Piran is probably the most beautiful town along the Slovenian coast, and yet still charming without its usual backdrop of a bright blue sky. Our visit somehow coincided with an Adriatic low and this meant that our photos would be among the few on the Internet, where this Slovenian coastal city is presented in moody grey. However, even rainy weather cannot seem to detract the charm and beauty of Piran.
When travelling through Slovenia, we would definitely recommend a stop along the coastline. In this blog article, we will share with you the most beautiful sights in Piran, what you can expect during your stay, and also our personal tips on what to do and see.
1. Piran: The Picturesque Coastal Town in Slovenia
Visiting the coastline of Slovenia is definitely doable: in fact, it is only 46 kilometres long. It’s small but very charming – after all, Piran is one of the most picturesque towns on the Adriatic.
Although you can explore almost every corner of Piran in just a few hours – you never want to leave again. The pastel-coloured Venetian house-fronts and the narrow, cobbled alleyways really adds to the special Mediterranean flair.
We recommend that you stay at least one night in Piran to fully soak up and enjoy the atmosphere in peace and quiet. Many visit Piran as part of a day trip from Portoroz. Of course this is also a possibility, but if you are interested in what sets Piran and Portoroz apart, then scroll right down to the bottom of this blog article.
2. What to do in Piran: The Most Beautiful Sights and Activities
Tartini Square and the Harbour
The best way to start exploring Piran is right in the heart of the city at Tartini Square (“Tartinijev trg”). This is the main square of Piran and basically marks the centre of the town. The buildings around the Tartini Square makes for an iconic postcard image. You will also find here the beautifully renovated Town Hall of Piran.
From the Tartini Square, you are just steps away from the winding Old Town of Piran. Take some time to stroll around this maze-like labyrinth and admire the charming alleyways with its crowded houses.
To the south of the Tartini Square is a promenade that runs in both directions down to the waterfront of the harbour. Here, you will find some fish restaurants and cafés with waterfront views and shops. If you want to enjoy the sunset with a sea view and aperitif, then this is the ideal place.
Walking on the Old City Wall
Something you should not miss in Piran is walking along the Old City Wall. Parts of this former city wall and its watchtowers are perched upon a hill, and can easily be visited.
From up above, you have a fantastic panoramic view of the peninsula and only from here can you see and appreciate the charming town of Piran from this unique perspective.
The City Wall is only about a 10 minute walk from the historic centre. After numerous (and sometimes very narrow and steep) stairs, you can reach the viewing platforms of several watchtowers, which offer views in all directions. We would recommend you allow at least an hour for the entire trip – including the walk from the Old Town. The most beautiful time to come here would be during sunset, when the sun directly sets behind the horizon of the coastal town.
Information about visiting the City Wall
Admission: 2 Euros
Opening hours: From 8am till dark. Supposedly closed during periods of rain, but we were lucky.
Tower of St. George Cathedral
Even more spectacular than the City Wall, is the view from the Church Tower of St. George. A steep, but beautifully restorated wooden staircase leads you up 146 steps before you can enjoy the spectacular view.
In fact, from the top of the Church Tower, you can actually see as far as three countries on a clear, sunny day – Slovenia, Italy and Croatia. Of course, the view over the Old Town of Piran is also equally impressive. Depending on the season (and thus opening times of the tower), it is possible to come just before sunset. This is something we would highly recommend because then you get to see the sun go down behind the city.
Unfortunately, we were a bit unlucky as the Church Tower was closed on the day of our visit due to the rain. This photo was taken right outside the gates of the Cathedral, so you can just imagine what the view might look like on a sunny day and from high above!
Information about visiting the Church Tower
Admission: 2 Euros
Hours: June to August: 8am to 8pm; May & September: 8am to 7pm; April & October: 8am to 6pm
Minorite Monastery of St. Francis
This picturesque Franciscan Monastery is a little secret, situated in the middle of Piran’s historical centre. This location is a little off the beaten track, but is definitely worth a quick stopover. We were the only people here during our visit.
The Minorite Monastery actually dates back to the 13th century. The cloister is very pretty and also very photogenic. Entrance to the monastery is free.
3. Where to Eat: Our favourite Restaurants in Piran
You will find that most of the restaurants in Piran specialise in fish and seafood. On average, the prices in Piran are higher than in other parts of Slovenia – not only for food but also hotels.
