Wanna hear a secret? And know where to find it? The secret is called Piran and is located at the end of a tiny peninsula in the Adriatic Sea. It is a magical little town, with stunning sunsets and the best seafood you can dream of. Read on for the best things to do in Piran – and get the best of the Adriatic Coast for your holiday.
Piran in Slovenia is one of our favourite places in the whole of Europe. This beautiful town is filled with medieval architecture, squares, narrow lanes, restaurants and cafés. Well, maybe it’s an exaggeration to call Piran a secret anymore. There certainly are a lot of tourists during the high season but compared to other, similar destinations along the Mediterranean sea, Piran is still a hidden gem for many.
Piran’s history goes long way back, and Piran was actually a part of Italy until the mid-20th century. Before that, Pirano, as it’s called in Italian, belonged to the Roman Empire, the Holy Roman Empire, the Republic of Venice, the Napoleonic Empire and the Austrian Empire among others. When walking around Piran you will clearly see that the architecture has similarities to Italy and especially Venice.
Even though Slovenia see an increasing number of tourists, spending the summer in Slovenia can be one of your best trips ever. Few countries have such a variety over such a relatively small area. We visited Piran as part of a 2-week journey in Slovenia, a trip that also took us to places like Lake Bled, Lake Bohinj, the wine areas of Goriska Brda and Ljubljana. We also did a journey with the scenic Bohinj Railway. But the best of all? Our favourite place in Slovenia was Piran. For us, Piran is one of the best places to spend the summer in Europe. Read on for our favourite things to do in Piran, Slovenia.
Piran is a small town in southwestern Slovenia, located on a peninsula into the Adriatic sea. The Slovenian coast is very short, only around 47km, but it’s certainly worth a visit. You will not be alone during your visit here, but you will also not be in the middle of huge hoards on a group tour or a package holiday. For that Piran is too small.
If you are looking for a relaxed place to spend some days by the sea, where you can explore local cuisine, mouthwatering seafood and local wine, and where you will have enough things to do to keep you busy for some days, then Piran might be perfect for you. If you like medieval architecture, getting lost in small alleys, history and stunning sunsets – then Piran is a place for you. Piran is also perfect to combine with neighbouring Croatia.
If you are looking for parties, wide sandy beaches, endless shopping possibilities, world-class museums and beach clubs – then Piran is not for you. At least not for many days. Then you will only end up disappointed.
Piran is the place for those who like just being. The climate is great, the food is terrific, and the colours, the light and the vibe are truly unique, and give an extra dimension to your well-deserved holiday. That is why. That is why you should visit Piran.
Best time to visit Piran – weather in Piran
Piran is a typical summer destination with a very defined season. Outside of the main tourist season, you will experience that many hotels and restaurants are closed, but not all. It is absolutely possible to visit Piran year-round, but if you visit in the wintertime you should expect reduced offers on accommodation, activities and restaurants.
On the other hand, if you visit Piran in the middle of the high season, from July through August (especially August) you will find that the temperatures can be uncomfortably warm, and it is also much much more crowded everywhere. This is also the most expensive period to visit Piran, so if you’re travelling on a budget you should avoid visiting Piran in August.
TIP: Always make dinner reservations if you visit Piran in high season. The most popular seafood restaurants can be booked out for days, so reserve in advance.
So when is the best time to visit Piran you might ask? When’s the best weather in Piran? Well, that depends a bit on your preferences and for some, it might also depend on when it’s possible to get our holiday from work.
In the middle of the summer, the temperatures can get really high. The summer season is longer by the Adriatic than in many places more north in Europe. With comfortable temperatures already in May, you can start the season early, and the summer also lasts longer and the autumn is often mild and warm.
If you don’t need the high temperatures and are happy just being by the sea, Piran can be visited year-round. You will then find a totally different, but very local and quiet Piran, something that can also be very tempting.
Temperatures and weather in Piran
- Visiting Piran in the winter: December-March mean temperature is 5-6 °C (41-43F)
- Visiting Piran in the summer: Mean temperature 21-24 °C (70-74F)
- Visiting Piran in spring or autumn: Mean temperature is 9-17 °C (48-63F)
- Most rain: September until November
Please note that this is the average weather based on statistics. Temperatures can get much lower and higher at all times during the year.
Accommodation in Piran
First things first. Accommodation in Piran doesn’t come especially cheap, let’s be honest about this. There are some hotels in Piran, and also some hostels, but nearly enough. One of the most popular things to do in Piran, when it comes to accommodation, seems to be renting a private holiday apartment, either via Airbnb or other rental providers.
