Ljubljana, the Green City of Legendary Dragons

Ljubljana Slovenia - The City of Dragons

Updated On: May 28, 2024 by   Ciaran ConnollyCiaran Connolly

Awarded in 2016 as the European Green Capital and located in southern central Europe, Ljubljana is the capital of Slovenia. It is a charming, tiny, but cosy city that will tempt anybody with a desire for wanderlust.

In the heart of Slovenia, Ljubljana (Liubliana) is a beautiful place that is perfect to visit all year round. However, each season offers many different activities and things to see and do in Ljubljana.

As the European Green Capital, Ljubljana offers a beautiful environment for people to appreciate and soak up. You must check out one of the free Ljubljana walking tours, which also include the beauty of the downtown area.

The city has many great things to do, whether visiting for the first time or being a recurring visitor. You’ll find plenty to entertain you on your trip. Walking downtown, you will experience an outdoor museum with magnificent statues, monuments, and buildings.

Ljubljana
Ljubljana

The Legendary Dragons of Ljubljana

Beyond its green credentials, the city is steeped in legend and folklore, with the dragon being its most iconic symbol. The story of the Ljubljana dragon is intertwined with the city’s history and cultural identity, adding a mythical dimension to its charm.

The Legend of Jason and the Argonauts

The most famous legend associated with Ljubljana dates back to ancient Greek mythology. According to the myth, Jason and the Argonauts, on their quest for the Golden Fleece, passed through the area where Ljubljana now stands. They encountered a fearsome dragon in the marshlands near the Ljubljanica River on their journey. Jason bravely fought and slew the dragon, marking where Ljubljana would eventually be established.

This legend is immortalised in various symbols throughout the city. The Dragon Bridge, adorned with four dragon statues, is one of Ljubljana’s most recognisable landmarks. These statues pay homage to the ancient legend and serve as city guardians.

The Dragon as a Symbol of Strength and Courage

The dragon holds a special place in the city’s identity, symbolising strength, courage, and resilience. It appears on the city’s coat of arms and is a prominent local art and architecture motif. The Ljubljana Castle, perched on a hill overlooking the city, features a dragon in its emblem, further cementing the creature’s significance in the city’s heritage.

Visitors throughout Ljubljana can find numerous references to dragons, from sculptures and murals to souvenirs and local businesses. The dragon’s pervasive presence adds a unique and enchanting character to the city, captivating the imaginations of residents and tourists alike.

A City Committed to Green Living

Ljubljana’s reputation as a green city is well-earned. In 2016, it was awarded the title of European Green Capital. This accolade highlights the city’s dedication to environmental sustainability and quality of life. The city’s efforts to promote green living are evident in its urban planning, transportation, and waste management systems.

Urban Planning and Green Spaces

One of Ljubljana’s most striking features is its abundance of green spaces. Over three-quarters of the city’s surface is green, with numerous parks and recreational areas. Tivoli Park, the city’s largest and most popular park, offers a serene escape with its vast lawns, manicured gardens, and wooded areas. The park also houses the Tivoli Mansion, which hosts various exhibitions and cultural events.

The city’s urban planning prioritises green living, with numerous pedestrian zones and a well-maintained network of cycling paths. The car-free city centre, introduced in 2007, has transformed the heart of Ljubljana into a pedestrian-friendly zone, encouraging walking and cycling while reducing air pollution and noise.

Sustainable Transportation

The city’s commitment to sustainable transportation is another pillar of its green credentials. The city boasts an extensive public transport system, including buses powered by natural gas, significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, the BicikeLJ bike-sharing system, introduced in 2011, has become immensely popular among residents and tourists. This initiative promotes cycling as a convenient and eco-friendly mode of transport.

The Ljubljanica River, flowing through the city centre, also contributes to sustainable transportation. Electric-powered boats offer scenic river tours, providing a low-impact way to explore the city’s picturesque waterfront.

Waste Management and Recycling

The city’s waste management system is among the most advanced in Europe. The city has achieved remarkable success in waste separation and recycling, with over 68% of its waste being recycled. The city’s “Zero Waste” goal aims to reduce the waste sent to landfills further, promoting a circular economy.

The success of the city’s waste management efforts can be attributed to extensive public awareness campaigns and the provision of convenient recycling facilities. Residents are encouraged to separate their waste into different categories, and the city provides regular collection services to ensure proper disposal and recycling.

