If you’re planning a trip to the Ljubljana Christmas Market this year, you’re in the right place! Keep reading for my detailed guide.
Slovenia is one of my favorite countries in Europe – with Triglav National Park, the Soca River, Lake Bled, the many waterfalls, and hiking opportunities, and the quaint capital of Ljubljana, there’s just so much variety packaged up in one very small bundle.
During the Christmas season, Ljubljana is home to several charming Christmas markets. If you’ve been considering visiting Ljubljana in December just as part of your normal travels, or if you’re planning a visit specifically for the Christmas markets, you’re certain to have a wonderful time at the Ljubljana Christmas Market.
In this post, I’m sharing exactly what you can expect at the Ljubljana Christmas Markets, including where the markets are, which ones are best, what you can eat and buy, and suggestions on how to work a visit into your Europe itinerary.
Planning Your Visit to the Ljubljana Christmas Markets
Top Hotel Options in Ljubljana:
All of these hotels are top-rated, centrally located spots in the city. I would highly recommend you book your hotel early, as hotels do fill up for the Christmas markets.
Other Travel Essentials:
- By Rental Car: For maximum flexibility, a rental car is the best option. Reserve early because prices increase dramatically as time goes on! I find the best options on RentalCars.com – browse options here.
- By Train: Trains are a convenient way to get around Europe, but you’ll want to book your ticket ahead of time.
Ljubljana Christmas Market Dates for 2023
The Ljubljana Christmas Market opens at 5pm on Friday, 1 December 2023 and runs until Sunday, 7 January 2024.
The market is open from 10am-9pm, with the food and drink stalls staying open until 11pm.
An Overview of the Holiday Season in Ljubljana
Ljubljana has 9 different Christmas markets scattered throughout the city. Some of these markets are pretty small (just one or two stands) and personally, I don’t think are must-visits, but there are several that are really charming and interesting that you should definitely stop by.
Ljubljana also has quite a few large Christmas trees set up around the city, a few life-size nativities, as well as lighted decorations hanging above the streets.
Finally, there are quite a few events and concerts taking place throughout the city during the holiday season.
In the following sections, I’ll go into detail about each of these activities, events, and decorations.
The Different Christmas Markets in Ljubljana
Note: In Slovenian, “trg” means “square”, as in “Main Square.”
Presernov Trg Market
Presernov Trg is the biggest square in Ljubljana, and is also the location of the gorgeous pink Franciscan Church and the Triple Bridge. Just next to the church is an enormous Christmas tree covered in yellow lights. There are about 5-6 huts around the square all selling food and drink.
While it’s a nice place to stop by during the day, you absolutely must come by at night to see the tree and overhead decorations lit up.
I got super lucky to get snow the day I was in Ljubljana. I had just missed out on the snow in Vienna and Graz on my Christmas market tour, so I was so excited when it started snowing big puffy snowflakes at night. It was so magical!
The Breg Christmas Market had a very charming setup and was one of my favorite markets in Ljubljana. About 20 stalls line the Ljubljanica River, with the castle visible on the hill behind the stalls and the river – just overall a very lovely spot.
Christmas music was playing on speakers overhead while you browse the stalls, which mostly are selling artistic goods and gifts. Some examples of what you can find here include ceramics, handmade jewelry, ornaments, hats and scarves, candy and sweets, and bottles of wine.
A couple of stands at the end were selling snacks and drinks. A highlight for me here was the Christmas tree waffle on a stick – what can I say, I’m a sucker for an adorable treat.
Gallusovo Nabrezje Market
This is just on the other side of the river from the Berg market – just cross the St James Bridge (Sentjakobski Most) and you’re here.
This market has just 3 drink stands, but it also has a sprawling, lifesize hay nativity. Yes, all the people and animals in this nativity are made out of hay – it’s very impressive! I think it’s worth coming to this market just for this attraction that includes Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus (on Christmas Eve), a whole shepherd and sheep scene, and the wise men.
Ljubljana Castle Market
The Ljubljana Castle Market is, again, fairly small, with just 3 stands selling drinks and treats in the middle of the castle courtyard, but the castle backdrop and surrounding decorations are very cute!
As you enter the courtyard, there is a giant bunch of mistletoe hanging from the castle gate, and there are multiple large, decorated Christmas trees in the square.
You do not need to pay castle admission to visit the market – you can go into the castle courtyard for free. We really liked visiting the Ljubljana Castle, so if this is your first time in the city, I do think it’s worth touring the castle before or after you visit the market.
You will need to walk up either a very steep hill to get there or take the funicular – the funicular does have a cost.
Pogacarjev Trg Market
The Pogarcarjev Trg Market is situated in the shadow of the Ljubljana Cathedral, and is a really nice location to hang out in the evening.
Most of the market is underneath a covered roof, with about 15 stands selling food and drink, dozens of tables set up for eating, and a stage for performances, plus a few stands selling goods like hats and scarves, and candies.
Heaters are set up throughout the tables, making it actually feel pretty cozy, despite still being open-air. It was definitely a cozier ambiance than you’ll generally find outside in the chilly winter weather.
The stage has live music in the evenings, which attracts a good crowd.
Cankarjevo Nabrezje Market
This “market” is on the banks of the Ljubljanica River, and is one of the most charming and atmospheric sections of the river, in my opinion. This area is filled with cafes and restaurants, with outdoor seating lining the sidewalks. It’s all just incredibly scenic and has great vibes at any time of year.
During Christmastime, many of the cafes add garland, stars, and decorations to add to the holiday ambiance, and there are some booths selling drinks and roasted chestnuts.
