I love the food and drink scene in Ljubljana. It’s really easy to find local, fresh, homemade food and wine, much of which is organic or biodynamic. In summer, I love to cycle around the city and sit by the river drinking a cold beer or iced tea. In autumn and spring, I like to take a boat cruise and admire the nature – the colours of the trees are magical. In winter, I enjoy sitting outside one of the river bars, under a heater nursing a thick hot chocolate that can only be tackled with a spoon. The city looks like a fairy tale at this time of year, with the castle and the pretty townhouses dusted in snow. There’s also an epic food market each Saturday, which has tons of fresh produce and goodies to try. If you read this blog, you’ll know that I’m a fan of Slovenian wine, and at the market you can sample tastings from many local winemakers. So here are my favourite places to eat and drink, most of which, naturally, include a tipple or two.
This new hotel is the city’s first five-star property, as well as one of its tallest buildings. It’s a must-visit on any trip to Ljubljana, though be sure to book ahead. The 20th-floor B-Bar and B-Restaurant have sweeping views over the city and mountains beyond. B-Bar has more than 20 different kinds of gin, and many of the cocktails involve honey (the bar is named after the Slovenian Carniolan honey bee). The restaurant, overseen by Michelin-starred consultant chef, Alfredo Russo, fuses Italian dishes with Slovenian ingredients. I particularly enjoyed the tortino di melanzane (aubergine, tomatoes and mozzarella on a Parmigiano biscuit), branzino al vapore (steamed sea bass, red onions, tomatoes and olives), pizza with burrata, anchovies and broccoli, and the honey cake. The wine list is pretty impressive, too. If you wish to stay, they have some beautiful rooms where you can sleep off your meal in pure bliss. Rates here are provided by Booking.com but if you prefer to book directly with the hotel, you can click this link instead.
Boat cruise on the River Ljubljanica
What better way to enjoy the city and its food than by taking a river cruise on a handmade wooden barge? Unlike many other cities, Ljubljana is a very relaxed place, and is definitely all about living the good life – wine, organic food, homemade cakes, fresh air, trees and the environment. This particular boat is made from oak and larch, and took two years to make. Its captain, Matej Trtnik, will talk you through the sites as you glide past them silently sipping your honey liqueur and nibbling on local delicacies. The ride lasts around 45 minutes.
Lunch at Strelec
Strelec is located in one of Ljubljana castle’s turrets, and I can’t think of a better place to have lunch if you’ve never been to Ljubljana before. The food and wine pairings are excellent, and come with beautiful views of the city. We tried venison with buckwheat dumplings, cauliflower cream, cuttlefish with sea asparagus and gnocchi with artichokes and truffles. Everything was stunning, and came served with some of Slovenia’s finest wines. A very reasonably priced but highly memorable meal.
Wine tasting at Movia
Movia produces some of the best wines in Slovenia, and its wine bar and shop is conveniently located in the city centre, saving you the bother of making the long journey to the actual vineyard in Brda on the Italian border (though this is a highly recommended day trip). Sample some fabulous Slovenian vintages while enjoying local cheeses and meats, then take a few bottles home with you. I promise your wine-tasting chops will thank me for it.
Tea and cake at Čajnica Gallus
My friend Nina introduced me to this place the last time I was in town, and I loved it so much I wanted to let you know about it too. The selection of teas and infusions run the gamut from greens to whites to Rooibos and specific herbs for health benefits, and you can have the pot topped up as much as you wish. In summer you can order a refreshing iced tea, and in winter the hot chocolate is divine. Food ranges from amazing toasts and sandwiches to raw vegan cakes. I enjoyed the raw berry cheesecake and, to me, this is such a Slovenian treat. Every time I come here I eat my way through a mountain of berries! The cafe is located right on the river, so very easy to find.