Portoroz is a picturesque, coastal resort town which caters to a broad range of leisure, holiday, and health and wellness activities. Whether you are travelling as a family, with a friend or solo, you will manage to find ways to enjoy yourself both day and night in Portoroz. The day brings the beach and countless ways to enjoy the water, plus land-based pastimes which include volleyball, hiking and places to explore. The night can be enyoyed along the sea-front on sultry evenings, as well as visiting the clubs and the casino.
Organisation of Portoroz
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Portoroz has been established on a flat, coastal margin surrounded by green hillsides. The major hotels line the main road that runs through Portoroz. Some of the residential and holiday accommodation in Portoroz is nestled higher among its leafy hills. These locations offer tourists and residents a lovely panorama of this part of the Adriatic coast. Laneways and tracks make walking down to the sea front and beach easier, but at the end of a tiring day the ascent does not prove to be quite as pleasant.
Visitors descend from their accommodation and cross the main road that passes through Portoroz. The main road divides the activities of the day from the activities of the night.
The main recreational area is located between the sea and the background hills, the main road and sea forming its boundaries. A generous promenade extends roadside along the length of the main recreational area of Portoroz.
Throngs use the promenade during the day to move between facilities. They then return after dinner on balmy summer evenings to enjoy a stroll along the water’s edge and along its wooden piers.
Various stalls populate the promenade in season and offer a range of goods and amusements.
Portoroz Beach is located within the broad expanse between the road and sea and is reserved for recreation. It is not a beach in the conventional sense but rather a large area of maintained sand which is decorated with colourful beach umbrellas.
Visitors pay to enjoy the shade and the access to nearby bars and restaurants, with an eye to an occasional dip in the water. The umbrellas are collapsed at the end of the day and the sand raked, made ready for the next day. Whereas the conventional image of a beach for some is a grassy margin that leads onto a sandy beach with a seamless transition into the water, this is not the case with Portoroz. You enter the water by stepping over a stone wall that borders the sea front.
Swimming appears family-safe because Portoroz doesn’t seem to be in a wave zone of any significance. Consequently, one could expect calm swimming conditions in the absence of storms. Nevertheless, stronger winds could drive surface waves which would make the conditions decidedly less friendly and unsafe for children or poor swimmers.
Variations between high and low tides at Portoroz are quite modest, but it is always wise to keep an eye on young children during the outgoing tide. Finally, wherever you swim, always assess depth and water quality before diving under the water. There is a life-guide on a tower at Portoroz to oversee safe swimming.
Apart from swimming, the facilities include a children’s playground, and opportunities for water sports such as windsurfing and yachting. An Aquapark has been constructed near the marina at the end of the promenade. The marina is available for anyone who owns a boat and is exploring the Adriatic coast from the sea. Alternatively, you may wish to hire a crewed vessel for an outing on the Adriatic.
The vacant area adjacent to the beach is available for any manner of games and pastimes. The area includes volleyball courts which are available for hire.
Night time brings change to Portoroz. Restaurants, bars, clubs, casinos and the music auditorium offer a range of entertainment options. Cuisine offers diversity although as is the case with much of the Adriatic coast, local restaurants favour local favourites with seafood foremost. Once again, the seafood available at home may not be on the menu in Portoroz.
If you are looking to explore the general precincts of Portoroz, then the Hidden Garden in front of the Maygut Apartments is intriguing. The secluded garden offers quietness rather than colour and floral variation. It is also the perfect place to hide for some reading or contemplation.
The Palace Hotel, one of the principal accommodation providers in Portoroz, was originally the Kempinski Palace. It is not available as a tourist site, but a visit to its foyer is hardly a trespass. The hotel also offers wellness therapies, discussed later.
The Church of St. Bernardine
The Church of St. Bernardine is worth a brief visit if you are interested in historical architecture.
The remains of the church stand on the headland just north of Portoroz Beach. The church was formerly associated with a monastery, both being built in 1452. This dates the structure in the late Gothic, but some features of the church also resemble those of the Romanesque. This is not uncommon across Europe as Romanesque elements were often incorporated into Gothic buildings, particularly those that were integral to monasticism.
A strong, almost windowless design is usually associated with Romanesque architecture. Small windows offered strength to vertical structures and were important for the defence of the monastery. The thick, strong walls of Romanesque buildings preceded the incorporation of external Gothic buttresses to support thinner walls and the vaulted ceilings, which are readily apparent on this building. The prominent Gothic ogive arch is quite visible, although it had appeared already in the late Romanesque. The bell tower with separate stages and small, arched, paired windows placed to the side of the church is distinctive. The church’s location outside the main town in also Gothic. Internally, the ribbed vaulting supporting a rounded arched ceiling is also significant and associated with the Gothic.
During your visit you can match these descriptions and consider our conclusions with what you see. Sadly, the church and monastery fell afoul of the consequence of the fall of the Venetian Republic to the Habsburg Monarchy in the late 18th Century. The coastline had to be defended and the Austrians used the structure for protection. It was inevitable that it would be severely damaged.
