A few days in Ljubljana…
In September 2021, Panoptic Events were lucky enough to be invited to explore the beautifully green, diverse and vibrant capital city of Slovenia – Ljubljana, and its surrounding regions. Nestled amongst the breathtaking Julian Alps, Ljubljana is a destination that offers its visitors so much to see and do, with sustainability at its core. Voted the European Commission’s Green Capital of Europe in 2016, this soulful city is full to the brim with fascinating history, captivating medieval and modernist architecture, unique and innovative event spaces, adventurous activities and an incredible culinary scene, making it the perfect location for a truly unforgettable incentive trip, conference or event.
From the magnificent Alpine Region, where you can enjoy magnificent views of the world-famous Lake Bled, to the region of Bohinjska, where you can go canoeing or paddleboarding on the crystal clear waters of Lake Bohinj, to the vibrant city centre of Ljubljana, lined with colourful facades, bustling cafes, excellent eateries, trendy bars and intersting shops – there are so many incredible things to see and do in Slovenia’s capital city and surroudning regions.
With so many options for exploring, we understand that deciding which of these to incorporate into your itinerary isn’t an easy task. That’s why, using our first-hand experience, Panoptic has put together our very own guide on what’s best to see, visit and do when visiting this fascinating and diverse city. We hope it will offer some insightful information and inspiration when planning your next trip and curating your perfect Ljubljana itinerary. Enjoy!
It is safe to say the culinary scene in Ljubljana is nothing short of spectacular. From perfectly tender, melt-in-the-mouth meats to fresh, beautifully prepared seafood to the renowned Slovenian cakes (our favourite is the infamous Bled cake – delicate pastry layers with a sumptuous cream centre and a delicate dusting of icing… need we say anymore?) – The diverse food scene in Slovenia’s capital city is one which demands your attention.
From trendy, vibrant restaurants dotted along the embankment serving up everything from traditional and authentic Slovenian classics to innovative dishes inspired by influences from across the globe, to exceptional Michelin-star awarded institutions set in beautiful dining locations like Ljubljana Castle serving up a sublime array of innovative plates, there are endless options when it comes to deciding where to dine in Ljubljana.
A particular stand out institution is Restaurant Atelje. Described by the Michelin Guide as a “gastronomic workshop where everyone does their utmost to ensure that guests enjoy an unforgettable experience”, this eatery located in the heart of Ljubljana city serves up sophisticated, creative cuisine influenced by owner-chef Jorg Zupan’s travels across the globe. The menu is dominated by locality, seasonality and cooking in a way which allows the ingredients to take centre stage. With their very own 1200 square metre vegetable garden – Restaurant Atelje makes up to 90% of their products in-house, serving up innovative dishes straight from their in-house garden to the plate- living up to the city’s green reputation whilst adding a unique and exciting element to this dining experience.
For a more casual, yet equally delicious and vibrant affair, As Aperitivo is the perfect spot. Serving up mouthwatering plates like beef tartare with foie gras and truffle caviar and homemade pappardelle with venison ragout, their menu is dominated by rich and bold flavours with a Mediterranean influence. Tasty plates, light platters and relaxed evenings with delicious cocktails are its trademark. You will even find live music here in the evenings – setting the perfect scene for an atmospheric evening fuelled by delicious foods and great service.
For those looking to impress their guests, why not take the vernacular up to the city’s highest point and dine right in the very heart of the medieval Ljubljana Castle for an unforgettable evening. With four fantastic institutions located within the castle grounds to choose from, it’s safe to say you will be spoilt for choice on where to dine.
For those looking to immerse themselves in a journey of traditional Slovenian cuisine with a contemporary twist, Restaurant Strelec is the ideal spot. Serving up innovative plates which cleverly intertwine both past and present influences, dominated by fresh, quality ingredients in an elegant, medieval setting – it’s no surprise this eatery has been awarded Best Restaurant for 2021 and a Michelin Plate for 2020.
Strelec Castle Wine Bar
Finally, what better way to enjoy the panoramic views of the city than with a carefully selected glass of Slovenian wine, expertly paired with a board of Slovenian cheeses, delicious cured meats and sweet, dried fruits? Well, that’s exactly what you will find at the Strelec Castle Wine Bar, attracting wine enthusiasts from across the globe with its vaulted cellar serving up the finest Slovenian wines and its stunning terrace which offers the most idyllic spot to enjoy the sunset over Slovenia.
