Traveling is a gift. Being able to explore the area around the Adriatic Sea is an experience like no other. We have been fortunate enough to visit quite a few towns along the coast of this sea.
The coastal towns along the Adriatic sea are very different than other coastal towns I have experienced in my lifetime (I mean, I grew up at the Jersey Shore so this is expected). Most towns that we have experienced lack sand. If they do have any form of a beach, it is mostly a rocky one. Most places have ladders that descend into the water for swimmers to enter on. You’ll see people laying out on sidewalks to sunbathe and lots of speedos. Additionally, you’ll also be able to taste some of the most amazing sea food ever. Well, in my opinion at least. And, you will be fortunate enough to take in perhaps, some of the world’s most beautiful views.
Here are my top 3 favorite places that we have visited so far:
Ah, finally a destination in Italy that is less crowded with tourists than the country’s other major cities. Trieste is in the North Eastern part of Italy along the Adriatic Sea. The city is just a few kilometers from the Slovenian border. The Austrian and Croatian borders are not far either. As a major port city, you can imagine how the city is full of rich and interesting history and culture from a variety of different backgrounds.
Some of the main viewing attractions in Trieste are it’s castles. There are 3 popular ones in the city: Miramare, Duino, and San Giusto. Though it is a bit of away from the city center, the Miramare castle is the most popular castle to visit in Trieste. The view of the sea from the castle is absolutely breathtaking.
Besides the castles, there is also an old concentration camp located within the city . Though it not exactly the happiest place to see, it’s an important part of history and worth a visit if you have time. You cannot miss the main square of the city which opens up to the gorgeous Adriatic Sea and is a busy meeting ground for those in the area. In the sea, you will see many cruise ships leaving from the port and if you walk a little bit of a way down, you’ll find some great swimming spots.
Here’s a fun fact: Trieste is also home to it’s very own Grand Canal, though it is not so grand in terms of size compared to the one in Venice. However, it is still lovely to stroll by and definitely a beautiful sight to see. When we visited we sat by the water and watched a sports game that was really intense. I have no idea what the game was called, but it was definitely great to watch. On each side of the canal, there are many cafes and restaurants to relax and eat at. Don’t forget to grab some gelato too. 😉
Trieste is a great city to spend a day in, but probably not much longer than that if you are traveling. Nearby places to visit include Grado, an island that can be reached by boat from Trieste, or the Skocjan Caves in Slovenia which are easily accessible by car.
If you love shopping, then you will love Rovinj. There are so many unique shops in this city with lots of amazing handmade pieces of art and other delicacies. Rovinj is also very much alive at night and many tourists visit this city during the summer. Cars must park outside the city center and visitors can only travel by foot through the tight alleyways and historic streets .
If you are looking for an active weekend, there is plenty to do in Rovinj from bike riding, to snorkeling, to fishing, to swimming. If you are looking to relax, there are plenty of beaches to do so. One of the main attractions of the historic city center is the Church of Saint Euphemia. If you look at the second picture below, the church is the tallest and pointiest building in the city, as it sits on top of a hill. It is in the heart of the city and the actual center point of the historic district is located right behind it.
We actually went to Rovinj on a scuba diving trip – which was incredible. It was my first time diving, so I really enjoyed it. We took a boat from the marina to a nearby island to go diving, and after the dive we spent some time exploring the island. If you do not want to go diving, and you are a confident swimmer, you could always try snorkeling. You can see plenty of fish, even from the surface and the water in the Adriatic is quite clear.
Speaking of islands, I did a little bit of research and found out that there are 14 islands surrounding Rovinj. It would be a lovely day to rent a boat and explore some of these beautiful islands. While diving, we found plenty of beautiful shells too. If you have any interest in sea life, then this is a great place to visit. Another popular place to visit in Rovinj is the Golden Cape Forest Park. There are some beaches within the park, but it is also great for running and cycling. Additionally, many people enjoy rock climbing there – an activity I wish we had time to try.
I’ll be blunt – Piran is my favorite city on this list. Why do I love Piran? Well, the city, like every other place I have seen in Slovenia, is super clean. Also, it is not as crowded as the other cities we have visited. No, Piran is a small city, and it is very cozy, calm and homey – if you know what I mean. It’s just one of those places that seems like it is somewhere I could happily spend the rest of my life.
The people in Piran are extremely friendly (again, like most places in Slovenia) and the city feels very safe. Like Venice, Piran has narrow streets and lots of alleyways. Piran is another city that does not allow cars to travel within its walls, unless you live there. There is a parking garage right before entering the city where you can pay to leave your car for the day.
In Piran, there are many aquatic themed museums including a shell and diving museum. There is also a small aquarium. There is a path that goes along the water and has many, many restaurants to eat at. I suggest ordering sea food because it is amazing here, some of the best I ever had. There are many locations to swim at in Piran. Again, there are no sandy beaches, but plenty of rocky ones. You’ll also see many people sunbathing pretty much everywhere they could lay – a true coastal town.
We went scuba diving while we were here as well. The dive in Piran was similar to Rovinj, very enjoyable and we saw plenty of fish. While we were in Piran, we drove a half hour to Croatia to do some jet skiing. There is truly a lot to do in this area, whether you like to be active or prefer to relax.
Nearby towns that might be worth a visit include Portoroz and Porec, Croatia.