If you’ve been paying any attention to the Slovenian travel and tourism scene in the last few years then you’ll be aware of the various attempts to being made to get people to stay longer and see more, broadening the profile of the country beyond Ljubljana, Bled and Postojna.
It’s an approach that’s bringing attention to a wide range of activities and areas, one of which is food and drink, with perhaps the guiding star in this regard being Slovenia’s coming time in the spotlight as a 2021 European Region of Gastronomy.
Source: Ljubljanayum's Instagram page
Foreign operations, like Michelin and Gault&Millau, already have guides for Slovenia in print or preparation, but what about something produced by people who actually live and work here, who are part of the scene and know how things compare within the city itself?
In this space you’ll find The Ljubljanayum Foodie Guide to Ljubljana, an e-book that’s free to anyone who joins a Ljubljanayum food tour of the capital or that can be purchased for €6. And that purchase price is important, because the text – written by Iva Gruden, Nina Purger, and Pia Kaplan – is based on experience, discovery and pleasure, and not on sponsorship or paid content, as you’ll find in some other guides available around town, with recommendations for sale, and the worst presented alongside the best.
The lead on the project was (and is) taken by Iva Gruden, one of the pioneers of the Ljubljana food tour scene, with the first one being offered back in 2013. It’s thus a guide by people who know the city well, and not a blogger who based their story on the biggest names or most Instagrammable locations.
The book contains descriptions of over 40 best shops, bakeries, take-aways, restaurants, bars, cafés, pubs and neighbourhoods in Ljubljana, including places offering vegan, brunch, speciality coffee and more, so you can find exactly what you want. There’s also a guide to local etiquette and customs, interviews with specialists, gastronomic words and phrases in Slovene, and foodie dates and events to base a vacation or day out around.
Personally, I lived in Ljubljana for five years, on Trubarjeva cesta – the city’s ethnic food centre – only leaving a month ago, and I still learned a lot learned a lot from The Ljubljanayum Foodie Guide, including more about places I’d never considered, as well as a fresh look at those I know well.
In short, if you’re coming to Ljubljana to eat and drink and don’t want to fly blind or rely on TripAdvisor and sponsored content, then consider taking a Ljubljanayum Food Tour (bookings here, and our interview with Iva Gruden, back when it was called Ljubljanajam, here), or picking up a copy of the related guide to the city.
The current e-book was published in 2019, and while a new one is in the works nothing much has changed in the months since it was released – just a little more attention being paid to Slovenian food and drink, attention that’s repaid with pleasure.
Source: Ljubljanayum's Instagram page
STA, 24 December 2019 - For years, Slovenia had been focussing on pushing tourism figures up, boasting new records year after year. Now, its main tourist destinations are slowly starting to take a step back. Acknowledging the grievances of local population and the environmental impact of mass tourism, their goals for the future are starting to change.
Ljubljana, where new hotels are popping up and old buildings in the city centre are being repurposed into accommodation facilities for rental on platforms such as Booking.com and AirBnB, has heard many complains from locals about the negative effects of tourism.
Bothered by the crowd and high prices, people have even started moving out of the city centre.
Ljubljana Tourism, the local tourism office, has taken notice and its vision for the future no longer speaks only of the city as a tourist destination but also of a city "with a high quality of living and a pleasant atmosphere for all its inhabitants, visitors and tourists".
It has also included questions about the negative effects of tourism in its regular surveys among the city's residents "because we believe visitors can only be happy here if the residents are happy."
Ljubljana will now be striving to "increase the added value of tourism, grow sustainably and offer high quality innovative products" to attract tourists in search of "green boutique destinations".
Even more far-reaching impacts of excessive tourism have also started to affect the lakeside resorts of Bled and Bohinj.
This summer, a press conference was called by the Environment Agency, the Triglav National Park, Turizem Bled and Turizem Bohinj to warn of excessive mass tourism and its effect on the quality of water in the lakes.
