The best way to spend serene days in Piran, Slovenia
If you’re planning a trip to Slovenia, head to the sea. Slovenia shares the Gulf of Trieste with Croatia and Italy, and while the country’s coastline is only 43km long, it is lined by beautiful towns. Piran is one port town on this stretch of coast with striking Venetian architecture, as charming orange rooftops fill the tiny peninsula and span out into a turquoise Adriatic sea. This post provides information on how to get to Piran, where to eat and what to see around the town.
HOW LONG TO STAY IN PIRAN
DAY TRIP FROM LJUBLJANA
It is possible to see Piran in one day or en route to another city, as it sits on a small peninsula and makes for an extremely charming short trip. Popular places to travel to Piran from include Ljubljana, Portoroz, Koper and Trieste.
As part of a longer trip, we chose to stay in Piran for three relaxed days, after taking two buses from Bled to get there (which took about 4 hours). Even if you just stay for one night, there are many places for dinner and wine by the water as the sun sets.
For longer stays, Piran is also a good base from which to explore Slovenia’s Adriatic coast. A boardwalk connects it to the seaside Portorož, or you can drive to the old centres and marinas of Koper and Izola. Otherwise, explore the Istrian Hillside in villages like Padna, where you can drive by stunning views and find local wines and olive oil. It is also possible to make day trips into Croatia, including Umag and Rovinj, or into Italy at Trieste and Venice.
WHERE TO EAT GOOD FOOD IN PIRAN
There are many restaurants around the port and Tartini Square. For cheap eats, we recommend these restaurants (click to open in maps):
Fritolin Pri Cantini — this is our top pick. It is a hole in the wall with great seafood, where you can find a HUGE seafood platter for two four around 20 euros ($32.5 AUD)
Sarajevo 84 — Balkan dishes for around 8-10 euros ($13-16 AUD)
Picerija Batana — pizza for around 7-8 euros ($11-13 AUD)
Okrepcevalnica “Barka” Kebab — kebabs and burgers for around 4-5 euros ($6.5-8 AUD)
Gostišče “Pirat” — local sea bass for around 10 euros ($16 AUD) or soup for 3 euros ($5 AUD)
WHAT TO DO IN PIRAN
Following 500 years of Venetian rule, Piran and its surrounding fortifications have a strong Venetian influence, and it has been described by many as the ‘antidote to Venice’. The town itself is a beautiful place to visit as much of the original architecture has been preserved, and a still, carefree lifestyle seems to pervade. To explore the town, walk along the port, through Tartini Square (named after the famous local violinist), and into the cobblestone alleyways.
Climb to the most breathtaking view
In front of the Church of St George is a bell tower which was modelled on the campanile of San Marco in Venice. For 1 euro ($1.6 AUD), you can climb 146 steps to look out over clustered orange rooftops to Tartini Square. Behind the church you will find a view of the Adriatic Sea and the Walls of Piran on the hills.
Visit the Walls of Piran
The Walls of Piran can also be visited for just 2 euros ($3 AUD) (more information is available on this website). They were first built in the 7th century as a defence against the Ottomans, and continue to provide expansive views across from the hills, across the town, and out to sea. This is the best spot to see the whole peninsula, and is particularly spectacular at sunset.
HOW TO GET TO PIRAN
Piran is not connected by train, however regular buses run from Trieste and Ljubljana, and ferries depart from Venice to Piran, and from Piran to Rovinj, Croatia. Buses run five times per day from Slovenia’s capital, Ljubljana; the trip takes 2 hours and costs around 12 euros ($20 AUD) one way. Tickets can be purchased at the Ljubljana bus station (click to open in maps) or online through the Avtobusna Postaja website.
DRIVING AND PARKING
Piran is a convenient trip as it is located only 1.5 hours’ drive from Ljubljana. As you approach the town from the hill at the top, there is a carpark called Garage Forače (click to open maps) with a checkpoint for visitors.
The best time to visit Slovenia
Summer (June - August) is the driest season on the Mediterranean coast. This is a good time to visit Piran to swim and explore the beaches with a lot of sunshine (they do not get much sun in winter). We travelled there in September, just after the summer season — it was still hot enough to swim, and the water itself was warm, clear and a vibrant turquoise. Travelling off peak at this time meant that accommodation was also generally cheaper.