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.

The city pioneer in sustainable tourism

Kranj, a destination with alpine air and city flair, 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. Whether you’re in the mood for a stroll through the medieval old town, a hike in the Alps nearby, or a visit to one of the eclectic historical attractions, there is something for everyone. Additionally, the city is a pioneer in sustainable tourism and was awarded the 2023 European Destination of Excellence title – which means you can enjoy your visit while being carbon efficient! Read on to learn all about this charming gem nestled in the heart of Slovenia.

Just a quick search on the internet will convince you of Kranj’s captivating beauty. The ‘Capital of the Slovenian Alps’ sits at the convergence of two rivers with views of the highest peaks of the Southern Alps. As you wander through the cobblestone streets of the Old Town, you’ll encounter well-preserved medieval buildings, Gothic churches, and charming squares, all radiating a distinct medieval atmosphere. You’ll find cozy cafés and restaurants where you can indulge in traditional Slovenian cuisine. At one of the old town entrances lies the 30-meter-deep Kokra River Canyon, the second-deepest urban canyon in Europe.

Kranj old town.
Kranj old town.


One of the most popular tourist attractions is the network of tunnels beneath the city. Built during World War II, these tunnels are also home to endangered cave salamanders that live in the groundwater.

Visit the SOS Info Centre Proteus to learn about and support the conservation efforts of these blind amphibians. The information center also spreads awareness on the importance of conserving clean groundwater, a vital source for the salamander, as well as a main source of drinking water around the world.


Visitors will not only be in awe of Kranj’s rich natural landscape but also of its green and sustainable practices. The northern Slovenian town is leading the way in sustainability initiatives and creating a memorable experience for its visitors. In 2023, Kranj won the European Destination of Excellence (EDEN) award. EDEN is an initiative of the European Union to promote sustainable tourism and smaller European destinations.

Kranj, 2023 European Destination of Excellence.
Kranj, 2023 European Destination of Excellence.

In addition to 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 works closely with local businesses and tourism industry representatives to achieve its green goals.


Ride in style – Kranj’s Centre for Sustainable Mobility is a dynamic hub for sustainable transportation in the bustling heart of Kranj’s most populated neighborhood. It offers a bike-sharing system throughout the city and was the largest e-bike one in Slovenia up until recently. In 2021, it was named the best e-mobility municipality in the country. The city offers a total of 29 electric stations for 125 bicycles, 75 e-bikes, and 2 e-tricycles. Thanks to the regional network connecting eight municipalities, visitors can rent and return a bike across more than 50 different locations. For those who prefer an alternative method of transportation, anyone can hop on the electric minibus for free and drive across the old town.

Kranj, Slovenia
Discover how easy the e-mobility is while enjoying Kranj.


Calling all foodies! Kranj has come up with new ways to put sustainability on the table. In an effort to support the catering sector after 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 a total of 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. The Kranj Long Table is now an example of a more climate-friendly tourism event in Slovenia and will be held again on 7 September 2023 — save the date!

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

Visit Kranj, where unforgettable, innovative, and unique experiences await. To learn more about the European Destination of Excellence competition and Kranj’s sustainable practices, watch this video.

Best Practices from the 2023 European Destinations of Excellence Competition

Learn from the greenest destinations – To find out more about other innovative sustainable tourism measures that cities put forward in their applications to become European Destinations of Excellence, download the Best Practices 2023 Report here.

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