(Option: Customized Itineraries)
Slovenia/Croatia - 8 nights
Available year round
Enjoy a night out in the capital as you eat where the locals do during a comprehensive ‘foodie’ walk of Ljubljana. Savour five courses of regional specialties paired with award-winning wines in beautiful Goriska Brda. Check out a 1000 year-old castle and taste traditional cakes by gorgeous Lake Bled. Sniff around for truffles in the forests of Croatia with specially trained dogs. Roll out traditional fresh pastas and create dishes with herbs, locally-sourced foods and olive oils and top it all off with some terrific wines that you’ve never tasted before.
Slovenia is often dubbed ‘Europe In Miniature’ for its small but diverse offerings such as ancient historic castles, tiny Venetian-esque seaside towns, rolling hills covered in vineyards, shimmering glacial lakes and majestic alps. There’s a certain air of authenticity here that sometimes goes missing from such larger European destinations. The country’s culinary delights and wines reflect this too. And when it comes to food, Slovenia is fresh, seasonal, delicious and production is on a small-scale.
Slovenia has been re-discovering its cuisine, while absorbing trends and innovations from Europe and around the world. Here you can find winemaking regions dating back to Roman times where now young wine makers experiment with new techniques on indigenous varietals with amazing results.
The country offers very traditional, simple dishes with innovative twists like honey or taragon cakes, white polenta topped with wild boar goulash, beefsteak cooked with prosciutto and local ruby red Teran wine or their version of an omelette lovingly made with fresh herbs and wild asparagus.
Take time to come sit down and talk with Slovenian wine makers, chefs and local producers in their cellars, farms and kitchens and taste a multitude of homemade creations.
Transfer to your hotel in Ljubljana, located in the old town of Slovenia’s charming little capital.
Food tells stories and food is made by people. Explore the charming old town core of Ljubljana, Slovenia’s capital, and at the same time get introduced to its varied culinary delights. This special foodie walking tour by a life-long local will let you stop and taste at independent, locally owned and non-touristy eateries of Ljubljana downtown and converse with owners, baristas and chefs about what makes them do what they do. From lip-smacking comfort food to high-end hidden gems, Ljubljana has it all, and it’s yours to discover.
The morning is at your leisure to explore Slovenia’s capital.
Early afternoon departure to eastern region of Slovenia known as the chicken-head (Slovenia is shaped like a chicken). You will spend the afternoon and early evening cooking at the region’s top restaurant with a young chef, part of the JRE association in Europe (exceptional restaurants with specially trained young chefs).
Cook yourself a 4 course dinner, try additional tastings of other traditional Prekmurje dishes of the region and sample 4 local wines.
Transfer back to Ljubljana later that night.
Depart Ljubljana and drive down to Slovenia’s Istria region to visit to tiny Istrian village in Slovenia, Hrastovlje, to see a 12th century stone church with wonderful colorful frescoes depicting the Dance of Macabre.
Lunch and tour at an organic olive farm with all local and bio-products including olives, oil, olive salts, cheese and even bio certified wines. Lunch is outside with view to nearby salt flats where they still collect salt from the Adriatic Sea.
Then cross over into Croatia to the Istrian peninsula, well known for medieval hill-towns, wine, truffles and other gastronomic delights. Check-in to a boutique hotel in a small town and then discover the world of goat cheesemaking with Croatia’s finest goat cheese farm tucked away in bucolic countryside.
A very special dinner at the farm with a dozen cheeses (both soft, semi-hard and aged cheeses) to sample with freshly baked breed. Alongside all the cheeses will be nearly half a dozen different local specialities such as home cooked stews and soups, grilled fish, salad, in-season vegetables and typical Istrian sausages known as kobasice.
You will visit the charming hill-town of Groznjan this morning. Once nearly abandoned, this town has now been transformed into an artists colony. It’s now bustling with artists galleries, handmade jewelry shops and gourmet food shops. It’s also a good place to find some fresh hot Fritule which are Istria’s delicious version of a doughnut.
Head to the Istrian forests with a family that has a truffle cottage and a group of dogs to sniff out and dig up truffles. Hopefully we will find some truffles but regardless there will be a special truffle-themed lunch in the countryside cottage with fresh truffles on pasta, plus the family’s delicious olive oil and wines. Then browse the iconic hill town of Motovun which offers glorious views of nearby vineyards, forests and tiny hill towns.
Late afternoon visit to Rovinj, Istria’s most charming seaside town that proudly displays its Venetian influences. Time to explore art shops and galleries and a labyrinth of cobblestone streets.
Dinner on your own in Rovinj.
Morning visit to the historic port town of Pula on the coast. The city has Roman temples dating back to 2nd century BC and the largest colosseum outside of Italy.
Then it’s off to Pula’s local green market to source all the ingredients for today’s cooking class. What we will make: Žgvacet, a traditional Istrian goulash made with beef, chicken, tomatoes and wine and we will also make traditional Istrian fresh pastas such as fuži.
While cranking out pasta and waiting for the goulash to cook, enjoy unlimited Istrian wines such as the crisp white Malvasia and the local red Teran plus a special dessert wine at the end of our dinner.
In between all the hard work enjoy a walk through an olive grove and try local sheep and goat cheeses along with several varieties of olive oils and delicious air-dried prosciutto (known here as prsut).