Following image of St Bernadine by Ajznponar, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Health and Wellness
Should you overdo the nocturnal celebrations or overly indulge in food and drink at the restaurant, you may wish to take advantage of one of Portoroz’s health and wellness centres. Portoroz has a long history as a spa and wellness destination for users of alternative therapies. The spas offer therapeutic treatments based on the brine and mud from the nearby Secovlje Salina salt pans.
Following are some of the benefits generally promoted about brine baths. They include; “The salt, minerals and comforting warmth of the thermal bath provide the ideal place to recuperate. Natural brine is good for the skin and alleviates allergies, colds, digestive problems, metabolic disorders, kidney and bladder issues and nervous disorders. It also helps boost concentration and can help you get a better night’s sleep. Alongside these positive health benefits, the increased buoyancy of brine makes bathing in it simply a pleasure.”
Further descriptions include that a brine bath; “stimulates circulation, reduces skin inflammation, relieves muscle tension, polishes skin, opens pores and draws out toxins, nourishes the body with calcium, magnesium and potassium, helps clear out “emotional static” leftover from our interactions with other people. The salt deposited in the epidermis stimulates the functioning of the autonomic nervous system and thus many internal organs”.
Similarly, positive benefits are attributed to mud baths. These include; “sitting in warm, soft mud can relax the muscles and soothe the mind, which may provide some skin benefits … The minerals in the mud will exfoliate dead skin cells, dirt, oil, and other impurities, making skin appear cleaner, brighter, and less porous … Applying a layer of mud around the stomach also works to improve the digestion in the body, detox you naturally and at the same time pace up the body’s metabolism.”
The main beneficiaries of mud baths seem to be children; “Many of the psychological benefits of outdoor play in natural landscapes are already well established …”. Besides these restorative effects, outdoor play can offer valuable learning experiences. For example, the act of moulding and kneading materials like mud or sand can help children develop their sensimotor skills … certain natural materials, such as soil and mud, also contain surprisingly powerful microorganisms whose positive impact on children’s health and immune development we are only beginning to fully understand”.
If you are drawn to try the brine and mud therapies, it is important to note the recommendations that you consider the state of your cardiac health and blood pressure.
The Secovlje Salt-Flats
The Secovlje Salt flats are south of Portoroz. Salt flats usually form in shallow basins or hollows. The basin traps the rainwater which is then exposed to the sun. Heating of the water by the sun increases the dissolution of salts and other minerals. Should the basin not be replenished or flushed by further rainfall, the evaporation of the solution will result in the crystallisation of the salts. The salt flats at Secovlje may not necessarily follow this model. Water issuing from surrounding mountains may combine with sea water to produce the evaporative solution prior to crystallisation. The following link describes the landscape and biodiversity of the Secovlje Salt-Flats which have been important to the region since the Middle Ages.
Cycling – The Parenzana
If you are fit, or at least have some strength in your legs, you should consider cycling through the greater Portoroz region. The Parenzana was originally a rail line but now converted for cycling and walking. The following link is to a site that describes the Parenzana better than we can. Do check it out.
Brief History of Portoroz
The history of Portoroz is consistent with that of many of the towns and cities along the Adriatic Coast. Archaeological evidence points to early Roman settlement, their being drawn to the region because of the local salt pans. Venice emerged as the primary regional power in the 15th Century and in 1420 ruled the entire Adriatic coast. The governance of the Republic of Venice was generally benign, and most towns and cities maintained some independence and prospered by being on the Venetian trade route. Salt production near Portoroz significantly enabled the town’s economy and culture.
The Venetians fell to Austria-Hungary, specifically the Habsburg Monarchy in 1797. Once again, the salt produced near Portoroz was a valuable asset.
The region subsequently fell to the French but was then regained by the Austria-Hungary Empire. Meanwhile, Portoroz underwent transformation to a resort coast resulting from the decline in the salt industry. The salt water and mud from the nearby Secovlje Saltpans attracted visitors seeking health and wellness.
Following World War I, Portoroz has maintained its popularity as a resort and spa destination.
Conclusion to Enjoy Portoroz For A Coastal Holiday And Wellness Focus
Throughout its history, Portoroz has evolved from a Roman settlement anda latter centre for salt production, into a prominent coastal resort town known for spa and wellness facilities, and holiday infrastructure.
Is Portoroz for you? Portoroz would be agreeable to anyone looking for; a holiday by the water in a relaxed atmosphere, spa and wellness facilities, excitement from a vibrant night life offered by clubs and casinos, and even a place for the tired tourist to hold up for a couple of nights before setting off again. However, if your interest is in ‘old Europe’ with its narrow lanes and architecture, then Portoroz would not be the place of choice. Those lie a little further up the road in Piran.
We found Portoroz reminded us of Budva in Montenegro.
Further Images of Portoroz
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