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near Piran, Piran-Pirano (Slovenija)
This tour takes you along the Slovenian coast from Italy to Croatia and back, taking in highlights such as the Sečovljske Soline, Piran, Koper, Strunjan park, the Parenzana cycling path, Muggia, and much more. I did this cycling tour on August 2, 2016, but due to a wrong setting I had lost the data on my GPS when I got back from holidays. I redrew the tour on a map as it is a very nice tour to make. Do not forget to take identification to pass the Slovenia-Croatia border. The tour includes large sections of the D-8 cycle path, or Parenzana (www.parenzana.net) cycle path, which follows an abandoned rail track including two tunnels. In Izola, Piran and Koper there are some short stretches on busy touristic streets, shared with pedestrians, which can largely be avoided if you so desire.
I started the tour just outside Piran, close to our holiday home. There is paid parking nearby, but if you come by car it is cheaper to start somewhere else. You ride along the coast to Portorož, a resort town with an artificial sandy beach, a harbour, a casino and a lot of tourist facilities. You pass through it on the main coastal road to Lucija. Here you take the cycle path around the Seča peninsula, a smooth concrete path at the end of a camp site. Around the peninsula you arrive to a small harbour/shipyard and follow the Saint Bartolomew canal on the edge of the Sečovljske Soline to the entrance of the nature park and saltworks. You cross a bridge and follow a cycle path at the edge of the park to Sečovlje, where you pass under the 111 National Road and continue on another cycle path along Stara Drogonja to the Croatian border. You cross the border for a short stretch through Croatia on the road taking you up along the hill to the roundabout with the E751. You have an excellent view towards Slovenia of among others Sečovljske Soline and Piran bay. You descend back to the next border post and directly leave the busy E751 highway and cycle back through countryside towards Lucija. Near Parecag you make a short steep climb on a small road rewarding you with good views of the Soline. In Lucija, you join the 111 road for a short stretch into Portorož, where you join the D-8 cycling path taking you up to the 544 m long Valeta tunnel, saving you a climb up the Lucan hill. On the other side you descend to Strunjan, and continue to follow the D-8 cycling path. Near Izola, there is another tunnel (Tunnel Šaleta) and directly after you have an excellent view of Izola, the bay, Italy and Slovenian mountains in the distance. Near Izola you leave the cycling path before it turns into gravel, and then make a long climb to Gažon on the hills at 260 m, with again excellent views of Izola and the sea, and later, near Gažon, of Koper. From Gažon, you descend to Koper on a quiet road with mediocre asphalt. In Koper, you join the D/8 cycling path again, which takes you parallel to the H5 highway along the Škocjanski zatok nature reserve. Unfortunately, you do not see much of the wetland due to trees. You continue on the D-8 past Bertoki and follow the cycling path along vineyards and then slowly climbing through woods to Spodnje Škofije. Shortly after the D-8 crosses the Italian border (no border post) and you descend the hill to the Rio di Ospo. There is a new cycling path along the river to Muggia bay. Here you follow the SP14 road along the coast via Muggia back to the Slovenian border and continue on this road to Ankaran, and then on the Koper. You pass on a large viaduct across the railroad and pass industry in the only Slovenian port. In Koper/Capodistria there is a short stretch through the old center (Titov square). Ride slowly if you choose to follow this touristic stretch, otherwise continue on the road outside the center. Here you continue towards the D-8 cycling path taking you directly along the sea to Izola, another touristic town on the coast. There is a stretch in a park with tourists here, and then you continue along the marina east on a road taking you up to the 111 highway. Shortly before the highway, you turn right on a quiet road through Strunjan nature park. You have excellent views along the coast in picturesque countryside with olive groves and pasture. You descend towards the Strunjan soline. Here I went up to a viewpoint overlooking rock faces going steeply down to the sea. This is a dead end with a short steep stretch, but the views are good. You return to the soline, cycle around it with occasional views of Piran and then climb a winding road towards Piran. You take a small street to the right with bad pavement and cobblestones down the hill towards Fiesa lake (Jezero Fiesa), and then climb to Piran. You enter the town from above with great views of this Venetian town. You descend through a small street to Tartinijev square, and optionally go along Prešernovo nabrežje on the coast to the tip of the peninsula, and back. This is a busy touristic stretch, and ideal for a short break. From here, it is only a short stretch back to the starting point.
