We spent a significant part of our day driving from Bled to Skocjan all the way down to Piran. Slovenia’s not a large country so you can drive from one extreme end to another in just a few hours. The bulk of our journey was along the Slovenian motorway (make sure you have a vignette attached to your car for the tolls), where the speed limit is a respectable 130km/hr, though most people seem to drive far slower than that. Before coming to Slovenia, we loaded European maps on our GPS, but we eventually found out that the maps can’t really be trusted for precise directions–many times we ended up in some random tiny village or along some one lane backroad that leads to nowhere.
See & Do
- Skocjan Caves: A UNESCO world heritage site–visiting here is something that can’t be missed if you’re in Slovenia. The only way to go through the underground portion is via guided tour. During the tour you’ll get to see one of the largest underground canyons in the world–it really feels like you’re in one of those 90s adventure movies where the hero explores an as of yet undiscovered cave. See here for daily schedule and admission. We opted for the 2 parts tour for €21 per person.
- Walking Trail in Skocjan Park: After the guided tour section, you have the option of continuing on (for an additional fee) along the river that feeds into the cave. Not many people seem to choose this option (we were the only people in our group that did it), but if you have some time to spare then there are plenty of great photo opportunities
- Tartini Square in Piran: The city center of the small town of Piran. You are not allowed to bring cars into Piran–this is where the minibus will drop you off from the parking area, about 1 kilometer out. Nice place to grab a bite at a cafe and people watch. The weather was nice when we were here, so we got to see all the local kids out and about playing games in the square. Piran has a heavy Italian influence, and you can see it in the architecture as well as the language (Ciao is preferred over Dober Dan).
- Walking around the alleys in Piran: Piran is supposed to be the Venice of Slovenia, and it shows in the old Venetian style architecture that you’ll see while walking around the alleyways in Piran. In fact, historically, Piran was originally part of the Venetian Republic. The buildings seem a bit more worn down than what you’d see in Venice, but this city still maintains its own unique charm. It also reminded me a bit of the old town in Nice. Most tourists seem to stick mainly to the coastline around the city rather than wandering around the interior of the city–you won’t see too many people while cutting through the interior of Piran (of course, this may not apply during peak tourist season).
- Climbing the City Walls: Piran’s not a huge city, so eventually you’ll make your way up to the top of the city by following the signs up to the Church of St. George. Provides a great viewpoint of the entire city where you can clearly see the Italian influence in the architecture with the endless sea beyond.
- Watch the Sunset on the waterfront: The sunset in Piran is absolutely breathtaking, and should be on everyone’s bucket list. The pictures we took are nice, but they don’t do justice to actually being there and seeing it in person. Grab a drink at one of the many seaside cafes/bars (depending on where the sun is!) and enjoy the view.
- Church of St. George: You can climb to the top of the bell tower for the low price of 1 euro, and it’s worth it to be able to see the coastline of three countries at once–Slovenia (of course), Croatia to the south, and Grado, Italy to the Northeast (only on a clear day–we were able to barely see it out in the distance).
Eat & Drink
- Mahnic at Skocjan Caves Park: A recurring theme during our trips, we came in for a drink and a snack, and ended up eating an entire meal. The food here is a mix of Slovenian and Italian cuisine, and the beer is cheap.
- Bar Fine Del Mondo: This is where we ended up watching the Piran sunset, sitting comfortably on a loveseat facing the water. Service was fast and friendly, and the waiter was thoroughly confused when we asked what time they close as we hoped to pop over for one last drink later in the night–they just open some time in the morning and close whenever there’s nobody left for the night; time is a flexible concept in this relaxed seaside town.
- Ivo: This was recommended by our airbnb host. We go the Seafood Platter for Two €35 and an appetizer spaghetti €5. The quality of seafood was superb and the spaghetti was surprisingly good.
- Morski Val: 1€ for a big scoop of gelato. Open late.
- Apartma Santina Piran: Nice little apartment right along the coast of Piran. We got to meet the host’s mother who was very friendly, although she didn’t speak much English, and he helped us find cheap parking outside of the city. We only spent one night here so the apartment itself was good enough for our needs, and you really can’t beat the location in the city.