The Istrian Riviera ~ where is it? Right? Don’t worry I had to look it up too ~ It is the Mediterranean coastline between northern Italy, Slovenia and Croatia and its full of beaches, sun and fun!
So maybe you are like me and occasionally hear a statement like this …”Where are we going for this upcoming long weekend, I need some fun in the sun!” Well, to a confessed travel-a-holic that’s just music to my ears. Being our anniversary weekend, I was searching for somewhere not too far, not too expensive and romantic. So I began the mad search for WHERE TO GO! With this being HIGH travel season, last minute INEXPENSIVE flights (even hops) are hard to find even for the most tenacious researcher. I shared with Jon how much I loved Slovenia and thought he might like it as well.
Here is another itinerary to the super and awesome country of Slovenia ~ If you’ve read the blog on sLOVEnia you know I like stopping along the way, so once again we stopped for an overnight in Berchtesgaden, Germany. This lovely half-way point is angelic and an incredible destination all on it’s own. I’ll be writing more about it in an my blog series…BEYOND GARMISCH. Be sure to be on the look-out ~
Our main stay would be in the ancient, coastal town of Piran. A little slice of Venice as Lonely Planet calls it, and they would be right. However, I must say, I’ve been to Venice and I love it, but the beaches in Piran are better for swimming and splashing around in. Yes, it’s still a rocky beach like most parts of the Adriatic, but I bought a pair of beach shoes for €10 at a local tourist shop and was able to enjoy the sea.
The history of Piran is one of pride, industry and beauty. Like most shipping port towns along the Adriatic, they were once occupied by the Romans, Venetians and although the Turks had attempted several times were never successful in taking over Piran, they moved onto Koper. The main languages for Piran are Slovenian and Italian and you can find these signs everywhere. Although everyone spoke English as well, I found speaking Italian to be very helpful. Today, Piran is known for their university (EMUNI) and their artists who come to Piran for inspiration. This ancient (think 170’s AD) town also generates quite a bit of olive oil, salt and wine.
We stayed in a lovely AirBnb in Piran in the area of Fornače. It was an affordable one bedroom apartment on the fourth floor (remember stairs, but incredible views) and were greeted with champagne and candy! The apartment was great and included air conditioning –
Parking is not included though (not just for our apartment) but for all of Piran. Most people have to park outside the city and take the FREE shuttle bus into town. We decided to walk most times to get our steps in. The city parking lot is huge and there are many spaces available – it was €17/day – be sure to budget this in your trip expenses ~ PARKING GARAGE FORNAČE
Highlights of Piran
Take the tour – we were fortunate enough to schedule a last-minute tour with John who owns Piran Walking Tours. We just booked the tour through an email but you can call too! We signed up for the wine and local foods tour, it was worth every penny and the insights that Jon shared were awesome. He told us local legends as well as ancient Roman and Venetian stories that were unforgettable. Plus the wine and cheese tasting was FAB!
Tartini Square is the heartbeat of Piran. The entrance alone transports you to a different era. With its majestic palace and state buildings encircling the square, it feels royal just walking the streets. This once was a shipping port and later filled in with rocks from the protecting walls to provide a walking district. Built to create a business and commerce center in the main square, there are several stores, the tourism office and restaurants that beckon you to stop for a drink or a café, relax and people watch.
Walls of Piran
Church of St. George
Church of our lady of health
Flea Market – Saturday in Piran
Take a hike ~
There are lovely trails that surround the city of Piran and lead to national parks and open beaches – take advantage of these inviting pathways of discovery. We walked from Piran to Strunjan for an Artichoke Festival – only a 5km walk we got our FitBit steps in for the day. Be careful of the “Clothes-Free” beach on your walk if you have little ones or are timid about such things as you’ll be privy to an eye full.
The party town of Portorož is filled with sandy beaches, casinos, restaurants by the shore and is just a short 15 minute walk from the Fornače area. As you walk through this town there is an electric feeling of activity throughout the beachfront. It appeared to be quite popular with families from all over Europe and I’m sure it’s packed in the summer ~
Beaches and parks
Most casinos are the electronic kind with lots of computers. You will need a passport and at some casinos you will need proper dress. Some places men will need a collared shirt, pants and some places, a tie. However, there are several in Portorož where dress is not an issue but there are not “live” games there also. Just slot and computer fun ~
Izola & Strunjan
Harbor & Restaurants
Salt pans of Strunjan
Artichoke Fest – Strunjan
Because we parked our car in the main parking garage in Fornače and didn’t really want to move it, we used public transportation around the peninsula, everyday. It was super easy, had central bus locations within the cities and were for-the-most-part on-time. So the posted schedules were pretty accurate only off by 5 minutes coming or going, but they come frequently, so don’t fret.
The fares are inexpensive at about €2/person one way – it was a short ride up the coast and didn’t take too long to hop from one town to the next. You can ask at the tourism center in Piran for a bus visitor’s pass, it might be worth it if you are there for a bit.
Also, there were boat shuttles to Venice we could have explored as well – however, we decided to spend our time on the Slovenian side of the mediterranean and I’m glad we did ~
Foods to try
Here are some of the foods that Slovenia and the Istrian Peninsula are known for –
Although it was a long weekend, it certainly didn’t feel like it was long enough. I am very excited to know it was not that far away and a little place of sunshine and surf within driving distance.
It’s always an adventure when you Travel with Wendy!