Slovenia sizzles and one of its must-see places is Piran. This lovely coastal town will take you on a journey to times long forgotten, while you enjoy the finer things in life. It’s an old seaport that has preserved its medieval atmosphere with narrow streets and compact houses.
Last week we wrote about our trip to the capital of Slovenia, Ljubljana, today we share our memories from our days in Piran. You can read the full story about Ljubljana here >>
We had actually never heard of Piran (nor Slovenia’s coast) before we started making the plans for our summer holiday. It was a friend who recommended us a visit to the coast and we are so happy that we followed her advice. The Slovene Riviera, as it is called, is a small area with a few towns and settlements along the coast. For our trip we were choosing between Piran, Izola and Portorož. We finally decided on having Piran as our hub from where we could visit different places on the coast (including Italy, but we will write more about that later!).
We were not disappointed when arriving at the small bus station situated right next to the sea. Imagine a small town on the Adriatic coast, with medieval architecture, narrow streets and compact houses. As we had plenty of time before we could check into our hostel, we found the main square in the town. The Tartini Square is named after composer and violinist Giuseppe Tartini. The square is a focal meeting point in the town, this is where you find restaurants, souvenir shops, and hotels. Back in the day the square was actually an inner dock for smaller vessels, and there also used to be tram connecting the square with the train station in Lucija.
During our wait we also climbed all the way up to the bell tower belonging to the St. George’s Parish Church, which overlooks the city from a hill. The climb (and the 1€ that it cost) was worthwhile (even though I wasn’t quite convinced until I got all the way up), the view was amazing. The church is actually a sight in itself, dating back to 1614.
Our hostel was situated in central Piran. With the hostel not being anything special, the location was great indeed. From there we had a short walk through narrow and swirly alleys to all the most important places in the center. There are old Venetian houses, cozy squares and a couple of lighthouses to discover. The Preseren Quay (Presernovo nabrezje) is an amazing place both for those looking for something to eat and those, who want to go for a swim. I can still remember the warm wind on my face and the restless sound of waves.
In Piran we experienced one of the most amazing sunsets of our lives. And the place where we saw it was breathtaking: the Walls of Piran consist of three walls, each built in response to the town’s expansion. In the beginning only four streets needed to be protected by walls. The third and last wall is the one that is still almost intact – and that’s the place to go if you want to admire beautiful sunsets over the Adriatic Sea. One can also count city gates, there are seven of them still standing today.
There are some museums and galleries in the town, but we think it’s a place where one can take it easy relax. In other words, it’s the perfect spot for a couple of days doing nothing. We combined our strolling by the sea with a (disastrous) bike trip (read more below) and a day trip to Italy (there will be a separate post about this). One of the sights we should have seen (and we did, when biking by) is the Sečovlje Salina Salt Pans nature park with its exceptional architecture, historical features and diversity of plants and animals. Traditionally (from the Middle Ages) the salt pans, along with fishery and crafts, enabled the city to flourish. Large parts of the pans are protected as a cultural monument and nature park, but in other parts salt is still being produced using traditional methods.
The Time We Attempted a Visit to Croatia
On one of the days during our stay we decided to go to Croatia by bike. Croatia is not very far from Piran, we are talking about a few kilometers, and renting a bike was easy. Our initial lan was to visit Umag, some 23 kilometers from Piran. Riding the bike to the Croatian border was also easy – among other things we saw the salt pans (without entering). Even the border crossing went smoothly; it was us, some cars and a very friendly man trying to direct the traffic. After the border control the horrors began. Imagine the highest hill there is. Then imagine trying to get up that hill on a bike. I almost fainted, I kid you not. So, we quickly made a contribution to the Croatian economy (we bought a couple of bottles of water in the nearest village, on top of that hill) and turned back. It was a lot easier to get down that hill.
Piran: How To Get There
We traveled to Piran by bus from Ljubljana. Buying tickets was not difficult – we bought our tickets at the bus station. Getting back to Ljubljana was more complicated, as we couldn’t find a schedule for our bus anywhere. At the end we made it back, though.
Another option is to take the train (or bus) from Ljubljana to Koper, a fairly large city near Piran. From here one can catch a local bus. There are also buses from Trieste to Koper.
If you’re coming from Italy, you can catch a ferry to Venice.
Do you want to read more about Piran?
We have found the following sites to be useful when writing this post.