Things to do in Ljubljana: Your ultimate city guide

If you are looking to explore Ljubljana and Lake Bled, the gems of Slovenia, here are our recommendations. Discover what to see, where to go, how to get around, and where to stay.

People often overlook Slovenia for their next holiday getaway.  It’s no surprise as this small country of 2 million inhabitants is mainly unknown, despite its rich history.  It’s not that visible on Instagram.  It’s not on many bucket lists.  But, to be honest, that’s the great part about it.  You can discover its beauty all for yourself!

Ljubljana, the country’s capital is a small and quaint city.  There’s plenty to explore here, but it’s also a great place to unwind and relax.  It has a bit of everything for everyone, from castles to dragons to fairytale day trips.  So here’s how to spend a quick 48-hours here.

A view of the city from Ljubljana castle in Ljubljana, Slovenia
A view of the city from Ljubljana castle

The people of Ljubljana are laid-back, friendly and often smiling for no reason.  Though we can’t really blame them.  We would be smiling too if we lived in such a cute city… especially considering its abundance of bars and outdoor terraces.

Ljubljana is a small town.  Pretty much everything you want is walking distance from the centre of the old town.  The streets are lined with delicious restaurants, cute boutiques and don’t be surprised if you stumble upon a market or two.  You can criss-cross the canals, get lost walking around a maze of streets, fully taking in the beauty of this place.

When to go

If you’re looking for heat, festivals and tons of outdoors drinking and eating, the summer is the best time to check out Ljubljana.  The city comes to life with festivals drawing in tons of tourists.  Just note that it does get quite crowded then.

If you want to enjoy warm and sunny weather, without tons of tourists, May and September are awesome for that.  When we were there in November, the weather was cold but still bearable.  And if you want to check out the Christmas markets, head there in December.

What to do

As we mentioned, there isn’t a ton to do here, which is why two days is the perfect amount of time to see what we’ve lined out.  It includes a trip to Lake Bled and a day in Ljubljana.  However, if you want to make two day trips from the capital, consider spending a third day.

Ljubljana castle

Perched on top of a hill, the Ljubljana castle keeps a watchful eye on the city.  You can take the funicular up for 2.20 euros (or 4 euros for both ways).  If you want to get a little workout in, there are also stairs to get up there.

It’s free to stroll around the castle and in courtyard.  If you want to check out the museum or go inside the castle, you will need to pay an entrance fee.

The courtyard at the Ljubljana castle in Ljubljana, Slovenia
The courtyard at the Ljubljana castle in Ljubljana, Slovenia

From the castle, you can get beautiful views of the city.  We loved walking around the grounds at night, seeing the lights of Ljubljana sparkle in the darkness.

The bridges of Ljubljana

One of our favourite things to do in Ljubljana was walking around the canals and crossing all the famous bridges in the city.  A map could be helpful (but you really don’t need one).  Just walk around the Ljubljanica River, you will cross them all!

Locks on the bridge of love in Ljubljana, Slovenia
Locks on the Mesarski bridge (or as Derek calls it, the bridge of love)

Dragon Bridge

By far, the coolest bridge we’ve seen in a while.  Pointing you toward the Ljubljana castle, this bridge is guarded by four dragons.  That’s one more than the Khaleesi, making this bridge even cooler (especially for us Game Of Thrones fans).

The Dragon Bridge dates back to 1888, and was built in honour of the 40th anniversary of Emperor Franc Jožef I.  It’s our favourite bridge in Ljubljana.

Cobbler’s bridge

This is a decent bridge, with cool columns, but what makes it interesting is how it got its name.  The Cobbler’s bridge is actually one of the oldest bridges crossing the Ljubljanica River.  It dates back to at least the 13th century.

The Cobbler Bridge in Ljubljana, Slovenia
The Cobbler’s Bridge

It didn’t quite look like what it does today.  It started as a wooden bridge with butcher shops on it.  Maybe the emperor of the time was a vegetarian, because he didn’t like the stench from the meat, so he paid to have them relocated.  The butchers were replaced by shoemakers and that’s where the name come from.

If you look hard enough around the bridge, you may even find an art piece paying homage to them.

Triple bridge

We really wonder where the name for this one comes from!  Just kidding, it’s actually pretty obvious.  This bridge has three different passages.  They connect and intersect across Ljubljanica River.  Made up of white stone and ornate columns that frame diagonal stairs.  They lead to underground walkways and bars.  It’s fun crossing this bridge a few times, never on the same path!

