Exploring Slovenian Istria: Portoroz-Piran-Koper-Izola

7:54 PM


Looking Slovenia at the world map you realize that this country has a small route that leads to the Adriatic sea. And when I say small, I mean it: only 47 km from side to side, makes it the perfect distance to discover all seaside Slovenia at once! 
This area used to be occupated by Italians, meaning you will feel the italian atmosphere in every part of the life: starting from obvious architecture, food (pizza and gelato are equally famous here), drinks (aperol spritz anyone?) and lifestyle habits.

In our trip I visited the four cities below, all beautiful and cute and very colorful!


PORTOROZ

Portoroz is a seaside resort known for its salt mines and spa services. It is mostly dominated by big hotels (check out the fabulous Kempinski Palace Hotel), casinos, restaurants and cafes by the seaside. It is a destination for people who want to relax and breathe some fresh air, with Austrian pensioners holding the majority. 

Although the beach is supposed to be the main attraction, it looks quite artificial with a lot of concrete around. I did not swim but I enjoyed the boardwalk and strolling along the various beach bars gazing at the people who were enjoying the hot weather. 

When in Portoroz there are many things you can do and enjoy a relaxing weekend: 

1) Go to the beach and walk along the boardwalk until you reach the marina. 
2) Drink a cocktail at the exotic beach bar Alaya and check for any parties. 
3) Visit Sečovlje Salina Nature Park and buy some salt. You can find traditional "Piranki" seasalt in special shops around the city as well. 
4) Relax at one of the many hotel chains and pamper yourself with spa and massage services that are very common here. 
5) Visit the amazing Church of St. Mary of the Rose. Built in 1985, try to enter and admire its exquisite spiral architecture. 


Portoroz marina
Special souvenirs to bring back home


PIRAN

Piran is located on the tip of the Slovenian Peninsula and only a 10 minute bus drive (or 40 minute walk) from Portoroz. It is my favourite city of the area as it has kept its medieval ambiance with small narrow cobbled streets, colorful houses and great uphill views, creating a special charm. Tartini square, the central square is like a movie scenery! The views from the old castle will take your breath away!

Piran is a must visit and here you have the things not to be missed:

1) Drink a refreshing Aperol Spritz or a Hugo cocktail at one of the bars around Tartini Square like a typical Slovenian.
2) Visit the Cathedral (Church of Saint George) and climb up the Bell Tower. Entrance costs only 1EUR and it gives you amazing views of Tartini Square and the sea. 
3) The best thing to do for a panoramic view of the city is to climb the Byzantine Walls. Do not miss it! (no entrance fee).
4) Check out for the beautiful Church of St. Francis of Assisi that was built in the 17th century. Inside the Monastery there is the largest Baroque painting in Slovenia - the Glory of the Holy Trinity (Slava Svete Trojice, 1668).
5) Walk to Punta Lighthouse, the historical point of Piran and the tip of the Peninsula. See the modern lighthouse and attached to it the round tower of the Church of St. Clement built in the 13th century. 

Tartini Square
Breathtaking view of Piran from City Walls


KOPER

Koper is the furthest point we went, but is located only 16 km from Portoroz and one can easily get there by frequent buses. The city was founded the second half of the 6th century and was then called Justinopolis. Due to its position, Koper easily became a major commercial city and the leading town in the Istrian peninsula, being the capital within the Venetian Republic. 

Although small, Koper has various touristic attractions not to be missed: 


1) Climb Koper's Bell Tower 204 steps for breathtaking views at the main square. Go to the Tourist Information and ask for it.
2) Visit the Praetorian Palace (today is the City Hall and Tourist Information Centre)
3) Go shopping in the old town.
4) Buy some fresh fruit at the Istrian fruit market (every Sunday, May to December)
5) Walk at Carpaccio Square and see the former salt house.

Outside the Praetorian Palace (Tourist Information Centre)


IZOLA

Izola is a fishing port located 7 km south of Koper and 8 km from Portoroz. What amazed me in Izola were the colorful streets with the blossoming flowers all over the place. Walk through its streets and squares and check out the many Churches and beautiful preserved buildings along the way. 

You can easily explore the small city on foot but don't forget to point out:   

1) Trg Republike is the central point of the city. Here you find the post office, bus stops, and the Tourist Information Office. Walk past it and get lost inside the medieval heart of the city.
2) Check out Bezenghi Palace, a beautiful Baroque building in the heart of the Old town that has become a Conservatorium. Admire the architecture and the musical instuments at the entrance Hall.
3) Izola marina is the place to admire the colorful little boats perfectly arrayed in the sea. Here is also the place to find some locals working on their nets, boats and fishing equipment.
4) People highly recomment to eat some fish here at the tavernas (which we did not have the time to do).
5) Buy some lavender from the lavender kiosks close to the marina, apparently another traditional souvenir of the area. 

Izola's colorful houses
What to pack?
That time of the year the climate is mild but we had a lot of rain! So definitely a raincoat and waterproof shoes. However, the sun can be bright so make sure you get t-shirts, a hat and sunglasses. 
A coloring book is always a good idea and ofcourse a camera!
Izola marina


Watch our video:


ISTRIAN EVENTS & FESTIVALS:


1) Saltpans festival - April in Piran

2) Internautica Boat Show - May in Portoroz

3) Izola Cinema International Film Festival - August in Izola

4) Tartini Festival - August&September in Piran and Koper 

5) Sweet Istria International Festival - September in Koper



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