Koper can trace its name back to the Roman town of Caprea. In 1278, the town voluntarily joined Venice and was later renamed Capo d'Istria — hence the Italian name. Once part of the Venetian republic, it was ceded to Austria in 1797 and then to Italy in 1918; however, much of Koper's Italian inhabitants fled after WW2 when the town was assigned to the Free Territory of Trieste, most of which was administered by and later incorporated into Yugoslavia. The Communists built an unattractive sprawl of factories and warehouses to the south, but mercifully left the old town almost entirely untouched, and it's this that draws the (comparatively few) tourists who venture this way.
Koper is easily reachable with bus and train. The train and main bus station are adjacent and located about 1 km south of the Muda Gate to the old city.
Koper has easy highway connections from Ljubljana and Trieste. Beware of the need for a vinjeta (highway toll sticker) before driving on Slovenian highways! There is a gas station immediately at the border where you can purchase one. Controllers are often stationed exactly after that station to issue heavy fines to violators.
Parking rules are enforced in the city, but some public lots are free on weekends and after-hours.
The nearest airport is in Trieste (TRS - 64 km), with Ljubljana (LJU - 124 km) and Venice airports (VCE, TSF - about 174 km) as options. A company named GoOpti provides a shared shuttle transfer from Venice and Ljubljana (and their airports) with dynamic pricing based on time of booking, typically between €25-50. Be aware that the Trieste airport is not close to Trieste, but there are frequent train connections between them. Flixbus also provides scheduled service from Venice airport.
A locally-created website and app named Prevoz is the most widely used ride sharing site within Slovenia. The typical fare to Ljubljana is €5 from the "Tržnica / Oli Burger" bus stop in the center. This is often the fastest and least expensive way to travel to Koper from other parts of Slovenia.
Koper has bus connections with Ljubljana, Trieste, other Slovenian seaside towns, and Croatia. There are three scheduled inter-city bus companies: FlixBus and Črnja tours provide frequent international service, and Arriva provides domestic bus service (including the Slovene coast) with some international routes including Trieste. (Note: As of February 2019, the Arriva website is rebuilt and does not show complete timetable information for the Slovene coast. Times are posted at bus stops and on Google Maps.)
The direct bus services to Trieste operate between 3 and 6 times a day, costing about €3-5. The journey takes between 20 and 40 minutes.
The very cheapest way to get between Koper and Trieste is to take a blue Arriva interurban bus to the Slovene border at Škofije (€.80), walk ten minutes on a path under the highway to Bricocenter in Muggia, and take Trieste city bus no. 20 to the center (€1.25). Use of Google Maps is recommended to follow your route for the first time, and the Slovene buses are infrequent. Trieste city buses do not sell tickets on the bus, but they can be purchased with their "Trieste Transporti" Android or Apple apps, or at locations in Trieste. Make sure your ticket is validated/stamped after boarding.
The train station is connected to the main bus station. There is no longer any direct train service to Trieste, but trains run a lazy route to Ljubljana a few times per day. See Slovenian Railways. Sometimes, the train station sells discount tickets in person to cities as far away as Vienna and Munich at prices not available online (around €30).
In general, Slovene taxis are less expensive than Italian taxis. They are permitted to pick you up in Trieste if you order them (about €20-25). One company named Cammeo (+386 5 777 1212) costs €.85/km and has a nice English-language app which helps with language barriers. Pick-ups from Trieste might need to be requested over the phone.
By Cruise Ships
Cruise ships dock at the city's port fairly regularly in the summer season, often on weekends, as part of some Mediterranean and Adriatic itineraries. For cruise passengers not wanting to utilise their ship's shore excursion services, you can simply walk out of the dock and be in Koper Old Town in a matter of minutes. Alternatively, exit the Pier and follow the road right, past the picturesque little marina and market about 5-10mins to the roundabout at the junction of Piranska cesta and Pristaniska ulica. From here you can get buses to Piran, rather than making the 25min walk to the main City bus station. As of May 2016, the bus cost 3.10 euros one way.
When cruise ships dock, a number of local tour companies will be touting at the pier, offering tours to places such as Ljubljana, Bled, Trieste, Postojna Caves, Piran and Skocjan Caves. The majority of these will almost certainly be cheaper than the tours offered by cruise lines - just ensure they will get you back to the pier in time for you departure!
Venezia Lines has a ferry between Venice and Piran which operates once a week between April and October. Cost for one person is €55-75 (2019).
Koper's Old City can easily be covered on foot.
Koper's main sight of interest is the Venetian-era old city, which is in much worse shape than that of Piran, but hence also feels more real. Repairs and restoration are slowly under way.
The center of the old city is Tito Square (Titov trg), an austere piazza surrounded by slowly crumbling palazzi. From here, the cobbled Čevljarska ulica leads south and Kidričeva ulica leads west to the marina.
There are no glamourous beaches to speak of, although the very well kept city's beach, on the northwest edge of the Old Town near the Marina, has it all: a small bathhouse with toilets and showers, grassy areas with trees for lying the sun, large trees for cooling down in the shade, kids plagrounds and a bar and cafe. The access is free.
The rest of Slovenia's short coastline is easily accessible from Koper. Public bus service is available every 20 minutes to: