A country’s gastronomy is hard to define in just a few words especially that of Slovenia which has so much heterogeneity. Slovenian cuisine is influenced by the diversity of the country’s history, environment and its neighboring cultures. It is almost land-locked by its neighbors in the west by Italy, Hungary in the east, Croatia in the south and Austria in the north. It shares a little portion of the Istrian Peninsula along the Adriatic Sea sandwiched between Croatia and Italy. The fact is, in the year 2016, Slovenia was divided into 24 gastronomic regions and 3 wine-growing regions by the country’s leading ethnologists. For a country with the size of 20, 271 kilometers and around 2 million people living in it, the gastronomic variation is vast.
The gastronomy is a unique amalgamation of culinary influences of the Alpine, Mediterranean, Pannonian and Balkan cuisines. Although these influences can be observed everywhere in the country, some particularities are more prominent in some parts like the grains which are fundamentally used in the gastronomic regions of Central and Eastern Slovenia. Pumpkin seed oil is widely used in the west specifically in the Štajerska and Prekmurje where it has the protected geographical indication. Towards Italy, Mediterranean flavors of Karst are affected by the bora (the katabatic wind in areas near the Adriatic Sea), red clay soil and salt. At the Sečovlje Salt Pans the salt is still harvested by hand since the 13th century and where it has distinctive characteristics. While seafood is foremost in Istria, food from the land is more traditional in Karst like pickled cured meat, turnips, beans and potatoes and frtalja omelette.
More chefs in Slovenia are committing themselves to the slow food movement which protect traditional cooking and promote local ingredients. The evolution in the kitchen is wrapped around the quality and source of the raw materials which Slovenia is rich in. With regards to approach, modern spins to traditional dishes are becoming more common. Wherever you go, the food is always delicious, hearty and rich and when accompanied by the excellent locally produced wines – a meal becomes a perfection.
Slovenia has three wine regions: Podravje in the east, Primorska in the west and Posavje in the south of the center. Historically, the country has been producing wine for about 2,400 years. Its location between the 45° and 47° latitude in the northern hemisphere makes it ideal for viticulture. Climate-wise, it enjoys a maritime climate in the west from the Adriatic Sea while continental conditions are in the opposite side created by the Pannonian Basin and the Julian Alps.
Podravje produces almost half of the county’s total wine production and for this reason, the territory is densely planted with vines. The aromatic white vines grow splendidly in this area for the mineral-rich soils and continental climate which are well-expressed in the wines. Riesling (Welchriesling), Pinot Gris (Sivi Pinot), Pinot Blanc (Beli Pinot), Muller Thurgau (Rizvanec), Furmint (Sipon), and Gewurztraminer (Traminec) are some of the grapes that are grown here. Primorski instead is a coastal region which faces the Adriatic Sea going towards Italy. Over the years, it has shown its great capacity to produce wines of quality and personality. Like Podravje, this area has mineral-rich soils which it shares with neighboring Friuli-Venezia Giulia of Italy which is excellent for viticulture. You will find Refosco, Tokaj (Tai) and Rebula (Ribolla) here. As for Posavje, it has the smallest wine production among the three regions and is overshadowed by the popularity of the other two. Generally, the viticulture in Slovenia is also affected by the influence of its neighboring countries like its gastronomy but currently, there is an increasing number of French vines in cultivation.
Radovljica is a a medieval town with graced by amazing panorama of the Karavanke Alps and the Julian Alps. Today, it is becoming known as Sweet Radovljica for its tradition of beekeeping and production of honey and chocolates which the town celebrates with a well-attended grand festival annually.
Tradition is a noble word at Gostilna Lectar. Slovenian classic through and through, the inn has a restaurant with a fireplace on the ground floor, a gingerbread museum with a workshop in the basement and hotel rooms on the upper floors, all housed in a historical building of more than 500-years old in the medieval town of Radovljica. The gingerbread workshop and bakery was originally opened by Jacok Krivic in 1766 which is still working until now as museum and workshop where you can see how the handmade lects are made. They are decorative hard gingerbread with honey-based dough which are typical of Slovenia.
