Ljubljana, the capital city of Slovenia, is a hidden gem in the heart of Europe. With its charming old town, picturesque river, and stunning architecture, it is a must-visit destination for travellers.
However, like any other travel destination, expenses can quickly add up. That’s why it’s important to find free things to do while travelling. Not only does it help you save money, but it also allows you to immerse yourself in the local culture and experience the city in a unique way.
In this article, we will explore the best free things to do in Ljubljana, Slovenia.
Well of course Slovenia is one of the cheapest places to explore in Europe but then who doesn’t like free things?
Explore Ljubljana’s Old Town on Foot
Ljubljana’s Old Town is a pedestrian-friendly area filled with narrow cobblestone streets, colourful buildings, and charming squares. It is the heart and soul of the city, where history and culture come alive.
One of the highlights of the Old Town is the Triple Bridge, a unique architectural masterpiece that connects the Old Town with the modern part of the city. It is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike to gather and enjoy the views of the Ljubljanica River.
The Ljubljana Cathedral is another must-visit attraction in the Old Town. This remarkable Baroque-style cathedral holds great significance as one of Slovenia’s most prominent religious structures. Its breathtaking interior and majestic bell towers truly captivate the eye. Take a leisurely stroll through the cathedral to fully appreciate its exquisite artwork and intricate architecture.
Visit the Ljubljana Castle for Free
Perched on top of a hill overlooking the city, the Ljubljana Castle is an iconic symbol of Ljubljana. It has a rich history dating back to the 12th century and has served various purposes throughout the centuries, including a defensive fortress and a royal residence. Today, it is a popular tourist attraction and offers stunning panoramic views of the city.
While there is an entrance fee to access certain parts of the castle, there is also a way to visit the castle for free. Instead of taking the funicular or the tourist train, you can hike up to the castle.
The trail starts near the Old Town and takes you through a scenic forested area. It is a bit steep, but the reward is well worth it. Once at the top, you can explore the castle grounds, visit the courtyard, and enjoy the breathtaking views of Ljubljana.
Take a Stroll through Tivoli Park
Tivoli Park is a green oasis in the heart of Ljubljana. It is the largest park in the city and offers a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of the city centre. The park features beautiful fountains, sculptures, and flower beds, making it a perfect place for a leisurely stroll or a picnic.
In addition to its natural beauty, Tivoli Park also offers various recreational activities. There are jogging and cycling paths, as well as outdoor fitness equipment for those who want to stay active.
The park is also home to several cultural institutions, including the International Centre of Graphic Arts and the Museum of Contemporary History. Take some time to explore these cultural gems and learn more about Slovenian art and history.
Admire the Art at the National Gallery of Slovenia
If you’re an art lover, a visit to the National Gallery of Slovenia is a must. Located in the heart of Ljubljana, this museum houses an extensive collection of Slovenian art from the Middle Ages to the present day. The gallery showcases works by renowned Slovenian artists, as well as international artists who have influenced Slovenian art.
While there is an admission fee to access the permanent collection and special exhibitions, there are certain times when the gallery is free to visit.
On the first Sunday of every month, admission is free for all visitors. This is a great opportunity to explore the gallery and appreciate the beauty of Slovenian art without spending a dime.
Discover the City’s Street Art Scene
Ljubljana has a vibrant street art scene that adds color and character to the city’s walls. From large-scale murals to small graffiti tags, street art can be found in various neighborhoods throughout the city. It is a form of artistic expression that reflects the city’s cultural diversity and creativity.
To discover Ljubljana’s street art scene, head to the Metelkova neighborhood. This former military barracks has been transformed into an alternative cultural center and is home to numerous art galleries, clubs, and studios.
The walls of the buildings are covered in colorful murals and graffiti, creating a unique and vibrant atmosphere. Take a walk through the neighborhood and admire the street art, or join a guided tour to learn more about the artists and their work.
Learn about Slovenian History at the Museum of Contemporary History
Located in Tivoli Park, the Museum of Contemporary History offers a fascinating insight into Slovenia’s past. The museum showcases various exhibitions that explore different aspects of Slovenian history, including the country’s struggle for independence, its socialist past, and its transition to democracy.
