Vegetarian Survival Guide to Slovenia

This page may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure for more info.

Slovenia is an easy country for vegetarians and while we couldn’t try many of the local dishes we ate very well. We were surprised by how delicious Slovenian food is and impressed by how common fresh, local, and often organic ingredients are. Combined with excellent, affordable local wine Slovenia is an underrated foodie destination.

A Slovenian local told us a story of being a language student in England where everyone was asked to make a dish from their home country. She suggested polenta but the Italians complained. Then goulash but the Hungarians claimed that as their own. She tried strudel but the Austrians weren’t happy about that either. One of the reasons that Slovenian cuisine isn’t better known around the world may be that it appears to be a mix of influences from neighbouring countries—Italy, Austria, Hungary and Croatia. But don’t tell a Slovenian that gelato for example is Italian as they’ll protest that it’s been here just as long. They are proud of their cuisine and the blend of culinary styles is uniquely Slovenian.

Most Slovenians do understand the concept of vegetarianism, although less so in the countryside where you might have to explain what you can and can’t eat. All the restaurants we visited had English speaking staff but if you do need it the Slovenian word for vegetarian is vegetarijanec, but just saying vege will be understood.

As vegetarians in Slovenia we mostly ate Italian influenced food like pasta and pizza. Although it sounds like Italian food in theory we found that the meals we ate weren’t quite like anything we’ve eaten in Italy as they had a Slovenian twist. During our eight days in the country we were in the western side of the country, never too far from the Italian border, so the food on the eastern side might be different.

The other good news is that eating out is affordable, definitely less costly that western Europe. Main courses were usually around €6-7, although more like €10+ in Bled and in upmarket restaurants. Lunch is the main meal of the day and in Ljubljana in particular many places offer three course lunch menus for a total of €6-7. With wine from €2 for a glass you can have a great meal without spending a fortune. For an even cheaper meal there’s always burek, falafel, pizza, or picnicking on the country’s excellent seed filled bread and local cheeses.

Burek

Burek, SloveniaThis Balkan snack makes a very cheap and filling meal. Thin flaky filo pastry is layered with fillings—cheese (sirni) is the most common vegetarian filling, or cheese and spinach. You can find burek in bakeries and hole in the wall fast food places. This piece was only €1.80 and although we shared it for lunch we couldn’t finish it—it was very dense and rather greasy.

Pizza

Pizzeria Rustica, Bled

Rocket and grilled chicory pizza at Pizzeria Rustica at Lake Bled

Like in Italy the cheapest restaurant meal you can find is pizza. At €6-7 euros each they are big enough to share for lunch. Pizza is very common and there are always vegetarian toppings available.

Soups

Fava bean soup, Slovenia

Fava bean soup

Slovenians love their soups and the lunch menus always include one. This is a fava bean soup with homemade buckwheat bread that we had on our Ljubljananjan food walk. During our stay we also had mushroom, leek and potato, and paprika soups.

Štruklji

Cheese Struklji, Slovenia

Cheese struklji at Bled Castle restaurant

Štruklji is a traditional dish known all over Slovenia made of thin layers of dough rolled with different fillings both sweet and savoury. At Bled Castle restaurant the štruklji we ate were made with cottage cheese and served with roasted vegetables and mashed squash on the side.

I’m not sure these spinach pasta rolls we had at the Hotel Malovec restaurant in Divača are technically štruklji but it’s a similar idea. These were earthier, filled with spinach, topped with truffles and served with mushrooms.

Spinach struklji at Hotel Malovec restaurant, Divaca

Spinach struklji at Hotel Malovec restaurant, Divaca

Žlikrofi and Ajdovi Krapi (Ravioli)

We ate a number of ravioli like dishes that are unique to Slovenia.

Mushroom Žlikrofi at Valvas'or, Ljubljana

Mushroom Žlikrofi at Valvas’or, Ljubljana

Žlikrofi are a traditional Slovenian dish from Idrija in western Slovenia. They are small dumplings filled with mashed potato and herbs and served with a range of sauces. They often contain bacon and are served with meat so they are not always vegetarian friendly, but we had a meat-free version at Valvas’or in Ljubljana served with morel mushrooms. The comforting pockets worked perfectly with the rich, earthy sauce.

Buckwheat ravioli at Restaurant 1906, Bled

Buckwheat ravioli at Restaurant 1906, Bled

Buckwheat ravioli (ajdovi krapi) are also common in Slovenia. At Restaurant 1906 in the Hotel Triglav at Bled our buckwheat pasta parcels were filled with potato and cottage cheese, and served with pickled beetroot, a vegetable cream sauce and walnuts.

We had another type of ravioli filled with cottage cheese and pistachio and served with fresh vegetables from the chef’s garden on our Ljubljana food walk.

Pistachio and cottage cheese ravioli

Pistachio and cottage cheese ravioli

Mlinci

Mlinci with summer vegetables at Majerija, Vipava Valley

Mlinci with summer vegetables at Majerija, Vipava Valley

Mlinci are a type of pasta that are first baked on a hot plate until dry and then reconstituted by boiling in water for a minute. We tried mlinci at Majerija, our favourite restaurant in Slovenia in a converted farmhouse in the tiny village of Slap in the Vipava Valley wine region. The version we had was unique to the Vipava area made with a combination of different flours and served with summer vegetables and herbs from their garden. It was like a light lasagna and full of flavour.

Njoki (Gnocchi)

Eggplant gnocchi at Majerija

Eggplant gnocchi at Majerija

Italians aren’t the only ones who eat gnocchi. In Slovenia these potato dumplings are called njoki. At Majerija we had eggplant gnocchi with a fresh tomato and herb sauce.

