The latest edition of the Henley Passport Index has come out, based on the number of destinations a particular passport holder can access without a prior visa (either visa free or on landing). The ranking is based on data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
In first place are Japan and Singapore, which can freely access an incredible 189 of the world’s 195 countries (including the Holy See and the State of Palestine, with 197 if you count Taiwan and Kosovo). In second place are Germany, Finland and South Korea (187), and in third Denmark, Italy and Luxembourg.
Slovenia comes a little further down the list, in 10th place, along with Latvia and Slovakia.
Picking out a few other countries of interest to our readers, both the United States and United Kingdom are in 6th place, with access to 183 destinations. Croatia is 20th, with 167 visa free options, Serbia 41st (31), North Macedonia 46th (123), and Bosnia and Herzegovina 51st (116).
A PDF of the full report can be found here
STA, 31 July 2019 - Slovenian tourism continued to boom in the first half of the year. Arrivals were up by over 6% compared to the same period last year to 2.6 million, with accommodation facilities recording 6.3 million nights, an increase of 10%, fresh statistics show.
While domestic arrivals increased just 3% to 733,000, foreign arrivals increased by almost 8% to 1.8 million, mostly due to increases in arrivals from the most important source countries.
There was a 13.5% increase in the number of guests from Germany, with arrivals from Austria and Italy rising by almost 6% and 3%, respectively, the Statistics Office said on Wednesday.
The picture for nights spent at tourist accommodation establishments is similar: foreigners spent 4.3 million nights in Slovenia, a rise of over 6%, while nights by domestic visitors were roughly flat at just over two million.
Among the largest source countries, the biggest increases were recorded for guests from Germany, Austria and Italy.
More details on this data can be found here
STA, 31 July 2019 - A four-day music festival will start in the idyllic village of Fara in the south on Wednesday, including camping on the Kolpa river. The long list of bands that will entertain the crowd includes Asian Dub Foundation, Soulfly, Skindred and Inner Circle.
The first evening of the Castle Kolpa Music Festival will be dominated by Slovenian bands performing on only one stage, while in the following three days, fans will be able to choose from a variety of music genres playing on three stages.
On Thursday, Dub Fx from Austria, Skindred from the UK and Slovenia's Elvis Jackson will take the main Dragon Stage in prime time.
The stars of Friday night will be Jamaican reggae band Inner Circle from Jamaica, Slovenia's rock band Siddharta and Croatia's pop punk band Psihomodo Pop.
American heavy metal band Soulfly and English electronica band that combines rapcore, dub, dancehall, ragga and South Asian music, Asian Dub Foundation, will take the main stage on Saturday.
The Beach Stage will offer Acroyoga and impro shows during the day, and DJs in the evenings, while the Arena Experience stage will be the place to go for electronic music fans. The stars there will be Dutch musicians Jay Hardway and Sander van Doorn, and Slovenia's Umek.
The organisers have also prepared a variety of activities to keep visitors entertained during the day. Apart from Acroyoga and impro shows, they will be able to enjoy in an outdoor cinema, take part in various workshops or play football or volleyball.
The festival’s website is here
The Overjam International Reggae Festival is back for the heat of the summer in the cool of Sotočje, ad event located between the two mountain rivers, the Tolminka and Soča.
The name says reggae but the festival’s reach is a little broader than that, taking in related subcultures such as ska, drum n bass, dub and dancehall. The full line-up can be seen on this page, with the headline acts being Alborosie & Shengen Clan, Cali P, Junior Kelly, Israel Vibration, Queen Ifrica, Zion Train, Ward 21 and Ziggi Mastah - Dubtafari Sound, plus support from many more, making it a long weekend that’s worth considering if you’re looking for great a place to chill in the beautiful, watery wild.
It runs from Thursday to Saturday, August 15 to 17, as an all-day event and six-day experience, offering live music and DJs, performances, workshops, and, of course, food and drink, with vegans and vegetarians catered for. Families are welcome, and children’s activities and areas are planned, along with supervision provided by professionals working for the festival from 11:00 to 16:00 each day, as part of Overjam4kidz.
Camping is allowed and free of charge if you have a valid ticket – and to discourage people from using cheap tents that they then leave at the site you can buy waterproof cardboard structures here. At the time of writing one-day tickets could be had for 39 euros (plus commission), while the whole thing could be seen for 100 euros (more details on all offers and how to buy now here). Tickets also get you unlimited mobile charging, a festival info book and ear plugs, safe deposit, and unlimited use of hot showers – with details here and the festival’s FAQ here.
STA, 28 July 2019 - The passenger terminal at Koper, Slovenia's sole maritime port, welcomed 55,000 cruise line passengers by Friday this year with more than 109,000 expected to arrive at the port by the end of the season.
