Koper, Slovenia

Koper, Slovenia

Koper is among the main road entry points from Italy (which is to the north of the municipality) into Slovenia. Koper is a city located in the Slovenian province of Istria, at the northern end of Slovenia’s brief 29-mile stretch of coastline. Originally an island just off the coast, Koper is Slovenia’s oldest town, dating back to the Middle Bronze Age.

As Slovenia’s only cruise port, Koper is growing in popularity. The town has its charms, with enough to keep you occupied during a relaxed day on shore. One of the nicest aspects is Koper’s lack of tacky shops and mobs of tourists. You can stroll from the port to Old Town’s ancient main square, take in the sights, do a bit of shopping, relax with a coffee under a 15th-century loggia, check out the farmers market, sample Istrian wines or soak up the seaside Adriatic sun at an outdoor cafe.

With its Venetian history and proximity to Italy, you’ll notice that Koper has a bit of an Italian feel to it, in fact, Italian is the second language here. What was once the fortified island is now Old Town, and part of the surrounding water has been filled in to connect it to the main land. A ring road surrounds Old Town, marking a sharp distinction between its historic architecture and the less-attractive modern buildings outside of Old Town.disability cruising-koper-3

The main sights in Koper include the 12th-century Carmine Rotunda church, the Cathedral of St Nazarius with a 14th-century tower, and 15th-century Praetorian Palace and Loggia built in Venetian Gothic style. Koper boasts a colorful history dating back to Ancient Greece and Rome that springs to life in the Old Town. Cruise guests can explore narrow intertwining streets lined with Istrian limestone facades. Enjoy open air festivals and plays, shop for local handicrafts, and savor the local favorites like jota soup, fish specialties and local wines.

Koper is also your gateway to Slovenia proper. Ljubljana, the nation’s capital, is a mere 90-minute drive away. The political and cultural heart of Slovenia, Ljubljana is a graceful city of Baroque and Art Nouveau architecture and bridges. The region surrounding Koper is also home to Slovenia’s largest cave and the Lipica Stud Farm, home of the legendary Lipizzaner horses.

The disabled cruiser visiting Koper will find the terrain mostly friendly. To reach Old Town from the port, you’ll need to climb about 50 steps or take an elevator that’s directly across from the port. Koper is quite accessible so that you can enjoy the city in a relaxed way. The Old Town is within walking distance of the docks for easy access to shopping and all the town’s sights.

All public buildings and tourist facilities, which are still without an arranged access for disabled persons, generally have at least a few reserved parking spaces for disabled persons at the entrances. In these buildings, it is usually also well provided for the toilet facilities of disabled persons. Pavements, which are friendlier to the disabled persons, have been built in many Slovenian cities. There are also an increasing number of ATMs positioned at a lower height levels and those equipped with Braille for the blind and partially sighted. The disabled persons receive discounts for many tourist tours and visits, while some are even free.disability cruising-koper-1

While in Slovenia, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from what you find in the United States. The Slovenian government has implemented laws and programs to ensure that persons with disabilities have access to buildings, information, and communications. In practice, however, modification of public and private structures to improve access is proceeding at a slow pace, and many buildings are not easily accessible. Most tourist destinations around Slovenia are accessible by those with disabilities.

Where You’re Docked

You’re docked right next to Koper’s Old Town, within walking distance of shopping and all the town’s sights. There are no facilities at the port, aside from security clearance, a large map and a few souvenir sellers who set up when a ship is in town.

Koper cruise port terminal is located within walking distance from Tito Square (in the Old Town’s center). Port Koper has 2 quays – one for cruise liners and one for multi-use. The port has water depth 33 ft. and docking capacity of 1 vessel at the time with a length of 1148 ft.

