Portorož is a popular summer resort on the Slovenian coast which successfully combines its rich cultural-historical heritage with all the advantages of a modern tourist destination. Here, you can find everything you need for your dream holiday: top-quality hotels, an excellent offer of wellness services, well-tended beaches, congress facilities, trendy clubs right on the coast, excellent cuisine, and a wide range of services and facilities for an action-packed holiday – all this in an ambience that exudes the charm of the Austro-Hungarian period in stunning natural surroundings. Thanks to its abundance of attractive services and interesting events, Portorož is the ideal choice for family holidays, sports, recreation and entertainment.
Hotels in Portorož
Health from the sea and salt
Located on the coast of Piran Bay and protected from the winds by the surrounding hills, Portrož is distinguished by its mild climate, lush greenery, sandy beaches that stretch for a length of approximately 1 km, and shallow warm sea – factors that stimulated the development of tourism in the 19th century.
The Portorož area has always been associated with the notion of a health and spa resort. The beneficial effects of sea water and salt were used as early as the 13th century by the monks from the Monastery of St. Lawrence, and this tradition is today continued by the town's numerous wellness centres and health institutions. The first spa hotel was built in 1891, and Portorož was officially declared a health resort in 1897. Numerous splendid villas from the Austro-Hungarian period still remind us of this golden age of health tourism, and the Grando and Monfort warehouses between Portorož and Piran, which were built between 1820 and 1845, remind us of an even older part of the history of Portorož connected with salt production. In the past, the ships that transported salt used to moor on the pier here, and today these buildings host an exhibition space with collections from the Maritime Museum.
Festivals and events in Portorož and Piran
A walk along the coast towards the north will take us to Piran, a town of culture, music and medieval charm. This is the birthplace of the great violinist and composer Giuseppe Tartini, in whose honour the town hosts a classical music festival each summer. Apart from this, many other cultural events and festivals take place in Portorož and Piran, such as the Melodies of Sun and the Sea popular music festival, the avant-garde Festival of Slovenian Film, the 'Golden Drum' International Advertising Festival, and the Rose and Flower Festival.
Stunning natural surroundings
The surroundings of Portorož hide many fantastic places of scenic beauty. The area's panoramic vantage points offer views of the nearby coves as well as the Gulf of Trieste with the mountains in the background. There are also two nature parks nearby. Not far from Piran lies the Strunjan Landscape Park, which encompasses the Strunjan peninsula with its salt pans, Stjuža Lagoon, Strunjan Bay, and a coastal area with exceptional geomorphological features and the habitats of rare and endangered plant and animal species as well as cultural heritage areas. On the northern shore of the peninsula lies Strunjan Nature Reserve with its flysch cliff and preserved indigenous sub-Mediterranean vegetation. Only a few-minutes' drive from Portorož, there is Sečovlje Salt Pans Nature Park, which is important for the conservation of natural resources, wetland habitats and an exceptionally diverse saline ecosystem. Since 1993, the saltworks have been included in the List of Wetlands of International Importance, as defined by the Ramsar Convention, mostly due to the fact that more than 250 bird species nest, overwinter or just occasionally stop here. This is also the habitat of many endangered halophyte plants. A special feature of Sečovlje Salt Pans is the hard bottom (petola) made of microorganisms, gypsum and Microcoleus corium green algae, which prevents the mixing of salt and mud on the bottom of the pans. Salt is still collected here in the traditional way. Guests can learn more about this in the Museum of Salt-making and during the annual Salt Festival.
Finally, those who want to experience the traditional way of life in this area should visit the typical picturesque Istrian villages surrounded by vineyards and olive groves located in the hinterland, as well as the different events dedicated to local traditions, such as the Olive Oil and Chard Festival in June or the Wine and Garlic Festival in July.
The right choice for the modern guest
Portorož is known for its numerous hotels, its marina and a casino with the longest tradition in Slovenia, which is located in the Remisens Premium Hotel Metropol. Guests have been coming here to try their luck since 1913!
The town offers everything for different types of holiday. Families, couples, sports and active holiday enthusiasts, guests in search of wellness experiences, gourmets interested in traditional tastes with a touch of modernity, and business guests who want to organise their event in a destination that offers quality facilities in a pleasant environment will all find just what they need here in Portorož. Click here to see the choice of accommodation facilities offered by the Remisens Hotel Group.
