. While scenic, it’s fair to say that it isn’t a large old town. This is because the Old Town is essentially two long streets that run through the narrow space between the river and Ljubljana Castle.
Within the Old Town you’ll find one street that runs right along the riverbank of the Ljubljanica river and the other through from one square to the next. Along the way, it’ll take you past some pretty traditional buildings like the Ljubljana Town Hall and Ljubljana Cathedral. Make sure to look down too, as the city has some ornate manhole covers with the city’s crest among the cobblestones.
From the Old Town it’s hard to ignore the sight of Ljubljana Castle sitting above you. It is the city’s most visited attraction after all. So, let’s head up the hill to take in this historic landmark. It’s possible to reach the castle either by taking the funicular up or by taking one of the walking trails that wind their way up.
Once you’re up at this medieval castle, you’re free to explore the castle grounds and venture into its inner courtyards. With a ticket you’re able to climb up on the walls and head up the Outlook Tower for superb views out over the city below. The pristinely preserved castle also houses museum exhibits on Slovenian history. If you’re hoping to get to know Ljubljana better, then visiting Ljubljana Castle is the way to do it.
The other iconic bridge that begs a photo is Zmajski most, or in English, the Dragon Bridge. As soon as you see this bridge the origin behind its name should become clear. On each of its four corners sits an expressive bronze statue of a dragon, with other dragon figures also worked in through the bridge’s design. Since the dragon is the symbol for the city of Ljubljana, it seems an obvious motif for when the bridge was constructed in 1901.
Besides Ljubljana’s iconic pair of bridges, you’re going to want to follow the Ljubljanica river when given the chance. Although the city has built up around it a bit, the riverfront is still the perfect place to admire Ljubljana’s beauty. Even though most are businesses and shops now, the architecture of the grand old buildings and palaces give the illusion of a much larger city.
Depending on which direction you choose to follow the riverfront, you’ll be taken past Butchers’ Bridge and the Ljubljana Central Market, or down to the greener stretches to the south. If you want, you can even follow the river down to Špica Park where the two forks of the Ljubljanica meet again.
Back across the river from the Old Town lies another of the main squares in Ljubljana, Congress Square. Surrounded by buildings from Ljubljana University as well as the Holy Trinity Parish Church, this historic square is one of the more scenic areas in the newer part of the city. The square, with its leafy little park, is also a popular spot for local events. So, head here if you’re curious about what’s going on in Ljubljana during your visit.
Museum of Illusions
Although Ljubljana is home to its fair share of history museums and art galleries, it’s always nice to try something a little different. And the Museum of Illusions is definitely different! Full of optical illusions, holograms and tricks in perspective, rooms like the Anti-Gravity Room and Vortex Tunnel are both fun and informative.
The city of Ljubljana is quite a green one, much like the rest of Slovenia. Besides the park that surrounds Ljubljana Castle, the other major green space in the city is the Tivoli Park. This great big park has a formal garden about the size of the Old Town, before sprawling out into pristine woods. Visiting Tivoli Park, you can stroll along its manicured promenades that lead between several estate mansions, namely the graceful Tivoli Mansion.
Traditional Slovenian Cuisine
Since you’re in Slovenia, why not spend your first evening tasting a little bit of the local cuisine. Among Ljubljana’s many restaurants, one worth making a beeline to is Julija, in the Old Town. Not overly fancy or expensive, it is nevertheless popular, so consider making a reservation if you can. Whether you go for the beef with dumplings or pasta, make sure to follow it up with the gibanica, a layered pastry made with poppy seeds, walnut and apple.
Day 2 in Ljubljana
What’s great about a weekend in Ljubljana is that it gives you the opportunity to go beyond the city and see a little more of Slovenia. Yes, I’m talking about the chance for day trips. Since Slovenia is quite a compact country and Ljubljana is relatively central, you really have your pick. Below are some of the more common Ljubljana day trips.
Of the different day trips from Ljubljana, none is more popular than a visit to Lake Bled. Looking like something out of a fairy tale, Lake Bled is one of Slovenia’s most famous tourist destinations and one of the most beautiful winter destinations in Europe. That totally makes sense when you see photos of the place. Lying northwest of Ljubljana up near the Alps and border with Austria, Lake Bled is incredibly scenic.
First, you have a crystal clear lake surrounded by forest-covered hills with the Alps in the distance. Then there’s the Pilgrimage Church of the Assumption of Maria stranded off on an island in the middle of the lake, reachable only by quaint old boats known as pletna. Throw in a clifftop castle overlooking this all and various viewpoints you can hike to, and it’s little wonder that Lake Bled isn’t even more popular!
Postojna Cave and Predjama Castle
Slovenia is quite interesting from a geographical point of view as the country is positioned on top of a lot of karst rock, which is ideal for great big caves. So, no surprise then that caves like the Postojna Cave have been welcoming more and more visitors in recent years. With 24km of cavernous chambers and tunnels to explore in the Postojna Cave, you’ll be glad that there’s a little electric train that takes you through.
Often coupled with a visit to Postojna is the nearby sight of Predjama Castle. What makes this medieval castle unique is that Predjama is the world’s largest cave castle. It’s built across the mouth of a giant cave and there are cliffs dropping in from above. Seeing this mighty castle wedged into a gap in the rocky cliffs needs to be seen to be believed.
Travelers love heading for the coastlines of Italy and Croatia that stretch along the Adriatic Sea. Few though realize that Slovenia has its own little span of wonderful coastline. Of that coastal area, the town of Piran is surely the place to visit. This picturesque little town is full of Venetian architecture and a pleasant old world atmosphere.
Besides devouring as much fresh seafood as you can manage, Piran has a few things to do for visitors. Attractions to see include Tartini Square and the St. George’s Parish Church that watches over it, not to mention the cute little lighthouse on the point. Most popular though is sunbathing and swimming, either out by the lighthouse or over at the beach along the northern coast. If you’re craving some time by the sea in Slovenia, Piran is the place to be.
What can I say, this is what you have to look forward to with 2 days in Ljubljana. Seems like a pretty great way to spend a couple of days given the chance. What’s even more exciting is that there’s so much more of Slovenia to explore once you’ve gotten a taste.