Piran is a gem of a town on Slovenia’s Adriatic Coast that offers a wonderful mix of history, charm and beauty.
With its narrow cobblestone streets reminiscent of Southern Italy, and well-preserved architecture, wandering through Piran’s medieval centre feels like stepping back in time.
And while the town is known for its gorgeous sunsets, there is no shortage of other interesting things to do in Piran.
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A Bit of History About Piran
Piran was once part of the Venetian Republic and was still part of Italy until the last century. The old town centre reflects the influence of its past rulers, with a distinctly Italian atmosphere evident throughout.
While exploring the town, you’re sure to notice similarities to Italy – from the narrow cobblestone streets to the excellent gelato!
In fact, Piran has been called Slovenia’s version of Venice. Although I didn’t quite see the similarity, I did see a strong Italian influence and felt like we were walking through a small town in Italy, rather than Slovenia.
Whether you’re interested in strolling through the narrow cobblestone streets or grabbing a bite to eat at the numerous cafes that dot the old town, or taking a dip in the Adriatic, here are the best things to do in Piran.
Best Things to Do in Piran
Piran is a small town that’s easily walkable and many of the things we’ve listed below are located within a small area between the harbour and the lighthouse. Most of the best things to do in Piran are free, and if there is a cost, we’ve listed that below.
1. Visit Tartini Square
In the heart of the Old Town, you’ll find Tartini Square, the main square and meeting spot in Piran.
Named after violinist and composer Giuseppe Tartini who was born in Piran, this square was originally part of the inner harbour until it was paved over in 1894.
Now it’s an impressive square and a popular meeting spot for both tourists and locals alike.
Along the edge of the square, you’ll find the Tourist Info Center, as well as Tartini’s House and a large statue of the composer in the middle of the square.
The square is also home to one of the most famous buildings in Piran, the Venetian House.
Built in the 15th century, this gorgeous building stands out, not only for its red colour but also the ornate windows and unique corner balcony.
Tartini Square opens up to the harbour, and this is where the bus will drop you off if you’re taking the free shuttle into town.
Fun Fact: Tartini Square is actually more of an oval, rather than a square. This is because, in its earlier days, the square was the turnaround point for trams that connected the neighbouring town of Portorož.
2. Wander the Old Town
Piran’s Old Town is a charming labyrinth of narrow streets and historic buildings that take you back to a simpler time.
Much of the area is pedestrian-only, and one of the best things to do in Piran is to simply stroll through the streets and get lost in the old town.
It’s a small town and you won’t ever be more than a few streets from the water, so don’t worry about actually getting lost.
Stroll through the winding streets and laneways, admire the architecture or just soak up the atmosphere – this is a place to unwind and enjoy the simpler side of life.
3. Visit 1st of May Square
While wandering the Old Town, you’re sure to come across this lovely square.
Originally called Stari Trg, or Old Square, this was the center of Piran until the Middle Ages. Now it’s a charming square that’s lined with cafes and makes a great spot to stop for a drink or bite to eat.
Then wander the nearby streets, where you’ll find pastel-coloured houses, interesting buildings and plenty of small courtyards, as well as numerous small cafes, perfect for a bite to eat.
4. See the Lighthouse
Sitting on a point overlooking the Adriatic Sea, the Punta Lighthouse is one of the top things to see in Piran.
While the lighthouse itself is plain and simple, its location on the point of Piran makes it worth a visit.
Take a leisurely stroll along the promenade, breathe in the refreshing sea breeze and snap a photo of the lighthouse against the backdrop of the water, or contrasting with the colourful buildings beside it.
5. Relax on the Beaches
While Piran boasts a few beaches, they are pebble beaches rather than sand. In fact, one of Piran’s “beaches” just past the lighthouse is a concrete section at the edge of the water.
Beach chairs are available to rent and there are short ladders to climb down into the sea. Bring your towel and bathing suit, take a dip, and then relax on a chair or sun on the rocks to dry off.
6. See the Mermaid Statue
Perched atop the rocks by the lighthouse, this mermaid statue has become one of Piran’s most photographed spots.
Local artists have made several carvings on the rocks, and the most photographed, and most obvious, is the statue of a mermaid.