While there is an admission fee to access the museum’s permanent and temporary exhibitions, there are certain times when the museum is free to visit.
On the first Sunday of every month, admission is free for all visitors. This is a great opportunity to learn more about Slovenian history and gain a deeper understanding of the country’s cultural heritage.
Take a Dip in the Ljubljanica River
The Ljubljanica River is one of the most iconic features of Ljubljana. It flows through the city center, dividing the old town from the modern part of the city. The river is clean and safe for swimming, making it a popular spot for locals and tourists to cool off during the hot summer months.
There are several areas along the river where you can take a dip. The most popular spot is the Špica, a riverside promenade with grassy areas and wooden piers.
It is a great place to relax, sunbathe, and enjoy the views of the city. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also rent a paddleboard or a kayak and explore the river from a different perspective.
Attend a Free Concert or Event at Congress Square
Congress Square is one of the most important squares in Ljubljana. It is surrounded by beautiful buildings, including the University of Ljubljana and the Slovenian Philharmonic.
The square is a popular gathering place for locals and tourists, especially during the summer months when various events and concerts are held.
Throughout the year, Congress Square hosts free concerts, performances, and cultural events. From classical music concerts to open-air film screenings, there is always something happening in this vibrant square.
Check the local event listings to see what’s happening during your visit and enjoy a free evening of entertainment.
Visit the Ljubljana Central Market
The Ljubljana Central Market is a bustling hub of activity and a great place to experience the local culture. Located near the Triple Bridge, it is one of the oldest markets in Ljubljana and offers a wide variety of fresh produce, local delicacies, and handmade crafts.
Take your time to explore the market and soak up the vibrant atmosphere. Sample some local cheeses, try traditional Slovenian pastries or pick up some fresh fruits and vegetables for a picnic in Tivoli Park. The market is also a great place to buy souvenirs, such as handmade ceramics, honey, and Slovenian wines.
Take a Hike up to the Šmarna Gora Hill
For outdoor enthusiasts, a hike up to the Šmarna Gora Hill is a must-do activity in Ljubljana. Located just outside the city centre, this hill offers stunning views of Ljubljana and the surrounding countryside. The hike is relatively easy and takes about an hour to reach the top.
The trail starts at the bottom of the hill and winds its way through a forested area. Along the way, you’ll pass by several viewpoints where you can stop and admire the views.
Once at the top, you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of Ljubljana, the Kamnik-Savinja Alps, and the Julian Alps. It’s a great way to escape the city and enjoy the natural beauty of Slovenia.
Explore the Ljubljana Marshes Nature Reserve
If you’re looking for a peaceful retreat away from the city, head to the Ljubljana Marshes Nature Reserve. Located just a short drive from Ljubljana, this protected area is home to diverse flora and fauna, as well as numerous walking and cycling trails.
The nature reserve offers a variety of activities for outdoor enthusiasts. You can go birdwatching and spot various species of birds, including herons, kingfishers, and marsh harriers. You can also explore the wetlands on foot or by bike and discover the unique plant life that thrives in this environment. The reserve is a haven for nature lovers and a great place to relax and unwind.
Enjoy the Views from the Nebotičnik Skyscraper Observation Deck
For panoramic views of Ljubljana, head to the Nebotičnik Skyscraper Observation Deck. Located in the city center, this iconic building offers breathtaking views of the city and its surroundings. The observation deck is located on the top floor of the skyscraper and provides a 360-degree view of Ljubljana.
While there is an admission fee to access the observation deck, there is also a way to enjoy the views for free. Instead of going up to the observation deck, head to the café on the 12th floor.
From here, you can still enjoy stunning views of Ljubljana while sipping on a cup of coffee or enjoying a meal. It’s a great way to experience the beauty of the city without breaking the bank.
Ljubljana, Slovenia offers a wealth of free activities and attractions for travelers to enjoy. From exploring the charming Old Town to hiking up to Šmarna Gora Hill, there is something for everyone to enjoy without spending a dime.
By taking advantage of these free things to do, you can experience the beauty and culture of Ljubljana without breaking the bank. So pack your bags, grab your walking shoes, and get ready to explore this enchanting city.