To reach Old Town from the port, you’ll need to climb about 50 steps or take an elevator  that’s directly across from the port. To reach the main square, Titov Trg (about a five-minute walk), take a left once you’ve arrived up top and then take your first right onto Verdijeva Ulica. It will lead you past Venetian-era buildings into the square, where you’ll find the cathedral, the Praetorian Palace, a grocery store, a cafe under a lovely loggia and the tourist office. Keep walking straight across the square to reach Koper’s main shopping street, which also has cafes scattered among the shops.

Good to Know

If you’re in port on a Saturday, be aware that many businesses, including most shops, close at 1 p.m. Museums and restaurants are an exception. Most shops are also closed on Sunday.

If you’re making a large purchase, we found that bargaining was possible at some, but not all, shops. Give it a try, but don’t bargain on smaller items.

Getting Around

On Foot: Most of Koper’s tourist attractions are within a 20-minute walk/roll of the port. Once you’re at the town level, the area is fairly flat, with a slight down-slope as you walk further into Old Town.

By Local Bus: Line #7 does a loop around Old Town. You can pay less by purchasing your ticket from a vending machine, or pay a higher price directly to the bus driver.

By Taxi: Taxis are plentiful at the port and metered. You can also book fixed-rate taxi transfers online between Koper and Ljubljana (61 miles or just over an hour travel time).

By Bus: You can travel by intercity bus to Ljubljana (61 miles or about 2.25 hours) or the coastal town of Piran (12 miles or about 35 minutes). Buses leave from the train station, and you might also find van-taxi drivers outside the station who are eager to offer you the same fare for what is usually a faster trip.

Currency & Best Way to Get Money

Slovenia’s currency is the euro. You’ll find ATMs around town. The most convenient one is located on Kidriceva Ulica, the street that will be on your right as you enter Tito Square in Old Town on the way from the port. There’s also an ATM at the Mercator grocery store on the square.

Language

Koper is only 3 miles from the Italian border and is officially bilingual, in Italian and Slovene. You will also find English spoken in many shops, attractions and restaurants, perhaps not fluently, but enough to communicate. Shopkeepers may show you an item’s price using a calculator if their English is limited.

Shopping

Pick up Slovenian crystal at a fraction of what you’d pay for it back home. You’ll find an excellent selection of glasses, goblets, decanters, art glass and other objects at the Steklarna Rogaska glass factory. For something less fragile, visit the stylish Piranske Soline shop, which sells sea salt from nearby saltpans, as well as soaps and body-care products containing local salt and olive oil.disability cruising-koper-4

If you’ve spent time in Italy, many dishes you’ll encounter in Koper may seem similar, minestrone soup, for example. But because Slovenia changed hands so much through the ages, you’ll also find other influences, like Hungarian goulash or Ottoman kebabs and burek, round, flaky pastries with savory fillings. Fish and seafood are popular, as is the use of local olive oil and pumpkin seed oil. Pastas and risotto make an appearance, too. But there are also hearty traditional dishes: stews, grilled meats and sausages that might make cruise food seem light by comparison. Traditional vegetarian dishes include struklji (dumplings) with vegetable fillings and zganci, which is like a fine-grained polenta but made from corn, wheat or buckwheat. You’ll also find potatoes served with many main courses.

The national dessert is prekmurje gibanica, an eight-layered cake with poppy seeds, walnuts, apples, raisins and ricotta fillings. You might also encounter smorn, a large, thick pancake that’s chopped up while still in the skillet and served with fruit sauce; it’s a popular street food.

Wash your meal down with local wines, including whites, Rebula and Malvasia, or reds, Refosco and Teran. Slovenia has more than 28,000 wineries and at least 52 varieties of vines, so you’re sure to find something to your taste.

