Time flies and while the days are getting hotter they’re also getting shorter, so if you have the chance to get out and enjoy yourself then take it, with a packed programme of events in town this week, mostly festival based, as well as plenty of street life.
See more pictures of Old Ljubljana here
If you're not in town for the week of this guide (22 to 28 July, 2019) then you can see all the editions here, and if there's event or activity 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 or try and find me on Facebook.
In town and want to follow the news? Check out our regular morning headlines for Slovenia here.
As ever, links to the basic listings are after the following selection, while a comprehensive PDF of events for the next seven days, as prepared by Ljubljana Tourism, is here.
The biggest thing is the Ljubljana Festival, which continues until 5 September and has a packed programme of world-class concert, opera, and ballet events – see more here. Other festivals of note include the start of Gala Hala Summer Stage at Metelkova Mesto, running until 31 July and offering bands and DJ sets, with all evenings free. Details here (Slovene only). On until August 3rd is Film Under the Stars, giving the chance to watch some of the leading art films of the past year outside at Ljubljana Castle, each night at 21:30. The full schedule and trailers are here.
Thursday, 18:15, head to Dvorni trg and see some Slovenian folk dances. It’s right by one of our favourite pizza places, too, far better, and cheaper, than the premium view would lead you to expect. Plus they have 100+ pizzas on the menu, with the largest a full 1,963 cm2. [Note - any and all food recommendations I make are based on meals I paid for, with no input or offers from the places in question.]
Thursday, at Kavarna Plato, Ajdovščina 1 (on end of Slovenska cesta, not far from Nebotičnik) there’s also free open-air salsa, starting 20:00. Same same, but different, every Friday, 20:30, there’ll be free live jazz in Stari trg (Old Town Square).
The Summer in Ljubljana Old Town goes on until 28 August. This presents classical concerts, many of which are free, in the churches, inner courtyards and squares in the old city centre. The programme is here. Running until 1 September is the Mini Theatre’s season for children and young people, with details here.
Volčji Potok Arboretum (Volčji Potok 3) has a rose garden in bloom until 31 August, nature permitting.
While the Old Town is quaint, and full of music, where does Ljubljana really shop? One popular answer is BTC City, a vast complex of malls, entertainment facilities and more, including more than 70 different food vendors, offering everything from Slovenian to Thai, Indian to Italian, Mexican to Chinese. Check out my recent visit here.
Looking for something different to eat? Trubajeva cesta, running right by Dragon Bridge, has the greatest concentration of "ethnic food" places in Ljubljana, and thus perhaps the country. Check out our walk through guide as of June 2019.
Photo: JL Flanner
- Cinemas and films
- Live music
- 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 kids' movies tend to be shown in dubbed versions, while non-English language movies for older viewers will have Slovenian subtitles.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.
Film Under the Stars gives you the chance to watch some of the leading art films of the past year outside at Ljubljana Castle, each night at 21:30. The full schedule and trailers are here.
Note - Toy Story 4 only seems to be shown in dubbed versions Kinodvor –This is an arts cinema, not far from the train station, that shows new features as well as hosting the occassional festival.
Kinoteka – And not far from Kinodvor you can find this revival cinema, which shows art house classics along with some deep dives in the archives.
Kino Bežigrad - A relatively small theatre, but one which usually has the biggest of the new releases.
Kolosej -The multiplex out at BTC City Mall shows all the big movies, with well over a dozen titles on the schedule, although note that there are far more movies than screens, so some of the older ones mayonly be playing once or twice a week.
Komuna – The cinema in a basement behind Nama department store shows two or three different features a week, usually including the biggest titles.
Looking for a souvenir you'll really enjoy? Take a look at Broken Bones Gin, the first gin made in Ljubljana (learn more here, and try it at the Central Market or selected downtown bars).
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. And if you're curious about how the place started then read our story, and look at some pictures, about last year's 25th anniversary.
Božidar - DJ events aren't too common here, but when they happen they often have a big name.
Channel Zero – DJs shows here include regular dub nights as well as electronic music.
Gala Hala – Another Metelkova venue, you can sometimes hear bhangra and Bollywood here, but more often funk, hip hop, breakbeat and so on.
Klub Cirkus – The more commercial end of clubland, and a venue that aims to serve the student party scene. Expect house, anthems, and bangers.
Klub K4 – The home of techno, old and new, along with various other electronic genres,
Koncertna Dvorana Rog– There are irregular DJ sets at this underground (not literally) venue at the far end of Trubarjeva cesta, and they range from techno to goa to drum'n'bass.