If you are thinking of hosting an event in this beautiful city, you will be delighted to know that it’s not short of unique spaces and special venues which each have their very own fascinating history and unique features.
Located right in the very heart of Ljubljana, this 19th-century unique monument which was once a sugar factory has recently undergone a complete renovation and massive refurbishment, having been transformed into a stunning, contemporary exhibition space and special event venue. It offers the perfect urban space for a stylish event that can host up to 1,000 delegates.
Ljubljana Castle Vineyard
This fairytale-like, romantic space was surprisingly only recently planted on the slopes of Ljubljana Castle hill in 2016 to revive and consolidate Ljubljana’s title as “City of Grapevines and Wines”. Here, guests can experience an elegant five-course dinner prepared by Michelin-recognised Restaurant Strelec, who we mentioned earlier, on the stunning grounds of the medieval Castle Vineyard, making it the perfect unique space to impress guests and host a truly unforgettable event.
The magnificent views of Lake Bled surrounded by the towering Julian Alps are enough to take anyone’s breath away. So, can you imagine hosting an event right on the very terrace of Bled Castle, where guests can experience these unforgettable views for themselves whilst sipping on a glass of champagne? Sounds pretty spectacular, right? Well, this unique space can be used to host exclusive events like drinks receptions, weddings or a gala dinner with a medieval twist.
Guerilla Wine Estate
The Guerilla Wine Estate, whose vineyards lie on the Southern slopes of the Vipava hills, offers a truly breathtaking location for a private dining experience, an exclusive event or simply a meeting with wine tasting and a visit to the wine cellar involved. Escape the hustle and bustle of the city centre and host a unique event in the heart of Slovenia’s serene nature, surrounded by magnificent hills, beautiful greenery and complemented by the finest Slovenian wine.
Postojna Cave is a space that sets the scene for a truly one-of-a-kind event that your guests will certainly never forget. Believe it or not, but this magnificent underground subterranean world offers state-of-the-art technical equipment, a range of culinary options and professional staff to create an intimate, extremely unique and impressive event that can be combined with cave adventures of all sorts too. The space has hosted weddings, opera concerts and more in the past.
Sveicarija – The Swiss House
Located in Ljubljana’s largest park, Tivoli, The Swiss House was originally a wooden guesthouse which has now been transformed into a working and living studio for local artists. However, it also makes an excellent location for elegant and exclusive events. A particularly nice feature of this venue is its spacious outside terrace which sits in front of the traditional building, offering a contemporary space with historic influence, ideal for a stylish garden-style dinner party or sophisticated drinks reception.
This spectacularly green location offers the perfect setup for a unique, private experience for guests right in the very heart of Slovenia’s magnificent natural landscape.
Events at the Hotel Bohinj allow guests to experience a true feel for the Alpine region, with options for local beer tasting, local gin tasting, show cooking, open fire place camping style cooking and even night sky watching, to make that event extra special and unforgettable.
Whether you are searching for an adrenaline-rushing activity or simply looking to immerse yourself in culture and explore some of the city’s most fascinating historical sights, Ljubljana and its neighbouring regions offer a diverse range of unique, fun and captivating experiences that make for an unforgettable trip.
What better way to discover the heart of the charming Slovenian capital than taking a boat trip right through the old town on the river Ljubljanica, lined with picturesque banks and fascinating bridges which give the city its unmistakable character? For the more adventurous visitors, you can even go paddleboarding along the river too! Ljubljana currently stands as the only European capital that offers paddleboarding through the heart of the city – making this an exciting and unique experience.
In line with its green reputation, the capital city has been working extremely hard over the last few years to reduce car traffic and promote cycling as its core transportation method. This means that seeing the city by bike is super accessible as there are safe, well-connected cycle lanes lining the streets of Ljubljana. So, why not hire some bikes and see the city like the Ljublianian’s do? Electric bikes are also an extremely fun way to cycle around the Alpine region, and specialist tour guides are on hand to show you the best routes surrounded by exceptional views of the Julian Alps.
Venturing outside of the city centre to the picturesque region of Karst, nestled amongst century-old lime trees and oaks, you will find the Lipica Stud Farm. Founded in 1580, the historical Lipica farm has nurtured the tradition of breeding and selecting thoroughbred horses and has become a jewel among the cultural and historical monuments of the Republic of Slovenia. Here, visitors can come and see the beautiful horses and their breeding grounds, where private lunches and events can also be held.