Authenticity is underlined in the restaurant with the warmly-decorated rooms, especially the one with the fireplace as the owner and staff, dressed in traditional Slovenian clothes, serve the food. Plates of cured meat direct from the farms, black pudding, sauerkraut, soup in bread bowl, baked apples are in the menu as well as more dishes with more seasonalilty like porcini mushrooms, asparagus and turnips. Lectar can accommodate 220 diners in six separate rooms.
Address: Linhartov Rrg 2, 4240 Radovljica, Slovenia
The pandemic may have had its dark days but in one part of Slovenia, it had been a time of reflection and change of life. Nataša Mikelj, formerly the director of the Radovljica Tourist Board, pondered on her career path and future during the lockdown. Always a lover of good chocolates, she decided to go for a totally different road by producing her own chocolates and opening a laboratory and shop in her town, Radovljica along with her husband and eldest daughter after months of research and studying the ropes of chocolate making. Everything is handmade using well-selected ingredients. It’s definitely worth a stop when you’re in town!
Address: Gorenjska Cesta 4, 4240 Radovljica, Slovenia
Lake Bled is popular for its magnificent water with the iconic tiny island with a church in the middle and a dominating castle on the hilltop. It is home for as many as 19 species of fish and a diversity of aquatic plants and animals making the lake a thriving ecosystem. The island can be visited in various ways but the most popular method is by riding the pletna, a traditional boat of Lake Bled which originated in 1590 with a flat wood bottom designed according to the concept of the Venetian gondola but with its own special features. Whereas the tectonic structure of the lake has contributed to the emergence of many thermal springs on the east side of the lake where the temperature remains constant above 20°C. These thermal springs with health benefit elements that are used in some hotel pools in the area.
Rose Restaurant of Bled Rose Hotel
Chef Gregor Rozman, a member of the Slovenian culinary team, takes you on an inspiring culinary journey of the integration of tradition and modern trends attained by techniques and creativity. The quality of the raw materials is foremost in the chef’s agenda as he explains each dish he presents. Working on his side is Pastry Chef Urša Sonnenwald. Dinner at the more intimate Jungle Room with a few tables is a unique experience with the thematic ambience of a jungle – music, machine-generated fog and decors. The presentation of the dishes is impressive highlighted by the impeccable attentive service given by the white-gloved dining staff. The wine list is extensive especially with the selection of locally produced ones. The restaurant is open to both hotel and non-hotel guests.
Bled Rose Hotel
A four-star wellness hotel located just 150 meters from the beach of Lake Bled wherein some of the rooms have picturesque views of the lake from their windows and balconies. Enjoying a walk along the green surroundings and the shimmering lake is a luxury and inside the hotel itself, you can also take advantage of their indoor pool and wellness center with massages, beauty treatments, Turkish and Finnish saunas. For a different kind of brunch experience, book a Jungle Brunch at €29 per person in a wilderness ambience while eating. There’s a wide selection of freshly prepared dishes from local seasonal ingredients with unlimited amount of mimosas. And for a beautiful surprise, order a cup of cappuccino with your face stamped on it!
Maribor is the capital of Štajerska region in a beautiful location near the Drava River that runs through the city and is surrounded by the green forests of Pohorje and hills lined with rows of sunlit combed vineyards. A charming and vibrant city with neatly-colored houses, its Medieval origin has left its imprint in its richness in history and culture. Gastronomically, it holds great importance in Slovenia for the number of culinary festivals that it continues to hold whereas viticulturally, it has a rich wine tradition and it holds the record of having the oldest vine in the world (according to Guiness World Records) which is planted in the city center as well as in the wine roads in the area.
Located right in the main square of Maribor, Glavni trg, which is the heart of the historic center the city. Fudo is housed on the ground floor of one of the Medieval and Renaissance houses with cantilevered balconies. When the tables are set outside under the shade of umbrellas in the warm months, outdoor dining is very pleasant. Fudo can be defined as casual dining with main focus on the quality of the food that they serve. The ingredients are fresh and organic with respect to the seasons while the baked products are done in its own kitchen. The menu changes every two weeks. The wines are also carefully selected to go with their culinary proposals. The restaurant seats 40 indoors and more outdoors.
Meaning Aunt Frida in English, Teta Frida is a chocolate paradise along the banks of Drava Lake in Maribor. It offers a 360-degree chocolate experience starting with the shop where you can buy the chocolates, pastries and ice cream, all created with natural ingredients and sweetened with naturally fermented sweeteners such as erythritol and stevia making them safe for for diabetics. Outdoors, there are tables on the terrace along the river bank where you can enjoy the sweet treats, perhaps drinking a cold glass of chocolate beer as well. And if you want to understand how chocolates are made, they provide lessons in understanding the process of chocolate-making from the choice of cocoa beans that Teta Frida sources from a small village in Liberia called Molly-Koyata to the final product. On the working table, you get to make your own chocolate bars with the help of an expert, from using the mortar and pestle in grinding the roasted cocoa nibs to mixing the melted chocolate with other ingredients. After the lesson, just wait a few more minutes until the chocolates harden and you can seal them on your own!
The minute you arrive through the 40-kilometer road wine road of Jeruzalem or Ormož, you will be awestruck with the magnificent view of the soft hills neatly lined with rows of vineyards with a sprinkling of wooden-roofed wine cellars most especially in the areas of Svetinje, Kog and Miklavž. Jeruzalem is the highest peak in the area at an altitude of 341 meters asl in the Podravje wine region. The hills of Ljutomer-Ormož offer ideal conditions for the production of white wines because the territory has the best conditions for the cultivation of grapes which underlines the the aromatic white ones especially for the abundance of sunshine, diurnal temperature variation and mineral-rich soil. The best vineyards in the region are located on the hills that surround the village of Jerusalem which is where some of the best wines are born. Furmint or Šipon in the local language is a local variety and the pride of Jeruzalem and the Prlekija region. In this terroir, it fully expresses its outstanding character, distinctive freshness and rich flavor.
Puklavec Winery and Tourist Farm
The Puklavec family has always been in winemaking for generations. Their story started in 1934 when Martin Puklavec had a vision to make the finest wines possible. This philosophy continues to be the main core of family until today with Vladimir Puklavec and his two daughters Tatjana and Kristina. Working alongside other winegrowers, the pursuit for producing great wines continues, with the cellar under the care of oenologist Mitja Herga since 2009. The Puklavec family wines have received awards and recognition for some of their labels. The wines are produced in the heart of Ljutomer-Ormoz, an area that has a perfect micro-climate for the growth of the vines which result in elegant and balanced wines that represent the territory. The Puklavec family also has a tourist farm which features a restaurant and farm-stay rooms. Its most spectacular features is the garden with tables overlooking the vineyards and the beautiful landscape of Jeruzalem.
Hlebec Winery and Tourist Farm
Hlebec is a family-owned winery and tourist farm located in Kog, on the outskirts of Ljutomer and Ormoz hills. It is owned by Milan Hlebec Senior and and his son Milan Hlebec Junior. Milan Senior’s father started producing wine in 1983 and the knowledge and passion for winemaking has been passed through the three generations of the family. A small producer with an annual production of 40,000 bottles, father and son make sure that the wines they produce portray quality. They cultivate around 40,000 vines of Chardonnay, Sauvignon, Welschriesling, Muskat Otonel and Sipon in 8 hectares of land. Wine tasting in their suggestive stone cellar surrounded by hundreds of bottles is a wonderful experience, as the owners serve local delicacies to go with their wines. The outdoor tables on the terrace overlooking the vineyards and hills are beautiful. The farm can accommodate guests in the structure with their 7 rooms. For the art lovers, Hlebec also hosts various works of artists.