Risotto

Pesto risotto and vegetable risotto at Bled Castle

Pesto risotto and vegetable risotto at Bled Castle

Risottos are also common in Slovenia and sometimes vegetarian. We had a pesto and a vegetable risotto at Bled Castle restaurant and it was less saucy than an Italian version.

Other Tasty Things We Ate

It’s hard to give a definitive list of vegetarian Slovenian food as we ate a wide range of different dishes, not all that were traditional Slovenian meals. Here’s a few of the tasty meat-free eats we enjoyed.

Beetroot pancake parcel at Majerija

Beetroot pancake parcel at Majerija

Beetroot pancake parcel topped with pine nuts and thyme and served with a pesto and cheese dressing at Majerija.

Vegetarian tasting menu at Valvas’or, Ljubljana

Valvas’or tasting menu: gazpacho, zucchini carpaccio, potato and vegetable gratin, and strawberry pannacotta

Multi-course meal at upmarket Valvas’or in Ljubljana. We arranged a vegetarian tasting menu in advance but they are also happy to adapt the menu. Following a welcome small bowl of rich gazpacho with creamy mozzarella and pesto, we enjoyed zucchini carpaccio with fresh figs and local cheese, žlikrofi (like ravioli, see above), a potato and vegetable gratin, and strawberry panna cotta.

Broccoli quiche and salad at Basilika, Ljubljana

Broccoli quiche and salad at Basilika

Broccoli quiche and salad at Basilika Bistro in Ljubljana—simple but inexpensive, fresh and flavourful. The menu here is mostly vegetarian and they have excellent desserts and reasonably priced local wine. There’s more choice at lunch as they may run out of dishes by dinner.

Desserts

Kremna Rezina (Bled Cream Cake)

Bled Cream CakeWe tried this Bled specialty at Smon cafe. Bled cream cake is a decadent dessert with puff pastry filled with thick layers of cream and vanilla cream and dusted with icing sugar. Even though I don’t usually like creamy desserts and prefer Slovenia’s fruit strudels, it was really good.

Prekmurska Gibanica

Prekmurska gibanicaPrekmurska gibanica is Slovenia’s national cake with layers of strudel dough, poppy seeds, cottage cheese, nuts and apples.

Grmada

grmada, slovenia

Grmada on the left

Another Bled speciality Grmada is cream mixed with nuts, biscuit, and raisins.

Strudel

Blueberry strudel and fig pie at Hotel Malovec restaurant

Blueberry strudel and fig pie at Hotel Malovec restaurant

Strudel might be known as an Austrian dessert but it’s common in Slovenia too and consists of layers of pastry filled with different types of fruit.

Gelato

Mango gelato at Fetiche along the river in Ljubljana

Mango gelato at Fetiche along the river in Ljubljana

Ice cream is sladoled in Slovenia and like its Italian neighbour is gelato. It’s often made in-house at cafes and is an essential accompaniment for a wander around Ljubljana.

Wine

Simon tasting many local wines at the Vipava wine museum

Simon tasting many local wines at the Vipava wine museum

We were surprised by how good Slovenian wine is as we’ve never heard of it before. As the country is so small not much gets exported but you’ll have plenty of opportunities to try it in Slovenia. As well as some excellent reds and whites we had our first experience of sparking red (odd but it grows on you) and orange wine (especially good with food).

To learn more about Slovenian wine head to one of the wine regions. We loved the Vipava Valley and did a wine tasting at the tourist office’s wine tasting room.

Vegetarian Restaurants

There are quite a few vegetarian or almost vegetarian restaurants in Ljubljana. We did a vegetarian-themed food walk with Ljubljananjam and our guide Iva showed us all the places vegetarians can eat. There are lots of options if you know where to find them but as most are quite off the beaten track I would recommend going on a food walk at the beginning of your stay and you’ll have a great list to visit. Ljubljananjam also have a list of Ljubljana vegetarian restaurants on their website.

It was easy to be vegetarian in Slovenia and we loved exploring its underrated cuisine. It turned out to be one of our Slovenia highlights and definitely added to our fantastic experience of exploring this beautiful Alpine country.

We only spent a week in Slovenia and are by no means experts on its cuisine so please let us know if you have any other ideas of vegetarian-friendly dishes.

If you are a travelling vegetarian don’t miss our vegetarian survival guides to San Francisco, MexicoJordanBurmaChiang Mai, ThailandJapanHong KongArgentinaBrazilParaguayBolivia, and Peru.

Are you planning your next adventure? See our Travel Resources page for our favourite tools and gear to help you plan the perfect trip. 

  • Share:

Enter your email to sign up for our monthly newsletter and free ebook South America Highlights.

11 Comments (7 pingbacks)

  1. They forgot to mention “potica” the ultimate Slovenian sweet bread. It is to the Slovenians what apple pie is the Americans. Slovenian young ladies rate their marriage eligibility based on the quality of their potica.

    Reply

  2. Slovenia is changing a great deal, with younger generations the traditional cuisine experienced rebirth. Slovenians in my opinion are foodies by default because of vicinity of other cuisines. There is fusion everywhere.

    You found some cool spots and will defenitely visit them on my next trip.

    Reply

  3. Lovely! This is one of the most inviting presentations of Slovenian food I have ever seen! And I agree that the contemporary cuisine is far healthier, inventive, and vegetarian-friendly than most folks realize. I have enjoyed many of these dishes myself, during two trips to Slovenia and in my own California kitchen. Hvala lepa!

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.