When it comes to planning a winter weekend break, destinations such as Prague and Munich with their Christmas markets spring to mind. Yet Slovenia has that something else. Nestled between Italy, Croatia and Austria, the former Eastern-bloc state has abounding charm, spectacular scenery and a vibrant cultural scene. With flights from London to the medieval capital Ljubljana taking just over two hours and Lake Bled a destination which should be on everyone’s hit list, SUITCASE takes a look at some of the best things to do in Slovenia this season.

TO EAT

Klobasarna

Kranjska klobasa is to Ljubljana what the croissant is to Paris. This traditional sausage, typically served with bread and grained mustard, is Slovenian fast food at it’s finest. One of the best can be found at Klobasarna, easily identified by its oversized sausage sign in the city centre. It’s open from 10 until 10 every day (except Sundays) and is as tasty for a quick lunch as it is for a post-night-out snack.

Gostilna As

For something a little more special head to Gostilna As, a favourite spot among locals. The restaurant prepares Mediterranean dishes using only fresh ingredients and specialises in light and delicious handmade pasta. The friendly staff will be able to help you pair local Slovenian wines with your meal, perfect for whiling away an afternoon with a long, late lunch.

TO DRINK

Tozd

Ljubljana’s coffee scene rivals that of cities such as London and New York, where your choice of brew says as much about you as your favourite band. With homegrown roasters popping up all over the city, there’s plenty of places to escape the cold and warm up over a latte. Try Tozd, a cozy, cool coffee shop-come-bar that sits alongside the river. Enjoy a cup of ruster (its house blend), listen to cult local radio station Radio NULA, specialising in funk and disco beats, and take some time to soak up the atmosphere.

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  • 1000, Gallusovo nabrežje 27
    Ljubljana
    1000

Klub Daktari

If you are looking for something a touch stronger, head to Klub Daktari, the perfect place to ease you into a night of dancing. Walking into Daktari is much like walking into your great aunt’s house (in the best possible way). Inspired by traditional Socialist drinking spots, the bar exudes an old-time ambience and is filled with restored antique furniture, shelves full of books and often hosts a live piano player.

TO DANCE

AKC Metelkova Mesto

Like any good capital, Ljubljana has a vibrant party scene – although many of the city’s club nights cater to more niche tastes. Locals will spend the nights and early mornings raving at AKC Metelkova Mesto, a graffiti covered artistic hub where a dingy house club sits next to the city’s LGBT hot spot, Tiffany. Both spots pump out music until sunrise and largely cater to Slovenia’s hipster crowd. The area is filled with artists, musicians and is as buzzing by day as it is at night, so even if you don’t make it to one of the clubs, it’s worth a visit.

Want something a little different? Look out for one of the capital’s underground Yugoslavian Funk club nights where revellers dance the night away to seventies funk and soul hits from the Former Yugoslav republic. Our favourite is Tetkine Radosti, which translates to mean ‘Auntie’s Pleasures’ – a night not to be missed.

  • Masarykova cesta 24
    Ljubljana
    1000

TO DO

Winter Markets

A winter weekend break wouldn’t be complete without a Christmas market, right? Ljubljana ticks that box too. Throughout the festive season, as twinkling lights take over the city, the picture-perfect streets surrounding the river and Mestni trg (town square) are filled with stalls peddling handmade decorations, mulled wine and other festive things you never knew you needed. Perfect for grabbing any last minute Christmas presents.

Jakopič Gallery

If you’re more a gallery hopper than a shopper, head to the Jakopič Gallery, an underground collection of contemporary art among which recent exhibitions have included sketches by Picasso.

National Gallery of Slovenia

The National Gallery of Slovenia is an ode to historical and culturally relevant art dating from Middle Ages to the early 20th century. It’s definitely large enough to lose yourself for a few hours and escape the cold.

Bled Castle

Lake Bled is one of Slovenia’s most beautiful spots. Just an hour and a half drive from the capital, a visit here will make you feel like you have stepped into another world. Start at Hotel, which sits adjacent to the lake, and sample a Bled kremšnita (cream cake). This super-sweet delicacy has been served at the hotel since 1953 and in high season around 3,500 slices are sold each day.

After you’ve eaten your fill, take a cruise around the Soca river or venture up to the medieval Bled Castle which sits on the hills overlooking the lake. Take a look around the museum before kicking back with a chilled glass of Rosé while you watch the winter sun set across the valley.

Visit Piran

If you have a car and really want to explore, don’t rule out a trip to the seaside town of Piran. This picturesque medieval settlement is a maze of winding streets filled with traditional eateries and coffee houses. It’s the ideal place to warm up at a traditional restaurant with a large plate of charcuterie and a glass of medica (honey liqueur).

Klobasarna

Gostilna As

Tozd

Klub Daktari

AKC Metelkova Mesto

Jakopič Gallery

National Gallery of Slovenia

Bled Castle

Piran

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