Planning to visit Ljubljana in winter? We’ve carefully curated this guide to give you all the details from accommodation, what to pack, and a whole bunch of must-do activities.
There’s no shortage of whimsy when it comes to the charming capital of Slovenia, Ljubljana, but during winter, this tiny gem shows off. And if you’re questioning whether to spend Christmas in Europe, after reading this, you’ll have your answer.
Covered under a blanket of snow, the city, with a heritage stretching back to ancient Roman times, comes alive with excitement. As the rivers ice over and Christmas markets pop throughout the city, it’s a knockout contender for the best winter destination in Europe.
Sure, other seasons have their highlights, but Ljubljana in winter is an absolute dream. We’ll let you be the judge, though.
Experience Ljubljana in winter | Things to do in Ljubljana in winter
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17 Things to do in Ljubljana in winter: At a glance
- Immerse yourself in the Christmas festivities
- Explore Ljubljana Castle
- Head out on a walking tour of Ljubljana
- Roam through Tivoli Park
- Treat your tastebuds to a food tour
- Visit the Prešeren Square Christmas Market
- Check out the city’s museums and galleries
- Enjoy a river cruise
- Go ice skating
- Cozy up in a café
- Admire the bridges of Ljubljana
- Day trip to Lake Bled
- Explore Postojna Cave
- Ski in the Julian Alps
- Visit the Slovenian coast
- Venture to Triglav National Park
- Experience Karneval in Ljubljana
Why visit Ljubljana in winter? The perfect guide
Any trip to Slovenia is amazing, yet dedicating time to get wonderfully lost in Ljubljana as the cold winter days creep in is something special.
Coinciding with Christmas, the holiday season is characterized by wondrous lights and displays, while numerous markets attract the crowds.
Whenever the chilly weather outside gets a bit much, you can explore its many art galleries and museums. Of course, there are a lot of bars, cafés, and restaurants where you can warm up with some mulled wine and delicious food.
And who could say no to going beyond the city borders to explore Lake Bled, Lake Bohinj, or the Postojna Cave?
Read: Ljubljana itinerary
Ljubljana weather & temperatures in winter
Starting in late November, temperatures drop as Slovenia enters winter, which officially lasts until mid-March, although things get pretty mild towards the end of the season.
Expect to see daily temperatures ranging from -5°C to 5°C (23°F to 41°F). The coldest months are December and January.
While it does snow during the winter months, this mostly only happens in December and January.
On average, the city has five to ten days of snowfall. Most days, however, see a thick, almost cotton-like fog covering the town, which magically vanishes around noon, followed by glorious sunshine.
Packing for a winter trip to Ljubljana
As unpredictable as wintertime can be, one thing you must plan as well as possible is your packing list. Luckily, we’ve done the heavy lifting and compiled some recommendations and a printable copy to download.
- Warm Jacket – This is a no-brainer, as Ljubljana does get cold. This jacket from North Face is a favorite and gets the job done.
- Winter Boots – Equally as important as your jacket, pack a pair of winter boots (or two).
- Warm socks – Depending on how long your stay is, bring along a few pairs of winter socks.
- Comfortable shoes/Sneakers – Thanks to the walkability of Ljubljana, it’s given that you’ll be doing a lot of walking, so remember some comfy shoes.
- Thermal tops – On the milder days, you’ll need one or two long-sleeved thermal tops instead of a full-on jacket.
- Winter accessories – This includes items such as a warm cap, a beanie, a scarf, and warm winter gloves.
Where to stay in Ljubljana?
Courtesy of its small size, you’ll struggle to go wrong when choosing where to stay in the city. We’ve rounded up our top three choices for accommodation in Ljubljana.
- Zlata Ladjica Boutique Hotel – Centrally located, this 5-star hotel is luxurious and refined while being affordable. A complimentary daily breakfast and bike rental just add to its allure. Book your stay here
- The Hotel Ljubljana – Located in the heart of Ljubljana, the Hotel Ljubljana offers elegance and convenience. Book a suite with a terrace overlooking the city. Check out the photos here
- Hotel Heritage – Closely situated to numerous highlights, including Ljubljana Castle and Cobblers’ Bridge, Hotel Heritage offers an eye-catching design and top-tier service. Click to view prices and availability
How to get around Ljubljana?