Tromostovje bridge in Ljubljana, Slovenia
Tromostovje bridge, also known as the triple bridge

As if that doesn’t make the bridge cool enough, it’s also in a prime location.  Across the beautiful pink Franciscan Church and Prešeren Square.

Prešeren Square

Prešeren Square is the central square in the city.  It’s actually a major meeting point where they hold festivals, the Ljubljana carnival, concerts, sports, political, and protest events.  It may not have much going on while you’re there, so it’s not a must, unless you want to check out the next stop.

Cerkev Marijinega oznanjenja

This is a beautiful pink Franciscan church dominating the square.  The Franciscan Church of the Annunciation was built between 1646 and 1660, and actually replaces an older church that was on the same site.  Its colour is symbolic of the Franciscan monastic order.  

The Cerkev Marijinega oznanjenja church in Ljubljana, Slovenia
The Cerkev Marijinega oznanjenja church

Since 2008, the church has been protected as a cultural monument of national significance of Slovenia.  Its quite imposing and beautiful so we understand why.  Just make sure you don’t follow our lead and go when it’s actually open!

Vurnikova hiša

This beautiful pink building is just so cute!  The Vurnikova hiša is one of the city’s most famous buildings.  Built in 1921, with its intricately decorated facade, it stands out from the surrounding buildings.  It’s celebrated as one of the finest examples of Slovenian national style architecture.

Vurnikova hiša in Ljubljana, Slovenia
The beautiful Vurnikova hiša

Unfortunately, the building is not open to tourists, but it sounds beautiful as much on the inside as it is on the outside.  It comes complete with a large reception hall, a glass ceiling constructed from small blue squares of glass with an inbuilt decorative strip made from various coloured bottles.  To add to it, the staircase hall, on the first and second floors, is decorated with stained-glass windows depicting geometric motifs.  Now if only we can find a way in!  Can anybody hook us up?

Central market

We just love markets.  We love seeing the locals come together, get friendly with each other, and just go on with their daily loves.  It’s always a great place to people-watch… oh, and try local food!

The Ljubljanica river near the central market in Ljubljana, Slovenia
The Ljubljanica river, with a view of the indoor market

There are 2 parts to this market.  The outdoor part in the main square, as well as the indoor part.

Cathedral of St. Nicholas

It’s hard to miss the Cathedral in Ljubljana.  Its dome dominates the cityscape but it was only built in 1842.  Originally a fake dome was painted on the arch above the centre of the cross.

Its location was originally where you could find a three-nave Romanic church.  After the fire of 1361, it was re-vaulted in the Gothic style, and then underwent several changes.  It was burnt down again in 1469.  Not such a lucky history!

Bronze doors of the Cathedral of St. Nicholas in Ljubljana, Slovenia
Bronze doors of the Cathedral of St. Nicholas

We really liked this cathedral.  The way the doors had figures melted into them, the beauty of the decor inside, the intricate design all made it very special.

The fountains & statues

Ljubljana is home to many beautiful statues and fountains.  They are littered all over town, but unfortunately for us, they are covered for winter… While I’m sure this helps to preserve them, especially in the long term, we would have loved to see them!

Cute way of preserving their fountains in the winter in Ljubljana, Slovenia
A cute way of covering up their fountains and statues in winter

Day trips

Lake Bled

Lake Bled is a fairytale land dream come true.  We’re not sure if the residents of Bled know how lucky they are to live in such a beautiful place.  We highly recommend you take a day trip there from Lake Bled and spend a whole day exploring its beauty.

A view of the Pilgrimage Church of the Assumption of Maria from Bled Castle at Lake Bled, Slovenia
A view of the Pilgrimage Church of the Assumption of Maria from Bled Castle

This is a beautiful place to walk around, no matter what time of year you go.  The lake, nestled in the valley, surrounded by mountains and cliffs is the best view you can ask for.

There’s not a ton to do here apart from the main attractions, such as the castle, the lake and island and the lookout point.

Wooden boats to bring you to the Pilgrimage Church of the Assumption of Maria at Lake Bled, Slovenia
Wooden boats to bring you to the Pilgrimage Church of the Assumption of Maria

Going up to the castle is a must.  It is beautiful and brings you back in time with things like an old fashion forge, wine cellar and print shop.  Visiting the castle will only set you back 11€ per person, definitely worth it in our opinion.

