4 August 2022
All about Piran: what to see and do, beaches and how to get to the pearl of Slovenia!
Welcome to the Venice of Slovenia!
Located on the westernmost tip of Slovenia's coastline, Piran is a small maritime town with a population of 18,000, elegant and placid, with finely decorated palaces and a fully seafront town, which follows the profile of the cliffs that gradually slope down to the level of the Adriatic Sea. Let's find out everything that you need to know about Piran: what to see and do, the best beaches, restaurants, local gastronomy and the surrounding area!
Piran, an embrace between Italy and Croatia
The Slovenian coastline is 46 kilometres long, Piran is thirty kilometres from Italian border and only twelve kilometres from the Croatian one: the position of Piran is often misunderstood, associating it with Croatia due to its extreme territorial proximity. In fact, Piran has been of great importance to Slovenia over the centuries, both culturally and morphologically, intertwining its roots with Italy as well.
The mysterious origins of Piran: hints of history
The origins of Piran are rather nebulous, due to the toponym, which could have several interpretations in various ancient languages. In Celtic it may derive from the root pyrn, meaning high mountain. The Latin suffix -anum would suppose a Roman settlement. Finally, there are those who support the case that the name is of Thracian-Greek origin, deriving from the root πυρ (pyr, fire), perhaps due to the existence of an ancient point of light for sailors.
Piran, Little Venice
Certainly, history traces the association between Venice and Piran back to the common purpose of the two cities: traditionally, both have been lands of support and reception for Aquileian refugees fleeing the barbaric Huns. The "Serenissima" then formed a commercial and territorial association with Piran that lasted over five hundred years.
Piran is the Homeland of Irredentism
After Italian unification in 1861, Piran was still a land with strong ties to Italy, and in 1894 it was the scene of a minor civil rebellion against the Austro-Hungarian rule. The Habsburgs imposed the removal of a table in Italian which marked the seat of the District Court (i.e. the Magistrate's Court), replacing it with a bilingual one, confiscating the Italian only one. The inhabitants of Piran interpreted this gesture as an attempt to Slavicize the municipality, and a popular uprising tore the new bilingual table to shreds.
10 things to see in Piran during your holiday in Slovenia
What to do and see Piran? This small city offers so much to its visitors. Let's discover the top ten must-do activities in Piran!
1. Tartini Square
This is the most famous square in Piran, dedicated to its illustrious citizen, the composer Giuseppe Tartini, born in Piran in 1692 and author of The Devil's Trill. The square is elliptical in shape and faces directly onto the sea. It is surrounded by Piran's most important buildings, such as St Peter's Church, the Gabrielli Palace and the Venetian Benecanka house with its red bricks in Gothic style. Tartini Square is the core of village life, with restaurants, bars and shops crowding the pied-à-terres of the buildings.
2.1st May Square
More secluded and hidden than Tartini Square, 1st May Square is in the heart of Piran's old town and was for many years the town's main square. In the centre of the place there is a stone cistern for collecting rainwater, symbolising the overcoming of the severe drought that struck Piran in the 18th century. It is extremely pleasant to wander around the narrow streets surrounding 1st May Square: the quiet spirit of Piran is captured.
3. Piran Walls
They are the oldest monument in Piran, mentioned as early as the 7th century by the Anonymous of Ravenna. It is a multi-level defensive wall construction that starts from the sea, from the coastal tip, and reaches up into the hills, adorned with crenellated towers and several gates to the city. The remains of the town walls are perfectly preserved, especially those on the Mogorone hill, from where one can enjoy a fabulous view of the whole of Piran.
4. Sečovlje Salt Pans, the white gold of Piran
Salt is an extremely popular raw material in Slovenia, which is connected with the economy and cultural roots of this land. It is not known how salt processing began in this land, but the fact is that salt from the Piran salt pans has organoleptic and curative properties of the highest quality, extracted by the salt miners using the rudimentary and traditional techniques involving the utmost care of the petola, a base layer that acts on the ground and prevents the salt from accumulating with the mud. Beyond the product focus, the Sečovlje salt pans are an enchanting place: the mills, the endless white rectangles, the precious fauna and flora.
5. St George's Cathedral
St George's Cathedral is the main church in Piran, located on an embankment that allows it to dominate the old town, Tartini Square and the surrounding natural scenery. It is worth climbing the 140 steps of the cathedral's bell tower, built in the 17th century in the image and likeness of the Campanile in St. Mark's Square in Venice, to enjoy a superb view of the city centre. The façade of the church is in Baroque style, but it is in the interior that the true beauty of the cathedral is expressed, with opulent ceilings and altars lined with paintings of a certain calibre, such as The Crucifixion by painter Paolo Veneziano.
