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Best of Istria | Additional Resources

best-of-istria-additional-resources

Compiled here are some of the best resources about Istria.


Istria Tourist Board and Croatian National Tourist Board




Travel




Culture


  • Istria Culture: Istria Tourist Board project with pictures, locations, and descriptions of top cultural attractions in Istria.
  • Istra Inspirit: Comprised of series of events that revive history, Istrian myths and legends at authentic locations.
  • Istria from Smrikve:  Extensive information about towns and villages (architecture, history, food, languages, and traditional dances and music), town maps with heritage buildings, and photo galleries. It also includes a database of over 300 top restaurants, olive oil producer, and winemakers.
  • Histrica: Information about towns and events in Istria.
  • Istrianet: Historical information about Istria, including profiles of prominent Istrians.
  • Istrapedia: Information about various topics related to Istria.
  • Croatian Museums: App with information on more than 100 Croatian museums.
  • UNESCO World Heritage List and UNESCO Cultural Heritage List


Food & Wine




Accommodation




Istria Tours




Transport




Outdoors




Parks and Environment




News




Best of Istria Book Resources:



Go to the Best of Istria homepage to read other chapters of the book.


Best of Istria | Pula, Medulin, and Brijuni Islands

pula-medulin-brijuni-map

The Pula region has a 3,000-year history and dates back to the myth of the Argonauts and the search for the Golden Fleece. Pula was the home of the Histrians, the Romans, and the Venetians, and was also a major Austro-Hungarian port. Pula, and it surrounding region, is now the largest cultural and economic center of Istria.

Although this section is focused on Pula, Medulin, and Brijuni Islands, these nearby towns are also worth visiting if you’re looking for unique Istrian experiences:
- Barban: Barban is best known for Loredan’s Palace and the unique knightly race Trka na Prstenac (the race for the ring) that was established in 1696 and takes places every summer in August, the feast of wine, and the fig festival. Barban is also the birthplace of Pietro Stancovich (1771-1852), a canon, archeologist, historian, and author of Biographies of Distinguished Istrians covering 478 Istrians.
- Fazana: Fazana is a fishing town that is more than just the port of departure for the 15-minute ferry crossing to the Brijuni National Park. Visit Fazana to visit the Gothic-style parish Church of Saints Cosmas and Damiango dating back to the 15th century, go swimming in its beautiful beaches, walk along the waterfront promenades, and eat at restaurants along the water while enjoying the view of Brijuni islands.  Also visit the nearby Valbandon for a nice seaside walk. Fazana is well known for its pilchards (sardines) and holds the Pilchard Festival in August. Additional information is available at Fazana Tourist Board.
- Vodnjan: Vodnjan is best known for the olive oil producers, long history and multitude of building from different periods, its bell tower that is the tallest (62 m) in Istria, and the mummified bodies of saints and collection of relics in St. Blaise church. Also visit the Istrian de Dignan Ecomuseum to learn more about traditions and customs of Istria. You can also ride on the main street of Vodnjan in an old carriage pulled by donkeys.
- Liznjnan: Liznjan’s coast is 28 km long and offers some of the most unspoiled beaches in Istria. The hills of Liznjan overlook the Kvarner Bay and the islands of Cres and Losinj. Liznjan is great for biking on the coast, horse-back riding, hunting, and diving.
- Sisan: Sisan is a village next to Liznjan. Rent a bike from BRB Sports and go riding and swimming on the coast of Sisan and Liznjan.
- Marcana: Mercana is an old Istrian settlement also known as the village of many wells. The coastal area of Marcana is dominated by green peninsulas and beautiful bays.