But if you look closely, you’ll find other rock carvings, like a dolphin and a creature that looks like a scorpion, among others.
7. Visit the Cathedral of St. George
Sitting on a hill overlooking the Old Town, the Cathedral of St. George is one of Piran’s most notable landmarks.
This is the church that you’ll see from Tartinti Square, throughout the old town or even from the Lighthouse.
A short but steep walk from Tartini Square leads up to the church. The doors are usually open so you can peek inside, or you can purchase a ticket at the Parish Museum to see more of the inside.
While the church is interesting and worth a peek, it’s the views from this spot that are the most impressive.
The terracotta rooftops of Piran stand out against the blue of the Adriatic, and from here, you can see Croatia’s coastline and to the other side, Slovenia’s and then Italy’s coastlines.
8. Climb the Bell Tower
Adjacent to the Cathedral of St. George is a bell tower that you can climb up for a bird’s eye view of Piran and its surroundings.
With 146 steps, it’s a bit of a climb, but the view from the top makes the climb worthwhile!
You’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of the Piran against the Adriatic Sea, as well as neighbouring Croatian and Italian coastlines on either side of the peninsula.
The bells at the top of the tower ring every 15 minutes, and it can be loud so it’s a good idea to check the time before you climb.
It can also be very windy at the top, which is a welcome breeze in the heat of the summer but keep a close hold on your camera!
Cost: 3€ adults, €1 child
9. Explore the City Walls
The Walls of Piran are located on a hill above the town.
From the clock tower, it’s an easy 5-10 minute walk over to the city walls.
And while the history of the walls is interesting, it’s the views that make this one of the best things to do in Piran.
Walking along these well-preserved Venetian walls provides unparalleled views of the town below, with Croatia’s coastline on one side and Italy’s on the other.
10. Visit the Maritime Museum
Located in the Gabrielli Palace along the harbour, the Maritime Museum boasts an interesting collection of maritime life from the Middle Ages to the end of World War II.
Learn about the oldest sea routes and Piran’s history of sea fishing, including while Piran was part of the Venetian Republic, as well as other interesting exhibits featuring Slovenian sailors and fishermen.
Hours: Closed on Monday; Tuesday to Sunday 9 am -12 pm and 5 – 9 pm in July and August, 9 am – 5 pm the rest of the year.
Cost: 5€ Adults, 3€ children, children under 5 are free
11. Cool Off with a Gelato
Gelato may be associated with Italy, but in fact, Slovenia’s coast has some fantastic gelato as well!
Actually, the entire country has great gelato – we had some every day during our two weeks in Slovenia!
You’ll find gelato served at most restaurants and shops along the waterfront, or head to Mersii Gelato near the 1st of May Square.
12. Try the Seafood
As you might expect with a coastal city, Piran’s restaurants offer some excellent seafood options. The restaurants in the Old Town are particularly good, serving up a range of fresh dishes. You’ll find everything from grilled or lightly fried fish to calamari and we even saw lobster on one menu.
13. See the Sunset
Many places along the Slovenian Coast boast great views of the setting sun, but Piran’s location on a peninsula makes for the most stunning sunsets in Slovenia.
Find a spot along the promenade or any of the restaurants along the waterfront and enjoy the show as the sun goes down.
And for a truly spectacular view, St. George’s Cathedral or the medieval walls of Piran are another great vantage point to watch the sunset.
Either, way, it’s absolutely stunning!
Things to Do Near Piran
Just 10 minutes drive down the coast, the town of Potorož makes for a great day trip.
It’s a popular spot with quite a few sand beaches, where you can rent beach chairs and umbrellas, or even umbrellas on a grass area.
There’s a long promenade along the water’s edge, where you can take a dip in the water or sit on the edge and dip your toes in.
Izola and Koper
The nearby towns of Koper and Izola make for good day trips as well.
Koper, the largest town on the Slovenian coast, is known for its medieval centre, and you could easily spend a half day wandering around the Old Town.
Izola, closer to Piran, is a fishing port with narrow winding streets and some excellent restaurants.
Strunjan Nature Park
Just a short distance from Piran lies the incredible Strunjan Nature Park. This is a protected area with 4km of coastline and is a great place to walk along the beach and see the salt pans that this area is famous for.
