Piran, located on Slovenia’s Adriatic coast, is a must-visit. There’s so much to see and do in this gorgeous old town that’s jam-packed with charming Venetian architecture. Venetian? Thought we were in Slovenia!
Well, Piran which is one of Slovenia’s oldest towns, was part of the Venetian Republic from 1283 to 1797. Ah, so that explains the gorgeous Venetian influence. After that, it fell under Austrian rule until 1918. In the period between the two world wars, Piran belonged to Italy, later becoming Yugoslavia and now Slovenia.
So what is there to do in and around Piran, Slovenia?
Tartini Square is the main square in Piran. It is named after composer and violinist Giuseppe Tartini and was built on the former site of a small fishing boat dock.
In the Middle Ages, many important buildings and palaces surrounded the dock. However, because of all the sewage which ended up there, the dock was eventually buried and Tartini Square that you see today was officially opened in 1894.
Explore The Old Town and City Walls
The best way to explore any town is to lose yourself in the streets. Piran has a lovely old town, filled with Venetian Gothic architecture, to explore. We were there in September; it was busy but not overly crowded. I’ve heard though that Piran does get rather crowded during July and August!
St George’s Church and Bell Tower
There are several churches in Piran and its vicinity, the Church of St. George is the main one. The church is located on a small hill, close to Tartini Square. The 14th-century Church and the free-standing bell tower dominates the town’s skyline.
The Bell Tower is a small scale replica of the Bell Tower at St. Mark’s Cathedral in Venice.
It’s about a 15-20 minutes walk up from the centre of Piran to the church. The views from the churchyard are amazing. On one side, you have an incredible view of the whole of Piran, and from the other side, you can see up and down the coastline – from Trieste in Italy in the north and Croatia to the south.
For more amazing views, climb up to the top of the bell tower. It only costs 1€ per person. The stairway is a bit rickety and very narrow in places, but it’s only 106 steps to the top of the bell tower and it’s well worth it for the stunning view.
There is also the sacristy in a separate building which is not open to the public, but you can admire the interior through the grille.
Enjoy The Sunset
After our seafood meal, more on that later on in this post, we witnessed a spectacular Istrian sunset.
Other Attractions In Piran Town
Admittedly, we didn’t have time to visit these, but there’s supposed to be an excellent Maritime Museum and Aquarium in Piran too.
Have you visited either of these? Let us know what they are like in the comments below.
Attractions Near Piran, Slovenia
Sečovlje Salina Nature Park
Just a 20-minute drive from Piran along the Slovenian coast, you’ll come to the Sečovlje Salina Nature Park. This park is one of the few places left in the world where salt is still produced using traditional methods.
The glory years for salt production in Sečovlje was during the 15th to 18th centuries, when the Venetians controlled this region. Over the years and under different country’s leadership, the salt lands have undergone various cycles of success and failure.
In 1989, the salt lands were turned into a national park and divided into two parts – Lera and Fontanigge.
Lera is located on the northern side, and salt is still harvested here using traditional methods that haven’t changed that much in the last 700 years. Although work takes place at the pans all year round, the best time to visit is between June and September. This is when the crystallised salt gets collected from the salt pans. Tours are available at the salt pans, and it’s best to book these in advance. There is also a small exhibition centre that shows a short documentary about salt production at the Sečovlje Salina Nature Park and a salt shop in a restored salt flat building.
On the southern side of the park is Fontanigge. Salt production was abandoned here in the 1960s, but it is interesting seeing the abandoned houses of the former salt workers. This part of the park is excellent for bird watching and is also home to one of the world’s smallest mammals – the Etruscan shrew.
Note: As you make your way between the two salt fields, you pass very close to the Croatian border and will need to drive through a security check, so be sure to have some sort of ID or passport.
More information about Sečovlje Salina Nature Park can be found here https://www.naravniparkislovenije.si/en/nature-parks/secovlje-salina-nature-park.
On our way to Piran, we stopped off to visit the Skocjan Caves. They are only 90 kilometres from Piran.
Skocjan Caves is the largest underground cavern in Europe and also one of the largest in the world. It’s quite stunning inside for its sheer size, but unfortunately, you’re not allowed to take photos inside, so you will just have to believe us or pay a visit yourselves.
To enter the cave, you have to go as part of a guided tour. From the visitor centre, there is a ten-minute walk in the open air down to the actual cave. At the cave entrance, the tour guides divide everyone into smaller groups based on language. When we were there, there were two English groups, a German, Italian and a Slovenian group.