There is also a museum, which you get access to when you buy your ticket.  It’s small but interesting, so take the 20-30 minutes and check it out.

Sunflare through the gate at Bled Castle Slovenia
The beautiful gate at the Bled Castle

The best time to go is before 10 am, before the crowds start coming in.

To get to Lake Bled, get to the main bus station in Ljubljana and take the bus to Bled (platform 7). It takes about 1h20 min. Bled is the last stop and you can walk to the lake from it.

The Ljubljanica river in Ljubljana, Slovenia
The Ljubljanica river

Lake Bohinj

We didn’t have a chance to make it to Lake Bohinj, but it’s on our list for our next trip to Slovenia.  Take the sights around this beautiful lake, go hiking and just enjoy the beauty and serenity of the place.  If you are in the area, make sure you head there!

Where to stay

When in Ljubljana, we stayed at Atticus B&B, and cannot recommend it highly enough.  Equipped with dorms and private rooms, the B&B has everything you need to have an amazing stay.  Another plus, the location is perfect!  It’s close enough to everything you want to see, just a stone’s throw from the Ljubljana Castle.

The rooms are located on the last 2 floors of the building, in the attic.  But don’t expect them to be creepy like grandma’s old attic.  These rooms are beautiful.  With wooden beams and bright ceiling windows, they are so cozy.  If we could have, we would have moved in!  The beds are comfy, and we loved the multi-functional desk where we could get work done!

We adored having breakfast at the café downstairs.  We had everything we needed to get the day started on the right foot.  How can you go wrong when you’re being offered the most delicious chocolate croissants ever and a hot delicious coffee?!

The highlight of our stay however, was meeting and talking to the owner, Minca.  She was such a vibrant and sweet person.  We saw her work tirelessly to help her other guests have an amazing time in Ljubljana.  She had some great recommendations for us as well.  Talking to her, it was impossible not to leave without a smile plastered on our faces.  Minca, we hope our paths will cross again, and expect to get a postcard soon!

Where to eat

There are a ton of delicious places to eat in Ljubljana, and you have quite a selection of meals as well.  From cheap eats to super fancy meals, there’s something for everyone.  These are the two spots that we really enjoyed:

Gostilna Dela: Situated right in from of Atticus, not only is Gostilna Dela affordably priced, the food is excellent, with a menu changing every day (or so).  But what we loved most about this restaurant, is their purpose.  They offer vocational training to young people who are more vulnerable.  People without formal education, with disabilities or with special needs.  We loved this about them.  We also loved their pumpkin risotto!

Gujžina: A little more on the pricey side, Gujžina Prekmurska Gostilna is absolutely delicious.  This is where you can try traditional Slovenian food, although they specialize more in the cuisine from the northeast of the country.  They make the most amazing cheeses (we had sunflower seed and pepper), as well as melt-in-your-mouth knodels.  Their gnocchi with pumpkin seed pesto was out of this world.  We had never had pumpkin seed oil before, but after this meal, we have fallen in love, and want it on everything, all the time!

The Ljubljanica river at night in Ljubljana, Slovenia
The Ljubljanica river at night

Ljubljana and Lake Bled really stole our hearts.  We went with no expectations, but we were blown away by their beauty.  You have all the charm of Europe, in the cutest little packages!  Cozy, warm and friendly, we can’t recommend Slovenia highly enough!

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Things to do in Bratislava: Your ultimate city guide

If you are looking to explore Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, here are our recommendations. Discover what to see, where to go, how to get around, and where to stay.

As we started planning our train trip through Europe, we searched for places that not many people visit.  That’s when we came upon Bratislava.  Although it’s the capital of Slovakia, Bratislava is a cute and small town, set along the Danube River.

Surrounded by vineyards and the Little Carpathian mountains, sprinkled with forested hiking and cycling trails, Bratislava has something for everyone.  This 18th-century town is also known for its lively bars and cafes, so you know we had to go and explore it!

The view of the Grassalkovich Palace through the gate in Bratislava, Slovakia
The view of the Grassalkovich Palace through the gate in Bratislava, Slovakia

When to go

As always, it depends what you’re really into, but generally, the weather in Bratislava is the one of the warmest and driest in Slovakia.  If you want comfy (read, non-sweaty) temperatures and to explore without many tourists around, head to Bratislava at the end of March, through April & May, or in September and October.  You may even get lucky and be able to enjoy the outdoor cafe terraces!

