Top Things to do in Piran Slovenia – The Gem of Slovene Riviera

(Last Updated On: November 20, 2017)

Piran is a small coastal resort city in Slovenia couple of hours bus ride from the Slovenia capital Ljubljana. A visit to Piran is a popular day trip from Ljubljana and a must visit if you have Slovenia travel plans. Unfortunately, the bus frequency from Ljubljana to Piran is not very good and hence you may need to plan accordingly. The buses from Ljubljana to Piran also stop at the Postojna Caves one of the popular things to do in Slovenia.

The city center of Piran is choc-a-bloc of medieval houses and a maze of narrow alleys running through them. The center is car-free and the bus station is some 10 minutes walk away. The road along the harbor lined with souvenir shops and cafes leads you into the city center and the first landmark you walk into is the impressive Tartini Square.

Top Things to See on the Piran Walking Tour

Tartini Square

This beautiful square with white marble paving is the symbol of the resort city of Piran. The square is named after and is dominated by a larger than life bronze statue of the popular violinist and composer Giorgio Tartini. The Square is a carfree area the cars need to be parked outside the city center in the Piran parking area. There are free shuttles running from the Tartini Square to the parking area for the locals as well as the tourists.

Top Things to do in Piran Slovenia - Tartini Square

Until the 19th century, the location of the square was an inner port for docking fishing boats, the square came into being only in the second half of the 19th century when due to bad smell and filth the dock was filled up and the imposing square was laid out. The square is today surrounded by some of the prominent historical buildings of Piran, numerous cafes and is a popular venue for concerts and events.

The prominent buildings around the Tartini Square are:

Town Hall

The 19th-century Neo-Renaissance Town Hall building stands next to the tourist office. It was built on the location of a 13th-century Roman-Gothic styled Town Hall built by the Venetians.

Top Things to do in Piran Slovenia - Piran Town Hall

Only that remains today of the old Town Hall is the immured stone statue of a winged lion on the Town Hall facade holding an open book (an open book meant peace, and a closed one war).

Venetian House

Venetian house is one of the oldest and the most striking building in Piran and dates back to the 15th century. It is a fine example of Venetian Gothic architecture and features a beautiful Gothic balcony. We had heard of it as a beautiful red building in the Tartini Square but not sure why it was painted white when we visited.

Top Things to do in Piran Slovenia - Venetian House

As per the legend, the building was built by a rich Venetian merchant for his lover a poor girl from Piran whom he met during his Piran visit. Needless to say, the public then was not in favor of this relationship and gossiped about them.

Top Things to do in Piran Slovenia - Venetian House Inscription

So the merchant got an inscription on the top of the building facade as ‘Lassa pur dir’ which means ‘let them talk’ indicating that he is heedless of the talks of the people who resented their relationship.

Tartini House

Tartini House is one of the oldest preserved houses in the Tartini Square originally built in Gothic style and renovated with a classic touch. The house was where the famous violinist Guiseppe Tartini was born.

Top Things to do in Piran Slovenia - Tartini House in Tartini Square

On the first floor of the building is the Tartini Memorial Room which houses Tartini’s belongings including Tartini’s violin and exhibits portraying the life of the artist. The building houses the office of the Italian Community and is a venue for cultural events and art workshops.

St. Peter Church

Next to the Tartini House is the 13th-century St. Peter Church, the oldest church in Piran. There is a relief on the facade above the entrance depicting the scene of handing over of the keys to St. Peter. The interior is simple with stuccoed artwork in pink and white on the ceiling.

Top Things to do in Piran Slovenia - St Peter's Church

The Tartini Square is surrounded by several cafes and restaurants which is a great place to meet and relax and watch as the world goes by. The public toilet and a supermarket are located behind the Town Hall. The Piran Market is also held in a square behind the Town Hall. Numerous narrow alleyways lead to other parts of the Piran town.

Baroque House

The Baroque House is another striking building on Tartini Square which stands near the alley leading to the Franciscan Monastery. The three floored building has colorful windows with stone frames, Baroque iron balcony railing and interesting arches on the facade. You can even find the Baroque iron balcony railing in a couple of more buildings around the Square.

Top Things to do in Piran Slovenia - Baroque building on Tartini House

A narrow alley south of the Tartini Square leads to the Piran Minorite Monastery or the Franciscan Monastery.

Franciscan Monastery

After exploring the wonderful buildings around the Tartini Square we headed to this wonderful Monastery. There is a St. Francis Church situated next to the Franciscan monastery both of which date back to the year 1301. The St. Francis Church houses some of the important paintings from the 17th and 18th centuries. The Monastery cloister holds musical events for its serene atmosphere and good acoustics.

