Long Weekend: From the Alps to the Adriatic
Klagenfurt's proximity to Italy and Slovenia makes it the perfect starting point for a culinary-cultural journey.
© Michael Stabentheiner
In the idyllic inner courtyards of southern Austria, historically significant sights and dreamlike natural landscapes, you meet residents who have the south (almost) in their DNA. We are talking about Klagenfurt, on Lake Wörthersee, Austria's southernmost provincial capital. The Benedictine Market, the very best and largest "grocery shop" in Klagenfurt, provides the perfect culinary introduction on Thursdays (and Saturdays). Farmers from Carinthia, Friuli and Slovenia offer their products here – you can taste and smell (and taste again) the best from all three countries. If you are hungry and don't have a kitchen in town, visit the cooking workshop. Here Christian Cabalier is at the stove, once Switzerland's youngest three-star chef, who trained in many top restaurants worldwide. Now he cooks up delicious food in the hustle and bustle of the market. At Rudi's, the famous Carinthian Kasnudeln or filled pasta are available for lunch in many variations, from classic to spinach, sweet or savoury.
Beer & literature
It isn't hard to enjoy yourself in this city, especially in Felsenkeller restaurant with its passion for regionality and sustainability. The beer culture is of a high standard, but the food also has a perfect ecological footprint and is creatively prepared. Another beer tip? In Hirter GenussTheke, you can not only immerse yourself in the world of Hirter beer but enjoy it with all your senses. Over 240 square metres, you can discover wines, beer, spirits and regional delicacies. Another tip: on Pfarrplatz, Bierhaus zum Augustin is the place for traditional, regional enjoyment with a wonderful garden hidden in its inner courtyard. Thus fortified, stroll across the Alter Platz to the Neuer Platz with its famous Lindwurm fountain and then to the Museum of Modern Art. Here you can admire paintings by Maria Lassnig, Kiki Kogelnik, Erwin Wurm, Hans Staudacher or Bruno Gironcoli. And then there is a name that is closely interwoven with Klagenfurt: Ingeborg Bachmann. A square, a grammar school, a café and a famous literary prize bear the author's name. The city's oldest coffee house, Café am Platz, remains chic to this day, while at the Klagenfurt institution, Café Domgassner, God and the world are guests – not just because of its location, a stone's throw from Klagenfurt Cathedral. If you want to stay overnight in Klagenfurt, we recommend the Select Hotel Moser-Verdino or the Hotel Sandwirth. This way you can start the next day rested and head for Slovenia.
Friday / Saturday
Ljubljana, the green capital of Slovenia, is less than 100 kilometres from Klagenfurt. Here, too, beautiful markets are an expression of the alpine and Adriatic theme. Ljubljana's outdoor Central Market (with a covered market hall) is one such example. The market complex, designed by famous architect Jože Plecnik, stretches along the Ljubljanica River and offers two floors of diverse enjoyment. Upstairs, there are many shops with Slovenian products and restaurants. On the lower floor there is a fish market with a small restaurant and the DobraVaga gallery, which gives young artists a home under the motto "Art by the kilo". The market is always a meeting for locals and visitors alike to catch up. Perhaps about the traces of taste that Austrian history has left in the city. The secret of Slovenian cuisine is the recourse to old traditions, coupled with creativity and fresh ingredients.
Culinary world trip
On Pogacarjev trg square in the heart of Ljubljana, you can embark on a culinary journey around the world every Friday, between March and October at Odprta kuhna (Open Kitchen). Slovenian specialities combine with international flavours, Kaiserschmarrn meets Balkan burgers, traditional desserts mix with Asian delicacies. The colourful market is a magnet for famous Slovenian chefs, authentic gostilnas, Slovenian winemakers and young craft beer enthusiasts.
If you need to fuel up on caffeine, take a break at Ljubljana's most famous coffee house, Le Petit Café. For top cuisine, the grand masters Janez Bratovž at JB Restaurant or Igor Jagodic at Strelec have you covered. The cuisine is as diverse as the city itself. You should definitely stay overnight here to experience the nightlife in areas like the Metelkova artists' quarter, Europe's best-known centre for independent cultural activity. Historical and luxurious lodgings can be found at Hotel Antiq Palace, one of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World, or boutique hotel Vander Urbani Resort.
Neboticnik, known as the "skyscraper of Ljubljana", was built in 1933 and now has a trendy restaurant and rooftop bar, offering a cool view. Quiet, cosy, culturally stimulating – that's how you could describe the Slovenian capital, but also, at times, surprising and exciting.
Saturday / Sunday
The air in the port-city Trieste is permeated with the scent of coffee and literature, while in restaurants, the flavours of the Habsburg Empire combine with those of the coast.
Emperor Franz Josef is said to have ordered his city planners to "make it like Vienna, only a little smaller", and so in Trieste we find the Austro-Hungarian empire combined with the spirit of cosmopolitanism. A melting pot above all in the kitchen – Kayserfleisch with horseradish, plum dumplings, Arabic desserts, wonderful wine and snacks in the rocky Karst plateau. Plus everything the sea has to offer. One day in the city of cafés, poets and the Bora wind is of course not enough to discover all of its diversity, but you can come back. "There is no place in Europe where there are more borders," says Veit Heinichen, writer and Trieste resident by choice with a penchant for culinary delights and a love of the city. The sea, which almost flows into the city, opens the view and the mind. Culture is omnipresent, you meet it in the form of bronze statues of James Joyce or Italo Svevo, in Caffè San Marco with Claudio Magris or in Gran Malabar with Veit Heinichen.
