European Capital & Green Pioneer of Smart Tourism

Discover the European Capital & Green Pioneer of Smart Tourism initiative, a groundbreaking EU initiative that recognizes cities at the forefront of sustainable and intelligent tourism. Explore how these capitals lead the way in green innovation, smart mobility, and sustainable travel practices, setting an example for destinations worldwide.

Kranj (Slovenia) is awarded the 2023 European Destination of Excellence title

Kranj, a destination with alpine air and city flair, is the 2023 European Destination of Excellence (EDEN). EDEN is an initiative of the European Union promoting sustainable tourism in the EU. The initiative strives to strengthen and network European tourist destinations by facilitating the exchange of best practices and showcasing destinations that forge new ways for sustainable tourism.

Kranj has a lot to share with the world. Its picturesque architecture set against the impressive Slovenian natural scenery makes it an attractive destination for many visitors. Kranj’s charming historic old town is standing on top of a high rock and is protected as a cultural monument. The area of the city center was already inhabited 6000 years ago. At one of the entrances to the old town lies the second-deepest urban canyon in Europe, the 30-meter-deep Kokra River Canyon.

Located between two rivers and with view over the highest peaks of the Southern Alps, Kranj does not only stand out for its rich natural landscape but also for its green and sustainable practices. Besides its EDEN award, Kranj has received the Slovenia Green Destination Platinum label and is a member of the EU Mission for 100 climate-neutral and smart cities by 2030.

Within the sustainable development framework, Kranj has created the Green Team, comprised of members from different local authority institutions dedicated to lowering the city’s carbon footprint. The team collects data, formulates concrete measures and targets, and works toward their implementation. Tourism is an important part of the overall sustainability efforts. The Green Team is therefore working closely with local businesses and tourism industry representatives to achieve its green goals.

Kranj has also pioneered e-mobility, creating the largest electrified bike-sharing system in Slovenia. Kranj offers a total of 29 electrified stations for 125 bicycles, 75 e-bikes, and 2 e-tricycles. Thanks to the larger regional network connecting eight municipalities, visitors can rent and return a bike across more than 50 different locations.
Anyone can hop on the electric minibus, driving passengers across the old town; it is free of charge. The Centre for sustainable mobility offers all kinds of information about sustainable mobility in Kranj, workshops, and bike repair.

Kranj, Slovenia
Kranj, 2023 European Destination of Excellence.

The Tunnels under the old town of Kranj are the most visited Kranj’s touristic sight and they are also home to an info center dedicated to the conservation of proteus, a global symbol of cave biodiversity. The Tular Cave Lab has been studying and protecting these amphibians for decades. In partnership with town authorities, the lab is taking this further by informing visitors and locals about the endangered cave amphibian and the importance of the groundwater in which it lives – Slovenia’s vital drinking water resource.

Setting a creative example, Kranj has devised new ways to put sustainability on the table. In an effort to support the catering sector following the Covid-19 pandemic, the city organized the Kranj Long Table, a green culinary event for 100 visitors in the garden of the Khislstein castle. There, local chefs prepared a menu made of 100% regional ingredients using electricity from renewable resources, saving overall 266 kg of CO2 emissions and reducing the event’s carbon footprint by 18%. To combat food waste, guests could take any excess food with them in recyclable containers. Due to the event’s measured carbon footprint, the Kranj Long Table is now an example of a more climate-friendly tourism event in Slovenia and will be held again this year.

Kranj Long Table Dinner at Khislstein Castle.
Kranj Long Table Dinner at Khislstein Castle.

Best Practices from the 2023 EDEN competition – learn from the best in sustainable tourism

To learn more about initiatives and actions promoting sustainability in the EU tourism landscape, visit the initiative’s website or download the Best Practices Guide from the 2023 EDEN competition. The guide consists of the most innovative projects, ideas, and initiatives in sustainable tourism derived from the cities’ applications submitted to the 2023 competition.

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