Today you will travel back to Slovenia and into the Vipava Valley where strong burja winds can blow up to 175 km/hr, adding an additional challenge to wine making here. Learn the history of wine making in this valley and the nitty-gritty of the wine business as we hang out with an expert winemaker and try his line of Pinto Noir and Pinot Gris.
Afternoon we hop over the border into Italy, where the region is known as Collio. We will tour a BIO dairy farm and sample freshly made ricotta and mozzarellas plus their specialty called caciotta flavored with different wild herbs.
Head off to the vineyards, orchards and winding country roads of Goriska Brda, Slovenia’s premiere culinary and wine region. Arrival at a family home (a converted 13th century chateau) of local sparking wine makers, the best in Brda. Then indulge in a five-course ‘slow-food’ dinner paired with wines at a winery which continually ranks on the list of 100 best wineries in the world by Wine and Spirits Magazine. Our hosts serve each dish with one of their wines. The variety of culinary traditions (Slovene, Friulian, Habsburg) have intertwined on this strip of land, giving Brda cuisine its special touch. This is a great place for an introduction into orange wines (longer maceration or white wine varietals made in red styles) and to learn about ancient wine making methods using clay amphorae. Overnight at sparking wine maker’s chateau.
After enjoying breakfast on the terrace overlooking vineyards, tour the wine maker’s 700 year old cellar (the oldest in this region) and learn about the traditional method of sparkling wine (where secondary fermentation takes place in bottles) and tastings of 4 different sparkling wines.
Take a stroll through the oldest olive tree plantation (Brda is the northern most point in Europe where olive trees grow.) and then up to a viewpoint tower to take in picturesque panoramas of Brda. In an old walled medieval hill town which used to be the border between Venetian and Habsburg empires we’ll enjoy a lunch of white polenta with a traditional sauce of prosciutto and peas plus an excellent flour-less chocolate-walnut cake topped with orange-infused olive oil.
Coffee and walk through the cute Italian town of Cividale d’Friuli, which has interesting architecture and history but without the tourists like so many other places in Italy. Optional visit to First World War museum where Italian and Austrian/German forces duked it out 100 years ago and where Hemingway worked as an ambulance driver leading to his most famous work, A Farewell to Arms.
Comfort food dinner in a craft beer pub run by the husband and wife team from Hisa Frank, featured on Netflix’s Chef’s Table show.
LAKE BLED, SLOVENIA
Depart Brda and arrival to beautiful Lake Bled where your rustic, charming pension is just a five minute walk to the lake. Today you will learn the importance of beekeeping in Slovenia and get an insider’s knowledge on the history, secrets and science with a local beekeeper followed by a tasting of various Slovenian honeys and honey brandy.
Enjoy a special home made lunch at a farmhouse with a local who makes her own bread, traditional cakes, herbal liqueurs and beer and serves them up with local cheeses and a variety of dried meats. Leisure time to sit back and enjoy the natural beauty of Bled or take an optional visit to scenic Vintgar Gorge where we’ll do an easy 90 minute walk in nature alongside one of Slovenia’s beautiful emerald rivers.
Our farewell 3-course dinner with wines will be held at Bled Castle which provides amazing panoramas and views of the lake and surrounding mountains.
Departure after breakfast. Transfers provided to Ljubljana Airport or Ljubljana Train Station. We hope you enjoyed your Slovenia and Croatian food journey!
*The content or order of the itinerary may change depending on dates, availability of services or activities, local festivals/holidays, weather constraints, etc.
*Menus are samples and may vary according to the season
A minimum of 4 participants is required to run this tour and the tour is limited to a maximum of 6 participants.
(The number of participants refers to how many persons are required to run the tour, not to how many persons you must have in your party. Please inquire.)
HOW TO ARRIVE
Closest Airports/Train Stations:
Airport: Ljubljana - 22 miles/30 minutes to first accommodation
Train Station: Ljubljana - 35 miles/45 minutes to first accommodation
*Pricing may vary depending on market fluctuation
After availability is confirmed, a 30% non-refundable deposit per person and the completed and submitted registration form will secure your reservation. Final payment is due in full 75 days before your arrival date.
May 25-June 2
*Please inquire about other possible dates
*Supplement applies for high season (July/August) - please inquire.
*All breakfasts and lunches
*Six (6) dinners with wine
*Two (2) hands on cooking classes (Day Two and Day Five)
*Wine tastings and excursions as described in program
*Transport during the entire tour
*Transfers from/to Ljubljana Airport or Ljubljana Train Station
Airfare, personal expenses, dinners on Day 1 Ljubjlana) and Day 4 (Rovinj) are not included.
For further inquiries or to register, click here.
Please contact us for cancellation policy information. Travel insurance is highly recommended.
Leslye D., Houston, Texas"Many wonderful experiences cooking and travelling in Croatia and Slovenia. Beautiful town, countryside and vineyards, great cooking and tasting experiences shared with local chefs and hosts. Each host was gracious and welcoming and excited to share their bounty. The guide was a delight to work with and very knowledgeable of the regions. One of my favorite trips in Europe. Heartedly recommend it to anyone that wants to experience this region"
Paula K., Bill N., Austin, Texas"What an amazing way to explore Slovenia and Croatia up and coming food culture. Meeting and talking with the producers around an outdoor table in an olive grove, cooking in an outdoor kitchen and sharing freshly baked poppy seed potica for dessert. Everyday day was a perfect blend of being outdoors and discovering quiet out of the way places to sample everything the region has to offer".