Istria is a special part of Europe, a ‘sweet-spot’ in the Med – far enough South to have long, warm summers, yet without the searing heat of further down, so the countryside is a lush green. Life is slower here, with less traffic and more trees. And the landscape is seductive, with sun-kissed old stone villages, winding country lanes and pine trees growing down to the sea.
For such a small area there is an amazingly large amount to do in Istria. As well as all the usual seaside attractions there are numerous attractive coastal towns and unspolit hill-top, stone villages. Here are a few of the places our previous guests have enjoyed visiting.
- Porec – the main local centre has a 12th Century Basilica which is a world heritage site in the lovely old centre. Also plenty of restaurants and beaches.
- Rovinj – Rovinj is one of the jewels of the Adriatic. It is a beautiful, old coastal town whichis totally unspoilt. Many of our guests have also gone for dinner in the evening and said it is magical.
- Groznjan – this lovely hill-top village is a musicians and handicraft enclave. It has charming handicraft shops, no modern development and fantastic views.
- Novigrad – just up the coast is a lovely coastal town, much sleepier than Porec.
- Motovun – is a perfect hill-top, walled town. It’s a steep walk up from the parking, but if you park in the car park at the bottom there is a bus.
- Limski Canal – this flooded gorge is a wooded inlet from the sea. It lies between Porec and Rovinj and the drive beside it is beautiful. It is also possible to visit by boat on one of the many boat trips available in Porec.
- Pula – the biggest town in Istria, is home to the 6th largest ampithetre in the world. It is perfectly preserved and hosts concerts in the summer. There are various other Roman ruins in Pula, but it is mainly a modern town and can be a bit disappointing.
- Vrsar – between Porec and Rovinj is another lovely coastal town. The town cascades down the hillside to the sea.
- In-land hill villages – totally unspoilt and a beautiful drive away are several other beautiful inland hill-top villages including Roc, Hum, Draguc and Gracisce.
Just over the border in Slovenia, there’s the delightful seaside town of Piran. You can also visit the world famous Lipanja horses and the Plitvise caves (the largest in the world). Ljubljana, the capital, is worth a visit, but it’s 2.5 hours away.
Many guests visit Venice while they are here. Day trips by ferry go everyday and can be booked from travel agents in Porec or on-line before you come. Alternatively why not fly into Venice and have a 2-centre holiday. Here are my Venetian top tips.
Other activities close-by include go-karting, horse riding, paragliding and paint-balling. You can also hire boats and bikes.
As part of my role for Live Istria I’ve been out exploring and have found some of the more unusual places to visit and things to do. With Kovaci now restored, this is something I’m going to be doing lots more of so there should soon be heaps more great holiday ideas.
Still want to know more? See some other useful sites.