Getting to Ljubljana is quite simple via bus, with nearly any major European city offering routes to the town. Or you can fly directly to Ljubljana International Airport. Once here, you can easily get around on foot; truthfully, it’s the best way to explore.
Most main attractions are very close to each other and sit within the city center, but if you plan to venture outside of Ljubljana, there are a few local bus services and taxis.
17 Magical things to do in Ljubljana in winter 2023/24
Now it’s time to figure out how you will spend your time in this captivating city. These are some of the must-do activities in Ljubljana, each the perfect addition to your vacation plan.
1. Immerse yourself in the Christmas festivities
Without a doubt, the highlight of a trip to Ljubljana in winter is the chance to immerse yourself in its holiday season. Christmas in the city is a spectacle, and a lot is happening to ensure you get into the spirit.
There’s no shortage of Christmas markets, a seemingly endless supply of mulled wine, twinkling lights, and vibrant celebrating crowds. Even if you’re not a fan of or celebrate traditional Christmas, seeing the festive cheer in Ljubljana is a must-do.
2. Explore Ljubljana Castle
Sitting atop a hill in the town center, you’ll find one of the city’s most striking attractions – Ljubljana Castle. It’s not hard to miss as you roam the surrounding streets, but exploring the castle grounds is pure magic.
Beyond eye-catching, you’ll find various attractions on the grounds, including several exhibits for which you’ll need a ticket. If you’re not keen on walking up to the castle, grabbing your admission ticket to the exhibitions gives you access to the funicular.
On the other hand, you can explore the atrium and parts of the castle free of charge. There’s also a superb restaurant and wine bar (with stunning views).
3. Head out on a walking tour of Ljubljana
If there ever was a city that takes full advantage of being pedestrian-friendly, it’s Ljubljana. This time of year, especially, wandering through its streets on a walking tour is the perfect way to fall madly in love with the sights and sounds of the city.
If you’re out exploring on your own, visit hotspots like Prešeren Square and the old city while making sure not to miss landmarks such as Triple Bridge and Dragon Bridge.
4. Roam through Tivoli Park
The largest park in the city, Tivoli Park, is a marvelous spot to appreciate the natural beauty of Ljubljana. Even in the winter months, the park showcases a grand variety of trees, plants, and sculptures.
Covering about two square miles, there’s just enough ground to cover for the perfect morning stroll in between visits to the various galleries within the park. Another fun thing to do in Tivoli Park is sledding.
If you want, you can also head up Roznik Hill from the park for some added adventure.
5. Treat your tastebuds to a food tour
Winter in Ljubljana and comfort food go hand-in-hand, but luckily, the food scene is up to the task of serving the most delicious local cuisine options around. Picture delicious breads, hearty soups, tasty stews, and traditional Slovenian dumplings.
There’s also something for every kind of foodie, from cheap and cheerful street food to fine dining and international options. A great way to indulge in a bit of everything is by going on a guided food and wine tour.
6. Visit the Prešeren Square Christmas Market
Easily, one of the best things to do in Ljubljana during the Slovenian winter holidays is pay a visit to the Preseren Square Christmas Market. If you want to witness the full-on festive spirit of the city, this is where you’ll find that and more.
The market gives you the perfect place to have your fill of traditional Slovenian wine and shop for handmade gifts and souvenirs. Don’t skip out on sampling some blueberry and honey schnapps. The market runs from the 1st of December 2023 till the 2nd of January 2024.
7. Check out the city’s museums and galleries
As the capital city, it’s unsurprising that there are several fantastic museums and galleries to explore.
The most famous museum in Ljubljana is the National Gallery, and it features a showstopping collection of Slovenian art dating back to the Middle Ages.
Aside from the National Gallery, other options include the National Museum of Contemporary History and the Museum of Modern Art. These give a glimpse into the culture of Slovenia and a welcomed break from the cold weather.
8. Enjoy a river cruise
Running through the center of Ljubljana lies the Ljubljanica River, and while it is a favorite spot for photographers and sightseers, going on a cruise on its waters is next level. A boat ride on Ljubljanica is even more enjoyable this time of year.
Offering a different perspective on the city covered in sparkling Christmas lights, most tours are about 30 minutes long. Keep in mind the weather and put on some warm clothes.
9. Go ice skating
It’s not all walking tours and sightseeing in Ljubljana during winter, as there are a few fun and active things to do. One of the most exciting is trying your hand at ice skating in Tivoli Hall.
