Koper with a twist
Date: 13 February 2018
In 2017, Koper was awarded the EDEN (European Destination of Excellence) Award in the category of cultural tourism. The Slovenian Tourist Organisation holds an annual competition, where Slovenian destinations compete for the title of European Destination of Excellence. The Green Karst took part in this competition in 2013 in the category of accessible tourism and won the title of EDEN finalist.
We decided to check how culture is reflected in the tourist services of Koper and the surrounding area, which is why we collaborated with the Istraterra travel agency and compiled a programme called “Odličnost po istrsko” (Excellence the Istrian Way), where we enjoyed touring our largest coastal town.
The programme kicked off in the Škocjanski zatok Nature Reserve, an area, which used to be degraded and clumsily placed between Luka Koper, the highway, and the manufacturing and industrial zone. After many years of endeavours, the big breakthrough happened and last year all the required infrastructure for visitors was built, the main acquisition definitely being the visitor centre and the walking paths in the nature reserve. Visitors get all the information they need for the visit of this nature park in the visitor centre, which also houses a small shop and café, where we enjoyed the nice views over a cup of coffee.
The walking path leads you past the main spots of Škocjanski zatok and viewing towers are placed at select locations, which enable visitors to watch the many birds nesting in this area. These viewing locations are complemented with information signs that present the particularities of all the animal species. The reserve's highlight is the tall observation tower, which is located approximately halfway along the circular trail. We can admire the unique nature of this wetland area in the multiple levels of the tower (even underwater). On the top floor, you can take a 360-degree walk around the tower and admire the view across the entire area of Škocjanski zatok.
We continued our day in the centre of Koper and after seeing the main tourist attractions – the Praetorian Palace, the steeple of the Koper Cathedral and the Koper Regional Museum – we indulged in the tasting of local foods and specialties. In the pleasant ambiance of the “Okusi Istre” shop, Nina and Andrew from the Gramona Farm, where they produce extra virgin olive oil, presented their products. Their guided tasting session of olive oil was one of the best experiences, which I recommend to everyone visiting Slovenian Istria. You will be given many helpful tips on how to distinguish good olive oil from bad and how to pick the right one to match your taste.
Then we tasted the typical wines produced in Istria. The oenologist presented smaller and boutique wine producers from Istria and we sampled refošk, malvazija, and sladki muškat to finish on a sweet note. Next time you are in Koper, make sure you stop at “Okusi Istre” – you will not regret it.
We finished our day with a late lunch in the Oljka Restaurant in Vanganel. They serve local food in their pleasant, homely atmosphere, and their specialty is ombolo in a blanket. We recommend that you make a reservation since they are often completely booked because of their delicious food and friendly staff. Let the pictures do the talking.