winter in ljubljana

Ljubljana in Winter – The Ultimate Travel Guide

If you’re planning a memorable trip to Ljubljana in winter, you’re in the right place. In this guide, I’ll share all the best things to do in Ljubljana in winter, plus all of my top tips for visiting during this magical time.

Ljubljana, Slovenia’s tiny capital, is one of the most underrated cities in Europe. With its whimsical architecture and charming cobbled streets, it feels like something straight out of a fairy tale.

While the city is dreamy and captivating all year round, there’s nothing quite like winter in Ljubljana. It’s at this time of year that the magic really happens. 

Snow adorns the ground, rivers ice over, and traditional Christmas markets pop up around the city. It’s simply beautiful and undoubtedly one of my favourite European winter destinations.

So with all that said, let’s get to it and plan your perfect winter trip to Ljubljana!

Ljubljana in Winter

Table of Contents

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Winter in Ljubljana Essential Info

With Ljubljana being such a unique and exciting city, it’s almost impossible not to have an incredible trip. However, the tips and tricks below can help you make the best of your winter getaway. 

Best Time to Visit Ljubljana in Winter

The cold season in Ljubljana starts toward the end of November and lasts until the middle of March. However, temperatures will be pretty mild at the start and end of the season.

If you want to experience that magical wintery vibe, your best bet is to visit in December or January. You will most likely get some snow alongside crisp, dry days during that time.

We visited Ljubljana in December, and it was a wondrous experience. The Christmas markets were in full swing and the holiday cheer was all around.

You will need to wrap up warm, of course. Stick around for my Ljubljana winter packing list further down the article.

Regardless of when you choose to visit, I’d spend at least a day in Ljubljana before heading to Lake Bled. 

Lake Bled in Winter is equally breathtaking. And since it’s less than an hour’s drive from Ljubljana, it makes sense to cover both in the same trip if you can.

Getting Around Ljubljana

If you ask me, the best way to get around any new city is on foot. This way, you get to absorb the local culture while encountering things you might never have seen otherwise.

Thankfully, Ljubljana is a small city, so getting around on foot is relatively easy. Not only that, most of the main attractions are located close to one another and in the centre of the city.

When you do need to venture further afield, there are local buses and taxis that you can take advantage of.  

Or, for a more alternative way of exploring the city, this 3-hour bike cruise seems like a lot of fun!

Ljubljana Winter Scenery
Ljubljana in Winter can be absolutely magical!

Ljubljana Winter Budget

When it comes to European cities, Ljubljana is one of the more budget-friendly options. Of course, it’s easy to splurge should you want to, but it’s just as accessible for those on a budget.

With that in mind, visitors can expect to spend as low as £40/$50 per day. This would mean staying in hostels or budget hotels, eating cheap, and being selective about tours and attractions.

Of course, if you stay in luxury hotels, eat at fancy restaurants, and take advantage of all there is to do in the city, you will spend much more than that.

You might also find it more expensive to visit over peak times such as Christmas and New Year. To keep costs down and still enjoy the Christmas activities, try visiting earlier in December.

Ljubljana Winter Tours

Sometimes, the best way to experience a new place is to take a guided tour. 

Not only does it take the stress out of planning, but you get to experience the city in a way that’s impossible to do alone.

We always use Get Your Guide when we book tours. They have an endless selection of tours in locations worldwide, including Ljubljana. Check them out! 

Where to Stay in Ljubljana in Winter

Like Slovenia itself, Ljubljana is small and compact, so you can’t go too wrong when deciding on where to stay.

Naturally, it will be cold in the wintertime, so you might prefer to stay close to the centre to avoid spending too much time outside.

However, if you don’t mind wintery walks, you can take your pick of hotels and accommodations throughout the city.

I’ve made some suggestions further down, or you can compare Ljubljana accommodations using the map below.

Alternatively, you may look at staying nearby, in which case you can compare hotels here. Or use the Map below to see all your options​:

Booking.com

Best Things to do in Ljubljana in Winter

Now we’ve prepared you for a winter trip to Ljubljana, let’s look at all the best winter activities throughout the city.

