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
- Secovlje Salina Nature Park
- Things to do in Piran with Kids
- Neighboring Town of Portoroz Slovenia
- Where to Stay in Piran
Top Things to See on the Piran Walking Tour
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.
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:
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.
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 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
A narrow alley south of the Tartini Square leads to the Piran Minorite Monastery or the 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.
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.
Underneath the Nave of the church is the remains of the foundation of buildings from ancient Rome and medieval times.
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.
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.
It is here that you will get the postcard-perfect view of the Tartini Square.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We are sure kids would love a visit to the ‘Aquarium’ or the magical world of shells in the ‘Shell Museum’.
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.