Pula

pula-istria

Almost at the southern tip of the Istrian Peninsula, the town of Pula busily goes about her industrial day amid first century Roman ruins, Byzantine churches, Austrian forts, and water so stunningly blue that it mesmerizes with every glance. Still, Pula is not the quaint, charming, relaxed town of her Istrian sisters. She is hard-working and industrious, busy fishing, building boats, and in general, making a living. Pula still has much to offer the patient visitor, however. Her roots run deep into history. The nearby Cave of Sandalja is the site of a Paleolithic find of Homo erectus inhabitants from a million years ago. Following in those footsteps, hill forts containing tools and jewelry of the Proto Illyrians marked the coming of the Bronze Age. Ruins from the first century, such as the Arena and the Temple of Augustus, provide reminders of a period of Roman rule. The city was destroyed once, in the midst of the Roman area, and once by an invasion of the Ostrogoths, eventually giving way to Byzantine, Austrian, Italian, and Yugoslavian rule. It's no wonder that the people of Pula speak so many languages in addition to their own. A reflective day spent exploring the city's past easily leads to an evening spent enjoying the area’s finest wine, seafood, olive oil, and delicious truffles.

Best of Pula:

- The Arena: 1st century Roman amphitheater, one of best preserved examples of Roman architecture in the world. The arena hosts various performances during the summer.
- Cape Kamenjak (aka Rt Kamenjak): Nature park at the southernmost tip of Istria that contains some of the most gorgeous views and spectacular beaches in Istria.
- Temple of Augustus (aka Augustov Hram): Completely preserved; one of the majestic twin temples from ancient times that was built between 2 BC and 14 AD.
- Triumphal Arch of Sergius: Dates back to 27 BC. The arch leads to the Via Sergia which heads into the historic Pula.
- The Town Hall: The Town Hall or City Palace is one of the central points at the old Roman square.
- Gate of Hercules: Oldest city gate from ancient times.
- Porta Gemina (aka Twin Gate): Another Roman gate in Pula.
- Kastel: Castle fortification with amazing views from atop and the Museum of Istrian History inside.
- Museum of Istrian History: Inside the 17th century Venetian fortress, go to the top for amazing views of Pula. The museum has models of shipping vessels throughout history and World War II displays.
- Archeological Museum of Istria: Exhibits date all the way back to the Histrian era. During summer, spend an evening listening to live musical events in the sculpture garden of the museum.
- Historical and Maritime Museum of Istria: Unique collection of maritime artifacts.
- The Punishment of Dirce: Roman floor mosaic.
- Small Roman Theater: In addition to the Arena, Pula had two other theaters built during the Roman period. The larger one was situated outside the city and was not preserved. The Small Roman Theater was situated within the city walls and is preserved.
- Pula City Tour: Enjoy the cultural and natural sights of the town by touring on the bus.
- Zerostrasse: Network of underground tunnels built during Austro-Hungarian rule to enable safe passage in the event of bombardment. It can accommodate up to 6,000 people.
- Market: Fresh vegetables and fruits, meat, and fish.
- Cathedral of St. Mary: A mix of architectural designs.
- Sacred Hearts (aka Sveta Srca): This gallery was opened by the Archeological Museum in 2011 in restored Church of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary and hosts a variety of exhibitions.
- Franciscan Monastery (aka Franjevacki Samostan): The 13th century monastery with an adjoining museum that contains artifacts from Roman and medieval times.
- Makina Gallery: Photography gallery with local and international work.
- Lighting Giants: These iconic cranes of an operating shipyard are illuminated every hour during the summer.
- Villa Trapp: The real von Trapp family which inspired the Broadway musical “The Sound of Music” lived in Zadar and Pula until the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1918. The von Trapp villa, built by Georg von Trapp who was born and raised in Croatia, still stands in Pula and his parents are buried at the Austrian Navy cemetery in Pula.
- Aquarium Pula: Aquarium is located in the Austro-Hungarian fortress Verudela, which was built in 1886. Go to the top of the fortress for amazing views of Pula.
- Verudela: Pula’s marina, south of the city center. Most of Pula’s large hotels are located here. The most popular beaches are Hawaiian beach and Ambrela beach.
- Lungomare: 4km long boardwalk inside the woods, famous for evening walks.
- Galebove Stijene:  Most western beach of Pula. The beach is rocky and the water beautiful. If you get a chance, also kayak in the caves for an amazing experience.
- Valkane bay and Valsaline bay: Popular beaches with locals.
- Nesactium: Capital of the Histri tribe (currently the village of Vizace) before Romans conquered Istria.
- Pomer: Pomer is a tourist town near Pula. It was founded by the powerful Roman family Aranum and its original name was Pomerium. Pomer is now best known for its large marina, camp, and beautiful beaches.
- Film Festival: Since 1953, for two weeks in July, films are hosted from all around the world.
- South on Two Wheels: 6 cycling tours on the bike trails of south Istria.
- Porer Lighthouse:  The southernmost point of Istria boasts a lighthouse built in 1833. It is still active and can accommodate guests for sleepovers.
- Smrikva Bowl: One of the most important tennis tournaments in the world for players under the age of 10. Also meet Mio Bozovic, author of Istria from Smrikve.
- Restaurants: Best restaurants are listed in Chapter 31. You can find other recommended restaurants in the Best of Istria Google Map.
- Accommodation: Park Plaza Histria, Park Plaza Arena, Villas Verudela, Hotel Galija, Hotel Brioni, Hotel Valsabbion, and Boutique Hotel Oasi.