You can see art in the Museo Revoltella or experience history in Risiera di San Sabba or simply stroll through the city. Trieste can be a brittle cosmopolitan, but once you have conquered it, you can't let it go. The wonderful buffets, restaurants and bars also play a part. After a morning coffee with a sea view at Caffè degli Specchi, a buffet at Siora Rosa, Da Giovanni or L'Approdo, is tempting, before you indulge in the finest Adriatic cuisine at Nerodiseppia or Tommaseo, or in meaty delights at Antica Trattoria Suban. An insider's tip is Da Angelina, and if you get hold of one of the few tables, you'll feel like you're in fish heaven. Or the Osteria Salvagente, where you dine with locals. You can stay at the Grand Hotel Duchi D'Aosta on the Piazza Unità or on the Costiera at the Hotel Miramare and visit the famous castle on foot early in the morning. The evening's entertainments can be rounded off at Harry's Piccolo restaurant, bistro and bar – all in one location. If you want a real Trieste experience the next day, you can meet pork in all its guises at the famous Buffet Da Pepi from 10am. And then perhaps a detour to the Karst to drink a glass of Terrano or Vitovska in an osmiza. Because they say Trieste without Karst is not Trieste.
Tips & Addresses
Very good, fast food at the market. An experience, from the soup to the famous Carinthian filled pasta.
Benediktinerplatz 1, 9020 Klagenfurt
T: +43 664 1802074, beirudis.at
Delightful bistro-style gem in the Benedictine market. Christian Cabalier never ceases to amaze with his creations from market produce.
Benediktinerplatz 15, 9020 Klagenfurt
T: +43 664 2178877, kochwerkstatt.edan.io
Felsenkeller in der Schleppe Kurve
Restaurant of the famous Schleppe Brewery with wonderful fresh cuisine, sustainable,
regional. Great beers, too, of course.
Feldkirchnerstraße 141, 9020 Klagenfurt
T: +43 463 420130, felsen-keller.at
Bierhaus zum Augustin
A place to enjoy beer & more and to communicate in the city. There is always something going on here.
Pfarrhofgasse 2, 9020 Klagenfurt
T: +43 463 57882, gut-essen-trinken.at
Koschatstraße 32-34, 9020 Klagenfurt
T: +43 4268 2050-408, hirterbier.at
Café am Platz
The oldest coffee house with a modern ambience. And with a view of the fountain, Champagne and a trendy meeting place.
Neuer Platz 9, 9020 Klagenfurt
T: +43 676 3330333, facebook.com/cafeamplatz100/
This is where God and the world meet to enjoy and be seen. Coffee, prosecco, bread rolls, sweets and savouries. Simply good.
Pfarrhofgasse 2, 9020 Klagenfurt
T: +43 463 57882, gut-essen-trinken.at
Select Hotel Moser Verdino
The famous Lindwurm fountain is nearby, the rooms are beautiful and the location is perfect for a stroll through the city.
Domgasse 2, 9020 Klagenfurt
T: +43 463 890200, select-hotels.com
Hospitality at the highest level. The Sandwirth is the traditional hotel in the centre of Klagenfurt. Beautiful rooms, good cuisine.
Pernhartgasse 9, 9020 Klagenfurt
T: +43 463 56209, sandwirth.at
Alpine-Adriatic shopping at its best. Producers from three countries offer great products.
Benediktinerplatz 15, 9020 Klagenfurt
T: +43 664 84 57 982, klagenfurt.at/die-stadt/stadtbummel/maerkte.html
Museum of Modern Art Carinthia
Home for modern and contemporary art. More than 1,000sqm featuring established and young artists.
Burggasse 8, 9021 Klagenfurt
T: +43 50536 16252, mmkk.at
Grand master Janez Bratovž is not only a pioneer in Slovenia but holds his own with the best chefs in the world.
Miklošičeva cesta 19, 1000 Ljubljana
T: +386 1 430 7070, jb-slo.com
Fine dining above the rooftops of the city. Every plate that leaves Igor Jagodic's creative kitchen shows skill and attention to detail.
Grajska planota 1, 1000 Ljubljana
T: +386 31 68764, kaval-group.si
On the top of the Nebotičnik (skyscraper) building, the name says it all. You can enjoy a magnificent view of Ljubljana.
Štefanova 1, 1000 Ljubljana
T: +386 40 233078, neboticnik.si
Cafes & markets
Le Petit Café
A fitting name for the square of the French Revolution. The breakfast is good here, but so are the snacks.
Trg francoske revolucije 4, 1000 Ljubljana
T: +386 1 252 275, lepetit.si
Ljubljana Central Market
From the famous architect: the building; from the great producers, the goods. Connoisseurs will find pretty much everything their heart desires here.
Adamič-Lundrovo nabrežje 6, 1000 Ljubljana
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