Please don’t go to Piran. There, I said it. In all my travels this is the one destination I’d like to keep for myself. Here’s how to have a holiday in Piran so perfect you won’t want to leave. Let’s start with the view. Imagine waking up to this:
Piran Town Walls: A Million-Dollar View
This is the million dollar vista from a surprisingly affordable vacation rental home, which I found on Trip Advisor only by planning more than six months in advance. But any visitor can enjoy a similar view for a only few euros by visiting the town walls. A parking structure is nearby, where you can leave your car and venture on foot into the steep, narrow streets of the town. Stop into the Mediadom, where high tech holograms in ancient tunnels welcome you to a film about the local history that is offered in English, Italian and Russian. Bring an ID to get the student or senior discount.
And then soak up the centuries as you wander, looking into the elegant, tiny churches on the backstreets or seaside. The crowning glory is Saint George’s Cathedral, dating back to 1641 when Piran’s nobles grew rich from the locally produced salt, under the protection of Venice. I wasn’t a big fan of visiting the actual salt pans a short distance away, but took home some of the gourmet fleur de sel from the Piranske Soline shops in town. Makes a great gift to take home for your foodie friends.
Piran: A Miniature Venice
The Venetian vibe is obvious in the splendid buildings on Tartini Square. Piran’s outdoor living room was created when a smelly part of the harbor was filled in. A statue of the town’s native composer and noted violinist Giuseppe Tartini presides over the lively cafes and free cultural performances during summer festivals.
Of course, the main attraction for holiday makers is the Adriatic Sea. Part of the rocky beach nearest our rental was clothing optional, but if that’s not your thing just keep strolling until you find another place to put down your beach towel and swim or soak up the sun.
You’ll be hungry after all the walking and swimming. The waterfront is lined with fish-oriented eateries, but most days we shopped in the small grocery store, farmers’ market and bakery that stays open for summer visitors. The fresh ingredients made for some memorable meals, accompanied by local wine or Slovenia’s incomparable mineral water, Radenska. My traveling companions don’t enjoy fresh seafood as much as I do, so we headed for the Balkan comfort food at Sarajevo 84.
Day Trips from Piran
From Piran you can walk along the sea to the more lively resort town of Portorož. There’s also a public shuttle bus. You’ll hear lots of Russian spoken, as well as the two official languages of Slovene and Italian. If you have a car, Piran is a good launching point for day trips to Koper and Izola. The UNESCO world heritage Škocjan Cave and and the Postojna Cave Park are an easy drive. You can even go to Italy for lunch in Trieste without stopping for a border check. Crossing into the Croatian side of the Istrian peninsula is a bit more complicated because you are leaving the Schengen transit area. We showed our passports and were waved through after only a short wait, but stay on top of the security situation and time your travel accordingly to avoid a long wait at the checkpoint. We found that leaving early in the morning is the best way to avoid a long line.
Most days we were happy doing nothing, although even menial tasks like laundry or dishwashing were memorable with our million dollar view. It’s a great place to catch up on reading, so don’t forget to download some of the books written by Slovenian-American author Andrew Anzur Clement. Part of his “Voyages of Fortune” trilogy was written here in Piran!
Now the only question is, “How soon can I go back?” And, of course, finding some way to keep this secret gem all to myself.
Terry’s Travel Tips
How to Get to Piran: Driving is the best option if you are coming from anywhere in Slovenia, neighboring Italy or Croatia. To save money, reserve your rental car from AutoEurope before leaving the US. In normal traffic, it’s about a 90 minute drive from Ljubljana. However, parking in Piran is scarce and expensive if it isn’t included in your accommodations. It is possible to arrive on a three-hour bus ride from Ljubljana or by booking a transfer on GoOpti. Save on your first GoOpti booking with this discount code.
When to Visit Piran: Book far in advance if you plan to visit during the high vacation season in July and August. During the rest of the year, I’m told it can be a pretty sleepy but peaceful place, except when the fierce bura winds are blowing in the winter.
Staying in Piran: The Hotel Piran is surprisingly affordable for a high-end choice on the waterfront in the old town. You won’t find the big hotel chains here, but there’s a variety of small hotels and other options for staying in Piran or nearby Potorož. Thanks for clicking on the links in this post to book your stay, which supports this blog at no cost to you.
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