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Where to Stay in Ljubljana – 7 BEST AREAS

Discover the charm of Ljubljana's diverse neighborhoods, each offering unique experiences, from the historic allure of the city center to the vibrant, artsy vibe of Metelkova.
Where to Stay in Ljubliana

In this vibrant tapestry of words, I’m thrilled to help you navigate the quaint crannies and charming corners of the enchanting Ljubljana, the beguiling capital of Slovenia. Don’t be deceived by the compact size of this fairy-tale city; its charm is inversely proportional to its footprint. Choosing the perfect place to hang your hat might not be as labyrinthine as in other European capitals, yet the subtle differences among its picturesque neighborhoods are worth exploring.

Picture Ljubliana, an enchanting pint-sized capital, a city where no destination is ever far, where the vibrant heart of the city always seems just around the next cobblestone corner. There’s really no need to grapple with public transport unless you choose to nest in the distant suburbs.

Let me paint you an early snapshot: the city center, brimming with life and history, is your safest bet to set up your temporary abode. It’s a captivating amalgamation of the modern cityscape, hugging one side of the river, and the time-honored old town on the other, snuggled comfortably at the foot of the castle-topped hill.

In the popularity contest, the old town, modern center, and Poljane are the well-heeled neighborhoods, while Koseze, Trnovo, Krakovo, and Metelkova offer more budget-friendly options.

Many will sing praises of Ljubliana as one of the most cost-effective capitals in Europe. I beg to differ. While it’s true that the outlying districts may be easy on the wallet, the heart of the city can surprise you with its premium price tags.

Now, let’s talk shelter. In the frost-kissed winter months, you’re likely to stumble upon some real bargains. But as the snow melts away, don’t count on a miracle unless you’ve booked your stay while the last winter flakes were still falling.

Like a gem in a jeweler’s showcase, the city’s allure has made it a hot ticket. With limited rooms at the inn and an ever-growing list of admirers, it pays to plan ahead.

During my springtime rendezvous with Ljubliana, the bustling city center had already been swept clean of vacancies. With prices mostly soaring north of 150 euros a night, I found myself making home in the tranquil neighborhood of Koseze.

Now, buckle up, for I’m about to dive headfirst into the sparkling seas of detail. Here’s the lowdown on the 7 best areas to stay in Ljubljana.

1. Ljubljana City Centre, the best area to stay in Ljubljana

Dragon-bridge across the Ljubljanica river in Ljubljana
Dragon-bridge across the Ljubljanica river in Ljubljana

Consider Ljubljana’s City Center, stretching its arms along the right bank of the Ljubljanica River, with the energetic Preseren Square at its core, hemmed in by the emerald greenery of Tivoli Park and the central hub of train and bus transit.

This district is a living, breathing work of art, where historical monuments rub shoulders with contemporary architectural marvels, where broad boulevards give way to labyrinthine alleyways.

Think of it as the city’s pulsating commercial heart, teeming with services and cultural offerings. An array of eateries, bars, and cozy cafés awaits to satisfy your culinary curiosity; it’s a veritable buffet of experiences and choices.

Its prime location is like a secret ingredient to your perfect vacation stew. Each landmark of the city is within a leisurely walk, and the historical old town and castle are just a river crossing away over one of the city’s signature bridges.

In addition, the close proximity of the train and bus station spells convenience, especially if you arrive by train, bus or plane (the airport bus conveniently stops here).

The centerpiece of this vibrant district is the charming Prešeren Square, boasting the strikingly red facade of the Franciscan Church of the Annunciation and the iconic Triple Bridge connecting the Modern Center to the old town.

Ljubljana is indeed a city of bridges. You’ll likely stroll and snap memories of the Butchers’ Bridge, the Dragon Bridge, and the Shoemakers’ Bridge, each with its own tale to tell.

Don’t miss out on Congress Square, boasting breathtaking views of the castle and home to the baroque Ursuline Church of the Holy Trinity, the Casino, and the Slovenian Philharmonic.

For a contrasting architectural experience, head over to Republic Square, the city’s largest and the proud birthplace of Slovenia’s independence. Here, you’ll find the National Assembly and the colossal Cankar Hall Convention Center.

