The streets are empty in Ljubljana at the moment, making the Old Town look like an abandoned movie set at times. And while it's nice to be able walk around with ease and get seats in cafes it can seem rather lifeless, which is why it's a good idea to go out with a plan rather than relying on street performers, tour groups and serendipity to provide the entertainment. The biggest event this week is probably the MENT festival of independent / alternative music, taking place at venues around town, with more details in the live music section below. There's also a major new show opening at the Moderna galerija's Tivoli branch this Thursday night, on young Slovene painters, where you'll find me stroking my chin and wondering if there's a free bar from 20:00 on - see a couple of the featured works in the museums and galleries section.
If you're in town and it's not the week of January 28 - Feb 03 2019, then you can see the latest edition of this guide here.
Want to hang out with people who love science? Then consider going to Science Bites at 19:00 on Tuesday, January 29. This regular event will be held at ŽMAUC, not far from the Filozofska fakulteta, and three scientists will give three talks in English introducing their work, with details here, and our interview with one of the people behind the series here.
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
- Cinemas and films
- Live music
- Opera, theatre and dance
- Harm reduction and drug testing
- Things to do with children
- LGBT+ Ljubljana
- Ljubljana Castle
- Museums and galleries
- Other things to do in Ljubljana
- Getting around
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. Parents should also 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, Women at War, Climax¸ Todos lo saben and Green Book.
Kinoteka – It’s a feast for fans of Lars von Trier this week, with Breaking the Waves, Idioterne, and Dancer in the Dark, while if you’re looking for something from the Japanese legend Beat Takeshi then you can enjoy (in Japanese, with Slovene subs) Hana-bi and Zatôichi. Check out the actor, writer, director who also works as a TV host and comic below.
Kolosej - New at the multiplex in BTC this week are Papillion, Taksi bluz, Serenity, Climax, a dubbed version of How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, and on Thursday Christian Bale as Dick Cheney in Vice. Staying on are Mary Queen of Scots, Glass, The Mule, The Favourite, The Upside, Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2, of Asterix: Le secret de la potion magique, Second Act, Južni veter, Bumblebee, Second Act, Aquaman, a dubbed version of Spider Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Robin Hood, The Grinch, Johnny English 3, A Star is Born and the #1 box office film of 2018 in Slovenia, Bohemian Rhapsody
Komuna – The cinema in a basement behind Nama department store is showing Bohemian Rhapsody, A Star is Born and Mary Queen of Scots.
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 considerable variety to found within the various clubs there, from death metal to electropop, gay cabaret to art noise. You can read "the rules" of the place here.
Channel Zero – Monday night there’s Domaćica Original: Dj CLASH, with reggae, dancehall, drum’n’bass, ska, dub and so on. A Dub Lab project.
Gala Hala – MENT arrives in Metelkova on Friday with Hyperboloid Night, with sounds from A.Fruit, Bad Zu, Raumskaya, Saburov and Summer of Haze.
Klub Cirkus – Friday dress for the UV with BLACK MOON – UV Gathering #6, with sounds from LVN x TIM BLACK. Saturday it’s an all-nighter with El Fuego, playing Latino flavoured pop, r&b, dance, reggaeton, Latin house, tropical, and island beats, with the music from Matthew Z & DJ Papi.
Klub K4 – Friday it’s K4xMENT with Batu_music, Lawrence Le Doux, JANKA, Mistakes, TizTiz, Staša and Krilc. Saturday there’s an all-nighter called Knauf, with music from RSN, Shekuza and Tritch.
Orto Bar – Saturday night there’s a DJ show paying tribute to the longest working act in rock’n’roll, The Rolling Stones, with DJ Martin13 playing music from the band and related artists.
The MENT festival runs from January 30 to February 1 and has at least 75 performers on stages around town, including the Castle, Kino Šiška, Orto Bar, Old Power Plant, Celica, Gromka, Gala Hala, Channel Zero and Menza pri koritu . The schedule is here and has links to all the artists, including shishi, from Lithuania.
Cankerjev dom – As part of the Cankarjevi torki (Tuesday Clubbing) series the stage will be given over to Bombyx Lori and the Jimmy Barka Experience on Tuesday the 29th. The same night the pianist Richard Goode will also be in the country’s main arts centre, playing JS Bach, Beethoven, Berg and Chopin, including the following piece.
Channel Zero – Saturday there’s Snovonne from Slovakia playing rock / metal.
Orto Bar – Tuesday belongs to metal, with the entertainment coming from Brainstorm, Mob Rules, and Gloryful. Saturday then sees a live show from Blasius.
Pinelina dnevna soba – Saturday evening there’s Chloé Mons and Chris Eckman, as heard below.
Slovenska filharmonija – Saturday morning, 11:00, there’s a family concert of the Ugly Duckling, while at 19:00 the same day there’s another new year show, this one called Quiet Please!, with a programme of Strauss, Xenakis, Ligeti and others, including the piece after this text. Sunday there’s the Trobilni Quintet and Martin Belić.
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.
Klub Gromka – Wednesday night there’s poetry and music with an event called IGNOR 21.
Sena Flora is a new store selling CBD products downtown (more)
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
Eating ice cream in winter in Ljubljana - learn more about some of the options downtown here. Photo: Gelateria Romantika
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.
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. Monday 19:15 there’s also LFU: delavnica radikalne skrbi zase, while 20:00 Thursday there’s Tiffany ARTikulacija: Pogovor z umetnikom Xiyadiejem.
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.
Screenshot from Google Maps, showing the location of the Castle vineyard
The city’s main attraction is said to be the top tourist draw in the country overall, and to my mind it earns a spot near the top just for the history and views. But beyond that the current owners, the City of Ljubljana, have laid out a varied, interesting and enjoyable programme of events, one that rewards regular revisits.
I try and get up there every Saturday morning to clear my head and move my feet on the trails, and never tire of that end of the hill. At the other end, where the Castle sits, there’s a lot more than fresh air on offer. There are guided tours, restaurants, a café, Castle museum, puppet museum, a Watchtower you can climb to the highest point in the city, art shows, dances, live music, movies under the stars, festival days and more – enough to reward multiple trips up the hill through the year. All of these activities and events can be found on the Castle website, while on TSN you can see “25 things to know about Ljubljana Castle” here, and “Ten Ways to Enjoy Ljubljana Castle” here.
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.
Cankerjev dom – On until February 28 is the exhibition Ivan Cankar and Europe, Between Shakespeare and Kafka, while until March 10 there’s a photographic show on the Ljubljanica, with images of the city’s river captured by Bojan Velikonja. Showing until the end of March is a selection of specimens from The Newspaper Museum.
City Museum – The Museum in French Revolution Square also 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 paintings, drawings, prints and from Nathalie Du Pasquier in a show called Fair Game. The latter is being promoted with the following image.
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.
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. Running until March 31 is a major show on young Slovenian painters, Time Without Innocence – Recent Painting in Slovenia, where you’ll see works like the following.
Iva Tratnik, Mating Season Totalitarianism, 2014, oil on canvas, 210 x 194 cm
Tina Dobrajc, The Balkan Saga II, 2017, acrylic on canvas, 200 x 150 cm
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 Dynasty 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.
Ravnikar Gallery Space – Tina Konec has a show here until February 8, v megli (In the Fog).
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
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
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.
There aren't many places to eat after midnight, and most of them are by the train station, as reported 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.