Sometimes Slovenia slips under the radar when we talk about Adriatic destinations. After all, it's got just a sliver of coastline compared to Italy and Croatia. But that sliver? It's spectacular. We call on Koper on a number of our voyages, and we often stay late (think 10 or 11 p.m.) in port. That means there's ample time for exploring this hidden gem with echoes of Venetian grandeur and serious Amalfi coast vibes. Check out our six favorite things to do in Koper below.
Start at Tito Square
The winding streets of Old Town are less than a 10-minute walk from port. You can take the stairs or the futuristic elevator up to where the heart of town bustles with life. Traffic is restricted here, so you'll only run into locals going about their day. In Tito Square (Titov trg in Slovenian), head to Loggia Palace, where a charming café sits under spindly arches. Sip a cappuccino and browse the art gallery in this 15-century former town hall and soak in the Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque architecture. You're only 30 minutes from Italy in Koper, so you'll feel the essence of la dolce vita everywhere you go.
On the eastern side of the square, you'll find the Cathedral of Mary's Assumption. Take a stroll through and explore its impressive artwork and altarpiece, then walk up to the bell tower for remarkable views of the harbor and town. Across from Loggia, the Praetoria Palace is an impressive sight with its ornate coats of arms and unique ramparts. Imposing and elegant, snap a few photos here, then set out to wander the narrow streets where boutique shopping and local dining experiences await.
Explore on Two Wheels
For an intimate chance to experience authentic Slovenian life, hit the road on our Koper by Bike shore excursion. Meet your local guide at port, and you'll be taken on a leisurely journey along a section of the Parenzana Trail full of seaside splendor and rich wine country. Quaint fishing villages give way to sparse-yet-striking salt pans, and then it's on to the resort town of Portoroz. Recharge with a snack of fresh-from-the-sea calamari before spending some time exploring on your own. There are plenty of beachfront bistros to choose from. We recommend seeking out some charcuterie that includes Istrian olive oil (it's got a distinct flavor you won't find anywhere else) and prsut (the peninsula's version of prosciutto). Don't worry about biking all the way back, on the return trip you can relax in a comfy seat as you're driven to Koper.
Escape to a Salt Spa
Once one of the most sought-after commodities in the world, salt is less economically important today, but still something we can't live without. At the Piran salt pans, one of the only functioning salt pans in the Mediterranean, salt is still harvested using methods that have hardly changed in about 700 years. This is where you'll find Lepa Vida Thalasso Spa.
Evaporation from the salt pans creates a saline microclimate that nourishes and enriches while you indulge in a salt scrub, mud bath, or sea salt soak using natural products produced locally. Take a dip in salt-water pools, sun yourself on the sprawling terrace, and soak in this uniquely Slovenian experience on a relaxing shore excursion.
Discover a World Beneath the Surface
When we say we take you beneath the surface of the world's most amazing destinations, we really mean it. A majestic subterranean world exists inside the Postojna Cave. An electric train that's been running for 140 years takes you down to the Gothic Hall, the first of many caverns, halls, and passages you'll explore. Here, jaw-dropping stalactites and stalagmites jut and dangle from all directions. In Winter Hall, you'll discover shining white stalagmite. And you'll undoubtedly be in awe of Concert Hall, a natural venue that holds symphony performances for up to 10,000 people.
One of the planet's most unique creatures calls Postojna Cave home. The olm, also referred to as a "baby dragon", is a pinkish, flesh-colored amphibian that locals honor. It can live for up to 100 years and go 10 years without eating. Because they exclusively eat, sleep, and breed underwater (and often in complete darkness), they only live in the freshest, cleanest water. If they disappear from a water source, it's a clear sign it might be polluted. See it all for yourself on our immersive shore excursion.
Indulge in Local Wine
Slovenia is home to 52 vine varieties and 28,000 wineries that produce about 80 million liters of wine per year. Most of it is consumed domestically, which is why you might not have had the chance to sample it before. But don't think it's new to the wine game. Slovenia is home to the oldest grapevine in the world, and winemaking happened here long before the Romans introduced it to France, Germany, and Spain.
Want to try some for yourself? On our shore excursion to neighboring Piran, a romantic walled medieval town on the edge of the Adriatic just down the road from Koper, you can uncover the world of Slovenian wines. Spend some time exploring the town — head to St. George's Cathedral where you can look out at the coastlines of Italy, Croatia, and Slovenia all at once — then head inland to one of the country's most prized wineries. After the tour, you'll get to sample some local specialties. In Slovenia, refosk red is prized for its dark ruby color, as well as fruity cherry and blackcurrant notes with hints of black pepper and vanilla. Meanwhile, malvazija white can come in dry, sweet, or sparkling varieties with its fruity, floral, acacia-scented bouquet.
Bask in the Beauty of Lake Bled
In the heart of the country, this glacial alpine lake is simply breathtaking. With the Julian Alps vaulting up behind dense forest that leads down to dark waters, it's one of the most photographed places in the world. When you arrive on our Lake Bled & Island shore excursion, you'll set out on a traditional pletna boat and learn about prehistoric settlements and medieval history. Be sure to look up to see the castle towering overhead on a steep cliff. The standout is, of course, the lake's small teardrop-shaped island and the 16th-century baroque church that sits on it.
Tranquil and serene, the island is the only one in all of Slovenia! Take a moment as you stroll the church grounds to hear the lake lapping on the shore and listen for the sounds of the "wishing bell." Legend has it those who ring the bell will be filled with peace and hope, and see their wish come true, but choose wisely — only one wish per person!
This is just a taste of all that awaits you when you call on Koper. Our shore excursions take you to the heart of local life, and highlight what makes this sliver of the Slovenian coast so special.
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