Last week I was able to explore the beautiful and diverse country of Slovenia for the first time. The country has 2 million inhabitants, and is known for its mountains, ski resorts and lakes. I am happy to take you on a journey of discovery, which was guided by culinary experiences.
The capital Ljubljana
The capital of Slovenia is Ljubljana and with about 290’000 inhabitants it is also the biggest city of the country. There is a lot to discover in this really beautiful city, thanks to its size it can be explored wonderfully on foot.
An absolute must-see is the market on Saturday morning. It offers a huge selection of fruits, vegetables, flowers, fish and much more from local producers. Slovenia is famous for its honey, among other things, a perfect souvenir to take home. Culinary lovers will also love the market hall. For art lovers, there is also something to discover: an art space for young artists has been created in the old fish market hall. We were even allowed to take part in a small flower workshop with a lovely flower seller.
Let’s move on to one of my highlights in the capital, the restaurant JB. The chef Janez Bratovž serves you culinary delights. He is also considered a pioneer who brought the gourmet scene to Slovenia. JB cooks with creative ideas, heart and soul, and you can taste that in all his dishes. You shouldn’t miss his famous ravioli with pistachios.
By the way, during our time in Ljubljana we stayed at the Grand Hotel Union, a 4-star hotel ideally located for exploring the city. At the time of its construction, it was the largest hotel in the city. It was built from 1903-05 according to plans by architect Josip Vancaš. I particularly like the fact that the hotel is in Art Nouveau style and thus exudes the charm of past times.
Lake Bled, Lake Woheiner, Upper Carniola & Brdo
Lake Bled is becoming more and more popular by tourists. Situated on the edge of the Triglav National Park, the lake was even nominated for the Seven New Wonders of the World. The Upper Carniola region is also known for its thermal waters. In the lake is the small island of Blejski Otok with the Church of St. Mary – it is also the only island in Slovenia. You can enjoy a wonderful view of Lake Bled from Bled Castle. A visit to the castle is anyway worthwhile.
Also worth a visit is Lake Woheiner, which is part of the Triglav National Park. The water is so clear that you can watch the fish swimming. Therefore, the lake is wonderful for swimming, but also for e.g. a hike.
The perfect residence for staying in the Brdo region is the newly opened Hotel Elegans. We even stayed in the unique presidential suite with its own sauna. Stylish interiors, a wonderful breakfast buffet and friendly staff make the stay a first-class experience. The Brdo Park belongs to the hotel and offers a recreational area. With 11 lakes, wild animals and a 9-hole golf course as well as a horse stud farm, there are numerous activities on offer, from picnics in the park to hunting trips. In addition, a wellness area is to be added in a few months. A visit is definitely worthwhile.
Another culinary highlight was the restaurant Vila Podvin in Mošnje near Radovljica in the middle of Upper Carniola. The restaurant is run by top chef Uroš Štefelin, who has been awarded a Michelin star. The creations combine modern cuisine with traditional ingredients. They are cooked with fresh, seasonal, local ingredients and vegetables from the hotel’s own garden of Vila Podvin. A real treat.
Portorož – the pearl by the sea
Our journey then took us to the sea. Slovenia has 47 km of coastline and is therefore also wonderfully suited for bathing holidays. The Slovenian Istria offers pure holiday feeling. In Portorož there are numerous hotels with private beaches and wooden piers to relax in the sun. From our hotel balcony at Mind Hotel Slovenija, we had a wonderful view of the Adriatic Sea with beach and harbour. Hotel guests are also allowed to visit the Portorož thermal baths. The spa offers swimming pools with thermal water – Urmeer, swimming pools with heated sea water – Sea Spa and seven centres with the most holistic health and wellness offer in Europe.
This sunny region is home to numerous wineries. We were allowed to help with the grape harvest at Vinska Klet Kralj and of course taste the delicious Slovenian wine. A great experience for all those who would like to discover for themselves how a good drop of wine is made.
The COB Experience restaurant in Portorož offers a true gastronomic experience. This stands for “Cooking outside the Box” and you can certainly see what this means in the pictures. The focus here is not only on the culinary delights themselves, but also on their presentation. Unusual eating utensils and service methods make a visit a unique experience.
Piran – Slovenia’s most beautiful coastal town
A short stop in Slovenia’s most beautiful coastal town was also a must during our stay. Piran with its picturesque historical centre is a real feast for the eyes. The old coastal town with the remains of the medieval ring wall is protected as a cultural and historical monument.
Discovering traditional food
On our trip, we discovered the traditional food culture in the different regions, which were shaped by various influences. For example, we visited the Woheiner Corn-Trdinka, an old mill where maize is still grown and processed today. The traditional corn porridge is still eaten by Slovenians today. In the Bohinj valley in the heart of the Julian Alps, we enjoyed local specialities at the Gartner farm in the village of Studor and learned more about the life of farmers. In Istria, we went to the Karst farm and adventure herb garden in Belajevi. There we learned more about the herbs grown and enjoyed a traditional egg dish.