If you’re searching for heat, then the summer months of June, July and August are the time for you to go although temps can rise between 30-40°C.  So it may not be great if you’re planning to explore tons and go hiking.

Super cool gate at the Bratislava Castle in Bratislava, Slovakia
Super cool gate at the Bratislava Castle in Bratislava, Slovakia

Finally, if you’re searching for cute Christmas markets, fun lights and tons of mulled wine to drink, Bratislava is perfect for you!  Head there at the end of November through December.  The markets in Slovakia’s capital are smaller and more quaint than those in other European cities, but that’s what adds to their charm.  Just be warned that temperatures drop pretty low, so be sure to bundle up when you go.

What to do

Bratislava is not that big of a city, but that’s what adds to its charm! If you have two full days here, you’ll be golden.  It will give you enough time to explore the Old Town and check out some cool bars and cafes.

Bratislava Castle

If you know Derek, you know he loves castles.  As soon as there is one in a city, we have to visit it!  Perched on the top of the rocky hill, the Bratislava Castle is a massive rectangular building with four corner towers.  Its size and location make it hard to miss.  It looks like a fairytale castle so it is quite impressive.

Beautiful night shot of the Bratislava Castle in Bratislava, Slovakia
Beautiful night shot of the Bratislava Castle in Bratislava, Slovakia

Although you can walk the grounds and gardens for free, you will need to pay to get into the many museums it houses.  You can also head there for sunset to get a beautiful view of the city as the sky turns all shades of sunset.

Most SNP

This is probably the coolest yet weirdest thing in Bratislava.  The UFO Bridge (or Most SNP) is the world’s longest bridge to have one pylon and one cable-stayed plane… and a UFO sitting atop it!

A view of the Most SNP/UFO bridge in Bratislava, Slovakia
A view of the Most SNP/UFO bridge in Bratislava, Slovakia

It makes the view of the city a little cooler, and if you really want to get awesome views of the castle, head up to the observation deck or the bar for a drink.  Again, sunset is a magical time to check it out.

Blue church

This is one of the most iconic spots in Bratislava, the Church of St. Elizabeth, although most lovingly call it “The Little Blue Church”.  We’ve seen quite a few churches but this one was probably the most unique and cutest.  Its intricate design make it beautiful not only from the outside, but from inside as well.

Street art

Although the street art scene started later in Bratislava than in other European countries, they have still managed to create some awesome pieces and parts of the town sprinkled with cool graffiti.

Every year, over three days in June, they have the Bratislava Street Art festival where artists tag the town with their art.  You can check them out all over the city, but mainly around Kamenné námestie.  There, you will find the fox mural.  Walking around the streets there, many other pieces will just pop up at you.

St Martin’s church

Set on the shores of the Danube, St Martin’s Cathedral is the cathedral of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Bratislava, and it’s a beauty!  It’s also the largest and one of the oldest churches in Bratislava.  You can’t miss its 85 m spire that dominates Old Town’s skyline.

Looking down on the St Martin's church from the Bratislava Castle in Bratislava, Slovakia
Looking down on the St Martin’s church from the Bratislava Castle in Bratislava, Slovakia

As most churches, it is just as beautiful inside as it is outside.  This church was especially calm and peaceful.

Old Town

This is probably the number one spot on everyone’s ‘things to do in Bratislava’ list… and we can’t blame them.  But since we do things our way, we didn’t put it first.  Derek’s love of castles always wins!

The Old town gate in Bratislava, Slovakia
The Old Town gate in Bratislava, Slovakia

Walking around the Old Town is probably the cutest thing to do here.  A maze of historic buildings, stunning architecture, quirky lanes, and depending on when you go, Christmas markets!  The streets here are lined with bars and restaurants, so there is something for everyone to enjoy.  Forget Google Maps, just wander around!

Grassalkovich Palace

Slightly out of the way, on Hodžovo námestie, near the Summer Archbishop’s Palace, The Grassalkovich Palace is a beautiful place to visit.  It’s also where the president of Slovakia calls home – Lucky guy.

The famous Grassalkovich Palace in Bratislava, Slovakia
The famous Grassalkovich Palace in Bratislava, Slovakia

We thought the architecture of the palace was stunning, especially the cool gates.  A little less cool were the hoards of pigeons hanging around… you guys know how much Carine is scared of birds!

