Ljubljana is the capital of Slovenia and the largest city in the country.
Legend says that Ljubljana was founded by Jason, the hero of Greek mythology, and the Argonauts. Jason stole the golden fleece from King Aeetes and fled back home to the Adriatic coast. On their way Jason encountered a dragon, which he defeated and killed.
Dragon symbols have been present in Ljubljana since then. In ancient times, the dragon was present on medieval coat of arms as decoration, but later it assumed a more central position. Nowadays, the dragon is the symbol of the city. From its initial portrayal as a monster, it gradually transformed into a protector full of courage and wisdom. You will see dragons everywhere around the city.
This unique fairy tale look alike city is worth a visit. It is colorful, lively, small and stunning. You can just stroll and explore it without planning everything in advance. However, I highly recommend you to take part in a free tour. They will explain you more about the history of the city and the country, and you will see amazing spots.
But, how can such a small city have amazing spots?
Well, let me tell you that the vibrant old town is full of ancient buildings, pedestrian-only streets and lot of history. In this post, I want to share with you some of my favorite places in Ljubljana. Ready?
The City Center
Get lost in the old town of Ljublana. Stroll along the pedestrian-only street that lines the river, enter the central marke to try some local products, go for a drink or a coffe to Cankarjevo Nabrezje or have a walk in Park Zvezda.
Visit the central square in Ljubljana, Preseren Square, and the pink colored Franciscan Church of the Annunciation. You can go inside and have a look at the frescoes. During summer time, most of the free tours start from this point.
By the way, if you are interested trying traditional Slovenia food and local beer, I highly recommend you to stop by Gostilna Sokol. An ancient restaurant where you can taste regional food.
As I previously said, dragons are present all around the city, but mostly in Ljubljana’s ancient bridges.
Triple Bridge (Tromostovje)
Although it can sound kind of weird to have three bridges sitting side by side, there is a logical explanation for this.
Around 1840 the central bridge was created to replace the original, ancient medieval one, which was made of wood. This central bridge was opened to motorized traffic back then. Therefore, some years later, two pedestrian bridges where built on either side of the central one. And so, the Tripel Bridge was formed.
It was not until the year 2011 when motorized traffic was banned to drive the central bridge, making all three bridges pedestrians only.
The Dragon Bridge (Zmajski Most)
The Dragon Bridge replaced an old wooden bridge from 1819 and it is a unique creation considered a special piece of technical heritage. It is adorned with statues of fierce dragons and its uniqueness makes this place one of the most photographed spots in the city.
The Butcher’s Bridge, built in 2010, is Ljubljana’s love bridge. Countless lovers symbolically padlock their love and drop the keys into the river as a symbol of eternal love.
All around the bridge you will see unique large statues and small sculptures created by Jakov Brdar.
A green oasis some minutes away from the old town. Tivoli park is the largest green area in Ljubljana. Stroll around its botanical gardens, enjoy the view of the lake and have some rest surrounded by nature.
Cathedral of St. Nicholas
Inside the cathedral you can see unique frescoes decorating the ancient building. Outside, the cathedral is full of bronze sculptured doors with reliefs illustrating scenes from Slovenia history.
If you decide to take a free tour, you will learn some interesting facts about the doors and the different illustrations.
On the green hill in the middle of the city, behind the ancient walls, you can see Ljubljana Castle. Over the centuries, the castle has played an important role and remained a city symbol.
Built in the middle of the 15th century, the castle has become a popular tourist destination. In fact, it offers an outstanding view over the city. My recommendation? Visit it in the evening and enjoy a magical sunset from the top of the tower.
Although surprising, you don’t have to pay anything to enter the castle courtyard. Opened from 10.00 am to 18.00 pm, it is easy to reach walking up the hill or by taking the funicular. Both options are amazing. I took the funicular to go up, and I walked down the hill to go back to the old town.
Other interesting spots
Outside the old town you can find Neboticnik. It is a skyscraper with a rooftop terrace from where you can enjoy stunning views of the entire city. To come up there you do not need to pay anything, just if you order something in the bar.
Zitni Most Bridge
This part of the city is really beautiful if you want to discover a less touristic area. In fact, I had a great time here since it was a lively area but more quiet than the old town. Locals were chilling around and I enjoyed a tasty brunch at Ek Bistro.
Traditional Slovenia Food
Another great place I found to try traditional Slovenian dishes is Slovenska Hisa – Figovec, a restaurant not far away from Neboticnok tower where I tasted delicious traditional dishes and desserts. Highly recommended!
Have you ever been to Ljubljana? What did you like the most? Is there any other recommendation you would like to do?
In case you want to share your experience, feel free to leave a comment below or to contact me via social networks. I am always thrilled to read your adventures!