Most of the passengers come on high-end cruise liners, most of which sail in from Venice, as well as from Croatian ports such as Rijeka, Zadar, Split, Dubrovnik or even Korčula.
The city authorities told the STA that three cruise liners were due to dock at the Koper port this weekend.
The Celebrity Infinity arrived in the port for the first time on Friday carrying 2,000 passengers and 1,000 crew members. The ship was due to return as early as Sunday, following the Celebrity Constellation on Saturday.
By the end of the season 71 cruise liner arrivals are expected with a total of more than 106,000 passengers on board, so the port may even trump the boom year of 2010, when it welcomed more than 109,000 passengers on board of 78 ships.
The biggest this season are the Mein Schiff 6 and the Koningsdam, each carrying 2,500 passengers. The former is scheduled to visit Koper four times and the latter three times.
Most of the cruise liners arrive in June, July, September and October. Some estimates are that Koper could receive between 180,000 and 200,000 passengers a year in the coming years, but these should be distributed evenly throughout the year.
Many of the cruise line passengers stay in the town to explore the historic centre, or take a trip to some other coastal town, or even the rural Istria with a wine fountain in Marezige one popular draw.
There is also high demand for visits to Lipica, the home of the white Lipizzan horse, the Postojna Cave, the alpine lakeside resort of Bled or the capital Ljubljana.
Most visitors to Ljubljana, even those who live in the country, focus on the very centre of town, the picturesque and increasingly pedestrianised area that runs roughly between Žitni most (Grain Bridge) – the next bridge after Zmajski most (Dragon Bridge) – and Šentjakobski most (St James’ Bridge), at the end of the old town in the other direction. So in this series of articles we’ll write a little about places that are just outside this area, within an easy walk, cycle or so on, and which can be used as anchor points to explore further.
Today’s focus is Ljubljana Botanical Garden (Botanični vrt Univerze v Ljubljani), just passed Špica. I visited and took these pictures in late July. The date is important, as what you'll see obviously depends on the time of year, with repeat visits yielding different views. All of it, apart from the tropical greenhouse, is free to enter, and the walk there takes you along the Ljubljanica, via Špica.
Inside the tropical greenhouse
Founded in 1810, when Ljubljana was capital of the short-lived Illyrian Provinces (1809—14), part of the French Empire under Napoleon, when it was built to go along with the Ecole Centrale. Two centuries later, and it's now part of the University of Ljubljana.
Now I'll say right in the open that I have no idea what I'm looking at when I visit, other than the broad categories of grass, flower, and tree, but that doesn't spoil my enjoyment, especially with a camera in hand and a book to relax with in the shade of a tree.
There are paths to follow and many things to enjoy. In addition to the plants, there are all the insects you'll come across, with one focus of the garden being pollinators. The best known of these are of course the bees, and here you'll find a colony of the Carnolian Grey, the native Slovene species. There's an “education bee house”, out by the railtracks, where you can stand behind glass and watch the bees come and go from the hive. Or go out, as I did, and rest on your back looking up between the hive and the nearby grape vine, a superhighway of insects going back and forth above me.
Go slow enough to smell the flowers and take in the great variety packed into a relatively small area. Keep going ang eventually you’ll come across a pond with some turtles, or a cafe among the trees. Just lots of small things to enjoy.
If you like being in nature but find Tivoli Park too big, or just want a greater concentration of varied plants, the Botanical Garden is highly recommended, and visiting will also give you a chance to see more of the city, following the river upstream, to places where not everyone goes.
From June to August it's open every day 07:00 to 20:00. September and October it closes an hour earlier, while from November to March the hours are 07:00 to 17:00. April to June it's then open 07:00 to 19:00. The tropical greenhouse and store are open 10:00 to 19:00, every day of the week, where you can buy seeds and plants (although the latter only Monday to Friday, 08:00 to 18:00). Entrance to the greenhouse is €2.80 for adults and €1.30 for children, and annual tickets are available. The official website is here, and the address is Ižanska cesta 15, 1000 Ljubljana.
STA, 23 July 2019 - Great names of jazz and world music will perform admission-free concerts against what is arguably the most picturesque backdrop in Slovenia as the annual Okarina festival kicks off in Bled tonight.
Held for 29th year running, the festival will get under way at Bled Castle with a concert by Vigüela, the Spanish ensemble performing authentic rural music from the Castilla-La Mancha province.
After a concert by the Serbian folk band Legende at the castle the next day, the festival will move to the promenade by the lake where another ten gigs will follow daily until 3 August.
