Tiny Slovenia may only have about 29 miles of coastline but the Slovenian Riviera — and particularly its jewel, the historic city of Koper — packs a big punch. Whether you explore 700 years of architecture, delve into the Slovenian wine scene or simply sun yourself on the pristine Adriatic, Koper is sure to be one of the most memorable stops on your next cruise. That’s even before you consider the delicious fresh-caught seafood rizota (Slovenian risotto) and shopping for Slovenian handicrafts like handmade Idrija lace.
THINGS TO DO IN KOPER
SEE AN ALTERNATE VERSION OF VENICE
Ever wondered what Venice would look like without canals (and hordes of tourists)? Many structures in Koper, including the 15th-century Praetorian Palace and Da Ponte Fountain, were built during the time when the Republic of Venice controlled the city, so the resemblance can be uncanny. Other historical Koper architecture worth seeing includes the Cathedral of St. Mary’s Assumption and Tito Square, which is a popular meeting point for locals.
MAKE THE MOST OF THE COAST
Koper may offer fewer beaches than other cities you’ve visited, with just two — Mestna Plaza in the city center and Plaza Zusterna about a mile to the west — near town. But both are perfect if you’re seeking a day of sun and surf. Plant yourself under one of the colorful umbrellas (and between locals) for a fun afternoon and take a dip in the crystal-clear water.
BEAT THE HEAT INSIDE A WINE CELLAR
Is it a rainy day or so warm that it’s best to take a break from the beach? Head to Vinakoper, a local wine cellar that spotlights Slovenian-made wines. Pair traditional Slovenia fare with flights of dry white rebula or slightly sour cvicek red or simply order glasses (or bottles) individually. Just as Piran itself evokes an alternative version of Venice, Slovenian wine is like Italian wine’s quirky cousin.
Take advantage of Koper’s seaside location and enjoy fresh Slovenian seafood. Be sure to try some cooked in rizota, which is the country’s take on risotto. You can also enjoy other Slovenian favorites like sweet and savory kranjska klobasa sausage or kraški pršut, a locally-made version of prosciutto.
Shopping in Koper involves more malls and supermarkets than at other Adriatic ports but you can still find local goods. In addition to bringing home a bottle (or a case!) from Vinakoper, you can shop for Slovenian handicrafts like Idrija lace or Slovenian honey, which has become famous throughout Europe in recent years because of the fantastic taste that comes from the country’s long history of beekeeping.
Five centuries of Venetian rule have left a distinguished mark on Koper, Slovenia. The port city’s narrow streets and small squares recall those of Venice, Italy. This attractive Mediterranean Cruises destination is also a popular starting point for excursions to Ljubljana and inland Slovenia. In town, explore Titov Trg square, the 15th-century Praetorian Palace, and the medieval old quarter.
Cruises excursions offer plenty of exciting things to see including:
Lake Bled and Island Cruise
Enjoy a memorable Cruise excursion across Ljubljana, the magnificent capital of Slovenia. The centre is the most charming part of the historical city, through which flows the Ljubljanica River. See the characteristic Triple Bridge which crosses this body of water, before exploring the Roman castrum of Emona, the towering medieval castle, and leafy Tivoli Park. Stroll through the city’s many squares, resplendent with Baroque and Art Nouveau architecture, or drop by the open-air market and the medieval town hall with its Baroque Robba Fountain. After a graceful riverboat cruise, enjoy lunch in a traditional Slovenian restaurant. Finally, spend some free time discovering the city’s cafes and shops where you can pick up souvenirs.
Lake Bled, in the Julian Alps, makes a magnificent Cruise excursion. The tour begins with a relaxing 2-hour coach ride through the verdant landscapes of postcard-perfect Slovenia. In Bled, you’ll take a 30-minute pleasure cruise on a wooden ‘pletna’ boat, encircled by grand mountains and forests. Next, arrive at a fairy-tale island in the centre of the lake where you’ll see the 17th-century Church of St. Mary. Lastly, enjoy a couple of hours at your leisure tasting authentic cream cake at a local cafe, or extend your tour to the cliff-top castle, the amazing Blejski Grad.
If you’re keen on geological wonders, book a Cruise excursion to the incredible Postojna Caves. This is the second-largest karstic cave system in Slovenia, featuring spectacular tunnels, stalagmites and stalactites, and vast open spaces. A train (launched in 1872) takes you underground into the caverns, where you have some time to explore the lit chambers on foot. The caves are also home to the endemic olm, the biggest troglodytic amphibian in the world!