Slovenian coast is one of the shortest European coasts – only 47km long. The Slovenian coast is known for many natural and cultural attractions and I bet you’ll fall in love with Mediterranean charm. Every coastal town has its characteristic and some attractions are worth to be visited. I have to admit that Slovenian coast wasn’t on my travel bucket list for this year, as I prefer to travel international, but I’m glad that I’ve made a decision and spent some quality days in my home country. I’m sure you’ll feel the same if you make a stop there. If you travel through Slovenia or if you have some extra days to spend, you should go to the capital of Slovenia – Ljubljana.
So, where to stay and what to do on the Slovenian coast? I’ll share my tips and recommendations on activities, restaurants and places you shouldn’t miss.
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Piran – a charming coastal town
I’ve decided to stay in Piran, a charming, little coastal town. Piran isn’t just charming and beautiful, it’s a great starting point if you want to explore the Slovenian coast – and I’m sure you’re going to do this. It is also full of great restaurants and charming coffee places.
Piran is probably the most beautiful, picturesque and charming place on the Slovenian coast. At least if you ask me. Its rich history, Mediterranean charm, pastel coloured houses and cobblestoned streets are the main reasons why I love it so much. And it has a soul. You are going to fall in love and it will be hard to leave. Yes, it happens to me all the time and I bet I’m not the only one…
Piran is made for strolling by the sea and listening the sound of the waves. One of the best things you can experience is sunset in Piran. Piran sunsets are pretty spectacular regardless of where you are. I’m not the only one who will claim that there is something special about watching sunsets from the Slovenian coast. Pastel skies and the sun growing into a flaming sphere before it descends into the sea are worth the view.
What to do in Piran
The place where Tartini Square is located today was once a small harbour for fishing boats. The square was named after a famous local, the violin virtuoso and composer, Giuseppe Tartini. Are you wondering why the square has the shape of an ellipse? Between 1912 and 1953, there was a tramline connecting the town with the neighbouring Portorož and Lucija, and the square served as a turnaround point for the tram. In the square you can find a statue of famous violinist Tartini, a few cafes and restaurants and some cute shops selling local products. The square is traffic free and it’s really great place to sit down and enjoy. There are free buses taking visitors back and forth to the car parks.
The Venetian House
The charming building can be found where IX. Korpus street meets Tartini square. Without any doubt it is the most beautiful example of venetian-gothic architecture in Piran. It was built in the 15th century and it is the oldest building on Tartini square.
On the façade there’s a stone plate with a lion, underneath it there is the inscription “Lassa pur dir” (meaning “let them talk”). According to legend, a rich Venetian merchant fell in love with a beautiful girl from Piran and to prove his love he built her a house – the Venetian house. The inhabitants of Piran were jealous and gossiped about the couple, thus the lovebirds decided to retort with the above-mentioned inscription.
St. George’s Parish Church
On your way from Tartini Square to City Walls of Piran you can make a stop at St. George’s Parish Church. It is one of the most important town landmarks, as it is seen from Tartini Square as well as from many other parts of town. In front of the church portal is a large lawn which used to be a graveyard, and is now a spot for tourists to see the whole Bay of Trieste, as well as the town and nearby coastal settlements.
City Walls of Piran
Piran City Wall is easly accessible from the town centre and worth seeing. From Tartini Square walk east on Ulica IX Korpusa. The short trek is mostly uphill. Piran was surrounded with the wall in the 7th century. It was divided to quarters, which were named by town doors: Miljska, Stolna, Osrednja and Poljska. It is possible to walk along several sections of the wall but beware it is quite narrow and headspace is limited in some areas.
The entrance fee is 2€.
Where to eat
Food is a important part of travel, at least for me. I love trying new foods and local cuisine. On the Slovenian coast you’ll mostly find fish and seafood restaurants – I guess this is pretty clear, right?
One of the most popular restaurants in Piran is Fritolin pri Cantini and this is certainly well deserved as they serve amazing, delicious fresh food. The order is taken at the window and you get your order number (on a shell) and wait for your number to come up.
Fritolin pri Cantini is located at the charming Prvomajski trg – square 10 in Piran.
Another place that blew me off was Ribja kantina pri Polonci. Restaurant is located nicely on the on the coast and if you head there to take a dinner, you’ll see one of the pretiest sunsets in Slovenia. Food offer is limited to the fish and sea food, but every meal we had was absolutely delicious. I highly recommed homemade gnocchi with bakalar and truffles.
There are many great food places along the Slovenian coast. If you are staying in Piran, you can also visit restaurant Pirat, Pavel & Pavel 2 or Pri Mari and I guarantee you’ll be satisfied. For the best breakfast go to the Cacao in Portorož. They have a wide variety of breakfasts – from bowls to sandwiches and some great ice teas and lemonades.
Moon Bay, Strunjan
At Strunjan Nature Park you’ll find a beautiful, untouched beach in Moon Bay. Here you’ll be able to hike, swim and enjoy in one of Europe’s best hidden gems.
