What do you know about Slovenia? If your only answer is ‘Isn’t that where Melania Trump was born?’ then it’s time to pay this stunning land a visit. Indeed, it may be one of Europe’s smallest countries, with a pint-sized population of 2.06 million and an area mass 20,273 km². (To put that into perspective, Germany has an area mass of 357,376 km2 and a population of 82.67 million). But Slovenia boasts a range of touristic credentials akin to countries that are far, far bigger.
It has the mountainous natural beauty of Austria and Switzerland, and a short stretch of pristine coast to rival Italy and Croatia. Meanwhile the capital, Ljubljana, is as clean, functional and cultural as any in Scandinavia. Best of all, you can enjoy the best of all three without being stuck in cars and coaches for hours on end. Here’s our guide to making the most of this immensely LGBTI-friendly country – which legalized homosexuality in 1977 and introduced civil unions in 2006 – in a long weekend.
Lake Bled, in the medieval town of Bled, is probably Slovenia at its most iconic. A 30-minute drive from Ljubljana International Airport and 47 minutes from the city proper is a scene so idyllic, it could have inspired fairytales. In the center of the lake and surrounded by greenish-blue water stands a small island, home to the 17th century Church of Mary the Queen. (Also known as the Pilgrimage Church of the Assumption of Mary.)