The lights are down, the days are lengthening and the streets are rather empty, as Ljubljana moves into the dead zone between tourist seasons. But while this isn’t good for business it does offer fresh pleasures and new views to visitors and residents, who can now have a little more time and space to themselves in the downtown area. What’s more, there’s still plenty to explore and enjoy, with an incomplete selection of the more organised entertainments, distractions and events listed below, just after the basic information.
If you're reading this and not in town January 14 to 20, 2019, then you can see all the editions of these guides here, with the latest one at the top.
As ever, clicking on the venue names in the list below should get you more details with regard to the time, price and location, as well as other events on at this place in whatever week you're here. Finally, if there's something you want to promote in a future edition of What's on in Ljubljana please get in touch with me at flanner(at)total-slovenia-news.com
Getting around Ljubljana
If you want to get a Ljubljana Tourist Card, which gives you travel on the city buses and entry to a lot of attractions, then you can read more about that here, and if you want to use the bike share system, as useful for visitors as it is for residents, then you can learn more by clicking this. Visitors with reduced mobility will be pleased to find that downtown Ljubljana is generally rated as good with regard to accessibility, and that there’s a free, city-sponsored app called Ljubljana by Wheelchair highlighting cafés, attractions and so on with ramps, disabled bathrooms and Eurokey facilities, which you can read about and download here. If you’re driving into town and don’t know where to part, our guide to how to park in Ljubljana is here.
Want / need cigarettes but the stores have closed? Here's an incomplete list of bars downtown that will satisfy your craving for the demon weed. While if you’re having trouble with the ATMs then here’s a guide to the Slovene you’ll see on screen. If you get a hangover then find out where to get paracetamol (and prescription drugs) in Ljubljana here, while details on emergency birth control can be found here.
Ljubljana is a small and relatively safe city, but if need to contact the police then there’s a special number for foreigners, and that’s 113.
Cinemas and films playing in Ljubljana this week
You can read about all the cinemas in town here, while a selection of what’s playing this week is below, and note that kid’s movies tend to be shown in dubbed versions, so do check before driving out to a multiplex and dropping off the young ones if they can't understand Slovene. That said, parents should pay attention to Kinobalon, which is Kinodvor's regular weekend series of film screenings and events for children, from babies on up, with special parent/child events, "first time in a cinema" screenings, and babysitting. Learn more about it here, and see the current schedule here.
Kinodvor – The arts cinema not far from the train station is showing, among other features, The Old Man & The Gun, Maria by Callas, The House That Jack Built, Suspira (remake), The Favourite and The Incredible Story of the Giant Pear (dubbed).
Kinoteka – This revival cinema isn’t far from Kinodvor, at the train station end of Miklošičeva, and it's showing a few Yugoslav movies this week, including Ubij me nežno, Draga moja Iza, Sedmina, Beograjski fantom and Ne čakaj na maj. There’s also Yi Yi from Taiwan, Le bonheur by Agnes Varda, and Lars von Trier’s Forbrydelsens.
Kolosej - The multiplex out at BTC City Mall is playing all the big movies, which this week include The Grinch (with both subbed and dubbed versions), Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, Bohemian Rhapsody, Robin Hood, Johnny English 3, A Star is Born, Gajin svet, dubbed and subbed versions of Spider Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Aquaman, Bumblebee, a dubbed version of Asterix: Le secret de la potion magique, Second Act, Mortal Engines, Južni veter, Mary Poppins Returns, Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2, and The Old Man & the Gun. New this week are The Favourite and The Upside.
Komuna – The cinema in a basement behind Nama department store is showing The Favourite, A Star is Born, The Old Man & the Gun, and Bohemian Rhapsody.
Skrbovni’ca – Bringing inclusion to the heart of Ljubljana
Whether you’re looking for a souvenir, small gift, some directions or a sit down, consider going into Skrbovni’ca when you’re next between the Triple Bridge and Town Hall, just opposite Vigo. It’s a project that aims to bring more physically and mentally disabled people into the community, and you can learn more about it here.
Photo: JL Flanner
Clubbing in Ljubljana
Compared to some European capitals it can seem that nightlife in Ljubljana ends rather early, especially along the river, but there are still bars that stay open late and clubs were you can dance until dawn, and perhaps the best place to stumble across something interesting is the legendary Metelkova. Be aware it's a grungy kind of place and not for all tastes, but also that there's consideable variety to found within the various clubs there, from death metal to electropop, gay caberet to art noise. You can read "the rules" of the place here.