Top Activities and Places to Visit in Ljubljana

  • The Ljubljana Castle—Walk to the city’s top and be delighted by this location’s panoramic view. Then, stop by for a delicious cup of coffee and appreciate this place’s history and art exhibitions. 
Ljubljana Castle
Ljubljana Castle
  • The Ljubljanica River – A promenade to amuse yourself with this magical view. One of the city’s notable landmarks is where you can just sit by the river and enjoy a nice picnic, read a book or take a boat tour. 
  • Zmajski most (The Dragon Bridge)—Built in 1901, this fantastic bridge features dragonfly sculptures. Dragons symbolise Ljubljana, so you shouldn’t miss taking photos with them! 
Ljubljana, Green City of Dragons
Ljubljana, Green City of Dragons
  • Prešernov trg Square with the Franciscan Church—One of Jože Plečnik’s (a renowned Slovenian architect) masterpieces is in the historic city centre. You can’t pass it by while visiting the city. 
  • The Butchers’ Bridge—Many people come here to lock a padlock with a favourite memory onto the bridge. It has often been considered the bridge of love, with many couples writing their names on padlocks, placing them on the bridge, and throwing away the key into the river, similar to the famous love lock bridge in Paris. The Butcher’s Bridge features one of the city’s main attractions.
  • The Museum of Illusions is a place to entertain the mind, educate, and experience the impossible. Suitable for all ages, it is a must-visit if you are in the city.
  • Metelkova Street (Alternative culture centre)—With various art, people, tourism, events, and exhibitions, Metelkova Street can surely draw anybody’s attention when visiting the city. 
  • Tivoli Park is Ljubljana’s most significant green space, with five square kilometres. It is home to Rožnik Hill, which helps to emphasise the meaning of green in the city with its big, beautiful trees, different fountains, and statues. It is a place where the whole family will have fun! 
  • WOOP! Ljubljana—A huge trampoline park in the city with 102 trampolines, WOOP is an award-winning destination you should not miss. It’s a perfect activity for children visiting the city; they are sure to have lots of fun here, as are adults.
  • City Museum of Ljubljana – Last but not least, a place that offers new visions into this remarkable city’s past, present and future. History buffs are sure to love this place with its wealth of information on offer.

Where to Eat in Ljubljana?

Ljubljana offers diverse restaurants, from traditional Slovenian food to international cuisine. In the city centre, you will easily find Asian, Mexican, Italian, Indian, Balkan, and other cuisines.

Slovenian traditional food is delicious and something you must try when you are there. Some may joke about Slovenians being proud of their wine and sausages. But to be honest, this is true: Slovenian cold meat products are delicious. If you are looking for proper traditional food, we recommend you visit the following places:

  • Restaurant Čompa
  • Klobasarna
  • Restaurant Špaiza

International food:

  • Restaurant Valvasor
  • Pop’s place
  • Julja
  • El Patron
  • Valvas’or
  • Robba

Slovenian sweets are distinctive and tempting. Some typical Slovenian desserts are kremšnica, a deliciously creamy vanilla dessert, and Gibanica, a layered pastry with walnuts, raisins, apples, and other delicious ingredients. In general, Slovenian desserts are exquisite.

If you are looking for something sweet and a good cup of coffee or tea, you should not lose the chance to visit these best cafes in the city:

  • Romeo
  • Čajna Hiša (tea house)
  • Lolita
  • Zvezda
  • Cacao
  • Cafetino
  • Črno Zrno

Nightlife In The City

Ljubljana
Ljubljana
  • Cirkus Club: With its unique, crazy atmosphere and excellent music selection, it is at the top of our recommendations list.
  •  Top Six Club: Located on the top of a building in the city, the view from the top of the building will amaze you.
  • Shooters: This bar offers reasonable prices and quality music and is open during the week! An interesting fact about this bar is that it only has female bartenders.
  • Cvetličarna: Hosts different event styles and is one of the biggest clubs in the city.
  • Parliament Pub: is considered a must-go “pre-party” location in the city. Enjoy the great atmosphere and relaxed style that the place offers.

Private Tours

  • Roundabout Tours offers tours of everything from beer experiences to biking in the city.
  • LjubljanaYum is for you if you want to eat like a local with a local. On this tour, you’ll enjoy fantastic food.
  • The boat Ljubljanica is a wooden boat tour offering regular tourist rides and private river cruises.
  • The Moustache Tour is hosted by the three leading figures of Slovenian history: Jože Plečnik, Ivan Cankar, and Rihard Jakopič. They will guide you through Ljubljana’s beautiful streets to the city’s key secrets.

Where to Stay in Ljubljana?

Many options are available, from Airbnb to hotels and hostels, so you will find the right fit to spend the night.

If you have a tight budget, here are a few of the many options to choose from:

Hostels

Hotels

  • Grand Hotel Union
  • Urban Hotel
  • Hotel Park
  • City Hotel Ljubljana
  • M Hotel

Transportation and the Ljubljana Card

The city has excellent transportation services. One journey bus fare is only €1.20. This allows you to go around for 90 minutes no matter how many buses you may need to change to reach your final destination.

The Ljubljana Travel Card entitles you to:

  • Free travel on city buses.
  • One regular guided tour of the city.
  • 24 hours of WiFree Ljubljana.
  • A free tourist boat cruise.
  • One free funicular to Ljubljana Castle.

The validity of this card is 24, 48 or 72 hours, and it starts once the card is activated for more information about this.

Winter Events

  • Christmas Markets:

Four Christmas markets are held in its historic city centre to enjoy the city’s cheerful atmosphere during this time of the year.

  • Christmas Cribs:

Depicting the birth of Jesus.

  • Tour of the festively decorated Ljubljana:

Ljubljana is ranked among the most attractive European capitals, and its December illuminations and Christmas fair are not to be missed.

  • Ice skating in Ljubljana:

It is a beautiful place to go ice skating in the city centre.

Another excellent place to enjoy ice skating is at Tivoli Park Ljubljana. 

We hope you enjoyed learning about the Green City of Dragons, Ljubljana! Have you ever been there? If so, we’d love for you to share your experience and thoughts with us in the comments below.

Many unmissable destinations in Slovenia are also worth your time, such as The Posavje Region and Thermal Heaven and the Fairyland Lake Bled!

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