You can find something to eat and drink in a lot of places, among others in Piran, Portorož, Izola, Koper and Muggia.
Border post on the E751 highway. The road crosses Dragonja river. There is a border dispute here on a small stretch of land. You really need your identification here.
Border on the Sp14 highway. There is no border control and a petrol station just on the Slovenian side.
Border post on the 111 Slovenian highway. The road crosses the Dragonja river. There is a border dispute here on a small stretch of land. You really need your identification here.
Border on the D-8 cycling path, the Parenzana. No border control.
Here you leave Izola and start the climb to Gažon. The first stretch is on a bit busier road, the second part is very quiet. You have good views all the way.
Here near Parecag you start a climb on a small road between olive groves to get a good view of the Soline
Here you start on the coastal road through Muggia and along Muggia bay to the Slovenian border. You have a good view of Trieste harbour and you will see bathing spots on piers and concrete all along the coast.
After the border you will find a few more bathing spots and the road then climbs a bit and goes away from the coast and goes on to Ankaran
Here the bad asphalt road turns into a bad cobblestone road sharply descending toward the lake.
After a short stretch on a road you come onto the cycling path Parenzana again. The path first takes you through vineyards, passes the A1 highway and then winds up to Spodnje Škofije through woods.
This part of the Parenzana D-8 cycling path takes you directly along the sea between Koper and Izola.
The track takes you across a camping site and continues onto a concrete cycling path around the Seča peninsula with good views towards Piran, Portorož and the Croatian coast.
You enter the cycling path next to the Stara Drogonja
Here you enter a new stretch of asphalted cycling path between the Rio Ospo and an industrial site.
Here at the entrance of the salt works and the nature reserve you enter a cycling path taking you along the soline. These salt pans are not used to harvest salt but are part of the nature park.
The waypoint is at the church which you can see from far. You could also get there by bike turning left at the waypoint marked 'Park Izola'.
Nice lake, nature reserve with a bathing area between the lake and the sea. There is a smaller lake also to the left.
Koper or Capodistria (head of Istria) is a port town with a lot of industry. At this waypoint you enter the old city though. Watch out for pedestrians!
Coastal town in Italy with bars and restaurants on a small harbor.
Here you will find a nature area with salt pans (soline), but a lot smaller than the Sečovljske Soline. Part of the Strunjan park. Nice views towards Piran.
You enter a park on the coast here with bathing opportunities. Watch out for pedestrians.
Good viewpoint above Piran.
Portorož is a resort with artificial beach, a marina, and lots of facilities.
This is the pedestrian boulevard taking you along the coast around the tip of the peninsula. Lots of restaurants. Not really suited for cycling, but nice if you want to eat something or are sightseeing.
The Rio Ospo flows into Muggia Bay here.
Entrance to the Sečovljske Soline, saltworks and nature reserve. Requires entrance fee. See http://www.soline.si//en
Shipyard at the entrance to the Sečovljske Soline
Nature park including the salt pans, olive groves and cliffs. See http://www.parkstrunjan.si/
Famous square in Piran dedicated to the musician.
Tunnel on the Parenzana railway, now cycling path.
A smaller tunnel on the Parenzana railway, now cycling path. Directly after the tunnel you have a great view of Izola.
New viaduct with cycling path across railways and industry in Koper port.
From the road in Croatia you have an excellent view towards Slovenia of among others Sečovljske Soline and Piran bay.
You can only get to and from this viewpoint of the Strunjan coast on a small road. There is no way through. Nice views of the cliffs if you get off your bike for a moment.