Taverna Kupljen is a referral point for enjoying the view of the hills of Jeruzalem from your seat while dining where the outdoor tables overlook neatly-combed vineyards. The restaurant has a tavern-style ambience laden with dark wood and rustic decors. The kitchen at Taverna is a delicious voyage through genuine Slovenian dishes like the starter of cured meat, cheese and the local tünka meat and the prleška gibanica (cottage cheese cake) for dessert. The wine menu is very good with a selection of Slovenian wines with particular attention to their own production of Kupljen with a range of labels of fresh and fruity wines of the Premium series to the more complex ones that are matured in oak barrels of the Stars of Stiria series.
In the midst of nature, Glamping Bioterme is the optimum place for those who love staying in the green side of traveling. The Bioterme Tourist Village is located in the heart of Prlekija in the municipality of Ljutomer, situated between Mura and Drava rivers. The peculiarity of Bioterme is that it is a balneological resort with thermal water which has beneficial health effects. The glamping is a part of the 4-star Hotel Bioterme which has more than 70 hotel rooms and suites while on a tranquil side of the resort, the glamping area hosts 22 villas of different sizes which are fully equipped with kitchens, bedrooms, living rooms, bathrooms, balconies and personal wooden bathtubs with geothermal water.
Address: Moravci v Slovenskih Goricah 34/b, 9243 Mala Nedelja, Slovenia
Celje is known as the City of the Counts. It features a long history including the the ancient Celeia and the Counts of Celj who were the most powerful noble dynasty that ever ruled the territory which is now present-day Slovenia. Their power rose in late Medieval period and they have extended this all the way to Croatia and Hungary, owning more than 20 castles in the territories including Celje Castle, built in the 12th-century, which became their seat at the end of the 14th-century. The castle is open to the public and holds the best view of the city and its surrounding for its high position. Modern Celje has a vibrant urban feel but with a green soul because of the natural green environment that surrounds the bustling city. The city is sprinkled with a number of restaurants with both international and Slovenian cuisines. The chefs who love the Slovenian tradition continue to cook old recipes and at times, divert them a bit to modern influences.
A gourmet surprise awaits you at Restaurant Oštirka where owner, Chef Miran Ojsteršek prepares contemporary plates with distinctive flavors. However modern, Slovenian tradition is not lost in the dishes. Centrally positioned, it is a busy restaurant located next to the Celje City Market. The ingredients are local including the meat, while the vegetables are sourced from the family’s own farm or the market next to it that the chef visits daily for his fresh seasonal acquisitions. Everything is homemade in the kitchen of Miran, including the bread and desserts. Wine is an essential part of the restaurant’s cuisine which is reflected in its excellent selection of local labels.
Goče is a stone village surrounded by vineyards located between the valleys of Vipava and Branica in the Primorska wine region. It has a breathtaking view of vineyards, stone houses and mountains. The village is a cultural heritage of Slovenia which is a rural architecture of stone houses with thick walls with roofs covered with tiles or slate typical of the Goriška region lined in extremely narrow roads called gase, often not more than one meter wide. It is also famed for the village’s history in viticulture, an effective activity since the 14th-century. In fact, a lot of the stone houses have their wine cellars underground with vaulted stone ceilings to protect them from the bora and from the sun’s heat. Extraordinarily, a lot of the houses have more than one wine cellar each to accommodate the vast quantity of wine production which at end of the 19th-century, the village had more wine cellars than residential houses. Because of its favorable location in the middle of the fertile hills of the Vipava Valley, it became a viticulture land famous for its fine wines. Currently, the small village has 60 wineries inside.
A different kind of experience that visitors can have at Goče is to become a winemaker for a day. Andraž Ferjančič, Mitja Kodre and Davorin Mesesnel, the winemakers of Wine Cellar Ferjančič, Wine Cellar Kodre and Cejkotova Domačija respectively, will meet you at the vineyards to get a brief course about viticulture then the fun starts when you can try a bit of work yourself, the kind depending on the season. Tastings in their underground cellars follow suit walking through the gase of the village. Lastly, on a more technical part, you get to try what oenologists do by mixing three monovarietal wines in separate carafes into a blend that you chose yourself. If you’re satisfied, label it then seal it yourself with a corking machine. And that’s your blended wine from Goče!
