Istria, Ankaran, Koper, Izola, Piran and Portorož
From the road leading to the coast extends a superb vista of the hilly country and the sea. Clustered small villages are scattered over rounded ridges so that they resemble small towns. Steep slopes of numerous valleys are covered with impenetrable forests. Ridges stretch into the sea forming a picturesque jagged coastline.
This is the warmest part of Slovenia. Winters are usually mild with temperatures hardly ever dropping below 0°C. A road branches off from the main road under Črni Kal and leads to the Osapska reka valley. Galjevica lies by the road to Osp. The village of Osp sits under a large overhang cliff under which lies a cave with the spring of the Osapska reka River.
On the west side of the valley rises Tinjan (374 m) with an extraordinary view of Primorska. The main road leads from Črni Kal to the Rizana valley. In the upper part of the valley lies Hrastovlje with a 12th century pilgrimage church. Inside the church is the famous Dance of Death fresco from 1490. In the 16th century the church was fortified with a high wall.
South from the Rižana valley the road zigzags up the once fortified Kubed hill and descends into the fertile valley, bringing us to a border crossing with Croatia near Buzet.
Above the valley lies a picturesque dry and fertile valley called Moravška vala. To the west, all the way to the Dragonj a valley and further down to the sea, stretch hills and ridges scattered with stone built villages, which are so typical of the area.
Ankaran is a small seaside resort stretching along the southern part of the Milje Peninsula (Miljski polotok) on top of which in the east-west direction runs the border between Slovenia and Italy.
Ankaran was inhabited as early as the Antique. The 11th century Benedictine monastery was first turned into a summer residence in the 18th century, and then into a hotel in 1922. Ankaran is a nice town full of lush Mediterranean flora with a kilometer long sandy beach.
Atop the 150 m high rounded ridge of the Milje peninsula sits a larger village, Hrvatini, and several smaller settlements.
Koper’s Old Town was built on an island which was joined to the mainland by a causeway in the 19th century. Draining of the marshy area between the island and mainland left behind the plain on which later developed the trade and industrial center of Koper.
The Romans called Koper the Goat island (Insula Caprea). Since the 13th century Koper was under the jurisdiction of the Venetian Republic. During the Middle Ages it became the administrative and judicial center for Istria. There were as many as five Koper mayors on the throne of Venetian doges. Medieval town was surrounded by strong walls with 12 gates. The main gate still stands.
Among rich medieval town houses and palaces were also a few monasteries. Many buildings from the period between the 15th and 18th centuries are still preserved and even today give the town a magnificent look. Some of the most important buildings are: the Praetorian Palace (Pretorska palača) from the 15th century, the Cathedral in Gothic and Renaissance style with rich Baroque interior from the 15th and 16th centuries, the Garvisi Palace, the Carpaccio house, the Tocco Palace housing the ethnographic museum and an archeological collection, etc.
After the WW II Koper changed drastically and modernized. On the slope of Markovec (223 m) developed a residential area called Semedela. Today Koper is also Slovenia’s only shipping port.
The road passing from Koper under steep, occasionally hewn, slopes brings us to old fishing port of Izola. The old part of Izola sits on a small limestone peninsula stretching into the sea from a smaller plain where we find new part of the town. Together with the Livada and Jagodje districts they are part of Izola.
In the 2nd century the Romans built here Haliaetum. The town was construed by the refugees from Aquileia. Izola came under Venetian jurisdiction together with Koper. From the Belvedere hill offering a great view of Izola, the road descends into the Strunjan Bay through an avenue of stone pine trees.
Piran, a town of narrow steep streets and a large main square, sits at the very tip of a narrow peninsula stretching into the sea from the Šavrinska brda Hills.
Piran has been settled since the Illyrian times and came under Venetian jurisdiction at the same time as Koper and Izola, in 1283. Even at that time Piran was fortified by strong walls with guard towers on the mainland part. The main city gate in the town walls still stands.
Piran parish church, which was built in the 17th century, dominates above the town. A number of Ghotic and Baroque palaces testify to the economic power that Piran used to have.
Today, Piran is a typical Mediterranean coast town with a well preserved old core. In the summer heat, the cool of its narrow streets and its rich history attract masses of tourists.
Tourism began to develop in Portorož at the end of the 19th century. Today Portorož, together with Lucija, is a an attractive, well-known holiday resort with a big marina, numerous hotels, a Forma Viva on the small peninsula between Seča and Lucija and a kilometer of sandy beaches.
The Sečovlje plain was washed down by the Dragonja. In the plain lie the abandoned salt pans. Near Sečovlje is also an aircraft center.
The old town core of Izola was built on a peninsula. The fishing port is the busiest early in the morning when numerous boats return from fishing.
The medieval town core of Piran is practically inaccessible by car. A labyrinth of narrow streets and passages, in places so narrow that two people can hardly pass, is lined with medieval stone houses.
There are practically no limitations for nudists in Slovenia. You can come across them in more or less hidden corners all along the coast, as well as along the rivers on lake shores. They are no longer a rarity that would shock old ladies.
Although Slovene coast has no islands, there is a number of tourist boats offering rides. There is also plenty of moorings for sailing boats and motor boats on the Slovene coast. Beside the moorings in the ports there are also three marines in Koper, Izola and Piran. But there are also other interesting sights. Very interesting is also the Piran Aquarium where we can see the fauna typical of the Slovene sea.
The rock walls above Osp are suitable for free-climbing. Free-climbers come here even in winter since it has mild Mediterranean climate without snow, ice and low temperatures.
Fig and olive trees are typical of the region. Portorož is the main Slovene seaside resort. Long sandy beach is packed in the summer.
Ancient narrow Mediterranean streets are very appealing in the summer heat, and in winter, when bora howls mercilessly over the roofs, they offer shelter. The narrow streets of Koper are also full of strolling people.