18 May 2009

Istria - Piran/Pirano, Slovenia

Piran is a charming little walled city jutting out from the enormous 47km Slovenian coastline, and although it is only an hour or so from Ljubljana by freeway, it is even closer to Croatia and Italy, and is geographically on the Istrian peninsula. Yes, this was another Venetian outpost, but although miniscule, Piran is one of the more beautiful.

The seafood restaurants along the water are much better than those on “restaurant lane” inside the Old City in Dubrovnik, although Restoran Ribič on the road towards the Croatian border is better. What to do? Wander the museum-like streets, have a drink at Cafe Teatar or any of the myriad of spots on the water, and if you feel that you are overdosing on Venetian architecture, just head a few kilometres (literally) to Portorož next door - the Slovenian equivalent to Atlantic City, replete with hotels, casinos, planned beaches, and tourists. Tacky, but sometimes that can be fun. And with the recent addition of the Kempinski Palace Portorož, you may find it even more tempting.

If you still want more, you can jump a ship to Venice or Rovinj with Venezialines, or hop in your car and cruise down to Croatian Istria, to Predjama, over to Trieste, Italy, or up to charming Ljubljana.

Hotel Piran
Stjenkova 1, Piran
+386 (5) 676 2100
Just off the main square and right on the water. Basic, but with A/C and generally reasonable prices. Not as nice as the Tartini, but the location is brilliant.

Hotel Giuseppe Tartini

Tartinijev Trg 15, Piran
+386 (5) 671 1666
On the main square in old town, Tartini has 45 rooms with views of either the sea or the Venetian main square. Doubles from 84 to 118 Euros depending on season, or splurge an extra 10 Euros and get a balcony and seaview.

Kempinski Palace Portorož
Obala 45, Portorož
+386 (5) 692 7000
Recently re-opened under the Kempinski flag, the century old Palace Hotel has been given a complete facelift. Located in pole position on the main drag in Portorož, and with the new 1,500 square meter Rose Spa (Portorož means port of roses), this may be just what you need to be convinced to stay outside Piran's old town.

Stara Gostilna
Savudrijska 2
+386 (5) 673 2523
Restaurant and pension, with small but pleasant rooms priced similar to or even a bit less than Hotel Piran. Some rooms have a view of the sea. Just across the square/parking from Hotel Piran.

Café Teatar
Stjenkova 1
On the water just off the main square (and next to Hotel Piran), this café and bar is open 09 to 03 every day. Great terrace seating, as well as an interior befitting a café in an old Austrian theatre. Multi-lingual waitstaff.

Restaurant Ribič
Portorož – Seča 6320
+386 (5) 6776 790
Recommended seafood restaurant on the way from Piran towards the Croatian border in the village of Seča - just look for signs on the right.

Benečanka / Piranske Soline
Venetian House, Tartinev Trg & Ulica IX corpus 2
+386 (5)673 3110
This shop could also be called "all things sea salt", carrying various products emanating from the salt-pans in nearby Sečovlje. If it involves sea salt, they have it, be it food, beauty products, or just a kitschy (but somehow not too tacky) Tshirt. Our favorite: sea salt in the Red Star jar.

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