Additional information about Pula is available at Pula Tourist Board.

Medulin

medulin-istria

Roman ruins dot the landscape of many cities and towns along the Croatian coastline, and Medulin is no exception. The archeological site at Vizula, and the remains at Vrcevan Hill, St. Petar, and the nearby tombs all speak to the Roman influence. Medulin escaped notice for much of history, however, the town upon which it is built was destroyed by the Romans after they took notice in the 2nd century. The settlement did not change much until its growth under Venetian rule, with continued emphasis on fishing and farming. The highlights that draw today's tourists have more to do with the sandy beach at Bijeca, or the rocky Belvedere shore, and the clean, modern hotels that host thousands of tourists during the busiest of seasons. Visitors can mix discos, dining, dancing, and music, with views of 15th century Glagolitic writing on ancient church walls, enjoying a rewarding experience that spans the ages, lounging in contemporary comfort. Medulin lies in a harbor protected by a cape, making it an ideal spot for boating, camping, diving, and simply enjoying nature along Medulin's 80 km of intricate coastline.

Best of Medulin:

- Levan Island: Pleasant little island lying on the crystal clear sea.
- Excursions: Take a lovely cruise around the Medulin peninsula. Medulin Excursions is a popular boat tour.
- Metta Float Yoga: Yoga on the water. Yoga at night is especially interesting.
- Beaches: Great beaches, especially the sandy beach for kids.
- Adrenalin Park: Various activities for kids.
- Horseback riding: Horseback riding by the water. Samy’s Ranch had great horses and experienced trainers.
- Sea sports: Windsurfing and other water sports at nearby Windsurfing Station in Premantura.
- Diving: The Medulin Riviera treasures a great number of sunken ships.
- Delic Air: Offers scenic flights over Istria.
- Medulin Craft Beer Festival: Two-day craft beer festival held in September with over 30 independent breweries.
- Shopping: Grab some wine, olive oil, or other souvenirs at the Terraneo Souvenir Shop.
- Restaurants: Best restaurants are listed in Chapter 31. You can find other recommended restaurants in the Best of Istria Google Map.
- Accommodation: Park Plaza Medulin, Park Plaza Belvedere, Villa Velike Stine, Hotel Minerva, Holiday Hotel, and Hotel Arcus Residence.

Additional information about Medulin is available at Medulin Tourist Board.