Points of Interest

  • Tito Square – Now named for Yugoslavia’s post-World War II Prime Minister, President (and later President for Life) Josip Broz Tito, Old Town’s central square dates back centuries. Its stone buildings are a mixture of Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque styles, remodeled many times over the years. Tito Square is the first place you should head when exploring Koper.
  • Praetorian Palace – A 15th-century structure, easily recognizable by its crenellated facade and carvings of the Venetian winged lion of St. Mark, this palace now contains an excellent tourist office and also serves as town hall. You can take a guided tour of the building by inquiring at the tourist office. The building has been somewhat modernized, so the interior may be a bit disappointing, compared to the exterior. The tour visits the mayor’s office, a reception room and city council chambers, with a large mosaic of Koper’s symbol, a sun with a face. In the various rooms, you’ll see painted rafters and decorated ceilings, Venetian chandeliers and some furnishings from a medieval pharmacy.
  • Cathedral of St. Mary’s Assumption – The cathedral’s religious history dates to the sixth century, but the current facade combines Gothic and Renaissance styles. Its greatest treasure is the painting “Madonna with Child on the Throne and Saints,” by Vittore Carpaccio, painted in 1516. You’ll find this large masterpiece on the right side of the church’s interior. Carpaccio also decorated the organ with two paintings, “The Presentation in the Temple” and “The Slaughter of the Innocents.” Koper’s patron saint, St. Nazarius rests here, too, in a 15th-century stone sarcophagus. The city bell tower, next to the cathedral, was originally a fortified Romanesque structure. It was converted into a bell tower between the 15th and 17th centuries.
  • The Foresteria and Armeria – On the opposite side of Tito Square from the cathedral, these historic buildings date to the 15th and 16th centuries. The Foresteria provided accommodations for the podesta’s guests. Note the lovely stone Renaissance doorframe, the Porta del Corte. Next to it, the Armeria, was used for weapon storage until 1550. The buildings are now owned by a university. (No entry.)
  • Postojnska Cave – As the longest cave system in the country, Postojna Cave is a network of passages, galleries and chambers with a wealth of calcite formations, stalactites and stalagmites. This 12-mile network of passages and caverns about an hour northeast of Koper is a popular stop. The 1.5-hour guided tour takes you into the cave by train, where you’ll see stalactites, stalagmites and any other karst formations.disability cruising-koper-2
  • Predjama Castle – Predjama Castle is just six miles from Postojna Cave, and considered one of the most picturesque wonders of human history. Perched atop a cliff, it was the hideout for a rebellious knight. This looming Renaissance castle built into the mouth of a cave perched on a 400-foot cliff where you can tour the armory, filled with weapons, and visit renovated rooms is a big draw.
  • Ljubljana and Open Air Market – Slovenia’s capital city is home to a picturesque central open-air market. Designed by the famous architect Joze Plecnik, the market sells all kinds of food, including Slovenian specialties.
  • Piran – From the 13th century to the end of the 8th, Piran was part of the Venetian empire. Today, this ancient port is probably the most beautiful of Slovenia’s coastal towns.
  • Beaches – Walk/roll along the coastal street, Kopalisko Nabrezje, to your right from the port. Less than a quarter-mile later, you’ll arrive at pebbly Koper City Beach (Mestno Kopalisce Koper), which has a cordoned-off swimming area. It’s backed by a grassy park and has several cafes with outdoor seating. Located about 20 minutes southwest of Koper by car, 30 minutes by bus, Portorose (Portoroz) Beach is Slovenia’s most popular seaside spot. The swath of sand is lined with resorts, shops, cafes and restaurants, creating a lively scene and making it the top spot to take a dip in the Adriatic.

Koper Accessible Excursions

Accessible shore excursions from Koper visits the beautiful Slovenian coast by wheelchair accessible van. Each Koper accessible guided tour includes an English-speaking guide who is familiar with accessibility needs, as well as round-trip accessible transfers from the cruise terminal.

Koper Accessible Shore Excursion to Ljubljana

Your guide and driver will pick you up from the cruise terminal in a wheelchair accessible van to begin your Koper Accessible Shore Excursion to the capital of Slovenia, Ljubljana. This 8-hour accessible shore excursion from Koper to Ljubljana includes the historical city center, a riverboat ride, and free time to explore the city.