Ambasada Rog – Friday night, at Trubarjeva 72, there’s Fight the power! Music of rebellion - Persian and Arab hip-hop.
Channel Zero – Monday night is Dub Lab, All Night Session: RollKing. There’s more dub on Friday, which brings Dubwise Massive! with Unlisted Fanatic, and Boris Sound System, among others.
Gala Hala – Friday night it’s Zeleno sonce 119: Russian Attack, with Dj SOUL-K and DJ Udo Brenner.
Klub Cirkus – Friday night the more commercial end of the klubland has New AGE / MILI, with trap, hip hop, and R’n’B from the New Age Gang and a live show from Mili. Saturday the dancefloor is then surrendered to TUTTI Frutti: 90s & 00s Hits, with DJs Matthew Z & Matteo Kunst.
Klub K4 – More than 30 years old and still going strong, on Friday you can enjoy Phi w/ DMX KREW Live! The next night it’s the turn of Just A Dance, with DJs Den7el, Von Meister, and Dulash (Kvalitat), along with VJ 5237.>
Drogart is an organization that aims to minimise harm on the party scene, and offers drug-testing services and reports on their webpage. It’s in Slovene, but you can Google translate it or work things out yourself, and our story on the group is here. They recently published a story warning about three pills with very high contents of MDMA, with details (in Slovene) here. Also be aware that all the usual drugs are illegal in Slovenia.
Some fun facts about the city and its castle...
Photo: JL Flanner
Things to do with children in Ljubljana
You can find our Top 12 list of things to do with kids in Ljubljana here. If want to read more about the philosophy behind the wonderful House of Experiments look here, while our trip to the Museum of Illusions is documented here, and there’s always riverside walks, pizza and ice cream. With regard to the latter, take a look at our guide to six places that serve good ice cream in winter.
Mini Teater Ljubljana – The season sees a lot of puppet performances for children, in Slovene, at this theatre not far from Križanke, including: The Frog King, Puss in Boots, Carrot Dwarf and The Little Match Girl. The English schedule for the month is here.
Photo: JL Flanner
Live music in Ljubljana
Channel Zero – Thursday, from 21:00 to 00:00 you can enjoy live avant-garde jazz with Bonus Level: Ottone Pesante + Koromač, with the former being described as “extreme Italian brass metal lunatics” and the latter as “mixing hardcore and metal with jazz”. Anyone interested in this should note that John Zorn will be in town this summer.
Gala Hala – Thursday, 21:00 to 00:00, there’s stoner rock with Domorodni četrtki: Blackoutt. You can see them playing live at the same venue last year, below.
Kino Šiška – Thursday “diligent folk punkers” We Bless This Mess are playing a show. Saturday it’s Same Babe, who will be presenting their new album.
Klub Gromka – Trobecove krušne peći, an avant-garde postpunk band from Zagreb, will be playing with support from Idrija’s S.O.R, a double-bill you can catch on Saturday.
Ljubljana Castle – Friday is jazz night at the Castle, and this week it’s the Ratko Divjak Quartet.
Orto Bar – Thursday there’s another Kadilnica of Death presentation, with power metal from Minotauro and HairX. Friday night it’s Dirty Skunks Fest, with Armaroth, Snogg, Teleport, Lintver, Valuk, Agregat and many others. The week ends on Saturday with a live set from Get Back, a tribute superband playing rock hits from the 60s and 70s.
Slovenska filharmonija – Thursday, the 17th, The Slovenian Philharmonic Orchestra will be joined by Matej Šarc (musical direction and oboe) and Tomaž Sevšek (harpsichord), playing music by three of the Bachs along with Graun and Krebs, with the featured work by the latter shown in the first video below. Friday there’s new music for the new year, with a programme of Pierre Boulez, George Benjamin, Matej Bonin, and Janez Matičič. The piece by Boulez is in the second video. Sunday, the 20th, Simfonični orkester RTV Slovenija will be playing Mozart and Haydn.
Opera, theatre and dance in Ljubljana
Cankerjev dom – Saturday there’s ballet, with Peer Gynt, as performed by the Ballet and Orchestra of the SNG Maribor Opera and Ballet. The next evening the Slovak Philharmonic and Slovak Philharmonic Choir will be performing Antonín Dvořák’s The Spectre's Bride.
Gledališče IGLU - IGLU Theatre – Saturday night this group is usually putting on an English improv show somewhere in town, but it’s generally promoted after this is written, so check the Facebook before putting on your shoes.
