On a scale of Saudi to San Fran, just how gay, camp, LGBT-friendly is this small southern-European country?
When I told people that I was going on a trip to Slovenia, the typical reaction was “Oh cool… what’s there?” To which I shamefully admitted, “No idea!” So I went to find out.
A little background on Slovenia
The ex-Yugoslavian country has been independent since 1991 and is just a short 1 hour and 45-minute flight from London. With a small population of about 2 million people, English is widely spoken, otherwise, they’d have very few people to talk to. Probably the greenest country on the planet, Slovenia manages to fit in breathtaking mountain ranges and Mediterranean beaches, all within a few hours drive of the capital city Ljubljana (pronounced lube-ee-aanna… ha ha, lube).
Sounds great right, but how does it stack up as a gay travel destination?
Is Slovenia safe for gay travellers?
If you don’t know where Slovenia is, then it’s fair to ask whether or not you’ll be safe travelling there. Unlike some of its more Soviet neighbours, Slovenia is a very safe country for LGBT travellers. When the shit hit the fan in the 90s, Slovenia was well-positioned in the region not to get sucked into all kinds of conflict like nearby Serbia. And while there is religion here (I even spotted a couple of nuns floating about), it’s not that in-your-face kind of religion. None of that “here’s another painting of the Virgin Mary” and a Bible in every bedroom kind of thing.
Is it gay-friendly?
For a former communist country, it’s a big deal that Slovenia has recognised same-sex partnerships since 2006, with same-sex marriage approved last year. When we spoke to guides and locals, they were all proud of the progress they’d made but admitted there was still some way to go, with adoption and parental rights still a bit lagging.
But that being said the city is still very welcoming and friendly. It’s host to Pink Week each year, which focuses on highlighting gay tourism within the country, organised by husbands with matching names Mateo and Matteo of Luxury Slovenia travel agency.
Can I go out gay clubbing?
Yes, you can and you totally should. Yet despite what some of the gay guides say, there’s only one real gay club in Ljubljana. Klub Tiffany has been open since 1993, and it looks like they haven’t done much to update it since it opened. However, that’s part of its charm. Tiffany is one of many clubs located in old military barracks, laid out with a communal square that looks straight out of the 90s version of Mad Max, complete with oil drum fire pits.
So if you tire of the Kylie/Eurythmics playlist inside (if that were humanly possible) then you can always wander around outside for a drink, a smoke, and a mingle. Side-note: a round of 5 beers cost us 15 Euros. Bargain.
Can I hook up easily?
In the more rural areas, by the lakes and up in the mountains, you may have a hard time (he he) hooking up. However, the capital city offers the usual plethora or perpetual penis pics, the same as any big city.
Granted they’re not all winners; for every stud, you’ll find a dud, just like in most cities. But the nearest gay was always within walking distance (subtracting the 15 or so other gay journalists on this particular trip which were somewhat skewering the curve).
Is it camp at all?
Slovenia feels a little more serious than some of the more Eurovision-y countries, but only slightly. The beautiful mountains, piercing blue lakes, and sun-drenched beaches are all conducive to a fair amount of camping (in both senses of the term).
The coastal town of Piran has a strong Mediterranean feel, having once been a colony of Venice. It’s long stretch of beaches (some of them nude, but not many), which are swathed in speedo-wearing locals and endless places to purchase gelato. Ideal!
When in Slovenia, you have to visit the gorgeous Lake Bled, which is one of the country’s most popular tourist spots. And it’s clear to see why. Take a trip across the lake in a traditional Pletna boat and soak up the idyllic atmosphere. If you’re REALLY lucky, you could get a hunky oarsman. I mean we didn’t, but the boat in front of us did. Now that’s a view…
… and I guess so is this!
The mountains are perfect for singing an impromptu Julie Andrews medley, and there are plenty of cute and camp local activities you can experience, from churning your own butter to petting a tiny pony with Bjork-style bangs.
Add to that a bounty of outdoor activities that include hiking, biking, skiing, and swimming (depending on the time of year), and I really can’t recommend Slovenia enough for an excellent gay getaway.
Are the men hot?
Now here’s where we get to the really important journalism. And like in every country I visit, the answer is “yes and no”. Slovenian men tend to be fairly fair, but not quite blonde and Scandinavian-looking as you might find in nearby Austria or Switzerland.
They’re also quite rogue-ish, but not quite at the same stoic level as the Russians, or the overtly sexual demeanour often found in Italy. So in Slovenia, you’re likely to find a unique mix of both; plenty of blue-eyed boys with beards, often with a friendly but not overly soft demeanour. And if like me, that’s totally your type, then you’re in for a treat.
Can I have a cheap mini-break there?
The flights to Slovenia from London tend to be a tad more expensive than those of nearer European countries, averaging around £150-£200 for a return flight. The upside of this is that it weeds out some of the stag/hen-do types of traveller, leaving their hetero-normative basic behaviours behind.
Slovenia has to be one of my favourite places I’ve visited so far, one that I will look forward to re-visiting as soon as possible. Whether you’re looking for outdoor adventures, stunning scenery, or just a lovely and hospitable city to wander around in, I can’t recommend it enough.
Check out the I Feel Slovenia website for more insanely gorgeous photos and information of where to go. And feel free to check out my Instagram for more pictures of me being a dork in foreign countries (plus that infamous unpacking video).
Travel is such a huge part of modern life, and having grown up overseas and lived as a digital nomad no one gets that more than me.
As the world gets smaller we’re constantly looking for new and exciting places to visit that are safe and welcoming to the LGBT+ community.