Izola is a picturesque town located in southwestern Slovenia on the Adriatic coast of the Istrian peninsula. With a rich history dating back to the 2nd century BC, Izola’s name originates from the Italian word “Isola,” meaning ‘island’.
Once an ancient Roman port, the town was established on a small island by refugees from Aquileia in the 7th century. Over the centuries, it has been influenced by Venetian, Holy Roman Empire, Napoleonic, and Austrian rule. Today, Izola is known for its stunning marina, historical landmarks, and the remnants of the Parenzana railway line that once connected the town to Trieste and Poreč.
Whether exploring the excavations of Haliaetum or enjoying the coastal beauty, Izola offers a unique blend of history and charm.
Table of Contents
Attractions and Things to do in Izola
1. Church of St. Mavra
The Church of St. Mavra stands on the highest point of the former medieval island, giving Izola a recognizable silhouette. The baroque interior boasts ten altars, an organ from 1796, and beautiful paintings.
Travel Tip: Climb the 99 steps to the top of the bell tower for a spectacular view of Izola. Guided tours are available in summer.
2. Izola Maritime Museum
Izolana, the House of the Sea, showcases the maritime heritage of Izola through photographs and exhibits.
Travel Tip: Don’t miss the history of the Parenzano railway and the chance to meet famous local figures like cartographer Pietro Copp.
3. Beach and Sea
Izola offers various beaches like San Simon’s Bay, Svetilnik Beach, and Delfin Beach, each with unique features and activities.
Travel Tip: Explore different beaches to find your favorite spot, whether you prefer children’s slides, volleyball courts, or a peaceful sunset view.
4. Church of St. Maria Alietska
The oldest church in Izola, dating back to the 11th century, is dedicated to the Assumption of Mary and features a romanesque style.
Travel Tip: Take time to admire the three altars, wooden choir, and Venetian organ inside.
5. Simon’s Bay Archaeological Park
This ancient Roman port and coastal settlement, Haliaetum, showcases the remains of a seaside villa and the largest port from that time.
Travel Tip: Explore the four-hectare site to get a glimpse of Roman history in Istria.
6. Take a Boat Trip to the Sea
Izola offers various boat trips, from short excursions to full-day private trips with seafood picnics.
Travel Tip: Choose a boat tour that suits your interests and enjoy the unique perspective of the landscape from the water.
7. Zanon House
The Baroque Zanon Palace, built in 1772, stands as a historical monument on Krpanova Street.
Travel Tip: Admire the architecture and learn about the history of the Izola merchant Barba Nana Zanon.
8. Besenghi Palace Degli Ughi
One of the best-preserved late Baroque architectural monuments in Slovenia, this palace is considered one of the most beautiful buildings in Istria.
Travel Tip: Visit the Music School housed in the palace or attend a wedding ceremony if you have the opportunity.
9. Viližan Archaeological Site
This site reveals the presence of a seaport or fish farm from the Roman period, with preserved foundations and piers.
Travel Tip: Visit during very low tide to see the preserved piers and explore the ancient coastal road.
10. Wind off with Seafood and Cocktails
Izola’s seaside location offers amazing fish and seafood-based meals influenced by Croatian and Italian cultures.
Travel Tip: Enjoy a night in one of Izola’s lovely restaurants, ordering fresh seafood and a cocktail to experience the local flavors.
Unique Activities in Izola
1. Stand up paddle course on the Slovenian coast
Learn the art of stand-up paddleboarding on the beautiful Slovenian coast. Whether you’re a beginner or looking to enhance your skills, this course offers guidance from experienced instructors. Enjoy the serene waters and picturesque views as you paddle.
2. Private Walking Tour with a Local Guide
Experience Izola through the eyes of a local with a private walking tour. Dive deep into the history, culture, and traditions of this coastal town as your guide shares personal stories and insights. This tour offers a personalized and intimate look into the heart of Izola, ensuring a memorable experience.
Day Trips from Izola
Stroll through the narrow alleys of this picturesque coastal town, relishing the Venetian Gothic architecture and the stunning views from the Church of St. George’s bell tower.
Travel Tip: Wear comfortable walking shoes as the town is best explored on foot, and don’t forget to try the local seafood delicacies.
2. Škocjan Caves
Explore the breathtaking underground world of Škocjan Caves, a UNESCO World Heritage site, where mighty rivers have carved deep canyons into the limestone.
Travel Tip: It can be quite cool inside the caves even in summer, so bring a light jacket or sweater and ensure you wear non-slip shoes.
Delight in the vibrant atmosphere of Slovenia’s capital, wandering along the Ljubljanica River, and admiring the city’s mix of Baroque, Renaissance, and modern architecture.
Travel Tip: Take the funicular up to Ljubljana Castle for a panoramic view of the city and make sure to stop at one of the riverside cafes for a traditional Slovenian pastry.
Where to stay in Izola
Izola is a picturesque coastal town in Slovenia, known for its Mediterranean charm and beautiful beaches. The city offers a wide range of accommodation options, from luxurious resorts to budget-friendly hotels. Whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway, a family vacation, or a solo adventure, Izola has something to suit every traveler’s needs. Here are six hotels that cater to different preferences and budgets:
1. Best Reviewed Hotel
Hotel Cliff Belvedere (★★★★)
- Description: Located 4 km from the center of Izola, Hotel Cliff Belvedere enjoys an elevated position in Strunjan Nature Park, offering breathtaking sea views.
