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A guide to the Slovenian Riviera

The Slovenian Riviera refers to Slovenia's small coastal patch bordering the Adriatic Sea, sandwiched between Italy and Croatia. Because of its location, the region features a distinct blend of Roman, Venetian and Medieval architecture whose towns are so closely clustered, they all seamlessly blend together. You won't find classic beaches here like the ones you might in other rivieras, but there are still ways to connect with the water and bask in that glorious Slovenian sun.


Regions and towns

Piran

This Slovenian town is one of the most visited in the country as far as holidaymakers go. It's steeped in red-roofed Renaissance architecture that reminds us a little of Dubrovnik, what with it being enclosed by stone walls and situated right along the coast.

Portoroz

Portoroz is the jewel of the Slovenian Riviera's holiday crown – and the most modern, too. Its ritzy Hotel Palace was a frequent getaway for Austro-Hungarian royalty, but its casino, beach and watersports are loved by all.

Koper

Koper is Slovenia's major port town, located just five kilometres from the Italian border. It has an impressive array of historic architecture, ranging from the Venetian Gothic loggia, the 15th-century palace and the 14th-century Cathedral of St Nazarius.

Izola

Izola is an ancient Roman port bursting with Venetian charm and historic stone architecture. It makes strolling through this quiet fishing village a treat for the eyes.

Beaches

Strunjan-Moon Bay

This pebbly beach is hidden at the foot of the cliffs in the Strunjan Nature Park, which are quite the sight. The large pebbles don't make it great for lounging, but walks along this part of the coast are always recommended.

Portoroz Beach

Portoroz is where you'll find one of Slovenia's only sandy beaches so it's a prime sunbathing and paddling spot. There are also plenty of other paved areas throughout town where sunloungers are gathered and ladders will help you ease your way into the water.

Koper Beach

Koper is another of those dock beaches, where ladders are scattered around to help you get into the water. Attached is Mestna Beach, a small patch of sand that's further from the crowds.

Things to do in the Slovenian Riviera

Secovlje Salina Nature Park

Salt-making has been an important practice in Slovenia since at least the 13th century, so it made sense to protect the precious ecosystem that had allowed for such a prosperous market. Nowadays, visitors to the Secovlje Salina Nature Park are treated to glimpses of rare flora and fauna that are specially equipped to deal with these salty conditions, including a wide array of birds and the Etruscan shrew – the smallest mammal in the world.

Strunjan Nature Park

Just north of Piran, the Strunjan Nature Park is a breath of fresh air outside of Slovenia's waterfront towns. It covers a total of four kilometres of coastline and features a peninsula whose rocky sides tower above the waterfront, alongside a long pebbly beach that's incredibly popular during the summer months. There are also scattered salt pans and the chance to see all kinds of plants and wildlife that call this beautiful slice of coast home.

Coastal bike paths

Piran especially is connected by hiking and biking trails to other towns along the coast and the lively Portoroz. There's even a 130-kilometre-long bike trail known as Parenzana that runs from Trieste in Italy right down to Croatia through a number of Slovenia's coastal regions.

Predjama Castle

Not strictly on the riviera, but close enough for an easy daytrip, this spooky castle looks as if it's come straight from a fairytale, carved into a hillside and surrounded by green, sloping fields and a network of underground tunnels. It was built into the mouth of a cave and is the largest cave castle in the world. Today you can visit between May and September, but beware of the family of bats that has laid claim to its shadowy walls.

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