Brijuni Islands

brijuni-istria

The Brijuni Archipelago, embracing a clutch of 14 pretty island jewels collected near the southeastern coast of the Istrian Peninsula, is both a contemporary resort and historic preserve. Ancient ruins reflecting early Roman villas, a 13th century church of the Knights Templar, and Bronze Age hill forts compete for attention alongside an exclusive star-studded resort turned Presidential summer retreat, graced with abundant flora and fauna. The Romans initially settled in the Brijuni because of its valuable quarries, transporting the stone back to Italy for buildings and works of art. The Middle Ages brought rule by the Venetians, followed by a brief Napoleanic era. Next, the Austrian Empire built a fortress on Veliki Brijun. Paul Kupelwieser, an Austrian businessman, bought the entire archipelago in the 1893, turning it into a luxury holiday destination. Italy took control after WWI, but the successors could not navigate the difficult economic conditions following the 1929 stock market crash, resulting in bankruptcy. Under Yugoslavian rule between 1949 and 1979, President Marshall Tito made the Brijuni his personal summer estate. The islands became a National Park upon Tito's death, and with Croatia's independence in 1991, the grand Austrian era hotels were reopened as the destination transformed into an International Conference Center. Today, many visitors come for ecological holidays, either sailing their own boat into the marina, or hiring a tour for the trip. There are no motor vehicles on the island other than service vehicles. Protected for more than a century, the waters and landscapes remain pristine and untouched, making this a fabulous destination for enjoying a swim, a hike, or a photo shoot.

Best of Brijuni:

- Byzantine Castrum: A fortified wall town from Byzantine Empire which ruled from 6th to 8th century.
- Roman Villa: Roman remains back to the first century BC. You can also go swimming in this Roman bay.
- Gradina: Fortified Bronze Age settlement with preserved walls.
- Tito Museum: Learn about President Tito’s life. Across the exhibition building, visit Koki the parrot, one of President Tito’s favorite pets.
-  Underwater trail: Unique experience visiting natural & archaeological sites of the marine world.
- Archeology: Professionally guided tour introducing visitors to various cultural periods of the islands.
- Golf Course: Historical 22-hole golf course on which you can still play.
- St. Jerolim Island: All-day tour on St. Jerolim Island with sunbathing.
- Garden: Beauty of Brijuni islands includes various Mediterranean flora.
- Safari Park: Stretching over 9 hectares, the park is the habitat of animals from all over the world given to President Tito as gifts.
- Swimming: Brijuni’s entire coastline features unspoiled nature and clear water.
- Biking and walking: Rent a bike or take a walk on the beautiful Veliki Brijun.
- Theater Ulysses: Classic theater performances are held in July and August at the fortress on Mali Brijun.
- Overnight stay: The best way to see the Brijuni National Park. There are 2 hotels and 5 villas on Veliki Brijun.
- Accommodation: Neptun Istra Hotel and Hotel Karmen.

Additional information about the Brijuni National Park is available at Brijuni Tourist Board.

Go to the Best of Istria homepage to read other chapters of the book.

Best of Istria | Labin and Rabac Region

labin-rabac-map

Istria’s east coast is less traveled and developed than Istria’s west coast. The landscape is rugged, the coast is rocky, and the landscape has many pine-covered mountains. While it may not have the appeal of Rovinj and Porec, the towns of Labin and Rabac have their own unique charms.

Although this section is focused on Labin and Rabac, these nearby towns are also worth visiting if you’re looking for unique Istrian experiences:
- Krsan: Krsan is an old medieval fortified village. It is best known for the Krsan castle and the Survey of Istrian Land Boundaries (Istarski Razvod) that dates back to 13th century. While at Krsan, you’ll also enjoy gorgeous views of Ucka.
- Rasa: Unlike other historical towns in Istria, Rasa is less than century old and is the youngest town in Istria. Rasa was built by the Italian government, starting in August 1936 and completed in 1937, as a coal mining town. From 1943 until 1945 it was occupied by Germans and had a population of over 10,000 inhabitants. Mining activities ended in 1989.
- Plomin: The last stop in Istria before reaching Kvarner region is a somewhat empty town with great views of Kvarner Gulf and Cres Island.

