Within enchanting Ljubljana exists an accolade-winning food and drinks scene that expertly combines tradition with contemporary influences
One of the greenest and most picturesque cities in Europe, Ljubljana is also among the best to eat in. The capital of Slovenia boasts an extraordinary culinary offering, combining traditional recipes and locally grown organic food with the influence of the Mediterranean and the innovations of resident chefs.
Slovenia has been named the European Region of Gastronomy for 2021, providing further proof of the great culinary strides made by the country and its capital in the past few years. Here we look at some of the reasons Ljubljana should be on every foodie’s radar.
Diversity of flavour
The cuisine of Slovenia has always been incredibly diverse. Bordered by Italy, Austria, Hungary and Croatia, the country sits at the crossroads of different culinary worlds. Although tiny in size (it is about 12 times smaller than the UK), Slovenia has a unique geography, with forests, mountains and beaches, and a climate ranging from continental to alpine and sub-Mediterranean. Visitors will therefore find culinary influences from Mediterranean, Pannonian, Alpine and Balkan cuisines, resulting in a melting pot of delicious dishes.
The country has several programmes designed to promote its culinary history. Restaurants in the city will proudly display badges for Taste Ljubljana, where the traditional dishes of the capital are prepared using modern cooking methods; Taste Central Slovenia; and Gostilna Slovenija, top-quality regional dishes served in authentic local restaurants.
Famous dishes include kranjska klobasa (Carniolan sausage), the best-known Slovenian speciality; kraški pršut (Kras prosciutto), a dry-cured pork leg; prekmurska gibanica (Prekmurje layered cake), a moist dessert consisting of layers of poppy seed, cottage cheese, walnut and apple filling; and potica, a yeast-dough cake with a variety of filling options which is the most typical Slovenian dessert.
With its relaxed atmosphere and excellent climate, Ljubljana has a distinctly Mediterranean feel, making it a fantastic place to sit and eat. You will find an abundance of outdoor cafés, especially near the banks of the river Ljubljanica. Head to the outskirts of the city to experience rural gostilnas (traditional restaurants) and farms that tourists can visit.
One great option is a Taste Ljubljana food tour where guests are able to sample local delicacies and visit Ljubljana Central Market, as well as the vegetable gardens found in the Krakovo area of Ljubljana.
A world of wine and beer
Slovene wine has seen its stock rise dramatically in recent years. At the 2019 Decanter World Wine Awards, four wines from Slovenia received Platinum medals and four received Gold medals. Although the country mostly produces white wine, Slovenia has three wine-growing regions with 14 wine-growing districts producing wines ranging from white to red, full-bodied to light, dry to sweet.
Ljubljana, sometimes called “the city of vine and wine” thanks to its location between wine-growing regions of the Mediterranean, Karst and the Alps, is a great place to sample wines from the Podravje, Posavje and Primorska regions. On the Ljubljana Wine Experience visitors can learn more about these wines and enjoy them in the company of local wine connoisseurs. It also includes a visit to Ljubljana Castle, where guests can take a look at a descendant of the world’s oldest vine (from the Lent embankment area in Maribor) and take a walk through the castle vineyard.
Ljubljana also has a very long tradition of brewing that guests can learn about while tasting various local beers on Ljubljana Beer Experience.
Locally sourced ingredients are the cornerstone of Slovenian food and, in Ljubljana, visitors will enjoy meat sourced from Central Slovenia and, often, vegetables that have been grown in suburban gardens. There’s no better place to experience this food culture than in the city’s markets. Let’s Meet at the Market, the newest Ljubljana Tourism experience, immerses visitors into Ljubljana’s vibrant central market, which was designed by architect Jože Plečnik, one of the giants of 20th-century European architecture. Visitors join a knowledgeable guide, who shares the history of the market. They are then treated to the Ljubljana Breakfast, prepared from ingredients that they learned about at the market.