Micheal’s Gate

Michael’s Gate is the only city gate that has been preserved of the medieval fortifications in the city,  Built in around 1300, it ranks among the oldest town buildings.  Standing tall and proud, it’s one of the iconic Bratislava icons.  It’s also where Carine fell on her butt trying to take a picture of the full thing!  Luckily, there weren’t too many people around!

Michaels gate in Bratislava, Slovakia
Michaels gate in Bratislava, Slovakia

Man at work

This is probably Bratislava’s biggest celebrity.  Cumil, or Peeper, is a bronze statue of a sewer worker resting at the top of a manhole.  They say that there are 2 possible reasons for his name.

The first rumour is that he’s a typical communist era worker, and just can’t be bothered to do his work, spending his time people-watching instead.  The other rumour is that he’s actually peeping under the women’s skirts, like a total creepster.  You can find him at the corner of Laurinská and Panská Streets in the Old Town.  Make sure to rub his head and make a wish.

The famous man at work sculpture in Bratislava, Slovakia
The famous man at work sculpture in Bratislava, Slovakia

If you like these types of statutes, you can head out and search for them all over the city.  Here’s a handy guide to help you spot them.

Old Market

If you know us, you know how much we love eating.  So we had to stop by the Old Market or Stará tržnica.  Inside this 15th-century bastion, you will find tons of local vendors selling their goods.

From fresh produce to jams, pickles and everything in between, you’ll find it here.  Some vendors also set ready-made meals that are delicious.  The only unfortunate thing is that they don’t have that much vegetarian meals to offer.

Where to eat

There are a ton of delicious places to choose from when you’re in Bratislava.  Here are some of our favourites

Urban bistro:  This bistro is right near Michael’s gate.  We went there for breakfast and loved it!  The English breakfast, as well as the vegetarian option were so good.  We also loved their Jasmine Matcha latte!

Urban house:  Sister-company to Urban Bistro, this cool resto/bar had us intrigued as soon as we walked by its doors.  Cool decor, tons of plants and plenty of vegetarian options to choose from – we were hooked.  We loved their goat cheese burger.  It was messy to eat but oh-so-delicious!

MonDieu:  Although this is a chain, how can you not walk in when you see faucets pouring insane amounts of chocolate out?!  Yeah, we loved it!   Their chocolate cups with dark chocolate are so delicious!

Five Points:  We met our friends Jen and Henry from Hoopla Adventures here for a quick bite and drinks.  The great conversation, cool vibes and chill music had us stay here… or was it the delicious mulled wine?  Hard to say!

Where to stay

While in Bratislava, we stayed at the Patio Hostel.  Although our time here was short and sweet, the conveniently located hostel had everything for a great stay.  The rooms were super spacious with comfy beds and place to hang our clothes – little things that you miss when you’re constantly on the road.

We loved working in their common room and meeting other travellers.  We also loved the fact that they offer laundry machines (including a dryer) all for free!  If you spend as much time as we do on the road, this is seriously a lifesaver!

The hostel also has tons of activities going on, from walking tours to pub crawls.  Depending on what you’re looking to do in town, the Patio Hostel will have you covered!  It’s a great option for budget travelers.

Bratislava Card

Depending on what you plan on doing in Bratislava, you may want to get the Bratislava Card.  It offers discounts on more than 100 attractions, free tours, free entry to 14 museums and galleries, as well as unlimited public transport.  We walk everywhere we go, so it wasn’t our cup of tea, but to each their own!

You can either get yours online or at one of the Tourist Information Centres in the city.

The Christmas markets being setup in the Old town of Bratislava, Slovakia
The Christmas markets being setup in the Old town of Bratislava, Slovakia

Our time in Bratislava was short and sweet.  We had only two days here, but it gave us enough time to get a taste of this cute city.  There were a few more things we wanted to check out, like the Devin castle (yes Derek, we’ll see another castle!) so we know we will be back here.  There’s also so much more of Slovakia we want to explore (and eat!).

We hope this guide will help you have a great time in Bratislava too.  Let us know if this beautiful capital is on your list!

We put a lot of time and effort into the content we create.  Please like, comment and share, every action on your part helps us out tremendously and is very much appreciated.

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There are a ton of amazing things to do and see in Bratislava, Slovakia. Here are our recommendations of what to do, where to stay, what to eat and how to get around. Tips, tricks and more to have the best time in Bratislava