6. Tartini Theatre
Built in 1910 and designed by leading figures of the 20th century Friulian creative arts, such as architect Zammattio and painter Napoleone Cozzi, the Tartini Theatre is a further tribute to the great composer and features a sober neo-Renaissance façade, with interiors characterised by rich stuccoes and Art Nouveau paintings. Inaugurated with the play Phaedra by playwright Umberto Bozzini, today it plays more of an institutional role than an entertaining one.
7. Piran Aquarium
Seahorses, phosphorescent jellyfish, corals, unusual and extraordinary fish species: the aquarium in Piran is small in size but extremely interesting to visit and houses some 140 different marine species. The entrance fee is extremely democratic: € 5 for adults, € 3.50 for children aged 2 to 15.
8. Monastery of St Francis
Visiting its cloister conveys an incredible feeling of peace: the convent of the Friars Minor of St Francis is a small treasure chest of beauty and knowledge. The convent hosts a large collection of musical literature, while the ancient library has valuable volumes dating back to the 15th century. To this day, Franciscan friars live in and manage the building, which boasts its own picture gallery where works by Venetian painters can be admired.
9. Maritime Museum
Housed in the famous Palazzo Gabrielli, the Maritime Museum celebrates the deep relationship between the sea and Slovenia. There are several permanent collections: maritime archaeology, an ethnological collection on fishing and a historical-artistic collection on seafaring from the Middle Ages to the end of World War II. In addition, the museum has four other off-site units: the Museum of Salt Making at Sečovlje, Tona House where it is shown how people lived in the Istrian countryside; the Giuseppe Tartini memorial room, the old Monfort salt store. The museum also houses the painting entitled Mary with Child and the Dignitaries of Piran by the famous Tintoretto, which has been kept in the Piran Maritime Museum since 1954.
10. Lake Fiesa
A natural heritage of Slovenia for its rich habitat of flora and fauna, Lake Fiesa is located in the northern part of the Piran municipality. There are actually two lakes: the larger one is directly connected to the Adriatic Sea and its waters are therefore twofold, fresh and salty. Lake Fiesa can also be reached on foot by taking a relaxing walk along the Piran coastline.
Piran sea: the most beautiful beaches
It is understandable to wonder what the sea is like in Piran, given that Slovenia shares the Adriatic with the Italian shores and in some places the water is not crystal clear. The sea in Piran is transparent, placid and above all clean: the BALMAS project guarantees it! This is a collaboration between the Italian Coast Guard and the competent Slovenian authorities, for the monitoring and reduction of pathogenic microorganisms in Adriatic waters.
Let's see which are the best beaches in Piran to indulge in an unforgettable summer swim and plan your beach holiday in Slovenia in the best possible way!
- Moon Bay
- Piran Punta beach
- St. Bernardin Beach - Grand Hotel Bernardin
- Salinera Beach
- Sezza Beach
- Fiesa Beach
- Fornače Beach
- Portorož Beach
- Pacug Beach
- Bele Skale Beach
What to see around Piran? Portorož!
Portorož is a hamlet of Piran, connected to the main town by several bus lines and located in the southern part of the Piran Bay. It is one of the main tourist destinations in the Gulf of Trieste and the entire Slovenian coast due to the presence of accommodation, thermal resorts and entertainment venues. The development of the real tourist business took off in the immediate post-war period, when the first hotels were built on the Riviera.
5 places to visit in Portorož (Piran)
As early as the 12th century, monks from the monastery of St. Lovrenca came to Portorož to treat themselves in the highly saline sea water. Today, there are several private spas that carry on the tradition through a wide range of curative baths and mud baths combined with modern manipulation and massage techniques. The best spas in Portorož, among others, are LifeClass, Terme Portoroz and the Wellness Hotel Apollo.
Grand Casino Portorož
The Grand Casino in Portorož, the oldest gambling hall in Slovenia was built in 1913. It is located in the central part of Portorož, overlooking the promenade and popular beaches. Equipped with everything related to so-called games of chance, from live tables to electric machines, it also houses a restaurant and several bar areas scattered over the various levels of the facility.
Kempinski Palace Hotel
Palace Hotel, with its majestic façade that could easily have starred in a Wes Anderson shot, is an institution of Slovenian tourism, so much so that it has become a national monument in 1983. Founded in 1910, it has 175 rooms and various relaxation areas, such as a small private park, privileged access to the spa and a wonderful terrace with a view of the Adriatic. Today it is one of the best hotels in Slovenia.