One of the most popular places in Piran is the Fritolin Pri Cantini, which you can see in the two photos below. Consisting of just a window and a tiny kitchen, the guests dine on the outdoor tables of the pretty First of May Square.
Other recommendations include:
Pavel 2: Very well-known fish restaurant on the waterfront.
Pizzeria Petica: Good pizzas – if you feel like something other than fish.
Cafinho Piran: Nice for coffee, while enjoying a sea view.
4. Hotel Recommendation in Piran
We can highly recommend the Memento Piran, which was our accommodation in Piran. This stylish boutique hotel is located along a narrow street in the middle of the Old Town, just a few meters from the Tartini Square.
It has a lot of character, with high quality furnishings and great attention to detail. The rooms are rather small and a bit dark due to the architectural design of the house. However, it was really comfortable – from the beds to the shower, everything was to our standard.
We loved the tiny roof terrace where you can enjoy a beautiful view over Piran. You can also help yourself to free coffee and sweets in the lobby throughout the day, which we thought was a great added bonus!
Location-wise, it can’t get better than this – you are practically in the middle of the town centre. However, with that comes the complications of parking upon arrival and this is the case for almost all the hotels in the centre. You will find more travel tips on this in the next section.
Here is the link to view and book the hotel: Memento Piran
5. Extra Travel Tips for Visiting Piran
Arrival & Parking in Piran
The majority of Piran’s historic centre is actually closed to normal traffic. Not surprising, given that the town is rather dense and most of the lanes are too narrow for cars to get through anyway.
But that doesn’t mean that you won’t see any cars in Piran. For example, you’ll see a few parking spaces along the waterfront, which are reserved for locals.
Overnight Stays and Parking in Piran
If you stay in Piran, all hotels (including ours) will recommend you to park in one of the two large Park Houses just outside the city: Arze and Fornače.
We decided to park in the Fornače Park House and thanks to our lovely hotel, the parking was free for the duration of our stay. Therefore, it would be worthwhile to inquire in advance, whether your accommodation also has a cooperation with one of the Park Houses.
Next comes the issue of how to get your luggage from the Car Park to the city centre? Don’t worry, it sounds more complicated and laborious than it actually is. Basically, you have two options:
Option 1: Drive as close as possible to the hotel and unload your luggage first. You’ll have to cross a ‘ticketed’ gate, but hopefully your hotel will waiver the fee. Then you drive your car into one of the Park Houses. From the Fornače Park House, there is a free shuttle bus that will bring you directly to Tartini Square in just a few minutes.
Option 2: You drive directly to the Park House and then hop on the free shuttle bus (with your luggage) to the town centre. Of course, both options are not optimal, but unfortunately this is the only way if you want to spend the night in the centre.
Best Season to Visit Piran
Piran can be visited all year round. However, we would recommend Spring or Autumn as the best time to visit. During the summer, it can be very crowded in the small Old Town, especially in the holiday season. Plus, you would also have to deal with the very high summer temperatures.
Weather-wise, be prepared for an Adriatic low in Spring (as you can see from our photos) – of course, this is a rare exception. In most cases, you can definitely look forward to a warm sunny climate.
Piran vs. Portoroz: What to know
Those who travel to Piran will most likely pass through Portoroz as well. Although these two cities are practically right next to each other, Piran and Portoroz could hardly be more different.
Portoroz is the most famous holiday resort of Slovenia. Here, you will find one hotel situated next to the other. Even the promenade has been adapted for tourism. Many prefer to stay in Portoroz and just do a day trip to Piran. The upside of Portoroz, is that you will find more swimming spots than in Piran.
Piran, on the other hand, is more of a photogenic jewel. It’s a place for those who just love to stroll and take in the sights around them. In our opinion, Piran has a lot more flair and character than Portoroz.
We have stayed in both cities before – our accommodation in Portoroz was the best hotel in the city: the Kempinski Palace Portoroz. In the end, it’s all a matter of personal taste, which town you prefer more. If bathing and recreation is your focus, then Portoroz might be for you. But if you prefer the Mediterranean flair, then Piran is the better choice.
Transparency: Affiliate Links
This blog article contains our personal recommendations in the form of so-called affiliate links. If you book or buy something through these links, we will receive a small commission. For you, this does not change the price at all. A million thanks from the both of us!
Have you ever been to Piran or to the coast of Slovenia? If so, did how you like it? Perhaps you have further tips for sightseeing or things to do in this region? Let us know in the comments below and we look forward to reading them all!