Orto Bar– 80s and 90s throwback nights can often be found here, along with rock-based DJ sets.
Balassi Institute – Free Hungarian music, when available, from the Hungarian cultural institute just a short walk downriver from Dragon Bridge.
Cankerjev dom – The main arts venue in the country hosts classical, opera jazz, folk and occassinally pop.
Cvetličarna – Regional pop and rock concerts can be found here.
Channel Zero – This Metelkova venue sees live shows from punk and rock bands, as well as others.
Gala Hala – Another Metelkova venue with indie bands of various styles.
Kino Šiška – One of the top live venues in the city, with a varied programme that include indie, rock, pop, experimental, hip hop, and so on.
Klub Gromka – Live music is often metal, from sludge to stoner, death to thrash, while punk bands also appear, as do others.
Križanke – The venue that hosts the Ljubljana Festival often has classical music, and some rock, in the open air.
Ljubljana Castle – Jazz, funk and pop every Friday night.
Orto Bar– The home of live rock, metal, punk and other guitar-based genres.
Pinelina dnevna soba – LIve music is rare here, but it does happen.
Slovenska filharmonija– Classical music in the centre of town.
SNG Opera and Ballet - As the name suggests, here you'll find the best of opera and ballet in the country.
Španski borci - While dance is more common here, they also have some contemporary and experimental music shows.
Cankerjev dom- The main arts venue in the country always has something of interest going on.
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.
Kino Šiška – One of the top live venues in the city also hosts some dance performance, often of the more experimental variety.
Ljubljana Puppet Theatre - Puppetry has a long and noble tradition in Slovenia, and you can see performances for children and adults (including non-puppet shows) drawing from the Theatre's rich repetoire as well as new productons.
SNG Opera and Ballet - As the name suggests, here you'll find the best of opera and ballet in the country.
Španski borci - The home ofcontemporary dance(and the EnKnapGroup) in Slovenia.
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.You can find the latest warnings on fake drugs and high strength pills and powders (in Slovene) here. However, be aware that all the usual drugs are illegal in Slovenia.CBD is legal, though, and our retailer of choice can be found on Trubarjeva cesta - read more about Sena Flora here.
Photo: Igor Andjelič. See more of his work here
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, and thus are serious about the dessert.
Vice meets Žižek in Ljubljana. If you want to see more of the most successful writer who lives in Ljubljana, click 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 Monokel – This lesbian bar in Metelkova is open every Friday, although sometimes there are other events
Klub Tiffany –And the gay bar next door is also open on Fridays. Other things coulds also be planned, so click on the name to find out.
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. On until 17 November Mighty Guardians of the Past: Castles in the Slovenian Lands, a presentation that delivers on the promise of its title.
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.
Looking to buy some high end, big name local art from a trusted gallery? Check out our look at Sloart.
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, and it's also in a really nice part of town, Trnovo, just a short walk or cycle upriver. Read about our guided tour here.
City Museum – The Museum in French Revolution Square an 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. On until 25 September is Treasures from Russian Museums, an exhibition showcasing more than 80 Russian icons from leading Russian museums.
The Faces of Ljubljana in the City Museum. Photo: JL Flanner
International Centre of Graphic Art – The 33rd Biennial of Graphic Arts runs until 29 September. It's called Crack Up – Crack Down, and is curated by the collective Slavs and Tartars, with a focus satire and the graphic arts. Learn more here.
Kapelica Gallery, Kersnikova 4 – In the same building as Klub K4 you can enjoy Earth Without Humans: 'On The Boundaries Of Artificial Life' until August 23, described as follows: “We have started trusting high-tech more than we trust our close friends and family and an increasing number of technology manufacturers are becoming aware of this. The applications that they are developing are becoming increasingly smart and cooperative, while also becoming increasingly aesthetically neutral and humanised.”
Ljubljana Castle on until 17 November Mighty Guardians of the Past: Castles in the Slovenian Lands, a presentation that delivers on the promise of its title. There's also the Parallel Worlds of Alan Hranitelj runs on until September 8, showing the work of the acclaimed costume designer.
MAO – The Museum of Architecture and Design has much of what you'd expect, along with some temporary shows and a good cafe. On until 19 September is a show called Creators, on contemporary Slovenian fashion and textile design, which is being promoted with the following image.
