Ah, Ljubljana. The city that no one knows how to pronounce. (It’s lyoo-BLYAH-nuh, by the way.) Ljubljana is the capital city of Slovenia, and it’s our favorite small-big city. The first time we had an opportunity to choose a destination and stay for a whole week after our many blitz and quick stopovers in Europe — it wasn’t even a question where we would go.
Are there more impressive sights, more renowned cuisine, and more famous wine in Europe? I guess so. But you will forget that while you are strolling down the sidewalk next to the Ljubljanica, the river running through the old town, after enjoying a large plate of strukjli. Ljubljana has a well-rounded combination of everything you want while traveling: fantastic architecture, interesting history, delicious and diverse food, and surprisingly good wine, which all together combine to create a “sense of place” that is hard to beat.
I published a post on the 9 Reasons Why We Love Slovenia to entice you to visit this incredible country in Europe. This could be considered reason #10 to visit Slovenia because Ljubljana is worthy of its own separate space to gush over its charms. While there are many reasons to come here, the food scene has to be at the top of the list.
In this post I am going to talk about the food that makes Ljubljana such an alluring city to relax away the day. Because along with everything else, Ljubljana is also home to our favorite food tour. Even if you only have one day in the city, putzing around with a knowledgeable guide will make it a day to remember.
Now that you have a sense for why we love the city, we can move on to best reason to visit Ljubljana and the real reason for traveling at all — the food!
The best activity in Ljubljana – eating!
There aren’t any big blockbuster sights in Ljubljana, and that’s one the reasons we like it. But there’s plenty to keep you entertained, so I’ll let you check out TripAdvisor on your own for activities. But since we are all about finding the best food on our trips, I’m going to focus on the number one activity to do in Ljubljana, which is going on a food tour!
our favorite food tour in Europe
My husband and I love food. We love to talk about food, cook food, and really really love to eat food. Getting to know the food of a new place you travel is an important way to understand the area. To know Ljubljana, you need to know its food.
Ljubljana is an especially exciting city to highlight its cuisine because of how much it has changed and continues to change. While there still might not be flocks of tourists compared to other places, the increase in tourism over the years has created a desire to break from the expected traditional dishes, expand to a wide variety of cuisines, and appeal to a range of diet requests. With a guide to showcase some of the best of what the city has to offer, you are unlikely to be disappointed.
Food tours in general are nothing short of amazing. If you have visited a new city, especially abroad, you probably took the time to go on some type of informational walking tour. What makes food tours even better than a traditional walking tour is obvious — you get to eat and drink!
In our humble opinion the best way to digest a city is to eat its food. And the only way to properly do a food tour, or in this case, a food walk, in Ljubljana is with one of the fabulous guides of LjubljanaNjam (aka Ljubljana YUM!)
Iva Gruden, the founder of Ljubljananjam, started her foodwalks back in 2013 and has been highlighting the food scene of Ljubljana and Slovenia ever since. She has a team that works with her now, and whoever you get as a guide on her walks will be fantastic! When you factor in all of the dishes you will try, the passion and knowledge of the guides for helping others discover the Ljubljana food scene, it’s an excellent value for a day exploring the city.
We first heard of Ljubljananjam while watching one of Kara and Nate’s vlogs, our favorite YouTube travelers. When we saw how much they enjoyed their food walk, we knew that it was a must-do on our visit to Ljubljana in August of 2017. When we decided to return to Ljubljana for a week in 2018, being able to try more of the city’s cuisine was a major decision factor. So a second food tour with Ljubljananjam was the first thing we booked!
I’m a little ashamed to say that our inaugural food tour wasn’t until our first trip to Ljubljana in 2017. Why was it our first food tour, when we are self-proclaimed foodies and when we had already traveled so much? I don’t know! Either it had not been on our radars before or it hadn’t worked out. But I have to say that I don’t regret Iva leading us in our introductory experience. Being taken around a city by someone who truly understands the local restaurants, history, and culture gave us the desire to do a food tour on every trip!
get excited about the food
So, what is the food like in Ljubljana and Slovenia? Slovenia has a unique take on food from neighboring countries like Austria, Hungary, and Italy that they have made their own. Things like fruit trees, animal and dairy products, and Mediterranean-type foods like grapes, wine, olives, and figs, as well as freshwater fish from all the lakes do very well in this small country. You can expect lots of soups, cheeses, cured meats, cakes and sweet breads, pastas, potatoes, dumplings and other staples made of buckwheat and corn, spiced and grilled meats, and fresh seafood. With being in such a coveted area of Europe, it’s no wonder that Slovenia has made itself the culinary masterpiece that it has today.
Here are some dishes that we got to try on our food tours so you can get an idea of what you can expect from a food tour in Ljubljana. You will get a chance to try both very traditional and new takes on international food. You won’t necessarily eat the same things, as your guide will take you to restaurants that showcase the best dishes of the season.