Ljubljana Christmas Market

1. Enjoy the Christmas Festivities

I have to admit, travelling in winter is not my favourite thing. While I can appreciate picture-perfect winter scenery and cosy evenings by the fire, I am a summer girl through and through.

That said, if there’s one thing that will motivate me to travel in winter, it’s Christmas festivities. And you can count on plenty going on in Ljubljana during the holiday season.

Christmas markets, mulled wine, sparkling lights, crowds of merry people – it’s a total vibe! There’s even a Santa parade for the little ones. Well worth embracing the cold weather for.

The main Christmas market takes place in Preseren Square. You may be familiar with this spot since it’s one of the most photographed places in Slovenia.

The market runs from late November through to early January. You can expect your typical festive stalls selling all kinds of Christmas treats, as well as concerts, carol singing and other entertainment.

Tip –  Oh, and if you can, try a traditional Slovenian hot chocolate. It’s literally a cup of melted chocolate – utterly divine. 

Ljubljana at Night

2. Wander the City Streets at Night

Exploring a city after dark is fun to do at any time of year, but it’s even more exciting over the Christmas period.

I love to see twinkling lights and colourful decorations adorn streets, shopfronts, and historical monuments. It makes me feel like a big kid again.

While the displays in Ljubljana aren’t as extravagant as the likes of London or Budapest, I actually liked it this way. Ljubljana is a storybook city, and its enchanting displays only add to its charm.

So wrap up warm and prepare to be wowed by the nocturnal winter delights of the city.

Winter at Ljubljana Castle
Ljubljana Castle at Christmas is a magical scene.

3. Visit Ljubljana Castle

Ljubljana Castle is one of the most significant landmarks in the city. It’s, therefore, no surprise that it’s one of the most notable things to do in Ljubljana in winter.

When exploring the old town area of the city, you can spot the castle up in the hills. It’s quite the spectacle, especially over Christmas when it lights up like a Christmas tree.  

The castle grounds are vast and feature various attractions, from museums and exhibitions to restaurants and nightclubs. You’ll also find spectacular views of the city.

During the holidays, the castle holds its own Christmas market plus lots of other festive entertainment. If you’re travelling with kids, they will love it

Getting up to the castle is a 15-20 minute walk from the Old Town. Alternatively, you can take the funicular railway, which provides a unique experience and beautiful views.

4. Delight in the Local Food Scene

When exploring Ljubljana in winter, you’ll need lots of delicious comfort food to keep you warm and motivated.

Thankfully Balkan cuisine is exactly that – food that delights the taste buds and fills the belly.

Think delicious breads, hearty soups & stews, and traditional Slovenian dumplings.

Whether it’s cheap and cheerful street food or fine dining restaurants, you’ll find local cuisine in every corner of the city. Or, to get a real taste for the local food, try this guided food & wine tour. 

If it’s international cuisine you’re after, you can find plenty of that as well. In fact, here’s a list of some of the best restaurants in the city.

Ljubljana Christmas

5. Walking Tour of the City

Regardless of when you visit Ljubljana, a walking tour of the city is an absolute must.

Of course, you can do this alone or with your group. Or, for the most engaging and educational experience, you can take a guided tour.

Ljubljana Free Tours offers various free tours around the city, but their most popular is the classic tour.

The classic free tour takes you to all the top sights, including Prešeren Square, Town Hall, Ljubljana Cathedral, and the city’s plentiful bridges.

Tip – Don’t forget; the tour is entirely free. But be sure to tip your guide generously if you enjoy the tour. 

6. Check out the Art Galleries and Museums

A perfect winter activity in Ljubljana, particularly when it’s raining, is to meander the city’s art galleries and museums.

There are plenty to choose from, such as the national museum of contemporary history, the museum of modern art and the national gallery.

Tivoli Park

7. Go for a Wintery Walk in Tivoli Park

Tivoli Park is a beautiful nature area close to the city’s centre. It covers an area of approximately five square kilometres and provides lots of pleasant walking opportunities.

While many might argue that Spring & Autumn are the most picturesque months to visit, there is something endearing about the winter landscapes as well.

