A lovely walled city and former Venetian possession, Koper is Slovenia’s only port. The Old City is located just a few minutes’ walk from the Cruise Terminal. There is a Tourist Information Point at the Terminal, where you can get a map of Koper. If that proves too crowded, there is another Tourist Office located inside the 15th century Praetorian Palace. The staff there offers guided tours of the building every hour, as well as wine and olive oil tastings; they will also provide you with a map of the city.
Located in the main square is the town’s landmark, the 12th century Cathedral of the Assumption. The east side of the Cathedral retains its Romanesque façade; the west side is Gothic with Renaissance decorative elements. Nearby is the former campanile, now known as the City Tower. On a clear day, a lovely view of the bay of Trieste can be had from the Tower’s top.
Other sites include the elaborate Da Ponte Well, the Perkauz House (which dates from the 14th century and is one of the oldest buildings in the city), Koper Square’s Armeria (Arsenal), the Almerigogna Palace on Gortanov Square and the Gravisi Barbabianco Palace in Brolo Square. Or you could just stroll the narrow city streets.
Daytrips from Koper
Many people use Koper as a jumping-off place for other destinations. The most popular seem to be Ljubljana and Piran. It takes roughly 2 ½ hours to get to Ljubljana from Koper by train. The public bus leaves in the afternoon and takes almost 2 hours. Neither of these sound like good options for a DIY day tour, so if you must go to Ljubljana, either arrange a private car in advance or book a tour on your ship. Links to the train and bus info are below.
Piran seems like a much more doable day trip, and allows for time in Koper as well. The trip to Piran takes about 30 minutes, but there are only two buses – one at 8:40 and the other at 12:00. The return buses leave at 14:20 and 16:30. Fare information on the website is available only in Slovenian (which I don’t speak), but I imagine that a half-hour ride in both directions can’t be more than € 10 round trip.
Piran is yet another walled medieval city, heavily influenced by both the Venetians and the Austro-Hungarians. The town walls date from many different eras, and were constructed as a defense against the Ottoman Turks. The town’s central square, Tartini Square, is named for Giuseppe Tartini, a celebrated violinist of the 19th century; his statue stands in the middle of the square. Also in Tartini Square are the Municipal Palace, the Loggia and the Benecanka, a red Venetian-style house with white Gothic arches.
Also in the town are the Church of St. Mary of the Snows, erected in 1404, the Minorite Monastery (opposite St Mary’s), and the Baptistery of St. John the Baptist. This “new” octagonal Baptistery was built in the 17th century to replace a similar building that stood on the other side of the church. A relief of a dolphin in the center of the building was probably salvaged from an earlier Roman building and is the oldest monument in Piran.
Standing above the town is the Church of St. George. The church and Campanile – a replica of St. Mark’s Campanile in Venice – were built in the early 17th century. The church fell into disrepair over time, but the latest restorations rescued the church’s frescoes and stabilized both the building and the hill on which it stands. The church is open from 7:00-22:00; for € 1, you can take in the view from atop the Campanile.
The Sergej Mašera Maritime Museum is located in the harbour area, inside the Gabrielli Palace, and has permanent exhibits on Slovenia’s maritime heritage (Piran), the Saltworks Museum (on the Sečovlje salt flats), the ethnological Tonina House exhibition (Sv. Peter), and the collection of ship models and the street museum (Izola). The Aquarium Portoroz is located in the former Fishery School building on Kidric Quay No. 4.