Not many people know that Slovenia actually has a tiny slice of coastline.
It may only be 47km (29 mi) long, but Slovenia’s Adriatic coast holds some historic and pretty seaside towns. Piran is the most popular for tourists. Held by the Venetians for over 500 years, the town’s buildings reflect centuries of influence making it feel more like Italy than Slovenia.
I visited Piran during my Croatia and Slovenia road trip. It’s a super easy destination to access from Ljubljana, and the small town can be visited in one day without feeling rushed. I found it to be a charming destination with plenty of photo ops and walkable streets.
If you’re thinking about a trip to the Slovenian coast, here’s my suggestions on how to plan a day trip to Piran from Ljubljana!
How to get to Piran from Ljubljana:
Rob and I rented a car from Ljubljana and drove to Piran. While this is the quickest way to get to Piran at 1.5 hours drive, I actually wouldn’t recommend renting a car just for this day trip as we found Piran quite difficult to navigate with a vehicle. There are a limited number of parking spots for visitors and the lot by the waterfront was full by the time we got there. This meant that we had to park half way up the hillside at Garage Fornače then walk the rest of the way into town.
A better option would be to reach Piran via charter bus, especially if you’re planning to do your Piran day trip independently. Arriva has approx 3-4 bus departures each day on the Ljubljana to Piran route which takes 2-3 hours and costs around 12 EUR. The bus departs from Ljubljana Central Bus Station and drops off passengers at Piran Bus Station, located just south of the marina.
While it is possible to reach Piran via public transport, I’d advise against this option as you’ll likely have to transfer between modes of transport in Koper or another town, and it takes longer than the other methods of getting to the coast.
Piran tours from Ljubljana:
If you’d prefer to have your transport to Piran organised via a group tour, then there are some great options from Ljubljana. This can be a good way to squeeze in a few more places during your day trip out of the capital, like other parts of the Slovenian coast such as Koper and the picturesque salt ponds.
Another tour option ties in Piran with a visit to Postojna Cave and Predjama Castle. Predjama was one of my favourite places in Slovenia as the medieval castle is built right into the side of a cliff. This would make for a particularly photogenic day trip from Ljubljana!
Things to do in Piran:
Go up the bell tower
When you get to Piran, this should your first activity! The bell tower of St. George’s Church stands tall above the rooftops of Piran’s old town. For a small fee of 2 Euros, you can go inside and walk up the stairs to the viewing platform at the top where you’ll get a fantastic 360 degree vista.
Rob and I spent a decent amount of time up in the tower taking photos of Piran’s old town, the Adriatic Sea, and along the coastline (we could even see Trieste in Italy and the Julian Alps far in the distance!). Quick tip: prepare to have your eardrums shocked by the noise when the tower bells start ringing.
Enjoy the atmosphere in Tartini Square
Tartini Square (which is far from square-shaped!) is the main plaza in Piran’s old town. It was actually part of the harbour until it was filled in 1894. The oval center holds a statue of Giuseppe Tartini–an 18th century composer and violinist who was born in Piran, and the pretty buildings surrounding it are some of the oldest in town.
If you’re interested in learning more about the history of the square and its buildings, including the well-known Venetian House and Tartini House, you might want to join a Piran walking tour.
These days, Tartini Square is used for public enjoyment and is a great place to people watch. You might see some kids kicking a soccer ball around, locals chatting over coffee, or tourists taking photos. There are often market stalls set up within the square so you can look for some Slovenian souvenirs here, too.
Walk along the waterfront
The waterfront is a great place to smell the sea air and get photos. I’d suggest starting at the marina, just south of Tartini Square, where you’ll see bobbing yachts and striped lighthouses. Follow the path all the way around the point until you arrive at the promontory, where you’ll find a stone statue of a mermaid beside the Adriatic Sea and the historic Church of Our Lady of Health.
As you walk back towards the town centre, wind through the narrow streets and alleys. You’ll no doubt stumble across some restaurants or bars where you can stop for a drink of Slovenian wine. Do a Piran walking tour with local food and wine tasting if you’d like to fully indulge your taste buds with the local specialties.
Visit the Walls of Piran
The Walls of Piran are situated a 10-15 minute walk uphill, and are a great place to finish off your visit to Piran. The fortified walls date back to the 15th century and were built by the Venetians to protect the town from Turkish invasions. A section of this wall is still standing, and you can pay a small fee (I think it was 2 Euros) to walk along it.
The walls actually provide some of the best views in town as you can see the terracotta rooftops contrasted nicely against the blue of the Adriatic Sea. I was up here mid afternoon on a partly cloudy day in winter and found the views to be truly fab, though apparently it’s even better to head up here at sunset!