Between Venice and Zagreb
Istria is a peninsula located in the north-west of Croatia bordering Slovenia. It is surrounded by the very swim-friendly Adriatic Sea and Venice is reachable in only two hours by car in the west. In the north, also two hours away you can get a taste of the Julian Alps in Slovenia and soak in the Alpine charm of Lake Bled. It is so close to Italy and Slovenia that you could have breakfast in Croatia, lunch in Slovenia, dinner in Italy, and still, you would have time to return to your hotel in Istria by a civilized time in the evening.
Three regions: Sunny West, Central Istria, Urban East
Istria is very small in size. Within 1 hour driving, you can get anywhere on the peninsula. Therefore, it is perfect for day trips and hopping from one experience (or town) to another. Also, it is a unique mix of Italian and Croatian culture. Good pasta, fantastic and fresh ingredients like fish, meat, world-class olive oils and most important (for us at least), a vibrant wine scene. You don’t visit one town when going to Istria, you visit an entire region in 1 day if you want. There are three parts of Istria – the Sunny West, Central Istria, and the Urban East.
The Sunny West
All these typical Mediterranean fisher villages paved with stone-cobbled streets and washed clothes hanging between the windows above the narrow alleys – that is the Sunny West. Rovinj (picture) is the superstar of the entire Istrian region. Everybody loves this town. Pula is ancient (and the ugly duck among the Istrian towns) with an amazing and well-preserved Roman Amphitheatre which is nowadays used for hosting world-famous acts like Sting, Grace Jones and the Foo Fighters. Poreč has a UNESCO spot called the Euphrasian Basilica which is a place where you can find exceptional early-Christian art. It’s only worth-visiting if an experienced guide takes you around and shows you the best spots inside the complex. You knew that we have guides like that, right?
This is Wineland! Small hills, surrounded by lush vineyards and on top of the hills you’ll find medieval walled towns with the best views of the region. Here, the combination of a winery visit, having lunch with warm and cheese-filled Ravioli on a small terrace somewhere near the vineyards is hard to beat. Luckily, we have a tour like this. Of all hilltop towns, Motovun is the greatest one by size and glory. Surrounded by a big city wall, symbolically, it is the throne of the truffle that grows here all over the place. Together with the Italian truffles, the Istrian white truffle belongs to the most expensive mushroom in the world. Among that, the Istrians produce world-class olive oil and fantastic wines. Istria is truly Croatia’s culinary paradise!
The Urban East
Opatija is the beauty queen of the east coast. It was a former Austrian health-resort of the 19th-century hence the healthy air, nice wellness areas, the calming sea promenade. After Opatija comes Rijeka which is the most urban town on the entire Croatian coast. Here, you have hip craft beer bars, the vibrant farmer’s market with all kinds of small eateries and shops, the National Theatre and the Contemporary Museum of Art. It’s more “real-life-busy” i.e. not busy with tourists but with people who live and work here. All paired with the busy trade port and a dock for the big cruise ships. In my opinion, the perfect contrast to all the “ancient” and “medieval” places which you have everywhere else along the Croatian coastline.
What’s the weather like?
“The Season” is regarded to be from the beginning of April to end of October. If you want to enjoy the swimming weather but avoid the biggest crowds come between May and June as well as September and October. If you like it very hot and busy come in July and August. If you want to enjoy a silent atmosphere in a cosy hotel completely out of season come in March or November and you can hear a needle fall.
Where to add Istria in your Croatia itinerary
Whatever your plans are, if you are travelling East-Italy, Slovenia, South-Austria or the Croatian coastline Istria can be added easily to your itinerary. For best international flight connections check out the airports around Venice and Zagreb. There are several smaller airports around Rijeka, Pula, and Trieste. Here are some distances to get an idea of travel time:
Venice – 2 hours
Zagreb – 2 hours
Plitvice Lakes – 3 hours
Ljubljana – 2 hours
By plane (to Pula or Rijeka)
Frankfurt – 1.5 hours
Dubrovnik – 60 minutes
Munich – 60 Minutes
Istria is our home
The entire team is from here. Therefore we are definitely biased and think that this region has it all. Send your guests here if they want to feel laid-back, eat fantastic food, drink fantastic wines, and enjoy life as it is. Have a look at what our travellers say about us HERE.