The City Center is a treasure chest of cultural offerings, especially its impressive array of museums. Must-visits include the City Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, the National Gallery, the National Museum of Slovenia, and the Museum of Natural History. And the best part? They are all just a short stroll away from each other.

An absolute must-visit is the Ljubljana Neboticnik (The Skyscraper). This skyscraper features a rooftop bar offering panoramic (360-degree) views of the castle and the city’s skyline.

If retail therapy is your jam, the streets of the Modern Center, like the popular Čop Street, are bursting with stores and culminate in the Preseren Square, where you’ll find the Emporium Gallery shopping center.

Riverside is where you’ll find the culinary heart of the city, a tapestry of bars and restaurants, especially along the stretch from Preseren Square to Dragon Bridge.

Wrapping up this neighborhood, it’s worth mentioning it has the widest range of accommodations, from posh hotels to cozy Airbnbs. Being a hot favorite, alongside the old town, prices tend to be on the higher side, so booking in advance is the name of the game.

Best hotels in City Center

2. The Old Town, the perfect stay in Ljubljana for sightseeing

Town Square (Ljubljana)
Town Square (Ljubljana)

Nestled on the opposite bank of the river from the city center, at the foot of the hill that hosts the imposing fortress, lies Ljubljana’s historic Old Town. This small yet richly packed area holds many of the city’s famous attractions.

Picture a pedestrian paradise graced by enchanting Austro-Hungarian buildings, charming cobblestone streets, quaint squares, boutique stores, friendly cafés, and appetizing restaurants. It’s like walking into an open-air museum that’s both vibrant and tranquil.

Kickstart your exploration by crossing the iconic Triple Bridge from Preseren Square. This trio of bridges is a city emblem, stitching the modern center and the old town together like a beautifully embroidered patchwork.

First and foremost, the Ljubljana Castle demands your attention. Housing several museums and exhibitions, the castle’s mighty walls and highest tower provide unbeatable panoramic views of the city and the old town in particular. It’s like stepping into a postcard scene. You can choose to ascend on foot or take a leisurely ride on the funicular.

After the castle tour, amble down to one end of the Old Town, and stroll along its main street, known as Stari trg in one section and Mestni trg in another. This street, adorned with elegant buildings, also boasts intriguing and quirky little shops.

The St. Nicholas Cathedral is a sight you can’t miss. Its eye-catching bronze doors, adorned with bas-reliefs and tiny sculptures, invite you in to appreciate its stunning interior.

Adjacent to the Cathedral, you’ll find the square housing the Town Hall and the Fountain of the Three Rivers, leading towards the central market.

The Central Market is a feast for the senses, bustling with food vendors selling everything from fresh fruits and veggies to textile goods and memorable souvenirs. You might even snag some local delicacies, like honey liquor, at more affordable prices than elsewhere in the city.

The riverside deserves a special shout-out. With numerous bars and restaurants offering ideal terraces for a romantic dinner, it’s a slice of Ljubljana’s heart.

Without a doubt, the Old Town is the city’s most charming district, a fairy-tale book brought to life.

Accommodation options are as diverse as a painter’s palette, featuring apartments, B&Bs, guest houses, and hotels of all standards. Much like the City Center, it commands some of the highest prices in the city, so nabbing your spot early is highly advisable.

Best Hotels in Old Town

3. Poljane: Budget-friendly stay in the heartbeat of Ljubljana

Poljane, stay on a budget in Ljubljana
Poljane, stay on a budget in Ljubljana

If you’re looking for a place to rest your travel-weary head in Ljubliana without breaking the bank, yet stay within arm’s reach of the city’s pulse, Poljane is your ace in the hole. It fits snugly right after the historic old town, sprawling from the fringes of the Central Market and the base station of the Castle’s funicular.

This predominantly residential neighborhood may lack the dazzle of iconic tourist sights, but don’t let that fool you. Like an unassuming book hiding thrilling tales, Poljane offers calmness, coziness, and charm. It’s only a hop, skip, and a jump away from the hustle and bustle of the city center, making it an unsung hero of convenience.

The beauty of Poljane lies in its practicality and versatility. With a range of accommodations including budget-friendly options and a handful of hostels, it’s a haven for backpackers and those with a youthful zest for exploration.