Once you arrive in Ljubljana, you will begin with a walking tour of the historical city center where you will see the diverse architecture, from a medieval castle to modern shops. Your guide will point out some of the famous works by Jože Plečnik, which include the Sustarski Most, Cobblers’ Bridge and the Tromostovje Triple Bridge.

Your accessible shore excursion from Koper will also take you past the Franciscan Cathedral, St James’s Church, the Holy Trinity Church and the theological seminary as your guide explains the history of these beautiful and unique religious structures. Along the way you will also see the Fountain of the Carniolan Rivers, created by the Venetian sculptor Francesco Robba, who was inspired by the artist Bernini.disability cruising-koper-6

After touring the city, you will take a relaxing riverboat cruise for a different view of the city before having some free time to explore or do some shopping. At the end of your Koper Accessible Shore Excursion to Ljubljana, your guide and driver will take you back to the cruise terminal before your ship departs.

The Koper Accessible Shore Excursion to Ljubljana uses a wheelchair accessible van, follows a step-free route, and the guides are able to push a wheelchair if needed. However, you may encounter mild hills or cobblestones along the way.

Koper Accessible Cruise Excursion of the Slovenian Coast

Your accessible Koper cruise excursion begins at the cruise terminal, where your guide and driver will be waiting for you when you disembark. Your tour includes round-trip accessible transfers in a wheelchair van so you can enjoy the panoramic views along the way. This 8 hour accessible cruise excursion from Koper to Piran and the Slovenian coast includes panoramic views, medieval architecture, and quaint villages.

The first stop on your Koper accessible cruise excursion is Piran, one of Slovenia’s biggest attractions because of the medieval architecture, winding streets, and quaint homes. Your guide will take you on a walking tour of the old city center where you will see Giuseppe Tartini square (named after the famous violinist), the Church of St George, and more. You will also have some fantastic views and opportunities to take photographs before continuing to Portorož or “Port of Roses,” a picturesque town with colorful homes and beautiful beaches.

You will also have the opportunity to see the salt fields and fruit groves along the way to a traditional Istrian village to explore during some free time at the end of your accessible cruise excursion from Koper. After exploring the village, your guide and driver will return you to the cruise terminal in Koper before your ship departs.

The Koper Accessible Cruise Excursion of the Slovenian Coast uses a wheelchair accessible van, follows a step-free route, and the guides are able to push a wheelchair if needed. However, you may encounter mild hills or cobblestones along the way.

Postojna Cave & Predjama Castle Accessible Guided Tour from Koper

Your Predjama Castle and Postojna Cave accessible guided tour from Koper will begin when your guide and driver pick you up from the cruise terminal in a wheelchair accessible van. See the second largest cave system in Slovenia and the medieval Predjama castle on this 8 hour accessible guided tour from Koper. Enjoy the scenic drive between Koper, Predjama and Postojna as you listen to stories and legends of Slovenia.

Your first stop is Postojna Cave, the second largest karst system in Slovenia, and the most popular. It’s so big that there’s actually a concert hall inside the cave. You will ride an electric train into the cave system where you will see the spectacular formations, pillars, and limestone curtains.

The next stop on you accessible guided tour is Predjama Castle, a medieval Renaissance castle built into the mouth of a cave. In the 15th century it was owned by the famous robber baron, Erazem Lueger, or Erasmus, a knight who is known as the “Slovenian Robin Hood.”

At the end of your Postojna Cave & Predjama Castle Accessible Guided Tour from Koper, your guide and driver will take you back to the cruise terminal before your ship departs.
The Postojna Cave & Predjamski Castle Accessible Guided Tour from Koper uses a wheelchair accessible van, follows a step-free route, and the guides are able to push a wheelchair if needed. However, you may encounter mild hills or cobblestones along the way.