Wine Cellar Ferjančič
The Ferjančič family has the history of more than 200 years of making wine in the village of Goče near Vipava. They have 5 hectares of land. The winery is in the hands of Andraž Ferjančič, the third generation who is continuing the agricultural activity of the family. The terraces of Vipava hills have marly soil and with the warm climatic conditions and the famous bura of the area, the katabatic wind, the wines get particular characteristics. Among the labels that they produce there are the wines obtained from Refosco, Cabernet Sauvignon, Moscato Giallo, Chardonnay, Sauvignon, Ribolla, Malvasia and Pinela, an autochthonous grape from the Vipava valley.
Address: Goče 9, 5271 Vipava, Slovenia
Wine Cellar Kodre
Mitja Kodre is a young winemaker who belongs to his family’s small estate of two generations. Kodre Winery has two hectares of land in Goče cultivating Malvasia, Rebula, Zelen, Chardonnay, Moscato, Merlot, Barbera and Cabernet Sauvignon. His knowledge and passion about his territory and its particularities in wine give way to excellent results like the Zelen Rosè which is a blend of 90% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Barbera and vinified in stainless steel tanks for 7 months and more in the bottle.
Address: Goče 41, 5271 Vipava, Slovenia
The first thing you will notice in Cejkotova Domačija is the warm hospitality of the host Davorin Mesesnel and his family in their two-storey homestead. The guesthouse itself has a story to tell for it is 600-years old and when Davorin and his father started renovating it in 1991 after acquiring it from a big state of neglect. Father and son worked on putting it to its great splendor for three years, at some point Davorin’s father fell ill but Davorin continued. The place is immaculately laid out for the guests to enjoy and see some traditional Slovenian details. There are dining rooms on both floors where they serve home-cooked food using seasonal local produce from their garden, meat from their farm and wine from their own production. Both Davorin and his wife Jelka prepare the food for their guests. The cured meat, cheese and bread are also done by the family. If you are in the area and want to experience a lovely meal prepared by Davorin and his family, book ahead.
Address: Goče 60, 5271 Vipava, Slovenia
Tel: +386 31 398 496
Portoroz is a splendid coastal city by the Adriatic Sea in front of the Gulf of Trieste known for its vibrant life. Luxury wellness hotels line the seafront for Portoroz actually has an old history of health-benefit salts. From the 13th-century, it had been known as a place for healing because the monks of St. Laurence Monastery were using the seawater and brine for healing. The reputation of the town never changed, only it catered more to modernity with the presence of more wellness places using the sea salt. Life at Portoroz as a tourist is easy – go to the spa for the salt treatments, relax on the beach and splurge on the Istrian cuisine which is light and rich in Mediterranean flavors.
Istrian Bistro and Tapas
A refreshing take on modern cuisine, the young chef of Istrian Bistro and Tapas creates his dishes with inventiveness without sidestepping the fundamentals of Istrian flavors while using seasonal ingredients. Chef Siniša Petrušić prepares dishes that are inviting and even more so as you dig in. The wine menu is stacked with excellent choices to accompany the dishes while concluding the meal gets more exciting as you can browse the window of pastries prepared by the chefs. Located inside the Mind Hotel Slovenija – LifeClass Hotels & Spa, Istrian Bistro and Tapas has a modern and relaxed atmosphere with a five-star service where you can watch the chefs at work in the open kitchen. The restaurant is part of the Slovenian culinary project: The Restaurant Week, in which twice a year the best restaurants show off their best dishes to a larger approach to diners.