Since the 2016 tourism boom, the ecological status of Lake Bled - the status of water plants and animals - has deteriorated from good to moderate, the officials said. In Lake Bohinj too, analyses of microorganisms revealed a serious impact of swimmers on water quality.
Andrej Arih from the Triglav National Park said mountain lakes where swimming is not allowed were also affected by parking and camping in the area, while wild animals were being disturbed.
"We the tourism officials are aware of the value of our natural assets and we are becoming environmentalists ourselves," said Klemen Langus from Turizem Bohinj.
Both Bled and Bohinj are now restricting access to the lakes by car and introducing measures to improve the sewage system and waste collection.
Faced with the reality of a rapid tourism development, many other towns in Slovenia are staring to embrace the green concept of tourism as well, and are adjusting their services to attract high-end guests to slowly turn away from mass tourism.
As things stand, Slovenian tourism is in for another record year in terms of arrivals and nights by foreign tourists, although the pace is slowing down. Last year saw almost 6 million tourist arrivals and more than 15 million overnight stays.
A total of 5.2 million tourists were recorded in Slovenia in the first nine months, generating 13.2 million overnight stays, with the numbers going up 5.7% and 1.9%, respectively over the year before.
The number of foreign tourists was up by 7.1% and the number of overnight stays they generated by 3.5%.
Christmas is gone, but the lights are still up and the next party is coming fast, with the New Year bringing people out onto the streets of the capital to enjoy the last good excuse for mass public drinking, feasting and revelry this decade.
Weather permitting, you can have a great time just walking around and following your interests, be they food, drink, music or dancing. With regard to free and organised events the action takes place at four of the city’s main squares, all within easy walking distance, if walking is easy for you.
Here you’ll find stages and varied performers, with different genres in different places, and all shows lasting from 21:00 to 02:30. Eco-friendly fireworks will also be launched from the Castle, made of paper and biodegradable materials, and you can see for yourself what the effect is at just after midnight, as the capital enters 2020 with a bang, fizz and crackle.
Fireworks from last year, with good weather and a good vibe on the streets
With regard to the four squares and their musical offerings:
Kongresni trg / Congress Square, the one with the University building and Philharmonia, is the largest venue and the one aimed at the broadest audience, with the line-up headed by Kingston and Luka Basi.
Trg francoske revolucije / French Revolution Square, the one by Križanke, once again offers up alt-rock, this time in the form of stoner, sludge and metal bands such as Omega Sun, Alo! Dude, Srd and Niet.
Mestni trg / Town Square, the one with the Town Hall and the (genuine fake) Robba Fountain will present a programme of evergreen classics to remind you of the past as you move into the future, with the Špicikuc Orchestra and Neisha preparing to delight the audience.
Pogačarjev trg / Central Market Square, the one that hosts Open Kitchen and at this time of year is lined with stalls selling seasonal items, food and drink, is always fairly lively, attracting a crowd that enjoys the simple pleasures of beer and sausage and more beer, maybe with some Jaeger and mulled wine for your health. It’s here that you’ll be able to enjoy a live programme of Slovenian and Oberkrainer music, with the sounds being provided by the Ceglar Ensemble, Fredi Miller and the band Come Back.
If these events don’t appeal then you can always head to Metelkova, where alternative arrangements are being made and the party won't end till dawn. Some details, in Slovene, here.
Between December 20, 2019 and March 20, 2020 daily visits to ski resorts are possible with a shuttle bus from Bled.
The shuttle drives every day to Kranjska Gora, Krvavec, Pokljuka and Vogel, every Wednesday and Sunday to Tarvisio (Trbiž) in Italy, and to 3Laendereck (Podklošter) in Austria every Thursday and Sunday.
Return tickets cost €10 per adult and are free for children under 14 and holders of Julian Alps winter card.
For the timetables, tickets, reservations, and a map, please click here.
