Slovenia might not be at the top of your list of countries to visit – or even on your list, for that matter – but it should be, and here’s why.
Located in central Europe, Slovenia is a relatively small country sandwiched between Austria, Hungary, Croatia and Italy, and is approximately a two-hour flight from London. Its capital city, Ljubljana (pronounced loob-ee-arna), is pretty much in the centre of the country, meaning its a great base to explore from. It also has stunning landscapes made up of awesome mountains, mineral-rich lakes and lush forests. Slovenia even has a few Mediterranean style beaches (yeah, we were surprised too). A holiday to Slovenia therefore means one can ski down snow-topped peaks in the morning and swim in the shimmering Adriatic in the afternoon.
In terms of LGBT rights, Slovenia is a progressive country with liberal people. Earlier this year, same-sex marriage became legal for the first time. Slovenia is a very safe country for LGBT travellers to visit.
What to see
Lake Bohinj. The largest natural lake in Slovenia, Lake Bohinj sits proudly in the heart of the Julian Alps. Deep marine green in colour, tourists can enjoy its beauty with a boat ride that takes you to the foot of Vogel Mountain. A quick journey in a cable car lifts you to a viewing platform where a stunning vista awaits. From here you can ski, hike and explore.
Lake Bled. The town of Bled is home to another outstanding shimmering lake – Lake Bled – as well as Bled Castle, Bled Island, Bled… You get the idea. The picturesque medieval castle is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Slovenia and offers even more fabulous views.
A trip across the lake in a traditional Pletna boat gives a totally different perspective and on Bled Island, the Church of the Assumption is very popular for weddings – tradition states that the groom must carry his bride up the 99 steps from the lake to the church to ensure a long and happy marriage. He’s either got to be very strong or she petite is all we’re saying…
Ljubljana. In Ljubljana, its medieval castle is perched high up on a green hill, accessible by a funicular, it is the perfect place to see excellent panoramas of the city, especially at sunset. The castle is also the perfect place to start a tour of Slovenia’s finest tipples, of which there are plenty.
Piran. Sitting across the Adriatic Sea from Italy, the pretty coastal town of Piran is a just 90-minute drive from the capital yet curiously feels like you’ve entered a different country. Known for its sandy beaches, glittering water and Venetian architecture, it’s easy to see how Piran has been influenced over the centuries by its Italian cousins. Piran is packed with exquisite seafood restaurants.
Because Slovenia’s people are liberal fair-minded folk, LGBT tourists should feel at ease going into most bars in the capital, which encourage mixed crowds of all sexualities to socialise. But we gays do love a gay club to really throw caution to the wind and Klub Tiffany is a place like no other. Ljubljana’s premier gay club, Tiffany has been welcoming LGBT Slovenians and their friends to its dancefloors every Friday since 1993. Housed in a disused military base, this indoor-outdoor complex offers pop, trance and electro music, art installations, cheap beers and an apocalyptic Mad Max vibe complete with fires burning in old oil drums. For real. Cool, huh?
Where to stay
The Bohinj ECO Hotel is the first and only Green Globe certified hotel in Slovenia. As you might expect from its name, it is found very close to Lake Bohinj and is dedicated to sustainability. The hotel is also highly luxurious and boasts an a la carte restaurant, wellness centre – including spa, steam bath and Finnish sauna – family pool complete with climbing wall, and even a bowling alley.
In Ljubljana, Hotel Cubo [hotelcubo.com] offers sexy, boutique suites, incredible breakfasts and exemplary service.Other city hotels include the Grand Hotel Union Business, with its superb Atelje Restaurant (perfect for cocktails), and the Best Western Premier Hotel Slon.
Why choose PinkWeek?
PinkWeek organisers – and real-life husbands – Matej and Mattej offer an fantastic itinerary that allows you to experience various aspects of authentic Slovenian life. For example, one afternoon we met a local farmer’s wife in Studor, a small village in Bohinj, who taught us how to churn milk to make butter. We then spread the butter that we’d made over slabs of rustic bread and ate it with traditional cheeses as her cows mooed nearby. Later, at nearby Mrcina Ranch, we played a range of (what turned out to be ultra-competitive) outdoor farm games, fashioned scarecrows out of old clothes and hay, and ate barbecued food as day turned to dusk.
How to get there
Direct flights to Ljubljana leave London Gatwick, Stansted and Luton airports daily with low-cost airlines EasyJet and Wizz Air offering some of the best deals.