However, finding a vacant room in Poljane during peak tourist months can be as tricky as spotting a unicorn in a city park. So if this pocket-friendly, centrally-located neighborhood sounds like your kind of place, it’s wise to secure your accommodation ahead of time.

Best Hotels in Poljane

4. Metelkova: The Edgy, Bohemian Retreat in Ljubljana

Metelkova is an autonomous social and cultural centre in the city centre of Ljubljana
Metelkova is an autonomous social and cultural centre in the city centre of Ljubljana

Just a brisk ten-minute walk from the heart of Ljubljana is like stepping into a rabbit hole that leads to an alternate universe. Welcome to Metelkova, a vibrant neighborhood where street art, peculiar sculptures, squatters, hippies, artists, and designers create a rich tapestry of life that boldly defies the mainstream.

Born as an Austro-Hungarian military barrack in 1882, Metelkova’s tale is as riveting as a page-turning novel. It later morphed into the headquarters and central prison of the Yugoslav army until Slovenia’s independence in 1991.

The plot twist came in 1993 when squatters, intellectuals, and artists breathed new life into the abandoned compound and its seven buildings. This marked the birth of the most prominent bohemian artistic community in the country, as vibrant as a peacock’s plumage in full display.

Armed with creativity and grit, they transformed the locale into a visual feast. With vivid murals, graffiti, and outlandish sculptures, it’s an intriguing playground for those with a passion for contemporary art and counterculture.

Today, these structures house accommodations, dance and music studios, galleries, and workshops, pulsating with a thriving artistic spirit. In fact, the nearby Metelkova Street, from which the neighborhood borrows its name, was officially recognized as a part of Slovenia’s National Cultural Heritage in 2005.

Flanking the area is a square home to the Contemporary Art Museum and Ethnographic Museum, further enhancing its cultural appeal. But Metelkova isn’t just an artistic and cultural mecca, it’s also a hotbed for alternative nightlife, boasting a selection of bars and clubs that cater to those seeking something different from the norm.

In terms of location, Metelkova makes for an intriguing Ljubljana lodgings choice. The train station is a stone’s throw away, and you can amble to the city center (Preseren Square) in roughly 15 minutes.

The neighborhood offers a smattering of hotels and apartments, with the city center’s entire lodging offering just a brief walk away. For the adventurous traveler, you can even catch forty winks in the cells of the former prison, now ingeniously converted into a hostel – a truly unique experience.

Best Hotels in Metelkova

5. Krakovo: quiet place to stay near the center of Ljubljana

Krakovo is located at the northeastern end of the Trnovo district in Ljubljana
Krakovo is located at the northeastern end of the Trnovo district in Ljubljana

Nestled just south of the city center, Krakovo boasts a rich heritage dating back to the mid-13th century. This humble district, originally planted beyond the city’s ancient walls, was a modest fishing village. Only its residents had the unique privilege of fishing and supplying the city with their daily catch. Today, it’s revered as one of Ljubljana’s oldest nooks.

Krakovo is a living tapestry of tranquility, a garden-rich residential area where small, flourishing veggie patches dot the landscape, the fruits of their labor destined for local markets. It’s a neighborhood whose quiet charm is as alluring as a hidden treasure chest, waiting to be discovered.

The district’s nostalgic allure weaves itself through its medley of medieval-style country houses, shops, cafés, and restaurants. A small, meandering canal winds its way through the heart of the neighborhood, giving Krakovo an irresistible village-in-the-city vibe.

When the sun sets, Krakovo subtly transforms, the quaint daytime serenity giving way to a cozy nocturnal charm. Local bars and restaurants spring to life, serving a tantalizing array of regional dishes that are a taste bud’s dream come true. Despite its proximity to the bustling city center, it remains blissfully off the beaten tourist track, which only serves to heighten its appeal.

Here’s a little secret – venture to Eipprova Ulica, a picturesque street that runs parallel to the neighborhood canal. It’s a gem cherished by the locals, a hidden alcove teeming with bars and restaurants whose prices are as comforting as a warm, snuggly blanket on a chilly night.

