Piran, one of Slovenia’s three coastal towns is well worth a visit, as I discovered this September. As a year-round destination it offers hot dry summers and mild winters. But, September was perfect with sunshine, a warm Adriatic Sea to swim in and fewer tourists.
The Medieval, car-free town of Piran sits proudly on a peninsula jutting into the Adriatic and was founded on the industry of salt production. It has a checkered history, belonging to Rome, the Republic of Venice, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Italy again and then finally being annexed to Yugoslavia.
The constant changes throughout history makes for an interesting little town, very different to other parts of Slovenia, with a big heart.
Due to the defensive wall on the land side of the town and the other three sides being surrounded by water Piran has remained a small city with a quiet, peaceful vibe. If you are looking for nightclubs and large glamourous hotels this is not the place for you! Portorož, just 10 minutes by car from Piran or a 30 minute walk is a more resort style town.
Piran is not chock full of world-class galleries or museum like nearby Venice, so if that’s your thing a day visiting the town will be enough. If, like us, you need a place to kick back and chill, then Piran is great for a couple of days.
It ultimately became part of independent Slovenia in 1991.
We were there for the chillin’ so our days looked like this:
• eat breakfast.
• take a swim in the crystal clear Adriatic.
• take a walk, drink a coffee on a terrace.
• walk a little more.
• eat lunch.
• take a swim in the crystal clear Adriatic.
• eat a delicious dinner and repeat the next day!
Piran has plenty of apartment rentals, B & B’s and small hotels. We treated ourselves to a stay in the Hotel Piran, just steps away from the sea. It has a good restaurant, a wellness centre that offers massages, a wine store where you can arrange tastings, a ground floor terrace and a roof terrace from which to watch the amazing sunsets.
• Sergej Mašera Maritime Museum ~ it is “what it says on the can” – a museum about the local maritime history. It also tells the story of the local industry of salt production.
• The Magical World of Shells ~ again the content is not a surprise but for families with children this place is fascinating. From the world’s largest snail shell to its collection of 4,000 shells this museum is one of Slovenia’s unknown treasures.
• Walk the Walls ~ ancient Piran was built near the sea and as you walk around the city you will come across ancient stone gates, remnants of the original walls built to protect the town from the Turkish pirates. As the town grew the walls ended up on the hills and remain today. For a few euros you can climb the walls and get a fantastic view of the terracotta roofs against the blue Adriatic.
• Sečovlje Salina Nature Park ~ the centuries old salt pans are now a conservation area, both for wildlife and the salt industry. Here you can visit the Museum of Salt Making, walk around on the board walk trails, or make use of the bike paths. You can even become a salt harvester for the day.
The town is a maze of streets and stunning views across the Adriatic. Take a stroll along the promenade, visit St George’s church and climb the bell tower for stunning views of the town and coastline.
Tartini Plaza is named after the town’s famous composer Guiseppe Tartini. You can also visit the small museum in his home.
• Hike ~ There are several walks to take… one to Portorož, and another follows the coast to Lake Fiesa, a lake created whilst digging for clay for bricks, which has now become a noteworthy eco area.
• Dive ~ Close by is a small wellness resort hotel, Barbara, which has a beach, beach bar and restaurant. You can also visit Nemo Divers for PADI diving courses and guided dives.
• Swim ~ You can swim in the Adriatic Sea from piers along the front, the rock beaches on the trail to Lake Fiesa and from Fornače beach. Bring beach shoes if you swim from the beaches … those rocks can be tricky.
Although Piran is small alongside the usual tourist souvenir stores there are some wonderful individual stores to visit, such as:
• Atelje Duka, a wonderful ceramics store;
• Niki’s Tiny House sells tiny sculptures of Piran’s most beautiful buildings;
• the market behind the city hall is there every morning and has a small selection of local produce;
• Hotel Piran’s wine store is a must and check out the small galleries and gourmet stores selling local salt and truffles.
Don’t always eat at the restaurants along the waterfront; yes the view is beautiful but they are expensive and honestly, not always that great! We discovered Fritolin Pri Cantini, which has a small take-out window serving the freshest fish, and there are tables in the location. Porta Marciana, a wonderful Italian restaurant and Pirat Piran, that has a large terrace and huge fresh fish dishes!
Piran, is definitely worth the visit. Its sunsets are stunning, the sea clear and warm and best of all the people are wonderful. Top that with Slovenian wine and the most delicious food and you have a dream destination!
Photographer/writer Jackie Harding was born in the United Kingdom. As a long-time expat, she lived in Boston for 12 years and in the Netherlands for the past 10 years.
Trained as a nurse in the U.K., she worked for nine years in the United States as a special education teacher’s assistant. Since moving to the Netherlands, she has discovered writing and photography.
Contributing to Dispatches since 2016, Jackie has written about her travels around Europe as well as about expat life and issues.
She also covered the Women’s March Amsterdam.
She’s married to British businessman Martin Harding and is the mother of two international adult children.