Is Ljubljana Worth Visiting? 13 Reasons to Visit the Dragon City in 2024

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Is Ljubljana worth visiting? Yes! Ljubljana is a hidden gem in Slovenia and worth it for anyone loving fewer crowds and a magical historic atmosphere.

I visited Ljubljana (loo-blee-AH-nah) for several days in December during Advent. It was wonderful to be in the “Dragon City” during the lively Advent season.

Ljubljana is only a couple of hours by bus from Rijeka, Croatia (where I was living) and only 1.5 hours from Trieste, Italy.

I walked through the entire historic center and to the castle more than once and visited most of the landmarks and attractions. Here are my takeaways:

👉 Ljubljana In a nutshell:

  • Unique and beautiful streets and architecture
  • Fewer tourists
  • Easy to get around and communicate with locals
  • Excellent restaurants and food scene.
Image of a canal in Ljubljana at sunset with buildings in the background

When To Visit Ljubljana

The best time to visit is in the pleasant spring (April to June) or early autumn (September to October), when outdoor cafes and parks come alive.

As I mentioned, Ljubljana during Advent (December and January) is also delightful with the city decked out in lights and Christmas markets.

Even though it was quite cold at times, hundreds of people were out each night eating, singing, shopping at markets and dancing.

Image of a Ljubljana square at wintertime with lights and decorations

Ljubljana is easy to access, just an 80-minute drive from Trieste, Italy, and a two-hour drive from Zagreb, Croatia’s capital.

👉 If you are thinking of going to Trieste, here are some reasons to visit Trieste and things to do in Trieste.

13 Reasons Why Ljubljana is Worth Visiting

I don’t see any reason why someone would not visit Ljubljana.

The crowds are less than in most European capitals, the restaurant scene in Ljubljana is excellent and varied, it’s easy to walk, the city is quite beautiful, the people are friendly and speak English and the architecture is unique and gorgeous.

What’s not to like? 😉

1) Ljubljana Castle and Its Rich History

Ljubljana Castle, one beautiful reason you should visit the city

Ljubljana Castle sits overlooking the city. It is the key landmark of Ljubljana and was originally a fortress likely dating back to the 11th century.

Inside you find an interesting museum exhibition on Slovenian history, a puppet museum, and a few historical rooms including the prison.

These are worthwhile to see but the main attraction, in my opinion, is the 360-degree views of the city.

View from Ljubljana Castle through a window

I took this photo from inside the castle looking out onto Preseren Square and the famous (pink) Franciscan Church.

2) The Triple Bridge

Image of the famous triple bridge in Ljubljana

Designed by the renowned architect Jože Plečnik, the Triple Bridge is an architectural marvel made of three bridges converging at Preseren Square.

In the background is the famous “pink building” of Ljubljana, the Franciscan Church of the Annunciation.

3) The National Museum of Slovenia

The National Museum of Slovenia is home to an extensive collection of historical, artistic, and archaeological treasures.

Image of carvings outside the national museum of slovenia

Noteworthy is the extensive history of Slovenia, a Stone Age flute and the wonderful ceiling frescoes. The museum’s architectural beauty is a work of art in itself.

4) Easy to navigate the city

Image of Ljubljana bridge

Ljubljana is designed for walkers, with a pedestrian-friendly layout and a laid-back atmosphere.

Getting around the city is easy, and many people speak English which makes a visit even smoother.

5) Tivoli Park and Tivoli Castle

Tivoli Park, Ljubljana Slovenia. One of the beautiful places that make Ljubljana worth visiting

Tivoli Park, Ljubljana’s largest green area, has a sprawling area for locals and visitors to unwind and enjoy the outdoors. Stroll among vibrant flower beds, relax by tranquil ponds and admire outdoor sculptures.

The park is also home to the Tivoli Castle, which houses the International Center of Graphic Arts.

6) Ljubljana Marshes

The Ljubljana Marshes are a tranquil, unspoiled natural area just a few minute’s drive from the city. This is a unique ecosystem that birdwatchers and nature lovers would enjoy.

7) Excellent Restaurants

restaurants in Ljubljana's downtown center

Ljubljana has an amazing variety of wonderful restaurants. It’s a bit of a foodie mecca in Slovenia.

Slovenian cuisine is a delightful fusion of Central European traditions. In Ljubljana, you find traditional dishes such as potica (nut roll) and Štruklji (rolled dumplings) at local restaurants and speciality markets.

