Ana Meljo gives travellers a few handy local tips on Ljubljana’s varied and mouthwatering food scene.
In the past few years, food markets in Slovenia have become a huge draw for visitors and locals alike, offering various dishes at budget friendly prices. Slovenia is no exception and also follows the worldwide trend!
Culinary treats in Ljubljana
After sightseeing at the capital, the best idea is to sit down for a tasty bite to eat. But where to go, if you’d want to try something traditional, or maybe something more exotic? If it’s a Friday, begin your weekend Odprta kuhinja – open kitchen.
The first open kitchen was organised in Ljubljana back in spring 2013, when the usual market stalls were converted into fresh food vendors, selling cuisines from traditional Slovenian and international cook books. Since then, open kitchen has taken place every Friday between March and October from 10AM to 8PM. It attracts gourmands who like to treat their tastebuds with a colourful array of pastries, drinks and other specialities at backpacker-friendly prices.
You can find a traditional Slovenian menu – with kranjska klobasa (a local kind of sausage) with sauerkraut and a prekmurska gibanica (delicious Slovenian pastry) or šmorn (a pancake dating back to the 16th century). If you fancy a little something from overseas, you can find great international cuisine from Vietnam, India, China, Turkey, Japan, the Balkans, Kenya and more. The prices range from 3 to 8 euros, varying depending on the stand.
Once you’ve had your fill, you can spend the night in Ljubljana at one of HI Slovenia’s collection of characterful hostels there. There’s the vivid and urban hostel Trezor in the very heart of Ljubljana and set up in the vault (that’s what its name means) of a former bank, adding an extra dimension to your stay. Next is Youth Hostel Ljubljana a little further out in the suburbs, amd ideal for sporty types since it shares its building with the sports centre. The DIC Hostel has to win the ‘lovely location’ prize hands down, hidden under the city castle (the most visited attraction of the national capital). And Hostel Tabor offers the most budget friendly option, being located in the park Tabor, with many interesting summer events taking place. If, however, you fancy a different kind of experience, you can even check into a villa, and decide to stay in a century old Vili Ljubljana, a building that personifies the charm of the Slovenian capital.
Enjoy cosiness, good food and company at Celje market
In May this year, a new open kitchen also popped up its stalls in Celje, offering a variety of edibles every Saturday between 10AM and 8PM. Celje market is very similar to Ljubljana, minus a few stands for a more personal experience: more seats for visitors means you can get cosy and enjoy the food and company.
Then, you can happily crash at Youth Hostel Celje, located in the old part of town, well connected by rail and road. The rooms of the hostel are unique and full of personality: young artists from Celje gave their personal touch to each and every one of them by depicting local legends, making the hostel interesting for everyone.
Follow your nose to mariborski pisker (Maribor’s pot)
What’s cooking over here? A similar project was also launched in Maribor, named Pun pisker (full pot). There are countless pots of goodness up for grabs here, but add a pinch of nostalgia, too: you can catch the waft of aromas from the grill or the frying pan reminding you of home, or that special place you travelled to.
Generally, most stands offer domestic Slovenian food, with many types of ground meat, but the most unique and possibly challenging flavour you’ll find is the beef ice cream – a novel combination of cabbage and beef, which is prepared and then served in a cone. Hmm. Pun pisker also hosts the first Romani food stand in Europe, offering genuine food from the first European Romani restaurant which caught the fancy of many curious food tasters when it opened.
Again, you will have no problem trying to find a place to sleep in Maribor. If you want to stay in the heart of the city, Youth Hostel Uni is the best location for you. But you can also choose the Youth Hostel Pekarna, in the former bakery, with rooms still smelling of freshly baked bread and offers a great view of the Magdalena park. If you want to escape from city life, book yourself a bed at Ruše Youth Hostel, which is just a few minutes’ drive (by bus, train, car or bicycle), offering many activities and fresh air on the doorstep.
Words: Ana Meljo