Photo: Urša Premik
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. Opening Thursday, April 25th, 20:00, The Visual Arts in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, 1929–1941, which then runs until September 15th 2019. This offers “an overview of painting, sculpture, printmaking, drawing, photography, and film from the time the king's dictatorship was set up (6 January 1929) to the beginning of World War II on Yugoslav soil (April 1941)” - you can read more about it here. The museum's Metelkova branch also has a big new show, runing until at least September 2019, an the art of the Non-Aligned Movement, with an example shown below. Until September 15 you can also enjoy Maja Hodošček, a video artist you “explores social relations through the politics of exchange and collaboration; in particular, she is interested in speculative models of representation in relation to the documentary.”
Rafikun Nabi: Poet, 1980, print, 96.5 x 110 cm. Courtesy of the Contemporary Art Center of Montenegro. On display at the Metelova branch of the Moderna galerija
Alan Ford at the National Gallery
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. You can read about our visit to the room containing sacred art from the Middle Ages here. The Space Within the Space: Scenography in Slovenia before 1991 will provide a comprehensive historic, stylistic, visual and theatrical overview of Slovenian scenography until 8 September. There’s also a big show on Alan Ford, one of the great comic books of the Yugoslav era, on until 13 October.
The real Robba Fountain can be found in the entrance to the National Gallery - the one you see in the Old Town is a genuine fake, as seen below and reported here.
Photo: JL Flanner
National Museum of Slovenia – There’s plenty to see in the permanent collection here, from Roman times, Egypt and more. Running until 3 November is Roma Aeterna: Masterpieces of Classical Sculpture. With sculptures from the collection of the Santarelli family in Rome, ranging from the age of the Roman Empire to that of neoclassicism. 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 December 2019 is Our Little Big Sea, which takes a look at the oceans.
Roma Aeterna: Masterpieces of Classical Sculpture - see below
National Museum of Contemporary History - Tucked away in park Tivoli, in addition to his permanent collection will be showingIn Search Of Freedom: 1968-2018 until 16 August. Until 29 September there also a retrospective on the photographer Edi Šelhaus, which is being promoted with the following image. On until 18 August is Walls, described as follows: “Thirty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, it is clear that the processes of democratisation and integration of Europe, announced in the historical year of 1989, have failed to achieve their goals. Although many real and symbolic walls have been demolished, new ones have been raised instead, and some still deeply disturbed our society.”
Photo: Edi Šelhaus
Slovene Ethnographic Museum – The museum has 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). From April 18 until October 19 (2019) you can also see a show calledShamanism of the Peoples of Siberia, from the Russian Museum of Ethnography, Saint Petersburg. The place is located near the newer branch of the Moderna galerija and Metelkova. You can read about this fascinating show here. On until September 15 is Petra Šink: The circle between design and nature, in which the award-winning designer takes visitors through the life cycle of useful products for the home which are made from natural biodegradable fungal materials.
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.
Vžigalica Gallery – If you’re curious about the man who commissioned that Melania Trump sculpture, then you can see more of activities here, in a show called Brad Downey: This Echo.
Volčji Potok Arboretum - Running until 3 November you can see a large collection of cacti 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
Learn more about Ljubljana with "25 things to know about Slovenia's green city of dragons", or take a look at our guide to spending from four to 48 hours here.
If you like the city's architecture then check out this great book, Let’s See the City - Ljubljana: Architectural Walks & Tours, with our review here and a page from the book shown above. We took a walk with one of the authors who showed us how much there is to learn and enjoy if you slow down and pay attention - read about that here.
Open Kitchen brings market stalls selling food and drink from some of the best restaurants in town every Friday, from 11am to 11pm, in the square between the cathedral and the river - just follow your nose and the crowds. Read more about it here.
Photo: Open Kitchen
Ljubljana has some beautiful buildings from the early 20th century, in the Secessionist style, like the one below. Learn where to find them here.
Photo: Neža Loštrek
For something a little more brual, check out Republika trg / Republic Square, in the heart of the political quarter.
Photo: JL Flanner
Photo: JL Flanner
Some view of the city you can only get from the river. If you'd like to take a boat ride then read about my experience here. If you prefer to get in the water rather than on it, then here's a guide to the various open air pools in Ljubljana. Note that it was written last year and so the prices and times may have changed, so do click the links and check.
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.
Prefer to have someone else stretch you? The check out the totally legit massages you can get from Sense Wellness - either in one of their spas or in you home, office or hotel. (And - to repeat - these are legit and non-sexual in nature)
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.
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. We've also written guides on spending from four to 48 hours in Bled and Piran.
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. Manual wheelchair users can also borrow, for free, an attachment that will motorise their equipment, as reported here.
Screenshot from a Twitter video
If you’re driving into town and don’t know where to park, our guide to how to park in Ljubljana is 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.
Photo: JL Flanner
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.