Top Things to do in Piran Slovenia - Franciscan Monastery

St George Cathedral

The St George Cathedral sits atop a hill in Piran. The cathedral is dedicated to St. George the patron saint of Piran.

Top Things to do in Piran Slovenia - St George Cathedral

Underneath the Nave of the church is the remains of the foundation of buildings from ancient Rome and medieval times.

Top Things to do in Piran Slovenia - Ancient Roman remains St George Cathedral

Top Things to do in Piran Slovenia - St George Cathedral Treasury

There is also a museum next to the cathedral which exhibits the treasury items of the church. The 17th-century octagonal Baptistery houses some significant paintings and antique furniture.

Bell Tower

The bell tower or the campanile of the St George Cathedral dates back to 17th-century and dominates the city skyline. The bell tower is a replica of the San Marco Campanile in Venice, Italy testimony to the times of Venetian reign. A climb to the top of the tower offers incredible views of the Piran city rooftops and the blue expanse of sea beyond.

Top Things to do in Piran Slovenia - Piran city panoramic view from St George Cathedral bell tower

It is here that you will get the postcard-perfect view of the Tartini Square.

Top Things to do in Piran Slovenia - Piran city panoramic view and Tartini Square from St George Cathedral bell tower

Walls of Piran

The city of Piran was enclosed in fortification walls dating back to 7th-century and most of which are well-preserved and remain intact till date. The city walls along the south coast of the city are impressive and can be seen from the Tartini Square or much better from the St George bell tower. You can also climb these walls for some wonderful vistas of the city along the Adriatic coast. The entrance into the city was through the Seven city gates which are well-preserved too and can be explored on a walk around the city.

Top Things to do in Piran Slovenia - Piran city panoramic view and Medieval Roman walls from St George Cathedral bell tower

1st of May Square

The 1st of May Square or the Old Square is a small surrounded by quaint cafes and restaurants where you can taste the local wines. The square is also a venue for the numerous musical and theatre performances held during the summer months. The square was originally built as a water reservoir after the 1775 draught. You can find pipes connecting the roofs of the surrounding buildings to the cistern in the square. The entrance to the square is flanked by two allegorical statues representing Law and Justice.

Top Things to do in Piran Slovenia - 1st of May Square Piran

From the 1st of May Square, we sauntered through the narrow alleys marveling at the jampacked houses. As per our guide, the outer limestone walls with the wore out appearance are in complete contrast to the interior which is laden with comfort and luxury. Most of the houses were extended over the alleys forming arched entrances. There are numerous cafes and souvenir shops tucked away in these alleyways.

Top Things to do in Piran Slovenia - Piran Alleyways

The alleys finally opened into an open square and we walked into the peninsular point of Piran where the land jutted out into the Adriatic Sea. From this point, our guide pointed out the Italian border on one side and Croatian border on the other.

Our Lady of Health Church

The square on the peninsula is dominated by the Our Lady of Health Church also known as the Church of St Clement. The church has a lighthouse called Punta lighthouse which also acts as the church bell tower. The church dates back to the 13th century was under renovation.

Top Things to do in Piran Slovenia - Our Lady of Health Church or Church of St Clement

We walked back along the Preseren Quay which is lined with several restaurants and cafes on one side and the resident cars parked along the quay. Our guide said that during the summer months the cars are not allowed even to this point.

Top Things to do in Piran Slovenia - Preseren Quay Piran

 

Museum of Underwater Activities

The Museum of Underwater Activities Piran walks you through the maritime history and provides an insight into the underwater activities from past as well as modern times, everything about diving and also the mysterious world underwater the marine life, wrecks, submarines and much more.

Secovlje Salina Nature Park

The Piran Salt Pans industry are said to be the main reason for the beautiful coastal city of Piran to flourish since the ancient times. The Secovlje Salina Salt Pans nature park are some 8 km from the Piran city center and can be visited by hiring a taxi from Piran. You can stroll through the maze of the path paved through the salt pans and see the harvesting of salt through traditional methods. You can also visit the Salt Works Museum at Fontanigge which abandoned salt pans offering an insight into the life of the salt workers and the traditional method of producing salt including a visit to renovated houses of the salt worker. Here you can buy a packaged high-quality Piran salt to take back home as a souvenir or a gift.

Things to do in Piran with Kids

The Tartini Square is a fun place to spend with kids. At dusk when we were done with exploring the Piran attractions we got ourselves seated on one of the stone benches around the Tartini Square and watched as the magic of Piran enfolded when each of the buildings was lit with golden lights. Chhavi had fun frolicking and enjoying the carfree open space with other kids.

