Pretty, petite and pastel, Piran is a wonderful place to do…relaxing. The sights don’t take that long – you can wander the picturesque streets, climb the bell tower, walk the town walls and still have plenty of time for idling by the sea.
Piran was our last stop in Slovenia before heading south to Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro for a month and we sure weren’t going to pay drop off fees for our Slovenian rental car. But more on the practicalities of arriving and leaving and the rental car logistics later in this post, first…pretty little Piran!
Piran is every bit as picturesque and charming as you can imagine a medieval town on the Adriatic to be. Once a part of the Venetian empire, the old buildings and Bell Tower will remind you of a little piece of Italy, as will the language! You’ll hear a cheery Buon Giorno more often than the Slovenian Dober Dan in pretty, tidy little Piran.
You’re first stop in Piran is likely to be beautiful Tartini Square, the largest and main square of the little town. The shuttle bus from the parking lot stops right in front of this square.
Tartini Square was named for the 18th century composer and violinst Giuseppe Tartini, who not only was born in Piran, but was a descendant of one of the oldest aristocratic families. A statue of him is in the marble oval in the square.
Piran is small. A walk around the harbor, a wander through the charming streets to find all the little churches and squares, then a climb up the Bell Tower, followed by a climb up the city walls and you’ve essentially seen it… even with time left over for hanging out at the shore at little Fiesa Lake.
Everywhere you look you see the distinctive Venetian Influence, like the beautiful blue building of the Music School.
There aren’t any beaches in Piran, but there are plenty of bars and restaurants along the entire waterfront all around the medieval town.
Piran Lighthouse and St. Clement’s Church
Tiny medieval Piran was built at the tip of a spear-shaped peninsula, and at the Punta (the point) is an old stone lighthouse with keeper’s cottage, and little 13th century St. Clement’s church right next to it.
Most people mistake the pretty stone tower for the lighthouse, but nope, it’s the bell tower to the church!
Historic May 1 Square
In the very center of the medieval town is the original main square, long ago the administrative center of the town.
The allegorical statues of Law and Justice flanking these steps are eye-catching, but the platform and steps aren’t just a stage for performances, this is an old stone rainwater cistern, built in 1775 after a severe drought.
St. George Parish Church and the Bell Tower
Wandering around tiny medieval streets, we found an interesting way up the hill to the Saint George Parish Church, and the Bell Tower.
You can tour the inside of the church, or just take a peek at the interior through the iron gate.
I’ve climbed a lot of bell towers, and this one is definitely worth the rickety steps going up.
The views all over Piran are worth the climb, so fun to see all the places we wandered around – and especially the to see beautiful Tartini Square from this vantage point.
The fact that fascinated me was that the square used to be an inner dock of the harbor! The inner harbor often got filled with sewage…so in 1894 they filled it in and a couple of years later built the monument to their famous home town composer, Giuseppe Tartini.
I love seeing where we’ve wandered around from the Bell Tower.
A panoramic view really shows how defensible medieval Piran was, with the old wall built on top of the hill.
Piran Medieval Walls
Piran’s 15-16th century walls aren’t enormous or long, but they didn’t have to be because of their naturally defensive position high on the mountain separating the peninsula of the town from enemies from inland.
After the bell tower, we walked down the path on the north side of Piran to a little rocky beach in front of Fiesa Jezero (Lake Jezero), spending some time relaxing on chairs under umbrellas with a spectacular view of snow capped alps far away. Idle time in Piran! Then up the steep steps at the inland side of the mountain to get to the walls…and this beautiful view.
You can see the entire medieval town from the old defensive town walls high on the hill, and the sights we’ve already wandered around down there – the lighthouse at the very tip, the Bell Tower that was modeled after Venice’s Campanille, and the beautiful Tartini Square lined by it’s imposing buildings and palaces.
On the way back from the walls we passed through a couple of the 15th century gates.
Perfectly Relaxing Piran
With views like this, is it any wonder we spent plenty of time idling in Piran? Fancy fruity cocktail in hand, sippin’ and lookin’ at the blue blue Adriatic and those stunning snow capped Alps.
Evenings in Piran
After lots of busy sightseeing in Vienna, Ljubljana and Lake Bled, charming little Piran was a perfectly relaxing 3 night stay, and a perfect end was at one of the restaurants on the seaside promenade with fresh seafood, some Slovenian wine, and a beautiful sunset.
So, how long should you stay in Piran? We loved 3 relaxing nights, but for most visitors 2 nights will be plenty for pretty Piran.
A great 3 nights at Vila Piranesi – the location can’t be beat and our “Comfort One Bedroom Apartment with Sea View” (Booking.com) was just that – comfortable with a terrific view of the harbor. I’d stay here again in a room with a sea view without hesitation, that view was wonderful!
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Arriving in Piran
Driving from Lake Bled to Piran – this would have been a 1.5 – 2 hour drive, but we made a big detour to take the 12pm tour of the interesting 13th century Snežnik Castle, an hour and a half drive from Piran.
With 3 nights to spend in petite Piran and our rental car still at our disposal until the next morning, we decided to drive over to Koper after dropping off the luggage at our Piran apartment. We didn’t spend much time on the visit to Koper, we wandered by the harbor, up to the historic main square and down some tiny pedestrian lanes, stopped for a coffee…and came back to settle in to Piran.
Tip: A bonus! Parking in Koper is free on weekends and holidays.
Piran with a Car
Driving into and parking in Piran is an expensive and restrictive affair. If you have a car, the easiest means on your pocketbook is staying in a hotel that offers discounted parking which will be at the huge parking structure called Parking Fornače, a reasonable walk or free shuttle ride away from Piran’s main square. Driving into Piran is by permit only, however your hotel can give you a 15 minute voucher to drive in and drop off your luggage, after which you can go back and park in the garage.
- Park at the Fornače Piran Garage, walk or take the free shuttle bus (runs every 15 minutes) to the drop off in the center of Piran at Tartini Square. Vila Piranesi gives a 50% discount, conveniently added to your bill.
Returning the Rental Car in Portoroz
“No Problem” everyone said about the rental car drop off, and I admit I was a bit worried when we couldn’t get the car drop off checked in by the rental agent. The Europcar office was in a small shared office space in Portoroz, and manned (or unmanned!) by one person. The agent was busy delivering another car, and eventually we gave up waiting and just left the car and the keys at the Grand Hotel Portorozo and just like everyone said, sure enough, it wasn’t a problem.
There’s a city bus that can take you from Portoroz to Piran, but we had nothing on the agenda but walking around anyway and opted for a pleasant 40 minute walk along the waterfront back to Piran.
Next destination: Rovinj, Croatia
If you were to drive from Piran to Rovinj, the trip would take you a little over an hour. But renting a car in one country and dropping it in another is a huge extra expense, and we weren’t coming back to Slovenia. Dropping our Slovenian car rental off in Slovenia and getting a rental in Croatia for the rest of our driving trip made the most sense (and cents!).
Taxi to Koper – 20-30 minutes, €30. CRNJ Tours Bus #2336 to Rovinj – 2 hours 16 minutes, arriving 11:50 at the Rovinj bus station.
The Piran to Rovinj bus route doesn’t start until July – we took a taxi from Piran to the bus station at Koper, about a 20-30 minute drive and €30.
Are there less expensive options to get to Koper? Nothing that made sense for us to catch the 9:34 am CRNJ bus from Koper to Rovinj.
There are other bus lines that leave in the afternoon, which you can find on the GetByBus website.
- Getbybus.com – Crnja Tours, Bus #2336 (Trieste-Zagreb). 9:34am Koper-Rovinj