Though the tourist hordes are drawn to the delights of the nearby Croatian coast with its many islands and crystal clear waters, Slovenia’s coast, though only 43km long, is definitely worth a visit. This post provides a quick tour of its highlights, which can easily be seen in 1-2 days, depending upon how much time you want to spend in each.
As we’ve already taken a look at Koper, the main city of the Slovenska obala (Slovenian coast), today we’ll start our tour in Izola, a picturesque fishing town just down the coast from Koper. Izola has many similarities with its neighbour: the name itself means ‘island’ (not the Slovenian otok but the Italian isola), and just like Koper the island was settled by the Romans and later by the Venetians. The channel which separated the island from the mainland was filled during the brief period of Napoleonic rule (1805-1813).
The town centre retains its Venetian character, its most notable feature from this period being the bell tower from the Church of St Maurus. There is a pleasant marina and beach with a designated bathing area and playground nearby. The City Park is a great place to stop for lunch whilst basking in the Istrian sunlight. I recommend the Gostilna Gušt for possibly the best pizzas on the Slovenian Coast (try the legendary Nonna Guština).
Moonlight Bay, Strunjan
If you want a secluded beach with a hippy-vibe, I highly recommend this hidden beauty spot, which can only be reached on foot. Park at the bar near the Vidin Arboretum. This is a super chilled-out place to enjoy a coffee or a beer before or after heading down the steps near Beli Križ (the White Cross) to the beach. You might see a few other bathers or kayakers, but this spot is well away from the tourist trail. The beach is pebbly and the waters crystal clear. Perfect for a romantic getaway!
Of all Slovenia’s coastal towns, Piran retains the most of its Venetian character intact. The unspoilt winding streets and famous Tartini Square attract a lot of tourists in the summer. Only residents are allowed to drive into the old town so you will have to leave your car at one of the car parks on the outskirts and continue on foot. The highlights of Piran can easily be seen in an afternoon. Tartini Square is a great place for ice-cream, followed by a walk up to St George’s Church with it’s characteristic Venetian clock tower. Afterwards, explore the winding shaded streets. There are many boat trips on offer from the harbour, including a ferry trip to Venice!
Portorož and Sečoveljske Soline
The last stop on our whistlestop tour of the Slovenian Coast is Portorož, the ‘Las Vegas’ of Slovenia. An upmarket tourist resort with casinos lining the beachfront, it is picturesque if slightly tacky. Popular with gamblers and tennis players, there are many trendy spots to sip cocktails on the beach, and the fantastic Riblja Kantina Santalucia is a great choice for dinner. Here they serve a wonderful variety of fresh fish and seafood, caught daily and cooked simply.
If your budget is not an issue, then the Kempinski Palace Portorož is the grandest hotel on the coast. If you’re looking for more affordable accommodation, there are plenty of apartment options available on booking.com, airbnb etc. The best place for ice cream in Portorož is cafe Mignon.
A notable architectural feature of the town belonging to a bygone era is the seawall warehouse of the Sečoveljske Soline (Sečovelje Saltpans). Salt is still harvested in the ancient saltpans here, which now also form a nature reserve and are open to the public. This is an interesting and peaceful place to visit away from the flashy glamour of Portorož town.
I hope you enjoyed this short tour of Slovenia’s coast. Stay tuned for more Postcards from Slovenia!