Mind Hotel Slovenija
A five-star wellness hotel right across the beach, Mind Hotel Slovenija is the place to be at Portoroz. It is a part of the luxury hotels of Lifeclass Hotels and Spas. The position is perfect where you can see in full splendor the stretch the Gulf of Trieste. The blue waters of the sea and the green Istrian countryside immerses your stay in full harmony with nature. With a room facing the waters, a drink on the balcony as you watch the sun set and spew out its orange hues is beautiful. The hotel is a part of a modern winter thermal resort and directly linked to the swimming pools with thermal water, one of the most comprehensive health and wellness offers in Europe.
Address: Obala 35, 6320 Portorož, Slovenia
Miren Kras is the part of Slovenia that touches the soul of Italy and the Adriatic Sea. It’s an area that celebrates its peaceful environment, between green fields and the flowing Vipava River. When in the asparagus season in spring, a must-try is the Istrian white asparagus which is well-celebrated as a special delicacy. Chefs here cook them in various way but the most popular and even the simplest is the frittata. A local grape variety holds reign in the vineyards of Miren Kras, the Teran, for its suitability with the iron-rich red soil of Istria. Wines obtained from Teran have plenty of body, low alcohol content, good acidity, bursting with juicy forest berries in the mouth and and when aged in wood, the minerals from the particular red soil start to come out. It pairs well with fattier foods, as well as prosciutto which is produced in the area, uniquely dried by the bora and aged cheese.
Miren Kras is another green area of Slovenia where one of the most pleasant activities is to travel around in a bike. At the Miren Kras Tourism Office, ask for RockVelo Cycling Tours that rents e-bikes. Enjoy your meals from one inn to another where they serve traditional food using seasonal ingredients from their own gardens or from trusted small farms in the area. The Monument of Peace, a monument built for the memory of the defenders of Slovenia, is reachable by car or better yet, by bike which is a plesant ride through nature. At the monument’s 25-meter high tower, you can have a panoramic viewpoint of Cerje that stretches above the Vipava Valley which in 2019 was recognized as the most beautiful viewpoint in Slovenia.
Darja Makorič reigns in the kitchen of Makorič Inn. Located in Orehovlje, it is one of the most popular restaurants in this part of Slovenia for its authentic take on traditional cuisine which are typical of the Vipava Valley and Karst. The menu is strictly seasonal with a variety of genuine local flavors using the best local ingredients. Asparagus season in spring is a one of the best times to visit when Darja whips up specialty dishes with the white spears. Homemade bread and dumplings are excellent. Protecting the culinary heritage is one of the missions of Makorič Inn.
Address: Orehovlje 31, 5291 Miren, Slovenia
Another celebrated female chef in Miren Kras is Jasmina Golob of Štirna Inn. In her kitchen, she keeps traditional recipes that were passed on from grandmothers in the Karst region that she presents in a lightly retouched version of her creativity. She uses seasonal local ingredients in her culinary delicacies. The platter of local cured meat is highly recommendable as well as her handmade Štirna Gnocchi. The inn has an age-old tradition of pampering hungry guests when their horse-drawn vehicles stopped from Italy. Today, Štirna Inn works with the joint effort of Jasmina and her husband Jurij Golob as he stays in the dining room with the guests. The atmosphere of Štirna is very homey thanks to the familiarity of the flavors of Jasmina’s kitchen and the warmth of the hospitality of Jurij. In the indoor dining rooms, the restaurant can accommodate 90 while outdoors in the two summer gardens, 80 can be seated.
Address: Opatje selo 42, 5291 Miren, Slovenia
Oskar Kogoj Nature Design
Visit the gallery of Oskar Kogoj in Miren to see the timeless creations of this world-renowned multi-awarded artist. For more than six decades he has set global trends in art and industrial design. The masterpieces of Oskar Kogoj are kept in more than 100 art galleries around the world and he has received more than 60 international awards for his works. Designed items display his cosmopolitan ideology and the love for Slovenian heritage. The gallery is housed in his ancestral home, close to his heart for it is where his mother was born. The gallery is kept by his two daughters where you can also buy the pieces. There are his famous nature design, including glasses, chalices and vases, sculptures, plates, holy symbols and furniture.