As it’s primarily a residential neighborhood, accommodation options in Krakovo are more limited. However, it offers an enticing selection of private rental apartments, Airbnbs, guesthouses, and a handful of boutique hotels. Think of it as a quiet, quaint sanctuary nestled in the heart of the city. It’s where tranquility meets convenience, a perfect choice for those seeking a central yet serene stay in Ljubljana.

Best Hotels in Krakovo

6. Trnovo: Ljubljana's Unsung Hero Worth Considering

View from Ljubljana Castle
View from Ljubljana Castle

Let me introduce you to Trnovo – a district that lays on the outskirts of the city center, sandwiched between Krakovo and the meandering river Ljubljanica. In my travel book, Trnovo is like a vibrant B-side track on an album – often overlooked, but truly worth a listen.

Its personality has evolved dramatically since the 1970s. Once an idyllic rural village, Trnovo now boasts a diverse landscape of residential and commercial edifices, symbolizing its transition to a suburban utopia. Yet, it maintains a serene charm that pairs wonderfully with its cocktail of restaurants, bars, and youthful student life.

While it might not top your list for sightseeing, Trnovo holds an ace in its sleeve – the former residence and studio (now a museum) of the world-renowned architect, Jože Plečnik. It’s like stepping into a time capsule of design. Plečnik, the mastermind behind Trnovo’s modern bridge and the iconic Triple Bridge, has left an indelible imprint on Ljubljana’s architectural DNA. His former home now hosts a trove of his groundbreaking designs.

Additionally, you can pay a visit to the Trnovo Church and the KUD France Prešeren Gallery, both oozing with unique cultural character.

When choosing where to stay in Ljubljana, Trnovo may not be your first glance. But, if the more touristy areas are filled to the brim, consider giving Trnovo a chance. It might look a smidge far off from the city center on a map, but rest assured, it’s a manageable jaunt.

What’s more, it extends its warm, welcoming hand with more wallet-friendly lodging options. It’s a humble accommodation scene that includes a sprinkling of hotels and a hearty helping of apartments. So why not consider Trnovo, the underdog district with its unique charm, as your home-away-from-home in Ljubljana?

Best Hotels in Trnovo

7. Koseze: Ljubljana's Budget-Friendly Sanctuary

Divine Savior Church
Divine Savior Church

Up next on my list is Koseze, a district that lies 1.5 km northwest of Ljubljana’s ancient heart. Let me set the scene for you: picture Koseze as the humble bistro nestled on a side-street, a little off the beaten path, but oh-so-worth the detour.

Now, if I were to rank the districts based on their proximity to the city’s pulse, Koseze would come in last. But hey, isn’t there an unsung beauty in being the underdog? That’s especially true if you’re visiting during the high-tourist season. When the central areas are bursting at the seams, Koseze comes to the rescue, a welcome harbor in the storm of tourists – trust me, I’ve been there.

During my visit, I was caught off guard by the buzzing city center and ended up booking a room in Koseze. From my hotel, a leisurely 25-minute stroll (or a quick, 5-7 euro cab ride) would land me in the vibrant Perseren Square.

And let me tell you, the journey is no less of a treat than the destination. Koseze shares its southern border with the lush Tivoli Park, inviting you to meander through its green expanse, transforming your commute into a nature-filled escapade.

And let me tell you, the journey is no less of a treat than the destination. Koseze shares its southern border with the lush Tivoli Park, inviting you to meander through its green expanse, transforming your commute into a nature-filled escapade.

When it comes to the quietude, Koseze has it in spades compared to the bustling old town or the city center. Picture this: pristine parks, manicured gardens, walking trails, outdoor fitness equipment, and child-friendly play areas.

The cherry on top? Ljubljana Zoo graces the southern fringe of Tivoli Park, offering yet another unique experience to your itinerary.

While predominantly residential, Koseze is no desert. Supermarkets, bars, cafes, and restaurants sprinkle the area, offering a taste of the local life at far more budget-friendly prices compared to the riverfront region.

The accommodation scene, though modest, has a heartwarming array of offerings – Airbnb, B&B, guesthouses, apartments, and a few hotels. Here’s a little secret: the lodgings in Koseze are considerably lighter on the pocket than those in the city’s nerve center. So, if your travel budget is tighter than a new pair of shoes, Koseze might be the perfect fit for you.

Best Hotels in Koseze

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