What we learned, is that you should really book in advance. We repeat; book in advance. Then you don’t have to end up like we did, with some overpriced low-standard studio with no proper windows and no balcony. What we saw, is that some rentals come with an astronomical asking price even the standard is a pity and the place hasn’t been renovated for years.
But there are proper places in Piran as well. Lots of them. Just keep in mind to book as early as possible to get the place and price you want.
10 things to do in Piran
1. Explore the Tartini Square
The Tartinijev Trg (Tartini Square) is the square in Piran, and it’s also the main square of the town. Do a 360 turn around and you will fully see how picturesque and lovely Piran is. The square is named after Guiseppe Tartini, an Italian composer and violinist born in Pirano, in what was then the Republic of Venice.
Previous the square was the inner harbour for smaller fishing boats. The harbour got surrounded by important buildings and palaces and became an important site of the town. in 1894 it was decided to fill in the harbour due to large amounts of sewage, and with that, the oval Tartini Square was created.
It is a popular sight in Piran. We recommend you visit as early as possible, while most people are still sleeping. It is also very beautiful in the evening around sunset, but by then you won’t have it alone.
There are some cafes and restaurants around the square. They are crowded and with some of the highest prices in town. It can be very nice though, to have a coffee here in the very early morning before all the breakfast guests start arriving. Having a quiet morning coffee at Tartini Square in on the most picturesque things to do in Piran.
Don’t miss the Venetian House at the square. this relatively small 15th-century house is one of the most beautiful and eye-catching buildings in the square. With its balcony and windows, you can clearly see why it’s called the Venetian House.
2. Get lost in the old town
This is maybe our favourite of all the things to do in Piran. And it’s easy. And totally free of charge. It’s simply getting lost in the old town. Seldom have we seen such a cute town as Piran, and we immediately fell in love with it. Walking the narrow streets, exploring the many alleys, and walking stairs up and down can really make you forget time and place.
Piran’s old town is small, so don’t worry, you will never get lost for real. But spend some time just wandering around within a plan or a goal. Don’t always look straight ahead, also remember to look up. And even though the old town of Piran is small, tins might be your favourite activity to do in Piran.
Of course, you don’t always have to walk and walk without stopping. We are not inhuman. All over the place, you will find restaurants, cafes, small galleries and shops. Check them out. Sit down for a bite or a refreshment, and just be.
If you are an early bird, we can highly recommend you get up and out in the streets as early as possible. The old town is beautiful at any time, but having the empty streets alone to yourself is something totally different. Walking the quiet streets before everyone else is the best start of the day in Piran.
3. Stroll along the shore
Another of the best things to din in Piran is simply just walking along the shore. This is one of our favourite activities in Piran. It’s pretty much any time of the day, but if we should pick the best time for this walk, it would be either as early as possible in the morning, or when the sun sets. The light and the colours are most beautiful at these times.
Punta Lighthouse is at the historical point of Piran. A nice stroll is to follow the shore on one side of the town up to the lighthouse, and then follow the shore on the other side back again.
Also, a walk along Piran harbour is very nice, and the side streets above the harbour are nice to explore. We found the streets in this part of the town a bit quieter than further out on the peninsula.
4. Enjoy the breathtaking view from the city walls
The Walls of Piran are the old defensive walls of the town, located on a hill above the town. Parts of the walls are very well preserved and worth a visit. The history is interesting, but the main reason to get up here is because of the view.
It’s a 10-15 minute uphill walk to get to the walls. You can follow the signs from the small streets behind Tartini Square. You will have to climb several starts to get to the top of the walls, so this is not a place where you should bring a stroller along.
We recommend visiting early morning or in the evening, especially if you visit in the summer – to avoid the worst heat. The best light for photos is in the morning, so our best tip is to head up here first thing in the morning. There’s a €2 entry fee to the Walls of Piran.
In the summer, the Walls of Piran is open from 08.00 – 21.00.
5. Visit the Cathedral of St George
Located very majestic on the hilltop above Piran, is the Cathedral of St George. This Baroque-style cathedral was built in the early 17th century on the site of another earlier church.
What you will see in Piran is that most of the churches are closed outside of service times, but most of them have a metal grille that allows you to some of the interiors through the opening, and the same goes for this church.
This church has a spectacular location on top of the hill, and if you have already visited the city walls of Piran you will know what we are talking about here.
6. Climb the Bell Tower
The bell tower of the Cathedral of St George is a freestanding 46,5m high tower next to the church. It was built in 1609 and is clearly modelled after the bell tower of San Marco in Venice.