Sečovlje Salina Nature Park
Just south of Piran close to the Croatian border, this 750-hectare area is known as the Piran Salt Fields.
Salt is still harvested here in the traditional way as it has been for over 700 years. The salt collected in the salt pans has a very unique taste and is used for quality cooking salt and beauty products.
The park is divided into two sections; one in the south where you can see abandoned salt pans and plenty of birdlife, and the other is just off the main road and where salt is still harvested.
There’s also a visitor center and shop where you can pick up some salt products for a great souvenir from Slovenia.
Cost: 7€ adults, children under 6 are free
Other Great Day Trips from Piran
Postojna Cave and Predjama Castle
The Postojna Cave is one of the most well-known caves in the world and an experience that you can’t miss in Slovenia. An electric train takes you underground through the cave, past stalagmites and stalactites and gives you a chance to see the proteus, or ‘human fish’, up close.
Nearby, Predjama Castle is the only preserved cave castle in Europe and you’ll have the chance to explore this unique castle that’s built into a cave.
Postojna Cave and Predjama Castle are one hour’s drive from Piran.
This guided tour from Piran includes transportation and entrance fees to both Postojna Cave and Predjama Castle.
Skocjan Caves is another amazing karst cave system near Piran and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Take a guided tour through the cave where you can see how the underground river has carved out the limestone over the years.
Home to the famous Lipizzan horses, the Lipica Stud Farm is one of the oldest stud farms in the world. Take a tour of the stud farm, see a performance or simply watch these impressive horses train.
Where to Stay in Piran
4⭐ 8.8/10 Booking
Perfectly located right on the Adriatic Sea and only steps away from Tartini Square, Hotel Piran offers stunning views and a great location.
Rooms are spacious and comfortable, and some have sea views or balconies overlooking the water.
Breakfast is available every morning and there is a restaurant on-site for other meals. In the evening, head up to the terrace to enjoy unforgettable sunsets, while taking in views of the three countries along the coast.
Art Hotel Tartini
3⭐ 8.7/10 on Booking
Another great choice in Piran’s old town, Art Hotel Tartini is centrally located in Piran, overlooking Tartini Square.
Rooms are elegantly decorated and provide views of the sea or Tartini Square.
A rooftop terrace in the summer offers excellent views and an excellent breakfast buffet is offered every morning, which includes Prosecco!
Tips for Visiting Piran
Piran can be easily visited as a day trip from Potorož or other places on the Istrian Peninsula and is only a 1.5-hour drive from Ljubljana.
It’s also possible to visit Piran and Portoroz on a day trip from Ljubljana. This tour includes round-trip transportation from Ljubljana with stops at both Piran and Portortoz.
If you’re driving to Piran, as with many other cities in Europe, you’ll have to park outside the city center.
There is a parking garage right before you get into town, or there is another parking area at the bottom of the hill.
Both areas have a free shuttle that takes you into the center of Piran, or it’s a short 15-20 minute from the parking garage.
It’s an easier walk into the city centre; on the way back, it’s a bit of a steep walk back up if you’ve parked at the first parking garage on the top of the hill.
Absolutely! As one of the prettiest towns in Slovenia, Piran is definitely worth visiting. Known for its Venetian architecture, quaint old town and stunning sunsets, Piran offers a unique blend of history, culture and natural beauty and is certainly worth adding to your travel itinerary.
Piran is a small town and can easily be visited in a day, however, spending two or three days will allow you to experience the best this area has to offer – and experience Piran’s spectacular sunsets.
It’s said that Piran is ‘a town grown on salt’. While salt has played an important role in Piran’s economy over the years, salt is still harvested in Piran and surrounding areas today. Piran is also known for its well-preserved old town, stunning location on the Adriatic Sea and gorgeous sunsets.
Final Thoughts: Best Things to Do in Piran
We visited Piran towards the end of our Slovenian road trip and it was one of the highlights for us.
It’s such a pretty and charming town, and after a busy schedule of driving and exploring, Piran was a welcome break where we could sit back and relax while enjoying the laid-back Mediterranean atmosphere.
But whether you’re looking to relax or explore any of the things to do in Piran, it’s a memorable place to visit and should be on everyone’s list of places to see in Slovenia!