SNG Opera and Ballet – Nothing seems to be on here this week, but it's a nice building to admire on your way to or from the Moderna or National Galleries.
If you want to learn more about Ljubljana Pride, then take a look at our interview with its president here. If you're looking for more general links on "gay Slovenia", including a history of the scene and various projects, then you can find that here, while our stories about the community can be found here.
Klub Tiffany – And the gay bar next door is also open on Fridays, while every Monday until June 2019 there's tango at 18:00. On Thursday, 20:00,
Pritličje – This seems to be the only "always open" LGBT-friendly cafe / bar / events space in town, and perhaps the country, so it's a good thing it's such a good one, open from morning to night, and with fliers and posters letting you know what's happening outside the narrow confines of, say, a general interest online what's on... guide.
Museums and galleries in Ljubljana
Most public galleries and museums are closed on Mondays, although not the National Museum.
Plečnik's desk. Photo: JL Flanner
Plečnik’s House is worth a visit if you want to learn more about the architect who gave Ljubljana much of its character. Read about our guided tour here. Something on for a limited time is Plečnik and the Sacred, showing here until January 20, 2019.
Cankerjev dom – Running until the end of February 2019 is an exhibition titled Ivan Cankar and Europe: Between Shakespeare and Kafka. This is “An examination of Cankar’s art through an analysis of influences and interpretations, and juxtaposition with contemporary European writers. The visually elaborate architectural and graphic layout, supported by audio-visual media, installation art and diverse visual highlights, offers a vivid account of Cankar’s excellence, his comprehensively exquisite aesthetic and artistic vision.”
City Art Gallery – Drago Tršar recently had a show at the main Moderna looking at his monumental works, and now this smaller gallery in the Old Town, not far from Town Hall, is showing some the sculpture’s erotic works, on until January 20, 2019. It’s being promoted with the following example, and is quite explicit in terms of breasts and vaginas, but if that's OK for you and your companions then there's much to enjoy in the paintings, bronzes and ceramics on show. You can read about my visit, and see a lot more pictures, here.
City Museum – The Museum in French Revolution Square has an exhibition on the writer Ivan Cankar that’s on until the end of February 2019, with pictures, books and manuscripts, all presented in Slovene and English. It also has a very interesting permanent exhibition on the history of Ljubljana, from prehistoric times to the present day, with many artefacts, models and so on that bring the story alive.You can read about my visit here. Until March 2019 there's a show highlighting the work Elza Kastl Obereigner (1884-1973), a pioneer Slovenian sculptress, with an example of her work shown below.
Photo: M Paternoster
The Faces of Ljubljana in the City Museum. Photo: JL Flanner
International Centre of Graphic Arts – Running from Friday until March 3 2019 there will be a show of posters from Milton Glaser, while until March 3 2019 you can enjoy paintings, drawings, prints and murals from Nathalie Du Pasquier in a show called Fair Game. The latter is being promoted with the following image.
Ljubljana Exhibition & Convention Centre – Just outside the centre of town, at Dunajska cesta 18, you can see a lot of plasticized bodies at the Body Worlds Vital show, running from October 20 until January 20 2019.
Photo: Body Works Vital
MAO – The Museum of Architecture and Design has much of what you'd expect, and until March 25, 2019, has a show on Ljubljana and it's relation with water. Until February 24 visitors can enjoy Toasted Furniture, which presents some experiments with the reuse of plastic waste, and until February 28 there's a show on Oskar Kogoj and his chairs.
Sam, 1966, fotografija na srebroželatinskem papirju. ©Stojan Kerbler
Moderna galerija – The main branch of this gallery, to be found near the entrance to Tivoli Park, has a good collection of modern art, as well a nice café in the basement.
Museum of Contemporary History – The museum in Tivoli Park has two new shows. One is called Museum's (R)evolution 1948-2018, marking the place's 70th anniversary with an exhibition tracing its evolution through artefacts, photographs and personal stories and running until January 6 2019 (details here). There's also In Search of Freedom: 1968-2018, looking at the 1968 student protests.
National Gallery – The country’s main gallery has “the best” of what’s on offer from the Middle Ages to non-contemporary modern visual arts, and is in a great location for exploring other areas, just by Tivoli Park and opposite the main branch of the Moderna galerija. Running until February 10 2019 is a show called Ivana Kobilca (1861-1926): But Of Course, Painting Is Something Beautiful!, featuring works like the one below. You can read about our visit to the room containing sacred art from the Middle Ages here, and see a picture from our trip after the two girls.