You guys, I can’t tell you how much food you will eat on this tour. And you will love the variety!
dumplings worth writing home about
This is struklji. Probably my favorite dish that we discovered on the tour. Struklji and I are good friends – perhaps even too good of friends. Struklji, made of a thin dough, can be made as either a sweet or savory dish with a vast range of fillings (and as I tested out, can be eaten anytime of the day.) The guides of Ljubljananjam will show you the best spot to try these calorie-worthy treats! I haven’t gotten the chance yet but I badly want to put my cooking skills to the test to see if I can try to recreate struklji at home!
Another type of traditional dumpling dish that originated from the Idrija Valley is žlikrofi. Zlikrofi are folded dumplings made with dough and a potato filling, and I absolutely loved them. They weren’t a dish we had on our food tour but I had a couple plates of these delicious small dumplings while we were in Slovenia and would gladly eat them anytime. We most often saw them as a main dish with a meaty sauce. My favorite was this zlikrofi with lamb goulash.
hearty soups for any time of year
Slovenes eat soups at anytime of the year, so expect a hearty soup at some point on the tour, even if it’s a hot day! We had a fish stew on our last trip that I managed to get a blurry picture of that I still dream about. Someday I will go back and have a whole bowl to myself. Soups are often served as an the first course of a 3-course lunch, so expect to try a few different kinds during your visit.
pastas to rival Italy
Perfectly cooked gnocchi in ragu sauce? Hand-rolled pasta with freshly shaved black truffles? …are we still in Slovenia? Yep! I’m not ready to say that the pasta dishes we had in Ljubljana were *better* than Italy but they sure did give an appetizing attempt. Being such close neighbors doesn’t hurt either. If you are a pasta lover like me and think you will miss out on fresh pasta dishes in Slovenia, think again!
seafood and shellfish fresh from the lakes and Adriatic sea
Slovenia has only a tiny portion of coastline — about 29 miles (46.6 km) but that doesn’t stop them from having really good seafood and shellfish. Part of this is because they make up for a small coastline with having lots of freshwater lakes teeming with fish. All of the fish dishes that we had in Slovenia were very well done. Ljubljana had some interesting ways to serve their seafood, including a cured trout dish and a fish spread that we had as an appetizer before our pizza one night. And that stuffed calamari…lets just say I really, really hope you get to try it on your tour!
Delicacies like pumpkin seed oil
Another Slovenian delicacy that we got to experience on the tour was pumpkin seed oil. It’s used in a variety of ways, both savory and sweet. You will notice it sold in various places throughout the city, but make sure you ask your guide for a suggestion so that they can recommend the best place to buy some to bring home!
Our favorite way to use pumpkin seed oil is to drizzle it over fluffy, air-whipped ice cream. Sounds weird, but the combination is unforgettable.
the best desserts anywhere
I talked about this already in my 9 Reasons Why We Love Slovenia post but it’s worth saying twice that all the desserts we had were perfectly sweetened. If you like your sweets to be well-balanced without being overloaded with sugar than you will love the desserts in Ljubljana. And even if you don’t go on your tour, you have to try our favorite gelato shop at Gelateria Romantika with a picturesque view of the castle!
more of our favorite dishes
So obviously after talking about all of this food you are ready to book a foodwalk with Ljubljananjam! You can check out their Facebook page, read their awesome reviews on TripAdvisor, or book directly through their website. No matter which of their awesome food guides you end up with, I am certain they will do their best to help you get a taste for Ljubljana cuisine.
We’re planning to go for a hat trick and go on our third foodwalk with Ljubljananjam later this spring! Who is going to join us?
But wait…there’s an e-foodie guide!
If you won’t have time for a foodwalk while in Ljubljana (why??) or want to add on to the knowledge you acquired during your tour, you are in luck! The experts at Ljubljananjam created an awesome e-foodie guide to explore the food in Ljubljana to the fullest on your own. I went through it and was so excited to see how in-depth and useful it was, even if you have already been to Ljubljana. Whether you want restaurant suggestions, common phrases and etiquette, info on holidays and events, what souvenirs to buy, and more, it’s all there! To read more about the e-foodie guide and to purchase (it’s a super reasonable price!!), go to this link! As a bonus, if you are/have been a guest on one of their foodwalks, the guide is FREE!
This post is not sponsored by Ljubljananjam. My opinions are, as always, my own. Good food tours just make for passionate fans!
more pictures that will make you want to visit
I hope this has given you a taste for Ljubljana – literally and figuratively – and has helped you understand why it’s our favorite city in Europe. While your friends are doing their trips to major western European capitals, you can tuck away into your extraordinary experience in Ljubljana, a capital which 99% of Americans wouldn’t be able to pinpoint on a map.
Hvala and see you there soon!