From Piran to Socerb: What to visit on the Slovenian Coast

by 24 Jan, 2021Slovenia

😷  COVID-19 NOTICE: You can check out the latest information about travel restrictions and bans in Slovenia due to the coronavirus HERE.

🗺️  ITINERARY: 
This destination is part of a 10-day itinerary in Slovenia, check it out HERE.

The Slovenian coastline literally “rocks”, with its cliffs, rocky beaches and also cool spots despite its 46-km shore, representing only a small part of the Istrian Peninsula.

Although I am not a beach lover (after 30-min of sunbathing, a swim and an ice-cream, I am good to go), spending a day in the Slovenian Coast was just what we needed before kicking off our trip to the rest of Slovenia and combat our paleness… and it was melting hot!

First thing we did when we arrived in Slovenia from Trieste was to get our vignette for the car! Remember a vignette is necessary to drive on Slovenian motorways.

And with that, we headed to THE place to go in Slovenia for some seaside vacationing…

View of Piran town, Slovenian Coast

Best coastal town: 🏖 Piran

Slovenia has three major coastal towns: Kopper, Izola and Piran. They are all probably very beautiful in their own way, but the latter is the most popular one among tourists given its picturesqueness, medieval architecture and funny triangular shape that goes into the sea.

The above is definitely not the best picture of Piran, but the idea of this blog came way after our trip and I regret not having taken more pictures of this beautiful town and the views from its different enclaves… (and of many other places in general!!). Lesson learnt for our next travel… 🙈

Piran is a town of colourful houses and narrow streets that was once under the influence of the Venetian Republic and then the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and even witnessed a battle between the French and the British during the Napoleonic Wars in 1812.

But going back to practicalities, if you are arriving in Piran by car, I would highly recommend you park before entering the town. I have marked the best place we found on the map of recommendations, but I believe there are also some other parking spots near the Walls of Piran.

🤩 What to visit in Piran?

Any visit to Piran should start from its focal point, Tartini Central Square (Tartinijev trg), which is named after Giuseppe Tartini, a local famous music theorist, composer and violinist from the 18th century. It’s nice to continue walking towards the sea edge of the town through its narrow alleys and passages, and basically get lost in there!

In terms of places to actually visit, Piran has the St. George’s Parish Church on top of a cliff with its adjacent Bell Tower, both of them built separately in the 17th century following the Venetian Renaissance architecture. Piran’s Bell Tower was actually aimed to be a replica of the Campanile di San Marco in Venice, and you can climb the tower following 146 wooden steps for 2€/adult. On the top, you will have the best views over the town of Piran and its beautiful Tartini Central Square!

A bit farther, the Walls of Piran were reinforced in the 16th century to protect the inhabitants from the Ottoman Empire. There are some segments today that are well-preserved and you will find several original gates across the town. The longest remaining section is open to visitors and can be visited for 2€/adult, offering an interesting view of this triangular-shaped town (you can learn about opening hours on the Walls of Piran website).

Calamari in Piran, Slovenia

🦑 Where to eat?

We only spent half a day in Piran so I can only recommend one place to eat, but it was a real experience and we could see we had chosen a very popular place in town: Fritolin Pri Cantini (map location).

This rather informal restaurant is situated in a charming square called Trg 1. Maja and only has tables outside offering very nice (mostly fried) seafood (note they have combined dishes so you can try a bit of  everything). You will need to order your food directly on their doorstep and they will give you a seashell with your order number (yes, all very thematic!).

They have a relatively big terrace and a great atmosphere! Also note that they only serve food and you can order the drinks in the bar next to it and sit in the same tables.

🍦 Where to have ice-cream?

There are many spots where you can swim in Piran and refresh yourself (in our case, it was a really warm day and we had to jump in and off the water a few times!), and therefore, where best to have an ice-cream than where you can enjoy both things!

In Karamela (map location) you will find super tasty ice-cream flavours, and if you walk 200m further away from the town you will find a small beach for a quick swim!

View of Moon Bay beach, Slovenian Coast

Photo under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. Source: Miha Kukovec from Wikimedia Commons.

Best Slovenian beach: 🌊 Moon Bay

I am saying Moon Bay with a small voice (even though you cannot hear me) because we didn’t go! H preferred to stay in Piran for most of the day and my resistance has flaws… I want to be honest about this because recommendations should be based on our own experience, but in this case (even if we didn’t go), Moon Bay was on my must-see list 😤 and I think it deserves a mention as one of the top things to-do in the Slovenia Riviera given its beautiful water and location, and of course challenging access!

You can access this beach through a trail that goes over the cliff and then descends. For that, you can park near the Strunjan beach (I have added this on the map of recommendations below) and take the trail from there.

If you go there, please enjoy Moon Bay for you and me!

Socerb Castle before sunset, Slovenia

Best sunset: 🏰 Socerb Castle

Another lovely spot (to which we went) is the Socerb Castle! This place offers a stunning viewpoint over the Gulf of Trieste (Italy) and Koper (Slovenia) especially during sunset. Plus the castle inside is also very interesting, it has a kind of natural open well in its court and the views from its walls are also breathtaking.

The Castle is currently a restaurant where you can either enjoy a drink or a fancy dinner for a very reasonable price. The castle also has a long history given its strategic position high up on a cliff. It was built upon an old Illyrian fortress and had an important role during medieval times given its closeness to Trieste and tensions between Venetians and Austrians.

But this place also hides a rather mysterious church inside a cave! Yes, a church with karst columns that is known as the Holy Cave (Sveta jama). You can reach this place after a few minutes walking in the forest from the castle (there are signs). When we arrived there, the cave was closed and it was almost dark, but I approached the fence and it was really scary and so big! (more than I would have expected for a troglodyte church!).

Views of Slovenian Coast from Socerb Castle
Sunset from Socerb Castle, Slovenia

🛌 Where to stay near the Slovenian Coast?

There are several options for your stay in the Slovenia Riviera if you check Booking or Airbnb. In our case, because we planned our trip less than a week in advance and there were not many options available, plus we were heading to Škocjan and Postojna the next day, we decided to stay in a place in between, near Socerb in Črni Kal: Guest House Hiša Robida.

This guest house has been nicely renovated offering everything you need for a one-night stop and at a fair price (our double room was about 50€/night in high season). There is a gostilna serving local food right next to it, but the restaurant was closed the day we were staying there (lucky us!).

However, given we didn’t have dinner at Socerb Castle just a drink, we had to explore this rural area for some food and ended up in Viki Burger (map location), a funky biker-friendly burger house with good food, but note it’s a very casual place – I have to say we enjoyed it very much, including its rock music from the 80s and 90s.

Moreover, at 10-min by car from Črni Kal, you will find the town of Hrastovlje, known for another interesting church, the fortified Holy Trinity Church (Cerkev sv Trojice) (map location). Its walls were built to protect the church from the Ottoman Empire and this simple but fascinating church features a unique well-preserved cycle of frescoes from the 15th century that includes the Danse Macabre.

📍Map of recommendations for the area

Did you find the above useful or have other suggestions for this region?

If you like what you read, please feel free to share this post, leave a comment and/or find out more about travelling in Slovenia (or neighbouring Trieste or Venice) 👇👇👇👇👇

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