Galleries, museums and churches; numerous cultural and entertainment events; specialities of Istrian cuisine; superb wellness services and facilities; a variety of congress facilities and also the Auditorium, which is the venue for many international events – guests can enjoy all of these during their stay in the popular holiday resort of Portorož.
Portorož can be easily reached by car from the north via Koper and Izola, or from the south via the Plovanija border crossing with Croatia. Boat owners have a modern marina at their disposal. Portorož also has an airport at Sečovlje.
During their stay in Portorož, guests have a variety of cultural, natural and culinary attractions, as well as recreational activities available to them. Classical concerts in Piran, the tradition of salt-making in Sečovlje, a bike ride along the historical Parenzana railway route, the tasting of traditional dishes in the villages in the hinterland – the choice is all yours!
In the immediate vicinity of Portorož lies Piran - a town of culture, music, museums and galleries, the birthplace of the famous violinist and composer Giuseppe Tartini. Romantic Piran hides many cultural and historical monuments and offers an ideal backdrop for beautiful photographs. Its picturesque medieval old town provides a perfect setting for various cultural events. The town was built on a peninsula that was first inhabited by the Romans in the 2nd century BC. The settlement then became a fortified castrum under the rule of the Byzantine Empire in the 7th century, the time when its urban development began. Piran became a free municipality in 1192, but was under Venice from 1283, which can still be seen in the overall appearance of the town and the 19th-century stone sculpture of the Venetian winged lion on the Town Hall. The 17th and 18th centuries were periods of humanism and the Renaissance. This was the time when Giuseppe Tartini was born (1692), a violinist and composer who made the name of Piran famous throughout Europe. Today, the town hosts an annual classical music festival in his honour. A walk through Piran is an unforgettable experience for all guests interested in history, music and culture.
Sečovlje Salt Pans Nature Park
In the past, salt played an important role in the life of local people and also influenced the transformation of Portorož and its surroundings into a spa and tourist destination. The Sečovlje Salt Pans Nature Park reminds us of this tradition and introduces visitors to the process of salt-making. The park includes the area of Lera, where salt is still produced in the traditional way, and Fontanigge where the Museum of Salt-making is located. Here, visitors can learn how salt is obtained in the traditional way, become acquainted with the history of salt-making, or experience the beneficial effects of salt water and mud in Slovenia's first open-air wellness centre, the Thalasso Spa Lepa Vida.
Like any other salt works, this park is the result of interaction between man and nature. Here, visitors can admire beautiful sunsets and discover the area's rich flora and fauna. In addition, bird lovers will be fascinated by the fact that the park is visited by more than 250 bird species, of which about 90 nest here.
The park can be visited individually or in groups on guided tours. These include a two-kilometre-long walk from the entrance in Lera to the multimedia visitors' centre and back. During the tour, visitors are informed about the natural and cultural heritage of the park and the salt-making process. A short film in the visitors' centre explains the water regime using a model of the salt works. A panoramic platform offers a great view of the wider surroundings.
The Museum of Salt-making is located in the area of Fontanigge near the Giassi Channel in one of the four renovated traditional salt pan worker's houses. The route along the River Dragonja from the floodgate at the entrance to the museum is approximately 2.5 km in one direction and can be visited either by Solinarka vessel, by bike (which can be obtained free of charge at the entrance), on foot, and only exceptionally by bus.
Strunjan Nature Park
Another nature park worth visiting during your stay in Portorož encompasses two nature reserves, Strunjan and Strunjan-Struža, and also a double line of trees which is protected as a nature monument shaped by human hand.
Strunjan Nature Reserve encompasses the northern part of the Strunjan peninsula with its 200-metre strip of sea. The most prominent element in the reserve is the four-kilometre-long and 80-metre-high flysch cliff with visible layers of marl and sandstone and interesting geomorphological features. The path leading to the bay is quite demanding and can only be accessed on foot. At the foot of the cliff and along the path on top of it, there are interpretation boards. Guests can also visit a traditional salt-maker's house with a place for salt storage on the ground floor and a living area above it. Today, the building houses a visitors' centre. Strunjan-Stjuža Nature Reserve includes Strunjan Salt Pans, which are considered the smallest and northernmost in the Mediterranean, and Stjuža Lagoon, the only Slovenian sea lagoon, whose name is derived from the Italian word chiusa meaning 'closed'.