The Brooklyn-based afrobeat band Antibalas will perform there on Thursday, followed by a fusion French breakbeat and traditional Qawwali music from Pakistan, to be performed by Markus & Shahzad Santoo Khan.
One of the musical treats for the weekend will be Ravid Kahalani and the Yemen Blues ensemble, who combine traditional Yemenite melodies with funk, blues, and jazz rhythms.
Another will be the Belgium-based band, Panta Rhei, who have given the traditional music of Eastern Europe a new twist with tunes from England and Swedish melancholia.
The second festival week will see the greats such as Jamaican jazz pianist Monty Alexander, the Lovell sisters aka Larkin Poe, known for heavy electric guitar riffs and slide guitar, and Tunisian oud master Dhafer Youssef.
The official website, in English, can be found here
STA, 22 July 2019 - A total of 4,066 ships were recorded in the Slovenian coastal towns of Koper, Izola and Piran last year, which is 7.2% less than in 2017. However, passenger traffic was up by 23.2%, mostly on account of cruise ships, the Statistics Office said on Monday.
The number of cargo ships was down by 8% compared to 2017 and the number of passenger ships by 4%.
A total of 132,814 ship passengers were recorded on the Slovenian coast last year, 108,682 of whom arrived on cruise ships, which is 55% more than in 2017.
Some 11.873 came with passenger and other ships, while 12,259 departed from the three coastal towns. Both numbers are 36% lower than in 2017.
The cargo ships docking at or departing from the Koper port were mostly container ships, followed by general cargo ships, ships transporting liquids and bulk cargo, and specialised ships.
The port operator Luka Koper transshipped 23 million tonnes of cargo last year, up almost 4% from 2017. Workers mostly unloaded dry bulk goods and large containers, while they loaded mainly large containers.
July 16, 2019
Summer street festivals are not only a feature of the capital, but take place in other parts of the country as well.
In its 17 years of existence the Littoral Street Festival has hosted around 800 street performers and puppeteers from some 40 different countries, and among a variety of shows we will this year see also some of the earliest, Commedia dell’arte originating puppet characters such as Mascarredas, Harlequin and Colobina, Pulcinella and a Slovenian version of the character, Pavliha.
The festival will last till the end of August and will feature shows along the main promenade path of Koper/Capodistria every Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Thursday shows take place at Hlavaty Park, Friday shows at Ukmar Square and Saturday shows on the corner of the Hlavaty Park and Semedela promenade. In case of rain, shows will move under the roof of Taverna.
For information on shows, please visit: https://www.mclu.info/puf
PUF started as a puppet street festival and later extended its programme into other fields of performative arts.
In the last week of the festival from August 26 to 30 PUF will move to the villages in the outskirts of Koper/Capodistria in Slovenian Istria: Sokoliči, Hrvoji, Gračišče and Truški.
The grand finale of the festival will take place in Koper on August 30 with Etno HistEria concert, which will then move to Snežnik Castle as Floating Castle festival, which will only last for one day this year.
STA, 15 July 2019 - British Airways is launching a new route to Ljubljana on Monday with its first plane from London Heathrow Airport due to touch down at Jože Pučnik Ljubljana Airport at 9pm.
The British air carrier had already operated scheduled flights to Ljubljana from Gatwick airport at the turn of the millennium, when Slovenian air carrier Adria Airways was flying to Heathrow.
Becoming the third carrier to fly between London and Slovenia's capital, British Airways will link the capitals twice a week, on Mondays and Fridays, on a 220-seater Airbus 321.
For the time being, flights are planned only during the summer, but considering how well the flights are booked, the operator of Ljubljana airport hopes British Airways will extend the flights beyond summer.
The launch of the route tonight will be accompanied by a ribbon-cutting ceremony featuring officials from airport operator Fraport Slovenija and British Airways, UK Ambassador to Slovenia Sophie Honey, Slovenian Ambassador to the UK Tadej Rupel and the head of the British-Slovenian Chamber of Commerce Barbara Uranjek.
Two other airlines fly between London and Ljubljana; Easyjet operates flights from Stansted ten times a week and from Gatwick four times a week, while Wizz Air offers four weekly flights from Luton.
A total of 239,727 passengers flew between Ljubljana and London last year.
All our stories on air travel and Slovenia are here
The best site around for all that’s in air in the former Yugoslavia, Ex-Yu Aviation, reports that Wizz Air, the budget carrier, is set to raise capacity on its flights from London’s Luton Airport to Ljubljana this winter, with the new schedule starting on October 27.
The change will see the Hungarian airline shift from the current 180-seat Airbus A320 to a 230-seat A321. The Ljubljana service is set to run three times a week for the 2019/20 season, rising to four times in December.
All our stories on air travel are here