Young chefs have returned from abroad, so you have excellent creative fusions of traditional dishes with modern interpretations.

8) Beautiful churches

the famous pink church in Ljbuljana

Ljubljana has many beautiful churches, each with its own unique character.

St. Nicholas’ Cathedral, the Church of St. James, and the famous Franciscan Church of the Annunciation (pictured), known for its beautiful pink façade designed by Jože Plečnik, are some of the main religious landmarks.

9) Cultural heritage

Ljubljana is a cultural treasure trove with a variety of museums in addition to the National Museum listed above:

10) Traditional wine and mead

traditional mead ljubljana, one of the delicacies that make Ljubljana worth visiting

Slovenia’s viticulture tradition is centuries old. Wine lovers can try local and regional wines at cosy wine bars or take a day trip to the nearby wine regions.

Above is a traditional drink made from honey, fermedica, sold at the Christmas market.

I bought several of the “fermedica” for friends and family.

👉 Local Story: I spoke for a long time to one of the sons of the owner of this family business. They raise the bees, process their honey and distil the alcohol for the traditional “medicinal” honey mead. He told me their elder uncle drinks it every morning throughout the winter.

11) Friendly citizens

The warmth and hospitality of the locals are a defining feature of Ljubljana. People are friendly and welcoming and made me feel at home.

English was spoken almost everywhere I went, making it easy to communicate and get directions. The tourist office is also very helpful.

12) Ancient Dragon Lore

Image of a statue of an ancient dragon in ljubljana

Ljubljana is the city of dragons! Jason of Jason and the Argonauts is by legend said to have founded the city when he slew a dragon in a nearby lake.

Dragons have been a symbol of the city since ancient times, now you see them on the dragon bridge and countless branded products around town.

13) Lake Bled

the famous lake bled in Ljubljana

While Lake Bled isn’t within Ljubljana’s city limits, it’s a short and picturesque drive away. This stunning glacial lake, complete with an island and medieval castle, is the stuff of fairytales.

Taking a traditional pletna boat to the island and ringing the wishing bell adds a touch of enchantment to your visit.

👉 Here is a good quality tour of Lake Bled and Bled Castle

Where to Stay in Ljubljana

These hotels are hand-picked with a focus on quality, character and location.

📍Budget Option:  B&B Hotel Ljubljana Park. Eco-friendly, urban hotel committed to sustainability. Bar and restaurant with Slovenian and international dishes from local produce. They offer a 15% discount for people arriving by train if you book directly from their website. Also, they raise bees on the roof as part of the national Bee Path initiative.

📍Mid-Range Option:  Hotel Heritage. Four-star boutique hotel in a 400-year-old historic building. Excellent location in medieval center on a quiet unique street. Minutes walk to major sites in the centre.

📍Luxury Option: Zlata Ladjica Boutique Hotel. Five-star newly renovated boutique hotel on the river in the historic centre. 15 uniquely designed rooms linked to the history of the region. Full concierge service, restaurant on site.

👉 See my post, Where to Stay in Ljuljana: 8 Best Areas, for more lodging choices and info on where to stay in the city.

FAQ’s about Ljubljana

a beautiful canal in Liubljana

Questions and answers about Ljubljana based on my time there and further research.

Is Ljubljana good for tourists?

Yes. Ljubljana is easy to walk around and has many good restaurants and hotels.  

How many days do you need in Ljubljana?

One day is enough to see the medieval centre, the castle and the churches. In two days you could take a day trip to Lake Bled and/or visit the Tivoli park and castle.

Is it better to stay in Lake Bled or Ljubljana?

Ljubljana is better for most people because it is much larger and has more to see and do. Lake Bled is tiny but good for people who want to explore the lake and hike.

What is special about Ljubljana?

The ancient dragon lore and dragon bridge, the triple bridge, and the ancient and colorful architecture. Also, it is less crowded than most European capitals and has a suprisingly excellent and varied restaurant scene.

Summary – Why Visit Ljubljana

A beautiful street in the beautiful Ljubljana, which is absolutely worth visiting

Ljubljana is a city where history, culture, and nature converge. It’s a hidden gem with the charm of a European capital and without overwhelming crowds.

Ljubljana is worth seeing for the fairy-tale-like experience of walking through old streets and architecture with dragons to boot! It’s an experience that feels like being in a movie set that makes you feel part of its story.

After all, that’s why we travel!