- Price: €228.23 per night
- Rating: 9.0 (Superb)
2. Most Luxurious Hotel
Hotel Marina (★★★★)
- Description: Situated in the medieval fishing town of Izola, Hotel Marina is next to the beach, offering spacious and stylish en suite rooms with balconies overlooking the Adriatic sea.
- Price: €149 per night
- Rating: 8.7 (Fabulous)
3. Budget Hotel
Hotel Delfin (★★★)
- Description: Featuring an indoor pool and an outdoor pool with sun loungers, Hotel Delfin is a budget-friendly option located in Izola. Free WiFi access is available throughout.
- Price: €100 per night
- Rating: 8.5 (Very good)
4. Hotel for Family
Hotel Haliaetum – San Simon Resort (★★★★)
- Description: Located in Izola, this beachfront hotel offers various facilities such as a garden, a bar, and a terrace. It’s family and dog friendly with free parking.
- Price: €188 per night
- Rating: 8.2 (Very good)
5. Hotel for Couples
Dolcemente Garni Hotel (★★★)
- Description: Featuring 3-star accommodation, Dolcemente Garni Hotel is located in Izola, close to Delfin Beach and Simonov Zaliv Beach, offering a romantic setting for couples.
- Price: €145 per night
- Rating: 9.5 (Exceptional)
6. Hotel for Solo Travelers
Hotel Keltika (★★★)
- Description: Hotel Keltika is set in the pleasant surroundings of Jagodje, close to Simonov zaliv, the main Izola beach. It’s a great option for solo travelers looking for a comfortable stay.
- Price: €100.05 per night
- Rating: 8.6 (Fabulous)
Did you know? Facts about Izola
- Izola is a town in southwestern Slovenia on the Adriatic coast of the Istrian peninsula, and its name originates from the Italian word “Isola,” meaning ‘island.’
- The town was established on a small island by refugees from Aquileia in the 7th century and has a rich history influenced by the Romans, Venetians, Holy Roman Empire, Napoleonic Empire, and Austrian Empire.
- During the Italian rule, the town’s walls were torn down and used to fill in the channel that separated the island from the mainland, physically connecting Izola to the rest of the land.
- In 1820, a thermal spring was discovered in Izola, leading to the town’s earliest forms of tourism, attracting visitors to its healing waters.
- Between 1902 and 1935, the Parenzana, a narrow-gauge railway line, connected Izola to Trieste and Poreč, enhancing transportation and connectivity in the region.
- After World War II, Izola was part of the provisionally independent Free Territory of Trieste before being incorporated into Slovenia, then a part of Yugoslavia, in 1954.
- The newly defined Italo-Yugoslav border after World War II led to the migration of many Italian speakers from Izola, and Slovenian-speaking people from neighboring villages settled in the town.
- The ancient Roman port and settlement known as Haliaetum stood near the present town, showcasing the area’s rich Roman heritage.
- Izola’s marina and coastal location make it a popular destination for sailing and other water-related activities, reflecting its maritime tradition.
- Notable people from Izola include Olympic sailing champion Vasilij Žbogar and geographer and cartographer Pietro Coppo, adding to the town’s cultural significance.
FAQ about Izola
What’s the Historical Significance of Izola, Slovenia?
Izola has a rich history dating back to the 2nd century BC, with influences from the Roman Empire, Venetian rule, the Holy Roman Empire, Napoleonic rule, and more. Its Italian name, “Isola,” means ‘island,’ reflecting its establishment on a small island.
How Did Izola Become a Popular Tourist Destination?
The discovery of a thermal spring in 1820 led to the earliest forms of tourism in Izola. The town was also connected to Trieste and Poreč by the Parenzana railway line between 1902 and 1935.
What Can You Explore in Izola’s Marina and Coastal Areas?
Izola’s marina and coastal areas offer opportunities for sailing, exploring ancient Roman settlements like Haliaetum, and enjoying the beautiful Slovenian Riviera.
What Are the Notable Landmarks and Attractions in Izola?
Visitors can explore the Izola Tower, Haliaetum excavations, Izola City Stadium, and enjoy a satellite view of the town.
Who Are Some Famous People from Izola, Slovenia?
Notable individuals from Izola include boxing champion Nino Benvenuti, geographer Pietro Coppo, geologist Domenico Lovisato, football manager Darko Milanič, and Olympic sailing champion Vasilij Žbogar.
What Languages Were Historically Spoken in Izola?
Historically, the majority of the population spoke Italian, with Slovene and German also present. After World War II, many Italian speakers emigrated, and Slovenian-speaking people settled in the town.
How Can You Explore the Historical Connection Between Izola and Italy?
Izola’s historical connection with Italy is evident in its Venetian influence, Italian-speaking majority in the early 20th century, and sister city relationship with Tolentino, Italy.
What’s the Current Population and Geographical Location of Izola?
As of 2019, Izola has a total population of 11,556 and is located on the Adriatic coast of the Istrian peninsula in southwestern Slovenia, with coordinates 45°32′4″N 13°40′3″E.