A top resort destination
With only 47km of Adriatic coast Slovenes have to make the most of every centimetre. The result is a coastline dotted with half a dozen or so notable towns, each with its own unique character, strengths and weaknesses. The poetically named Portorož, or Port of Roses, is home to one of the largest modern marinas on the Adriatic and is the undisputed king of Slovenia’s coastal tourism trade. lthough it lacks the Venetian old towns that can be ound elsewhere along the coast, its numerous hotels, restaurants, conference centres, spas and casinos
make it a popular destination for both foreigners and Slovenes, and an excellent base for day trips and excursions farther afield. Portorož has been a tourist destination as far back as the 13th century, when it developed a niche as a health resort, and towards the end of the 19th century it became widely known for the healing properties of its mud and salt water baths.
This reputation has persisted till today, with the city currently home to no less than six different wellness spas and resorts. Aside from spas, Portorož also plays host to various national and international conferences, exhibitions and trade fairs, which enables the city to maintain a bustling vibrant air throughout the entire year. One of its largest annual events is Internautica, an international boat show held every May, which attracts over 400 exhibitors and 40,000 visitors. It’s a sight to see even if you’re not in the market for a new luxury yacht.
A short hike up to the hill overlooking Portorož’s beach and bustling seaside promenade to the south will be well-rewarded with lovely views of the town below, and one of the region’s true hidden gems: the Forma Viva stone sculpture garden. An international sculpture symposium of the same name was first organised by two local artists in 1961, and since then it has turned into a biennial event with artists coming from around the world to participate in workshops and other activities – each time leaving behind new sculptures, which now number more than 130 in total. The wonderful creations are spread over a large tree-lined area, and pathways lead down the south side of the hill past old Istrian houses and eventually to the Sečevlje salt pans.
Seča, tel. +386 (0)5 671 20 80, email@example.com,
www.obalne-galerije.si. Open 00:00 – 24:00. No admission fee.
Holy Church of our Lady of the Rosary
Travellers who have grown accustomed to and bored with elaborate old European churches, might enjoy this interesting little break from the ancient and rarefied. Constructed in the 1980s, with wooden surroundings and small stained glass, this interesting piece of architecture seems to evoke a happy hippy feeling of Catholicism, with a not-so-pained Jesus leaning down from the cross to speak to a group of friends.The outside lobby offers free postcards and reading material.
Cvetna Pot 4, tel. +386 (0)5674 67 00.
Lepa Vida Thalasso Spa
Located within the picturesque salt pans of the Sečovlje Salina Nature Park, the Lepa Vida Thalasso Spa is definitely among Slovenia’s most unique spa and wellness destinations. Constructed mainly of wood, the modern facilities blend seamlessly into the surroundings of the park, and offer incredible views of the landscape. Thalassotherapy is of course the medical use of seawater as a form of therapy (‘thalassa’being Greek for ‘sea’), and was first developed on the Brittany coast of France during the 119th century. Lepa Vida offers various health the
therapeutic treatments, including salt-pan mud baths, bathing in brine (the liquid that remains at the bottom of the evaporation ponds after hand harvesting), sea salt scrubs, full body massages, and much more. The spa can be accessed by either land or sea (for those with their own boats), and advanced booking is recommended.
Seča 115, +386
(0)5 67213 60, www.thalasso-lepavida.si. Open 09:00 – 21:00.
Located less than a kilometre from the centre of town, the vast modern marina in Portorož is the gateway to the Mediterranean not only for Slovenia but all of Central Europe. With over one thousand berths accommodating boats up to 22 metres in length, it is one of the largest marinas in the entire Adriatic. Aside from the standard
dockside facilities the marina essentially contains a miniature resort with guest rooms, restaurants and cafés, as well as sports facilities including tennis courts, swimming pools, a fitness centre and even a driving range. In May the marina plays host to Internautica, a large international boat show which attracts over 40,000 visitors each year.
Cesta solinarjev 8, tel. +386 (0)5 6761 100, fax +386 (0)5
6761 210, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.marinap.si.
Kempinski Palace Portorož
This iconic hotel has taken centre stage in Portorož since it first opened in 1910 during the waning years of the Habsburg Empire. Combining Viennese elegance, modern design and of course the famous Kempinski flair for style and service, the hotel is quite simply one of the grandest places to stay in all of Slovenia. If price is no object, book one of the two Laguna suites, which include a rooftop terrace with a private Jacuzzi and breathtaking views of the Adriatic Sea.
45, tel. +386 (0)5 692 70 00/+386 (0)5 692 79 50, reservations.
Parezana Hi king and Cycling Route
Following the path of the former narrow gauge railway line that ran some 130km from Trieste to Poreč in Croatia (Parenzo is the town’s Italian name), in recent years the hiking and cycling route has has become a symbol of friendship amongst the three nations it passes through. For visitors it is a great way to see the beauty of the Istrian countryside. Take in the sights, sounds and smells of various old towns and villages, vineyards and olive
plantations, seaside landscapes, and even rehabilitated tunnels, including one connecting Strunjan with Portorož.
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