Ljubljana Castle is the most visited attraction in the city, and – so it’s claimed – in Slovenia. While an earlier post looked at 25 things to know about the building that has watched over the capital for centuries, below we present a list of ten different ways to enjoy your visit there.
Imagine the history
The Romans had a wooden fort on Castle Hill when Ljubljana was known as Emona, and built a well that still exists, just outside the entrance. What’s more, some of the stones that were used to build the Castle were repurposed from the ruins of the Ancient City, and can still be seen with their Latin engravings or decorations. Ljubljana Castle has almost 2,000 years of history, and the time you spend their can be used to link that with your own – a sobering thought to encourage you make the most of however much time you have left.
Roman stones in Ljubljana Castle. Photo: JL Flanner
Ljubljana is a green city. Photo: JL Flanner
See the city
The best views of the city are from the highest point in Ljubljana, which is the watchtower that a ticket to the Castle (or any of the tours) gets you into. However, note that the old architecture means there’s no disabled access or elevator here, so you’ll have to climb the steps. Still, if you can’t make it up, or don’t want to buy a ticket, don’t despair, as there are many other fine spots on Castle Hill from which to look at Ljubljana, from where it’ll be clear that this city really is set in the middle of a forest.
Most of Castle Hill is forested. Photo: Google Maps
Get some fresh air
While the Castle is large it still covers only a small part of the hill, which has many trails through the forest to explore, as well as grassy clearings, benches, small meadows and even a vineyard, making it an easily accessible escape from the city. Depending on the time of day and weather, expect to see joggers, dog walkers and others getting some fresh air, nearby by but far away from the tourists.
Tradtional Slovenian food at Castle restaurant. Photo: nagradu.si
Dine in style or al fresco
While the fine-dining options of Strelec and Castle Restaurant (Restaurant Na Gradu) get the headlines when talking of food at the Castle, there’s also a café for more casual fare, and beyond that the old place makes a great location for a picnic, if not within the walls then in a quiet spot along many of the trails that run along the top of the hill, where you can enjoy a sandwich along with, as noted above, the view.
The Puppet Museum is full of colourful and interactive exhibits. Photo: JL Flanner
Learn about Slovenia’s cultural heritage
As part of Ljubljana Castle’s mission to preserve, present and promote Slovenia’s cultural heritage it hosts a number of exhibitions, both permanent and temporary, all year round. While some of these are free, such as the one on the renovations to the Castle that have taken place since the 1960s, to be found under the courtyard, others require a ticket, though luckily this ticket will also get you access to the watchtower and other features of the complex. One thing of special interest to families – a permanent exhibition showing some of the history of puppetry in Slovenia, a trip to which perfectly complements a visit to the Puppet Theatre in Krekov trg, just by the funicular station. Learn more about the Castle’s current exhibitions here.
Book the place for yourself
The Castle and its halls can be hired for private occasions, and thus it plays host to conferences and presentations throughout the year, providing a memorable setting for many business events. More personally, it can also be used to weddings, with a dedicated office set-up to make the big day into a magical one. Learn more about hiring a venue here, and having a wedding or engagment partY in Ljubljana Castle here.
Lights make the place magical after dark. Photo: Branko Čeak for Visit Ljubljana
Go at night
Medieval buildings come after dark, when the shadows playing on the walls light up the imagination and romance of the past. Ljubljana Castle is no exception, and is a great place to visit after dark at any time of year. In addition to all the usual charms in the evening the Castle often hosts concerts, such as the regular Friday night performances, while in the summer months there are also films shown in the courtyard and under the stars, as well dances and other special events. You can learn more about the various events held at the Castle here, and you can visit it until 20:00 in January, February, March and November, until 21:00 in April, May and October, until 23:00 in June, July, August and September, and until 22:00 in December 10:00 to 22:00.
An event at night in the courtyard. Photo: D Wedam for Visit Ljubljana
The Castle in December
December is one of the most popular times of year for people to visit Ljubljana, drawn by the festive decorations in the city and the market stalls selling mulled wine and hot food, and the Castle is an essential stop on such trips. Not only can people get a great view of the Christmas lights in the streets below – with the evening these are switched on being an especially busy time – but they can also the decorations in the Castlem as well as other events, including Holy Mass in the chapel, at 22:00 on December 24.
Explore Ljubljana Castle with an app in 14 languages
The Castle may be old, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t keep up with the times. You can download an app that introduces the place based on your location in the complex, and all you need is a smartphone and pair of headphones. The app is available in Slovenian, English, Hungarian, Croatian, Italian, German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Russian, Japanese, Chinese and Korean, and for both iOS and Android devices. The activation code for the app comes with a ticket to Castle, and can be collected at the Info Centre. More details here.
Enjoy it for free
Perhaps best of all for regular visitors, much of what the Castle has to offer can be seen for free, with only the watchtower and certain exhibitions requiring a ticket, while the other areas remain open to all. Combine a walk up one of the various paths that take you to the top from the Old Town with a stroll around the Castle walls and courtyard, perhaps settling down for a rest on a bench or snack, and you’ve got an adventure that’ll fill a few hours in fine style without breaking the bank. What’s more, there’s always something new to see, whether related to the changing seasons, an event on the day, a detail you’d never noticed before, or a group of visitors from a land you long to visit, delighted at the a place you know well – there’s always a good reason to go back to Ljubljana Castle.
The Castle is open all year, although with some changes with the seasons. January, February, March and November its open 10:00 to 20:00. April, May and October from 09:00 to 21:00. June, July, August and September from 09:00 to 23:00. December 10:00 to 22:00. However, now that these times are for the main Castle complex, and not necessarily for all the attractions, with more details here.
Entrance to Castle courtyard is free, but if you want to see more you'll need to buy a ticket at the entrance, funicular station or Info Centre, with a basic ticket currently 7.50 euros for adults and 5.50 for children, students and pensioners, and there's also a family ticket for 19 euros. Note that tickets to tours also include entrance to all parts of the Castle, with more details here.