Congress Square, Stritarjeva Ulica, and Novi Trg Markets
These 3 markets, for me, were misses. They just had 1-3 stalls selling drinks, with no other decorations, lights, attractions, or events to make the market more appealing. While you certainly may pass through these spots while you’re exploring Ljubljana, they weren’t places I’d say are worth seeking out specifically.
Map of Market Locations in Ljubljana
What to Eat and Drink at the Markets in Ljubljana
The foods offered at the markets include a huge variety of sausages, bratwurst, hot dogs, and chicken skewers.
This was probably about 90% of the savory food offerings at the markets, although other dishes like pad thai were being served. Slovenia has excellent sausages, including Carniolan sausages, which are a very traditional Slovenian food that you must eat while in the country.
Meats are often served with sauerkraut, and high-quality buns or ciabatta bread.
Sweet and Snacks
For sweet or snacky options, waffles, crepes, churros, pretzels, and roasted chestnuts are also available at the markets.
And of course, drinks are a big part of European market culture. Stands throughout the city sell hot drinks. Mulled wine, hot gin, and hot chocolate are the most popular options, but there are lots of alcoholic beverage options.
What to Buy at the Markets in Ljubljana
Many of Ljubljana’s markets don’t have stalls selling gifts and goods, so if you want to do some shopping, the best market to visit is the Berg Christmas Market. You can also find some goods at the Pogacarjev Trg Market.
Here are some examples of what you can buy at the Christmas markets in Ljubljana:
Sweets: I love the stands selling candies and chocolates – they are so fun and pretty!
Handmade Jewelry: Necklaces, bracelets, and rings that are unique and handmade are always a popular market gift.
Ornaments: Personally, I never get sick of admiring stalls filled with ornament displays. You can find a few stalls selling ornaments at the Ljubljana markets.
Winter Gear: Scarfs, hats, and gloves are very practical gifts to pick up from the markets!
City Lights and Ambiance
Ljubljana offers a lot of lights and decorations around the city. There are multiple large, decorated Christmas trees and lighted decorations hung high on the streets.
While the Christmas market offerings stay pretty much the same year after year, the light displays in Ljubljana change every year. Each year the light decorations have a different theme, and this year was space-themed (for example, at Presernov Square, you can see a flying saucer floating over the square).
Most of these decorations are set up along the streets in old town, along the river, and near the markets. Definitely do not miss walking along Ciril Metodov Trg between Mestni Trg and Gornji Trg after dark. This section of the street has two beautiful Christmas trees and nice lighting overhead.
Additionally, many shops and restaurants have their own decorations, such as garland, wreaths, lights, or small trees set up, which just adds to the festive feel around the city.
Concerts and Events
Ljubljana hosts a wide variety of events and concerts throughout the holiday season. For example, there is a St. Nicholas Procession on December 5, visits from the Ice Queen and fairytale creatures on December 10, 17, and 23, Grandpa Frost processions between Christmas and New Year, and a fireworks show at midnight on New Year’s Eve.
There are also all sorts of concerts and musical events taking place throughout the city. For example, organ grinders are spread out throughout Old Town, playing music for visitors between December 12-26. There are Christmas concerts on December 24, and children’s performances between December 18-20.
Finally, concerts are held at Novi Trg, Pogacarjev Trg, and Kongresni Trg on multiple dates throughout the month, including the entire week between Christmas and New Year.
The schedule is more detailed than I can post here, so I’d recommend stopping in at the Ljubljana Tourism Office and picking up a brochure that lists all the details of events in the city in December. The Tourism Office is in Old Town right next to the Triple Bridge.
- There are no entrance fees for the market.
- Cards are accepted at some stands, but others only take cash
- Slovenia is part of the EU, the Schengen Zone, and uses the euro as currency
- The local language is Slovenian, but locals generally speak very good English
- Slovenia is a very safe country to visit
How to Work Slovenia into Your December Europe Itinerary
You can easily visit the markets and see most of the main attractions and things to do in Ljubljana with one day in the city.
Because I had already done essentially all the touristy sightseeing things in both Ljubljana and Lake Bled earlier this year, when I came to Ljubljana in December, I was focused mostly on Christmas markets.
I walked through most of the markets in Ljubljana in the morning and early afternoon, and then took a late afternoon bus up to Bled to experience the Lake Bled Christmas Market. I was there for 2 hours, and then took the bus back to Ljubljana, where I walked through the city again to enjoy the vibes at nighttime and admire all the lights on in the city.
I got super lucky and started to snow while I was in Bled and continued in Ljubljana, which made for an absolutely magical night!
The TL;DR is that if you’ve already visited Ljubljana and Lake Bled, you could easily visit the markets in both cities with one day.
However, if you haven’t visited Ljubljana yet, I would recommend spending the day exploring the city – it’s a seriously underrated city with a lot of charming places and interesting things to see and do.
In the same vein, if you haven’t been to Lake Bled yet, I would highly recommend spending the day at the lake and doing sightseeing in the morning and afternoon, and then visiting the market in the late afternoon/evening. You could do Bled as a day trip from Ljubljana, or even stay the night in Bled and have a more leisurely time.
When you’re done with the markets in Slovenia, I’d highly recommend you jump over to the Budapest Christmas Market, the Vienna Christmas Market, or the Zagreb Christmas Market – other incredible holiday destinations not too far from Slovenia.
Christmas in Ljubljana – The Wrap Up
Ljubljana is a good idea any time of year, but the city is so festive and happy during December. I loved the lights and trees around the city, and the small, cozy markets in Old Town. If you’re going to be in the area, it’s a great addition to your Christmas market tour.