The best bit is that it’s an indoor venue, so if the weather looks a bit dreary or rainy, there’s no better place to spend your time. Take note, though, that it’s only open from November till mid-February.
10. Cozy up in a café
Whenever the chilly weather gets a bit much, duck into a cozy café. Ljubljana has a massive collection of charming little hideaways, such as Čokl and Ziferblat. They serve the tastiest drinks, from a hot cup of Slovenian herbal tea to traditional hot chocolate.
11. Admire the bridges of Ljubljana
Considering that the Ljubljanice River splits Ljubljana, it’s a no-brainer that a few bridges connect both sides of the city. What makes Ljubljana’s bridges so incredible is the various architectural styles used to build them.
Often called the Dragon City, the most iconic of its bridges is the Dragon Bridge. Constructed in a Vienna Secession style, it’s as historic as it is beautiful to see. Luckily, you won’t have to hunt for dragons as there are plenty of sculptures along the bridge as you cross to the other side of the river.
12. Day trip to Lake Bled
As captivating as Ljubljana is, there are a lot of equally awe-inspiring destinations close to the city, each worth visiting. So, why not head out on a day trip or two?
Its gorgeous beauty and local myths and folklore make it a perfect escape from the city.
At the lake’s center lies a picturesque island, which makes a standout background for some Instagram-worthy selfies. Spend the day walking around the lake or visiting Bled Castle.
Another stunner is Lake Bohinj and the nearby Vintgar Gorge, which you can include in your day trip to Lake Bled.
13. Explore Postojna Cave
Another trendy day trip option from Ljubljana is Postojna Cave. Located about an hour from the city, it’s one of the largest in central Europe. Grab a ticket for this guided tour of the cave, which includes a memorable train ride through the underground caverns.
Once that’s done, you can explore the rest on foot and then finish off with a visit to Predjama Castle. This medieval castle sits right outside the cave, partially dug into the rocks, giving you the best views of the surrounding countryside.
14. Ski in the Julian Alps
Of course, the Julian Alps themselves hold a lot of worthwhile exploring options, with ski resorts dotting the mountains and slopes perfect for any avid skier. With all the winter activities you can indulge in, hitting the slopes has to be top of the list.
There are numerous ski resorts closer to the small city that you can also visit, including Krvavec, Kranjska Gora, and Vogel.
15. Visit the Slovenian coast
Close to Ljubljana lies the Slovenian coast, where numerous small towns, some stunning beaches, and the much-appreciated winter sun await. Include stops in cities like Piran and Koper while diving into the hinterlands for wine tasting.
16. Venture to Triglav National Park
Of all the different places around Ljubljana that should be in your Slovenia itinerary, an excursion to Triglav National Park won’t disappoint. It’s the perfect place for nature lovers and photographers, home to several stunning waterfalls, breathtaking gorges, and epic valleys.
If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, tackle a winter hike in Triglav, as there are plenty of short walks for all fitness levels. Should you want a bit of a challenge, a few hikes, require some sweat and proper hiking skills.
17. Experience Karneval in Ljubljana
Firmly back in the city, if you’re visiting toward the end of winter, you’re in for a heck of a party. As unassuming as Ljubljana might seem, it’s pretty famous for its nightlife, with some standout bars and clubs such as K4 and Metelkova Mesto.
Of course, the real party is Karneval. Taking place during the last week in February, carnival week in Ljubljana is spectacular. The streets become a melting pot of music, dancers, and eager partygoers.
Similar to other European carnivals, such as Venice and Italy, people dress up in masked costumes, and nightclubs become playgrounds for masked revelers. Local bakeries sell the most delicious Krofi donuts, filled with chocolate and vanilla, so treat yourself.
Get ready for an epic trip to Ljubljana this winter
Although Slovenia doesn’t boast the size of its European counterparts, and Ljubljana flies under the radar of many tourists, if you’re after the perfect winter breakaway, look no further.
Experiencing the festivities as Christmas comes along or indulging in local delicacies, the city is a treasure trove of things to do. Spend your days browsing the markets, exploring the historic streets, or admiring the iconic landmarks.
Explore the city’s museums or head out on a day trip from Ljubljana. Just be sure to dress warm, and don’t forget your camera. Now that you have all the travel tips and juicy details of Ljubljana in winter in your arsenal, the only thing left to do is to get going.
P.S. Check out our guide on travel planning for the ultimate trip to Europe.
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