Kenya Airways, Africa’s sixth largest airline, has expanded its codesharing agreement with Air France, with its flight numbers and designator code now added to the French carriers services from Paris to Ljubljana and Zagreb. While media reports claims that tickets from Nairobi to the two European capitals can now be booked via Kenya Airways’ website.
STA, 18 December 2019 - The Bank Assets Management Company (BAMC – aka “the bad bank”) is in talks with potential partners to increase flight frequencies on routes connecting Ljubljana with Frankfurt, Munich, Zürich and Brussels following the bankruptcy of air carrier Adria Airways, its director Matej Pirc told the STA.
While Lufthansa and its affiliates quickly filled the gaps on these routes, which are considered key hubs for Slovenian business executives and for tourism, there have been complaints about schedules, in particular about the absence of morning flights to Brussels often used by public administration officials.
Pirc said the bad bank was in talks with "European regional carriers" to increase flight frequency on these routes. Up to three carriers, which he would not name, would operate the additional flights in exchange for government subsidies.
The scenario is in the works after the government abandoned plans to set up a new national carrier due to excessive risk. According to Pirc, calculations showed the new carrier would post an annual loss of roughly EUR 8 million in the long term.
The subsidies would achieve the same goal - improving connectivity with European airports - but their advantage is cost control. The period of subsidies would be limited as well, he said.
As a result, the annual cost to the state would be lower and "significantly easier to manage" than a capital injection that would be necessary to get a new carrier off the ground.
Pirc admitted, however, that subsidies are "not simple", otherwise other countries would use them more frequently as well. "We expect that all these issues will be known at the start of next year."
One of the many areas of life where climate change is being felt is winter sports, with snow becoming less reliable and both resorts and more informal spots to ski, snowboard and sled now facing shorter or even non-existent seasons, if not aided by snow machines. Indeed, last year only two resorts, Vogel and Kanin, operated without artificial snow, and all are working to supplement their winter operations with more attractive summer programmes.
As such, you can no longer just look at the calendar and book a trip to the mountains – you need to check the current conditions and forecast. One excellent place to do so is Bergfex, which offers details of opening dates, closing dates, weather reports, snow reports, snow forecasts, webcams and more, to help you plan your trip and avoid disappointment.
For example, the snow reports, which give the depths and number of ski lifts in operation, are currently given for 16 locations in Slovenia (see here).
Note this screenshot is from 19/12/19
While if you want the most up-to-date view of your potential destination then there’s also a collection of webcams (here).
Note this screenshot is from 19/12/19
Overall it appears to be great site (along with an app, for both Android and IoS) if you want to hit the slopes at the weekend – although note that Mondays and Tuesdays are better days to go, weather and work permitting, due to the lower number of visitors. We should also note that there’s also a site called Slovenia Alps which offers weather reports, but these appear to be more limited than those available at Bergfex.
STA, 17 December 2019 - A foreign tourist spent on average EUR 97 per day in Slovenia during this year's summer season. Those staying in hotels spent more - EUR 138 daily, while those on camping holidays spent considerably less - EUR 58 per day, shows the Statistics Office data released on Tuesday.
Visitors from non-European countries were the most generous among all tourists, spending the most on accommodation, food, drinks, transport, leisure activities and shopping in July and August - as much as EUR 153 per day.
German tourists, who generated the most overnight stays in Slovenia, spent on average EUR 64 per day. Almost 60% of all overnight stays were spent in campsites.
Foreign tourists staying in hotels spent more than half of their daily budgets on accommodation, while those staying in campsites spent the majority of their budgets on food and drinks.
Almost 90% of foreign tourists travelled to Slovenia in the peak summer season for private reasons, 5% were on a business trip, mostly visiting Ljubljana, while 6% were only passing through.
Mostly they picked Slovenia as a holiday destination (73%), while some also came to visit cultural and natural attractions (8%) or to get involved in sports activities (7%).
A total of 35% booked their holidays through accommodation establishments, some 30% made reservations on booking sites, while over 10% used travel agencies.