Ljubljana’s surrounding regions are home to some of the clearest freshwater lakes, including the world-famous Lake Bled and the not-so-famous Lake Bohinj, which locals describe as their ‘best kept secret’. From rowing, kayaking, canoeing, paddleboarding and more… there is something to be enjoyed on the water for everyone. You can also learn about the tradition of Alpine dairy farming and cheesemaking, discover the botanical wealth of Bohinj and relax by the crystal clear waters.
An interesting fact about Lake Bled is that it is actually the birthplace of rowing in Slovenia. In fact, many of Slovenia’s Olympic champions actually started on the waters of Lake Bled. So, experience what it’s like to be an Olympian for the day and go rowing on the lake in the Olympic rowing centre accompanied by Olympic Games medalists themselves.
However, water sports aren’t the only thing you can enjoy in Bled. The zipline flight over the Sava Dolinka valley, one of the longest descents in the whole of Europe, is only a few minutes from Lake Bled. Offering breathtaking panoramic views of the turquoise river, the valley, the Julian Alps and its majestic summit “the Triglav”, this journey is a pure rush of adrenaline.
Finally, for a truly unforgettable experience, take a trip to the Postojna Cave Park, one of the unique venues we mentioned earlier. Hidden beneath the surface in the Karst region of Slovenia, lies one of the country’s most natural splendours – a breathtaking subterranean world in the form of a cave formation. Named the most captivating cave in the world and the largest show cave in Europe, this is an experience not to be missed on your itinerary.
So, experience the magic for yourself and explore the 24-kilometre long cave system with an expert guide who will detail the fascinating science and history behind the magnificent cave, dating all the way back to 1213.
From beautiful, contemporary and forward-thinking establishments like Hotel Bohinj to elegant, chic properties like the Intercontinental Hotel and Grand Hotel Union, Ljubljana and its surrounding regions are certainly not short of options when it comes to finding the perfect location for an unforgettable incentive trip, conference or event. Whether you are searching for an idyllic nature retreat, a luxurious hotel in a prime city centre location or simply something that is innovative and unique, Ljubljana has an excellent array of accommodation options to suit every occasion.
Grand Hotel Union
Perhaps the most well-known is the Grand Hotel Union. Constructed in 1905, this historic 4 star hotel is set in the very heart of Ljubljana and has been frequented by distinguished figures from the world of politics, film, music, and royalty. Even the British Queen has paid this property a visit! It’s Art Nouveau-inspired, elegant decor paired with its desirable central location and excellent onsite facilities set the scene for a glamorous, comfortable stay in the city centre where every guest’s needs are met.
Intercontinental Hotel Ljubljana
For those looking to remain in the heart of the city, we also highly recommend the Intercontinental Hotel Ljubljana. Set in a soaring glass facade, this 5-star property offers gourmet dining from its chic, top floor glass restaurant, elegant 19th floor boardrooms, a rejuvenating spa, panoramic views of the city and luxurious comfort to ensure guests experience a more than memorable stay in the city. This hotel is the perfect place to impress clients or simply treat yourself!
Rikli Balance Hotel
Venturing out of the city centre into the Bled region, you will find the Rikli Balance Hotel. This beautiful venue aims to bring life to local traditions with a core focus on well-being, sustainability and nature. Overlooking the turquoise blue waters of Lake Bled, this 4 star natural health resort offers breathtaking views of the lake and surrounding Alps, and is an ideal venue for those looking to recharge their batteries and make the most of the beneficial effects of nature in an atmospheric, calming retreat. Additionally, it is perfect for those looking to enjoy all of the activities that the Bled region has to offer, including ziplining, rowing and cycling and more.
Finally, we have the beautiful and contemporary Hotel Bohinj – an oasis of comfort and peace set in Bohinjska. Just a stone’s throw away from the crystal clear waters of Lake Bohinj, the comprehensively re-designed, luxurious 4-star Hotel Bohinj is nestled amongst magnificent mountains in the idyllic Julian alpine world, with breathtaking natural scenery and a wide-open space which allows guests to truly breath, relax and unwind in nature. This unique hotel offers a completely different experience to the city centre venues, allowing guests to escape the hustle and bustle, immerse themselves in Slovenia’s stunning natural landscape and experience a truly relaxing, sustainable and forward-thinking approach to luxury accommodation.
Ready to give Ljubljana a visit?
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