Croatia Travel Tips

Top 10 Places to Visit in Istria

Discover the most unique and fascinating places to visit in Istria


If you are planning to explore Croatia’s natural beauty and rich historical heritage, the Istrian peninsula should be at the top of your bucket list. Wondering about the best locations to get the most out of your holiday? We designed a short guide with the top 10 places to visit in Istria.

Located in the western part of the country, between the Adriatic Sea and the Kvarner Gulf, Istria is the location where gourmet food and wine, beautiful landscapes, and ancient history all meet in one place.

The climate is warm and perfect for time at the beach or excursions among the inland hills and, as Maja Gudelj, Director of Croatia and Mediterranean Yacht Charters, says “The locals are eager to share their culture, history, and cuisine. Any visitor to the region will be welcomed with open arms.”

Places to visit in Istria

1) Rovinj – One of the most picturesque towns in the Mediterranean

One of the most famous locations in Istria is certainly the city of Rovinj. Located on the western coast of the Istrian peninsula, Rovinj is still an active fishing port, as well as a popular tourist destination, as it usually represents the perfect starting point from where to explore the best of Istria. If you are looking for a romantic and luxurious accommodation in this picturesque seaside town, Hotel Monte Mulini is the place for you.

2) Lim Fiord  – The most beautiful natural resource of the Istrian peninsula

If you are looking for the perfect spot to admire the natural beauty of the Istrian peninsula, the Lim Fiord, with its breathtaking views of the valley beneath, is definitely a must during your holiday. Select croatia’s  Istrian Delights tour will let you explore of of the most attractive natural destination of the whole country.  This canyon, so long and narrow that locals call it a fjord, is an area of special importance for the many animal species (including foxes, roe deers, badgers) that have made their home here.

3) Hum – The smallest city in the world

After many perfect picture-taking opportunities in the canyon, the Istrian Delights tour will continue and introduce you to the medieval stone streets of the smallest town in the world, Hum. Located in the inner part of the peninsula, the small town (population of 17) is characterized by the presence of Medieval defensive walls that, along with the bell and watchtower built in 1552, surround and protected the town. The town of Hum also represents an important cultural sites due to the presence of Glagolitic (the oldest known Slavic alphabet) writings preserved in the St. Jerome Church.  After that, you will be guided to one of the best local restaurants to taste the best and freshest Istrian truffles.

4) Livade – Fall in love with Croatian Truffles

Another great place to visit in Istria is Livade, a village in the northern part of the peninsula, where you can experience the wonderful world of truffles. With Select Croatia’s Truffle Hunting Tour, you will have the opportunity to be introduced to truffle hunting techniques by the company of the King of truffles, Giancarlo Zigante.  

Places to visit in Istria

5) Motovun – A typical example of Venetian colonial architecture

If you want to explore the medieval charm of inland Istria, you definitely cannot miss the opportunity to visit the picturesque villages of Motovun and Groznjan. Select Croatia’s Medieval Town Tour will guide you through the narrow streets of this enchanting hilltop town.

Located just in the center of the peninsula’s hinterland, this small town offers a great opportunity to explore the rich historical heritage left by the Republic of Venice. Motovun, once belonging to the city of Porec, was in fact conquered by the Republic of Venice in 1278 and has since then been under Venetian rule until 1797. This explains why a high percentage of its population uses Italian as their mother language and why its architecture has so strongly been influenced by the Italian taste, with well preserved medieval walls surrounding and protecting the city and the Church of St. Sthepens, probably being designed by the Venetian artist Andrea Palladio.

6) Groznjan – The unique atmosphere of the city of artists

Surrounded by rolling hills and by vineyards, olive gardens, and farmlands, the town of Groznjan will start enthralling you as you approach it. Once inside its Medieval walls, you will notice that art and culture, along with food, play an important role in this small town with a majority Italian population. If you choose to take the Medieval Istrian Towns Tour, you will visit this town, along with participating in wine and olive oil tastings–a perfect combination to get in touch with the spirit of this region!

Places to visit in Istria

7) Buje – The sentinel of Istria

The Istra region, also known as the ‘Tuscany of Croatia’ should be at the top of your bucket list if wine tasting is what you are looking for. With rolling hills filled with vineyards and olive groves, this part of the country is becoming increasingly popular in the wine industry for the production of high quality wines, including the renowned Malvazija, Muskat and Teran.

If you want to explore one of the oldest wine producers in the region, the town of Buje and the adjacent area is certainly one of the places to visit in Istria. Here, Select Croatia will guide you in a picturesque Wine Tasting Tour at the Kozlovic Winery.  

8) Pula – Admire the splendor of the Roman Empire

Apart from its excellent wines and extraordinary variety of white and black truffles, the Istrian peninsula is also rich in historical and cultural heritage. The history of the entire region has in fact been deeply influenced by the Romans, who used to call it Terra Magica (Magic land).

The most important archaeological sites are located in the cities of Pula and Porec.

Pula, located in the southern extremity of the Istrian peninsula, is the place to visit in Istria if you want to plunge into history and admire magnificent the Roman ruins, including the impressive Roman amphitheater and the honorary Triumphal Arch of the Sergii.

Places to visit in Istria

9) Porec – A throwback into history

The city of Porec also hosts some well-preserved Roman historical sites, including the Roman Castrum, built in the 2nd century BC, and the Euphrasian Basilica being part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

If you want to learn more about the ancient history during the Roman Empire, both cities represent unique places to visit in Istria. Select Croatia, with its Imperial Istria Tour, will introduce you and guide you to life as it was lived during the Roman Empire.

Places to visit in Istria

10) Brijuni – Explore the natural beauty of a Croatian National Park

In addition to that, if you want to be surrounded by natural beauty, the Brijuni archipelago is definitely one of the top places to visit in Istria.

Located just off the coast in the Adriatic Sea and separated from the mainland by the Fažana Strait, these fourteen small islands constitute a Croatian national park that is home to more than 600 indigenous plant and many autochthonous animal species.

Even if those islands are reachable by public Ferryboat from Fažana, a private transfer is definitely the simplest and most practical solution to hop from island to island.

written by Filippo Rossi

Have you been to some of these wonderful places? Or do you think we should replace some of them with other locations? Let us know by leaving a comment below!

 

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Select Croatia offers a wide range of full-day or half-day tours led by experienced English-speaking local guides who will be eager to share their culture, history, and cuisine. Our tours are both private and shared, and they cover all must-see attractions on the mainland and on the islands.

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