We loved taking a morning stroll here during our winter trip to Ljublana. With icicles hanging from branches and frost dusting the ground, it was like a winter wonderland and actually very romantic!

Winter River Cruise
A river cruise is one of the best things to do in Ljubljana in winter.

8. Take a River Cruise

One of the best ways to appreciate this beautiful city is on the water. 

Many significant landmarks sit along the banks of the Ljubljanica river, so a river cruise is the perfect way to relax and appreciate the views.

Whether it be a sightseeing cruise during the day or a romantic cruise in the evening, there are a few options to choose from.

Tip – Personally, I would choose a nighttime cruise during the winter months. I bet the twinkling lights would make this experience all the more magical!

9. Get Cosy at a Local Bar

After chilly days roaming the city, the best way to relax and recuperate is in a cosy bar with a drink in hand.

Unsurprisingly, mulled wine and other warm beverages are in no short supply during this time of year. That goes for bars, cafes, and restaurants too.

You’ll find plenty dotted around the city, but a popular spot is Cankarjevo Nabrezje – a scenic pedestrian-only street lined with cafes and bars.

Another favourite of ours is Pritlicje – a trendy LGBTQ+-owned establishment with great drinks and cool events.

ice skating

10. Go Ice Skating

Fancy doing something fun and active during winter in Ljubljana? Then get yourself to Tivoli Hall for some ice skating.

This activity is indoors, so it’s perfect for those wet and dreary days. It’s also ideal if you’re travelling with kids.

The famous ice-skating venue usually opens around the beginning of November and lasts until the end of the winter season.

Snowcapped Alps Ljubljana
Hike Šmarna Gora Hill for an adventurous winter activity in Ljubljana.

11. Hike Šmarna Gora Hill 

One of the more adventurous things to do during winter in Ljubljana is to hike up Šmarna Gora Hill.

This famous hike is 2300ft tall and allows unrivalled views over the city and the surrounding alps. The mountains are made all the more beautiful during winter with their snow-capped peaks.

This is a fairly accessible and undemanding hike. Anybody with a reasonable fitness level can conquer it, and it’s suitable for children.

Once you reach the top, there are a few amenities, including a cafe where you can stop for refreshments. 

Ljubljana Winter Shopping Street

12. A Spot of Shopping

Whether it’s Christmas shopping, souvenir shopping, or New Year sales shopping, it would be rude not to indulge in some retail therapy, wouldn’t it?

You’ll find plenty of well-known brands around the city centre, alongside local designers and charming boutique stores.

Lake Bled at Winter

13. Take a Day Trip

Since Ljubljana is a relatively small city, it’s easy to cover most of the city’s highlights over the space of a day or two.

Therefore, if you find yourself with time to spare, you might consider taking a day trip. I already mentioned visiting Lake Bled, but Lake Bohinj is also worth visiting. 

This tour actually combines both Lake Bled and Lake Bohinj within a day trip from Ljubljana, which might be tough to organise independently.

Another spot on our Slovenia bucket list is Postojna Cave Park. Home to the legendary Predjama castle, this is one of the most popular day trips from the city.

Ljubljana Winter Packing List

There’s no one-size-fits-all when planning the perfect winter getaway, but the chances are most of you will have similar activities in mind.

This list covers the basic essentials for most people visiting Ljubljana in Winter. But depending on your plans, some of you might need more, and others might need less.

Enjoy your winter trip to Ljubljana!

So there you have it, our ultimate guide to visiting Ljubljana in winter. I hope it’s got you excited for your trip.

If you have any questions or anything to add, please drop us a comment below or message us through our contact us page. We love hearing from you!

Finally, check out the rest of our Slovenia series to help you with your travel planning.

If you enjoyed our free guide, you could support us by buying us a coffee! Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram, where we share more travel advice and inspiration. Charlotte & Natalie x

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We’re Charlotte & Natalie, a British lesbian couple with a passion for travel and adventure.

Here you will find everything from LGBTQ+ travel & lifestyle advice, to comprehensive guides and itineraries designed to make your travel planning easier.

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