National Museum of Slovenia – There’s plenty to see in the permanent collection here, from Roman times, Egypt and more, with the big draw this season being the exhibition of over 140 items of gold from Ming Dyntasy China, as reported here, and with an example below. This runs until February 15th.
Photo: Wang Wei Chang
Meanwhile, the museum's Metelkova branch, located between one branch of the Moderna galerija and the Ethnographic Museum has some rooms on Church art, furniture and weapons, with the latter including more guns than you'll see anywhere else in town, and quite a thrill if coming from a nation where such objects are not household items.
Natural History Museum – On until the end of June 2019 is Our Little Big Sea, which takes a look at the oceans.
Škuc Gallery - You can find this in the old town, and until January 20 there;s an interesting and often moving show called Kids that you can see for just 1 euro, with works by Johanna Billing, Matic Brumen, Andreja Džakušič, Priscila Fernandes, Eden Mitsenmacher, Franc Purg, and Pilvi Takala.
Slovene Ethnographic Museum – The museum currently has a temporary show on Bees and Beekeeping, on until June 16 2019, as well two permanent exhibitions. One of these is called Between Nature and Culture, and has a great collection of objects from Slovenia and around the world, well worth the trip up to the third floor to see it (as recounted here). This place is located near the newer branch of the Moderna galerija and Metelkova.
Union is "the Ljubljana beer", but now both it and Laško are owned by Heineken. There are many local brews on offer around town, though, if you want to explore IPAs, stouts, wheatbeers, sours and so on Photo: JL Flanner
Union Experience – The Ljubljana-based brewer has a museum showing the history of the company, with the ticket also including access to part of the factory and a few samples of the product. You can read about our visit here.
It's not a formal museum, but if you're interested in "Yugo-stalgia" then you'll enjoy a trip to Verba, a small, privately run space that's crammed with objects and pop culture items from the era, and is conveniently located at the start of one of the short walks to the castle. It's also a great place to take pictures, if you leave a donation, and you can read more about it here.
Verba. Photo: JL Flanner
Alternative Ljubljana isn't a museum or gallery, as such, but instead turns the city streets into a museum and gallery. Learn more about their tours of street art, history and LGBT Ljubljana here.
Photo: JL Flanner
If you'd like to spend an evening painting with others, then take a look at Design with Wine, which organises painting parties on Trubarjeva cesta,
If you want to see some antiques, then check out the wonderful Antika Carniola, as discussed here. The man behind it, Jaka Prijatelj, has a fine eye for life on this street, as you can see on his Facebook account.
Photo: JL Flanner
If you’re in town and want to go jogging or walking in nature, why not take another look at the Castle, with a brief guide to the trails here. If you want something bigger, head to Tivoli Park.
And if you're bored with the Old Town, why not take a walk, cycle or boat ride to nearby Špica and enjoy the riverside life. Learn more about that here.
maxpixel.net, public domain
Want to stretch and breath? Then check out our list of drop-in yoga classes for tourists, visitors and the uncommitted. If you're heading to the coast, check out our interview with a yoga teacher who offers breakfast sessions there, while if you're staying in town (or nearby) and want to try some "family yoga" then you can learn more about that here and maybe get your kids to calm down a moment or two.
There are some golf courses near Ljubljana, but even ones further away are not far, as seen in our list of all the golf courses in Slovenia. Note that these close when the snow starts, if it ever does this year, in which case you might be interested in what's new at Slovenia's ski resorts for 2019, as reported here.
Photo: maxpixel.net, public domain
Daytrips from Ljubljana
Most of Slovenia is only a few hours from Ljubljana, and you can easily visit Lake Bled, Lipica Stud Farm, Postojna Cave, Predjama Castle, the coast and other locations, while if you'd like to take a photo of from that bench in Bled, then you can learn how to get there here. If you’re looking for something more ambitious, then check out our recent guide to the 17 members of the Association of Historical Towns of Slovenia
Photo: Google Image Search
1. You can see all our stories tagged Ljubljana here
2. We found ourselves with friends in Ljubljanski Dvor for pizza this afternoon and had forgotten about the raw size, majesty and value of their 50cm pizzas, which math says is an incredible 1,963 cm2 of flat surface, or somewhat more due to the uneven nature of the actual “pie”. See a write up of an earlier visit here.