Some 15% arrived in Slovenia spontaneously, without booking accommodation in advance - they were mostly from Europe. Non-European tourists were more cautious, with over 40% using travel agencies.
Most of them visited Slovenia with a partner (44%), followed by those travelling with families (31%), co-workers or business partners (22%), friends (11%), alone (9%) or with other family members (2%).
More on this data can be found at SURS
Ex-Yu Aviation reports that Iberia, Spain’s national carrier, is to launch flights connecting Madrid and Ljubljana on 28 July, 2020. Four flights a week are planned for the height of the summer, a period of just five weeks, on a route that was previously served by the recently collapsed Adria Airways.
The news comes just a few days after BA, Lufthansa, Air France, Aeroflot, Finnair and Montenegro Airlines all announced increased schedules serving the Slovene capital for next summer.
No decision has yet been made on whether and how to launch a new national carrier for Slovenia, while investigations into Adria’s collapse are being hampered by its owner, the German 4K Invest group, closing down the subsidiaries which had managed – or allegedly mismanaged – the airline’s assets.
If you’re looking for a business getaway in a small, beautiful, well-equipped and walkable city that’s got a fascinating history, is full of great architecture and offers restaurants and cafés galore to unwind in, then Ljubljana is a great choice. The centre is small enough to know well in a few days, and while there are enough pleasures and distractions to be found it’s not crammed with an overwhelming number of must-see sights or full of fancy stores and eateries that’d blow your budget.
The best part of town for visitors is the Old Town, the centuries old streets you’ll want to have stayed in if you opt for a big box outside the pedestrianised zone and end up, as you will, walking by one of the inviting restaurants and charming small hotels in the area. The first of these to open was Hotel Galleria, back in 2003, quickly gaining a name as four-star boutique hotel in a building that’s a listed national monument.
Photo: JL Flanner
Now run by the Lah family - represented by the brothers Martin and Aleš, seen above in the reception - the hotel was fully renovated earlier this year and, with the addition of a conference room, is now marketing itself as a destination for both tourist and business travellers.
Stay here you’ll get to see inside one of the fascinating old buildings in this street – and not just a front room or two, as in a café or store, but a taste of the whole layout. Here you’ll find a small maze of corridors and 16 unique rooms, with vaulted ceilings and other features that will take you back in time and closer to the story of this part of the city. Go deeper in the building and you’ll come across one of its secrets – a large garden out the back, a world away from bustle of the street and a chance to enjoy the kind of property that few people have access to.
The Hotel Galleria has a focus on art and wine, and while you can enjoy those inside in peace and quiet most guests will spend more time outside, exploring. Here the location is key. Not only are you just one street over from the river and a short walk to all the main sites downtown, but you just need to turn right out the front door and head up Gornji trg to find one of the less used and more picturesque paths to the Castle, passing a number of good places to eat and drink on the way.
In short, the Hotel Galleria offers the perfect base for all travellers who’d rather spend time seeing the place they came to see than getting to it, and you can find out more about how to stay there here.
In the wake of the collapse of Adria Airways, which cut 60% of Slovenian’s international seat capacity, four airlines have announced plans to boost their services to Ljubljana Airport next year, as reported on Ex-Yu Aviation.
British Airways will increase the number of flights between the Ljubljana and London from two to four per week, and will also start the season two months earlier than in 2019, with the connections running from May 22 until September 26. Aeroflot will launch a second daily flight from Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport, starting March 29, while Air France will also offer to flights a day, up from seven a week this year. Finally, Montenegro Airlines is offering six flights a week to and from Podgorica, up from the three seen for most of this summer.
Other airlines, while not doubling their services, have also announced more frequent and convenient connections. For example Finnair will raise the number of flights from five a week to one a day at the height of the summer season. Travellers can also celebrate the fact that Lufthansa’s evening service from Frankfurt will from 29 March spend the night in Ljubljana, offering the chance to fly to Germany at a more civilised hour the next morning.