Top Things to do in Piran Slovenia - Tartini Square

We are sure kids would love a visit to the ‘Aquarium’ or the magical world of shells in the ‘Shell Museum’.

Aquarium

The Aquarium is housed in the former Maritime and Fishery School building. The aquarium exhibits a diverse sea life with around 200 species and over 140 various kinds of sea organisms.

The Shell Museum

The museum boasts of exhibits of some of the rare and unique sea shells varying in sizes and shapes of which shell of the world’s biggest snail is one of the important exhibits.

Neighboring Town of Portoroz Slovenia

The neighboring town of Portoroz a seaside resort town is one of the best places to visit in Slovenia with numerous luxurious hotels and casinos. It is also the location for the Portoroz International Airport for the tourists looking to visiting Piran. If you happen to visit Portoroz do plan a visit to the ruins of St. Bernardin’s Monastery dating back to the 15th century. The remains comprise of a well-preserved bell tower, the church presbytery, and an arched wall.

Where to Stay in Piran

Piran is a compact city and hence the accommodation options are limited. Apart from the Piran hotels, the city also has few options for hostels, BnBs, and guesthouses. The popular Hotel Piran is a boutique hotel located facing the sea along the Preseren Quay. The Hotel Tartini is a historical building with modern interior and amenities located in the Tartini Square. Or if you are looking for a fairly priced hotel Hotel Fiesta or Hotel Barbara Fiesta which are located some 15 minutes walk away from the city center are also a good option.

Many Thanks to Portoroz and Piran Tourism for sponsoring our Piran Guided Walking Tour. As always, all opinions are our own.

10 thoughts on “Top Things to do in Piran Slovenia – The Gem of Slovene Riviera

  • November 21, 2017 at 5:14 pm
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    A wonderful and handy list of all the major spots to see in Piran. It really looks very pretty with the seaside location, the beautiful quaint streets, and of course so much to see and admire. The Shell Museum and Museum of Underwater Activities sound very intriguing and love the striking colours of the Baroque house. Thanks for all the information.

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  • November 21, 2017 at 6:06 pm
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    There’s so much to see and do in this part of Slovenia! I’m so happy to now know about Piran. It looks like a gorgeous little place to spend a couple of days. I love the Venetian architecture, the detailing of the churches, and those lovely red-tiled buildings!

    Reply
  • November 21, 2017 at 8:10 pm
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    Slovenia is such an offbeat destination. It needs more promotion. I am surprised to see that it has ancient ruins from Roman times. The architecture of the building is par excellence. It is now on my wish list.

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  • November 21, 2017 at 9:01 pm
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    I really hope to visit Slovenia next year, and you’ve given me great inspiration! I love there’s a Venetian house here, and baroque too, which makes sense as it borders Italy. Thanks for this, will save it!

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  • November 22, 2017 at 2:57 am
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    I’ve never heard of Piran but it looks like a beautiful historical city. The medieval architecture of the buildings is quite fascinating. St George Cathedral is something I would most likely want to visit especially the ruins of the medieval buildings. And I would definitely like to climb the bell tower for that splendid view of the city. Love the roofs painted in red. 🙂

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  • November 23, 2017 at 2:40 am
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    Eastern Europe is my go to place. Though I have expired Slovakia but not yet Slovania. You have described piran so well with detailed guide. The architect of eastern Europe is magnificent. The Gothic monuments arts beautiful and oh these red tiled roofs are gorgeous. Thanks for sharing and it goes straight in my bucket list

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  • November 23, 2017 at 9:11 pm
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    Wow! Piran does look gorgeous. Love the sculptural detailing of the townhall. Doesn’t the Venitian house remind of our own Gujarati houses? I wouldn’t miss the archaeological remains of the old church!

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  • November 24, 2017 at 8:25 am
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    I am obssesed with getting to see places like this in Europe – many years ago I watched a TV travel show on Slovenia and am determined to get there to see it. The mythology, culture and food of the region and the incredible architecture just seem to pull you in. I can’t wait to see it for myself.

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  • November 24, 2017 at 9:07 am
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    I was in Slovenia this summer but didn’t have time to visit Piran. This city looks so beautiful with all the architectures and the sea coast. Now I so regret that I didn’t go haha. Will definitely go back Slovenia and visit Piran.

    Reply
  • November 24, 2017 at 9:56 am
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    It’s impressive how much Piran looks like a combination between Italy and Croatia. The architecture of the buildings reminds me both of Venice and of Dubrovnik. I have actually wanted to visit Piran when I visited Slovenia but I didn’t have enough days to include it as well. The view from the Bell Tower is so pretty!

    Reply

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