Founded in 1973, the Portorož Auditorium is a major cultural hub for the Slovenian coast. It hosts several Slovenian festivals and events, such as the Slovenian Film Festival, and in the summer its programming offers a different event every evening, from ballet to musical concerts and theatre performances.
Fonda Fish Farm
Things to know: in the sea of Portorož there is one of the best mussel and sea bass farms in Slovenia, Fonda Fish Farm. It will be possible to take a boat tour with the staff of the Fonda Fish Farm company, who will explain the process of growing and sorting the catch. At the end of the tour you can finish with a nice tasting of Fish Farm products.
What to buy in Piran
What to bring back home from Piran as a souvenir or gift to symbolise the stay just experienced? In Slovenia, there is a large food and wine tourism industry: black truffles, homemade cured meats and cheeses such as Kranjska klobasa (Carniolan sausage) or Tolmnic cheese, and wonderful bottles of Refosco or Rebula, typical Slovenian grape varieties. But if food & beverage is not enough, in Piran it is possible to buy salt-related wellness & beauty products such as bath salts, special creams and lotions.
What to eat in Piran: typical Slovenian recipes
Slovenian cuisine will amaze you with the authentic strength of its raw materials, which are treated and cooked with the utmost respect and simplicity. These are rich, loaded, intense dishes that tell the story of Slovenian culinary tradition from the hinterland to the Adriatic coast. There are soups such as prežganka made of flour, eggs and caraway seeds, or the tasty štajerska kisla juha, made of pork head and trotters, vegetables, apples, herbs and wine vinegar. As main course, special mention for fuzi with truffles, a typical pasta dish, Ratece ravioli stuffed with carp, or Visoko roast made with pork. Are you hungry?
In Piran you can eat in the best restaurants in Slovenia!
If these typical dishes have aroused your curiosity and you are wondering where to eat in Piran, you really are in the right place! Taverns, restaurants, haute cuisine: there is a wide range of choice here for sampling Slovenian cuisine. In Piran and the surrounding area, traditional recipes are more related to the sea: sea bass in salt, grilled or stuffed squid, cuttlefish with chard and polenta, and fuzi with seafood. And for dessert? Not to be missed are the “crespelle al refosco” or the gibanica, a mille-feuille with layers of cheese, apples, walnuts and poppy seeds. To simplify the choice, we have divided the restaurants in Piran according to price range, starting with the trattorias and ending with the restaurants mentioned in the Michelin Guide.
Best trattoria in Piran
- Fritolin Pri Cantin: modern, informal trattoria with typical seafood cuisine, excellent value for money (16/20€);
- Sarajevo 84: informal restaurant with Slavic multi-ethnic cuisine, excellent value for money (18/25€);
- Piran Piran: traditional, informal trattoria, typical seafood cuisine (average price €25/35);
- Primari: traditional and informal trattoria, typical seafood cuisine (average price 25/35€).
The best restaurants in Piran
- Rostelin: informal restaurant, typical Slovenian cuisine, excellent value for money (25/40€);
- La Bottega dei Sapori: traditional, informal restaurant, typical Slovenian cuisine, average price (35/50€);
- Porta Marciana: traditional restaurant, Italian cuisine, average price (35/50€).
Piran Michelin restaurants (direct from the Michelin Guide)
- Stara Gostilna: elegant restaurant with gourmet Slovenian cuisine, above average price (60/160€);
- Rizibizi: elegant restaurant with gourmet Slovenian cuisine, above-average price (50/80€);
- Sophia - Kempiski Palace Hotel: haute cuisine restaurant with gourmet Mediterranean dishes, above average price (80/140€).
Where to park in Piran
Piran is a completely pedestrianised town, and it is not possible to enter the main residential area by car. You can leave your car in the Fornace and Arze municipal car parks at a price of €1.50 per hour and €15.00 per day. Parkings are located outside the historical walls, but a convenient shuttle service transports tourists to the central Tartini Square. There is a free car park, Fiesa, which requires no payment in low season and is only 2 km from Tartini Square.
Reach Piran from Italy with Liberty Lines!
📍How to get to Piran? Simple as that! Rely on Liberty Lines and you will cover the distance between Trieste, the starting point, and Piran in less than half an hour away, thanks to our efficient hydrofoil and ferry service. We know the Slovenian territory inside out and will know how to make your holiday in Piran unforgettable.
Find out how our hydrofoils work, take a tour on our website. And if you feel like extending your holiday to discover neighbouring Croatia, we have a solution for that too! From Piran, you can easily reach the destinations of Poreč and Rovinj.Back to blog