Your journey will probably start at Strunjan beach, or one of the surrounding towns. I recommend you taking a bus if you are coming from nearby towns but you can also take a walk from Piran or Izola. If you decide to do it you’ll pass through the Strunjan salt pans and Stjuža Nature Reserve on the way to Moon Bay. The Strunjan Salt Pans are the smallest still preserved of its kind in the Mediterranean. From here you simply head into Strunjan Nature Park.
Enter the beach and continue down the shore to the right. On your right a wooded terrain begins to rise up increasingly and on your left you have a nice view of Piran. On Rtič Strunjan you will already think the path ends, but just carry on down the shore. At high tide you will have to wade into the water for a few meters and then you come to a very unusual ‘terrace’. The most interesting part of the route starts here. Steep flysch cliffs are incredible, but very crumbly and dangerous also, so be careful when walking underneath them. They are about 80 meters high in some parts. Follow the shore to Mesečev zaliv / Moon Bay, where the first path ascends to the top of the cliffs.
Izola is often overlooked by tourists, but if you are staying in Piran or Portorož, you can make a short drive to Izola. The word isola in Italian means an island and the Italian influence was really strong all along the Slovenian coast. Izola is a small, but really cute town on the Slovenian coast. It has an old town center with tall stone houses and the narrow streets that will make you feel the medieval charm of the town. You can walk the town real quick, but to get the real feel and to go with the flow you’ll need more time. The whole atmosphere is laid back, with people eating, drinking coffe, swimming and sunbathing. In the evenings the town gets lively and full of people.
Portorož is also worthy of a stop, especially during the summer. Just a five minute drive away from Piran, it has more of a resort feel thanks to the casinos and hotels that line the main street Obala.
Portorož has been a tourist destination as far back as the 13th century, when it developed a niche as a health resort, and towards the end of the 19th century it became widely known for the healing properties of its mud and salt water baths.
Where to stay in Portorož? If you don’t travel on a budget, Kempinski Palace Portorož is a right choice.
Koper is a tiny town on the coast in Slovenia, between Italy and Croatia. It is also called Capodistria in Italian (in history Koper was the “Capo d’Istria” – meaning head of Istria). Koper is rarely on anyone’s itinerary. Koper is a seaside tourist and commercial port in Slovenia, about 1.5 hours from the capital Slovenia. It is very close to the Italian border. The old town in Koper is a great place to explore – wander the cobbled streets and enjoy the old town. You won’t be overwhelmed with things to do but you will find ways to spend the day and you’ll leave relaxed.
Top 5 things to do in Koper:
- Tito Square (Titov trg) – This is the main square in Koper. On the square there are the Praetorian Palace and the Koper Cathedral.
- Praetorian Palace. The Praetorian Palace is a 15th century Venetian Palace. It is one of Koper’s landmarks and the seat of government in Koper. You can take a tour of the palace if you want to learn more about the history of Koper.
- Climb the Bell Tower of the Koper Cathedral. For the best view of Koper, climb to the top of the bell tower. From here you will have 360° views over Koper and the coastline.
- Da Ponte Fountain. This current fountain dates from 1666 and until 1898 it served as a potable water source for the city.
- Stroll the city streets.
Want to try some Slovenian wines? Vinakoper is a great place to go.
Other places to visit and things to do
The Parenzana in Italian and Croatian or Porečanka in Slovene is one of the nicknames of a defunct narrow-gauge railway between Trieste and Poreč. It passes the territories of Italy (13 km), Slovenia (32 km), and Croatia (78 km). As you know, Parenzana starts in the Italian city Trieste, winds through the Slovenian coastline, then turns towards small green hills of the Istrian interior, and finally ends in the popular Croatian summer resort Poreč.
Walking the Parenzana might be special, but experiencing it on sections of the line or along the entire route will be even more memorable if you do it by bike. Parenzana is appropriate for everyone – beginners, families, and regular and sporting cyclists.
Ankaran shell dunes
It is located in the Polje Bay between Koper and Ankaran, north of the mouth of the Rižana River. A shell dune formed after 1990, when the bottom of the Port of Koper was deepened and sludge from the seabed was deposited in the Polje Bay in the Adriatic Sea. The rain then gradually washed the mud out of the piles of silt and only the dunes of the shells of many species of shells remained. This created a short unique strip of coastline, as shell dunes are a rarity in Europe. Visiting shell dunes with thousands of shells is a real treasure that even our youngest ones will be thrilled with.
Shells are intended only for viewing, admiring and photographing, and not for taking home.
The Bernardin resort is situated between Piran and Portorož. The main part of the resort is decorated with the bell tower and former monastery church St. Bernardine from the 15th century. Activities in the monastery ended in the 19th century and the Austrian military later used the complex as a stronghold, from which soldiers defended the bay.
The best time is definitely the warmer period of the year (between May and September) as this gives you a chance to enjoy the sea and makes it easier to sightsee the rest of the country too.
If you really want to experience Piran, you must stay at least one night. I’ve had four nights in Piran and I could really stay one more. During the high season it’s flooded by crowds of tourists, but if you go before or after the high season, it will be great.
Have you already been on the Slovenian coast? Would you recommend this place to others? Share your impressions 🙂