There are five stops in the cave, where the guide will explain and point out various interesting formations. The path is well lit, is fairly even and paved and has railing all along one side. The walk through the cave is three kilometres and takes around 2 hours. It’s not a challenging walk (you should see the original explorers walk, now that looks panic attack scary) through the cave, but there are lots of steps and some uphill sections.
For anyone with a reasonable level of fitness, you will have no problem, but do wear good walking shoes. I have to admit, I am a bit of a scaredy-cat when it comes to walking along narrow paths, heights with water below but the trails within the cave and the secure railings made me feel safe.
For more information about the Caves and up to date ticket prices and opening hours, check here https://www.park-skocjanske-jame.si/en.
Running In Piran, Slovenia
Fancy running in a 10k, half or full marathon while staying in Piran? Two major running events take place near Piran. The Kraški Marathon which passes through the Karst Plateau in March and the Istrski Coastal Marathon which takes place in April.
For more details on running events in Slovenia, please check https://mateja-travel.com/alltours/.
Where To Eat In Piran
There are several restaurants in Piran so you won’t starve. We enjoyed a really lovely seafood meal at Restaurant Pirat. It’s not a posh venue by any means, but if you’re looking for some good seafood, a nice ambience, reasonable prices and great food, we recommend this place.
We enjoyed mussels, sea bass, octopus and fresh tuna steak with honey truffles. And for dessert – vanilla ice cream with pumpkin seed oil, salt and pepper. Sounds weird but it was delicious. So much so, we even bought a bottle of pumpkin seed oil to try this at home!
Where To Stay In Piran, Slovenia
There is plenty of accommodation to suit all budgets around Piran.
We actually went glamping in the countryside staying in Milk Lady House. Next door to us were the Bread Lady House and the Egg Lady House. The houses all resemble the simple Istrian dwellings of the past.
The charming, small homes are located in a vineyard with fabulous views over the Koper/Trieste Bay. They are spotlessly clean, and the beds were really comfortable. Without the buzz of electricity and the sounds of city life, we slept soundly.
There is no electricity or water in the houses, but the bathrooms are not too far away. You will, however, need a torch if you don’t want to keep walking into trees on the way to and from the toilet. Don’t worry, the accommodation provides simple lighting.
The following morning, we enjoyed a delicious Istrian breakfast. Fresh bread, jams, local cheeses and meats – mmmm, yummy!
For more information on glamping in the Istrian countryside, see here https://www.hiske.si.
Best Time To Visit Piran, Slovenia
We visited Piran in September. It is still warm enough for swimming, and many people were, but the vast summer crowds have gone.
During the summer, Piran gets fairly hot and is mostly sunny. Average daytime temperatures are between 22°C and 30°C with almost 11 hours of sunshine a day during July and August.
Compared to other parts of Slovenia, the climate in Piran in winter is quite mild, averaging between 4°C and 8°C during the winter months. Still sounds a tad too cold for me!
Frost and snow are only occasionally experienced although there can be a strong bora wind which is quite blustery and cold.
Springtime in Piran is relatively mild with temperatures reaching 20°C although there’s usually quite a lot of rainy weather during March and April.
How To Get To Piran, Slovenia From Ljubljana
Buses from Ljubljana to Piran leave from the bus station just in front of Ljubljana Train Station. For up to date schedules and prices, please check here https://www.ap-ljubljana.si/en/timetable/. Journey time around two hours 20 minutes to three hours, depending on the time of day.
If you prefer trains to buses, you can take the train from Ljubljana to Koper and then the bus from Koper to Piran. The train journey will take around two hours 20 minutes, the local bus from Koper to Piran takes around 40 to 50 minutes.
With your own car, it takes around 80 minutes from Ljubljana.
The fabulous Mateja from mateja-travel.com took us 🙂
How To Get To Piran, Slovenia From Venice
From April to October, there is a weekly ferry that departs on Saturday from Venice, Italy to Piran, Slovenia. For up to date schedules and ticket prices, please check here venezialines.com.
By Train And Bus
Take the train from Venice to Trieste which takes around one hour 40 minutes and three hours depending on which train you get. For details on Italian trains, please check here https://www.trenitalia.com/en.html. From Trieste, it’s a bus to Portoroz then onto Piran or take a shared shuttle with https://www.goopti.com/en/.
Disclaimer: We explored Piran, Slovenia as guests of mateja-travel.com. However, all opinions are entirely and genuinely our own. We wouldn’t recommend anything that we hadn’t enjoyed and experienced firsthand.