The Parenzana is a narrow-gauge railway that used to connect Poreč and Trieste in the period between 1902 and 1935. Today, this is an attractive hiking and cycling trail with the slogan Parenzana – The Route of Health and Friendship. It stretches across enchanting valleys and green hills, past quaint vineyards, olive groves and medieval towns, and offers beautiful views of Istrian landscapes. The distinctive yellow signs along the route provide information about historical viaducts, tunnels and former railway stations. Guests starting from the direction of Portorož who do not have enough time or physical fitness for the entire route can opt for a short section through the Valeta Tunnel from Strunjan Salt Pans to Sečovlje Salt Pans.
Last but not least, you can visit the villages in the hinterland, where you can admire the traditional architecture and try some typical products such as olive oil, garlic, chard and artichokes. Some of these are celebrated at food festivals that take place annually in the area's villages.
History of Portorož
Portorož was known for the beneficial effects of its sea water and salt that the monks from the monastery of St. Lawrence used for health purposes as far back as the 13th century. A small fishing village until the 19th century, the town became a fashionable health and tourist resort of the historic Austrian Riviera at the end of the 19th century, when it was visited for the beneficial effects of its mud baths. The first hotel was built in 1891, and the town was officially proclaimed a health resort in 1897. Ever since then, Portorož has been an important tourist resort on the Slovenian coast.
The Roman period and the Middle Ages
The area of Portorož was inhabited as early as antiquity, which is attested to by the archaeological find of a Roman building in the town's surroundings. After the Roman period, the area was part of the Byzantine Empire and later came under feudal rulers. The Venetian period left an important mark on the history of the area, as it saw the arrival of religious orders in Istria: the Benedictines had four monasteries in Piran Bay as early as the 12th century. The large Church of St. Mary of the Rosary was built in the town and also gave the town its Latin name of Portus sanctae Mariae de Rosae (mentioned in 1251), which was eventually shortened to Portorose. The Benedictines played an important role in the history of Portorož. In their monastery of St. Lawrence, they treated rheumatic and other diseases by using salt and medicinal mud. Salt is still used in the health and wellness treatments on offer in this area, and local museums and events recall this long-standing tradition.
Venice, Austria and salt production
The second period of Venetian rule brought prosperity to this area, which was followed by the Austrian era (interrupted from 1806 to 1813 when Istria was part of the Illyrian provinces). The continuation of Austrian rule was marked by an increase in trade and salt production, which was the main economic activity in this area until the 19th century.
Tourism started to develop in the second half of the 19th century. The Società stabilimento balneare di Pirano (Piran Bathing Establishment Society), which was established in 1891, bought a plot of land from Piran Salt Works and constructed a bathing establishment and the first hotel Allo Stabilimento Balneare. This was followed by the construction of further accommodation facilities and infrastructure, and in 1897 Portorož was officially declared a health resort. The beginning of the 20th century saw the construction of additional hotels and the first casino in 1913. Most of the present hotels, however, originate from the 1970s and 1980s.
The 19th century was when the spa commission Azienda di cura per il circondario di Porto Rose presso Pirano was established. This collected a spa tax to cover its activities. More and more renowned visitors started travelling to Portorož, and in the summer of 1899 the town was visited by the Austrian heir to the throne Franz Ferdinand. In 1913, Portorož had approximately 7,000 spa visitors and began gaining international fame. Development was slowed down during the two world wars, but a new period of prosperity began after the renovation of the thermal baths in 1954.
As an important tourist resort, Portorož had excellent transport connections in Italian and Austrian times: a shipping line to Trieste, the Parenzana railway to Trieste and Poreč (1902-1935), a tram to Piran and Sveta Lucija (1912-1953), and from 1924 to World War Two a hydroplane to Trieste and Turin.
Portorož is today a popular tourist resort on the Slovenian coast which, together with neighbouring Piran, represents an excellent destination for family and activity holidays, wellness experiences, and congress tourism. Guests can choose from among the excellent Remisens Hotel Group accommodation facilities: Remisens Premium Hotel Metropol *****, Remisens Premium Casa Rosa, Annexe ****, Remisens Premium Casa Bel Moretto, Annexe **** (fully renovated in 2017) and Remisens Hotel Lucija ***.