For the small entry fee of €1, you can visit the tower. 146 steps will lead you to the top, and wow, will you get the view from here. Admiring the view from the Bell Tower over Piran and especially over Tartini Square is one of the most spectacular things to do in Piran. Furthermore, with the 360-degree view, you can see all the way to both Italy and Croatia.
The Bell Tower in Piran is open daily from 10.00 – 20.00 in the summer.
7. Visit the 1st of May Square
Trg 1 Maja, or 1st of May Square, is one of our favourite places in the whole of Piran, and hanging out here is one of our favourite things to do in Piran. Until the Middle Ages, this was the centre of Piran. It was then called Stari Trg (Old Square).
This square will make you think you are in Italy and not in Slovenia. The architecture and the colours on this square, in combination with a large baroque cistern in the middle of the square, make this such a beautiful place in Piran.
The surrounding labyrinth of small streets is a must to explore when you are in the area, and when you get hungry, try one of the restaurants on the square. They all serve excellent food, but in particular one of them is our favourite place in Piran for having seafood.
8. Eat as much seafood as you can
If you are a lover of seafood, then Piran should definitely be on your list. Wherever you go in the town, you can find excellent seafood on the menu. Whether you prefer fish, mussels, squid or shrimp; the seafood in Piran got you covered.
Seafood isn’t the cheapest of food of course, but compared to many other countries, Piran comes out as quite affordable.
Where to eat the best seafood in Piran you might wonder? Well, read on to get two of our favourite restaurants in Piran.
Pavel Piran is an excellent restaurant with a special focus on seafood. Here you can get it all. The service is super, and so is the wine. Try the grilled shrimp at Pavel. It is located in Prešernovo nabrežje 4, along the promenade in Piran. Reservations recommended.
Another of our favourite restaurants in Piran, and something completely different, is Cantina Klet. This unpretentious restaurant is located at Trg 1 Maja (1st May Square). You order cheap drinks from the bar or from the waiters, and the food you have to order (and pick up) through a self-service window. Many are based on fish and seafood. You have to try the blue mussels gratinated in tomato sauce and cheese. They’re to die for. Absolutely one of the best things to do in Piran.
A table here is very popular, and it’s one of the hot seats in town. You cannot reserve a table here. You simply have to go there and wait in line to get a table. The friendly staff organises the line in the middle of the square. and it actually turns into a very nice social hangout for a pre-drink before your dinner. You can order drinks at the bar.
9. Swim in the Adriatic
Swimming in the Mediterranean or the Adriatic as this part of the Med is called, is also one of the best things to do in Piran. Where are the best beaches in Piran you might ask? Well, to be honest; nowhere. Beaches in Piran are synonymous with sunbathing wherever you find a spot and then entering the water where you can, often via some of the man ladders that lead to the water.
There are one or two tiny beaches in Piran, with some sand, but these places are normally totally packed with families. Our favourite place for swimming in Piran is next to (or below) Restaurant Riviera Adriatic (Dantejeva Ulica 8). We found it a bit calmer here, and also the water is of good quality here. Also, after the swim, the restaurant is a great place for a sun-downer before dinner.
TIP: Disappointed by the beaches in Piran? The nearby resort town of Portoroz has better beaches. Make a day trip from Piran to Portoroz and include some time to relax at the beach. There are shuttle buses between the towns. It departs from the harbour in Piran.
10. Visit the Minorite Monastery
This centrally located small monastery is a hidden gem in Piran. The monastery has a cloister and is attached to the Church of St Francis of Assisi which was built in the early 14th century. The inside has frescoes in the ceilings, and it is the burial place of the Tartini family.
It is a nice and quiet place to visit, as few people find their way here. The doors are normally left open.
11. Try local specialities
Piran is part of the region of Istria. This is a region rich both historically, culturally and culinary. While visiting Piran we recommend you try some of the local specialities.
The region produces first-class products like olive oil, hams and salamis, cheese and products with truffles. Try some of the hams, cheese and salamis as a starter at some of the restaurants, or have local truffles with your pasta. And there is of course the wine. When visiting Slovenia, there’s no reason to drink imported wine. There is so much good wine from Slovenia, and also wine from Istria is perfect for the local food.
Plan your trip – How to get to Piran and around
If you are travelling by train, you can reach Slovenia from all over Europe, with one or more connections. You can easily get to Slovenia from Germany or Austria, or from Italian cities such as Milan or even Naples.
There are no trains to Piran, but you can take the train to eg Ljubjana and from there you take the bus. Express bus from Ljubljana takes 2 hours. Check Arriva for timetables. Piran itself is small and you can walk everywhere.
There is limited parking in Piran. If you arrive by car, you will normally be required to park your car at one of the parking lots outside the town, and from there travel by shuttle bus to the centre.