Labin

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The earthy town of Labin stands proudly above Rabac, overlooking the bright blue waters of the Kvarner Gulf on the east coast of Croatia's Istrian Peninsula. Looking back 2,000 years, the castellum of Kunci occupied nearly that same space during the Bronze Age. Around the fourth century BC, the Celts founded Albona upon the ruins, carrying the name forward to a third century Roman relief announcing "Res Publica Albonessium," the Roman Republic of Albonia. The town earned the title of a republic once again during its history, as coal miners from the area's four mines went on strike in 1921 forming what was termed an "anti-Fascist rebellion". Today, the mines are all closed but the spirit of the town continues to inspire independence. Contemporary Labin is a hub of nature, from its hiking trails and beautiful hillsides, to its art galleries, natural bath product shops, artisan bakery and cheese shop, to its health spas and locally sourced homespun restaurants that serve various delicacies, including the local specialty krefi (sweet and sour ravioli). It is a town engaged with nature in every respect, looking to earn a reputation as a place of health and wellness.

Best of Labin:

- Hilltop Old Town: Enjoy a delightful stroll through the streets and beautiful coast below.
- Chruch of Blessed Mary Virgin’s Birth: Built in 1336 with foundation from 11th century. It has both Renaissance and Gothic style.
- Town Museum: Local and national artwork housed in the Battiala-Lazzarini Palace, a Baroque-style building.
- Porta Sanfior: Main city door from 1589; memorabilia of mixed Venetian and Austrian administration.
- Diving: Go diving in nearby Rabac.
-  Glavani Park: Fun and adventure for families.
- Nearby Towns and Villages: Visit nearby Barban, Trget, and Stari Rakalj for a great view of Raski Bay and Island Cres. Also visit Rasa, a former mining town that ceased its mining activities in 1989.
- Restaurants: Best restaurants are listed in Chapter 31. You can find other recommended restaurants in the Best of Istria Google Map.
- Accommodation: Zahtila Apartment, Villa Venera, B&B Morena, B&B Rogocana, Villa Calussovo, and Villa Stefanija.

Rabac

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Charming and quiet, the tiny fishing village of Rabac was content within its status for over a century, with just a handful of familiar households making it their home. Wealthy landlocked businessmen began to build large summer residences on Rabac's coast in the 19th century. As travelers spread the word boasting Rabac's beautiful, white pebble beaches, verdant hillsides, and friendly fishermen, tourism boosted the population and sped development. Known as "the pearl of Kvarner," referencing its idyllic spot on the edge of the protective bay of the same name, Rabac now hosts events gathering thousands of visitors, easily accommodating them in more than a dozen hotels and a bevy of villas. Positioned just below the historic hillside town of Labin, the area is home to both historic and contemporary highlights, from the cliffs to the beach, delighting visitors with views of its magnificent coastline.

Best of Rabac:

- Beaches: Lovely pebbly beaches with view of Kvarner Bay.
- Music: Numerous music events and festivals are held in Rabac during summer.
- Rabac Summer Festival: Music festival with international DJs taking place in July on Girandella Beach.
- Morning town walks: Catch the fishermen returning from the sea.
- Nature: Beautiful and well-preserved nature.
- Boat Tours and Fishing Tours: The coast around Rabac is stunning. You can take boat tours to caves, hidden bays, and Cres island.
- Four Elements Art of Adventure: Sea kayaking, water sports, and mountain biking.
- Diving: The coast has many ship wrecks, colorful reefs, and marine life to explore.
- Restaurants: Best restaurants are listed in Chapter 31. You can find other recommended restaurants in the Best of Istria Google Map.
- Accommodation: Valamar Bellevue Hotel, Miramar Hotel, Casa Valamar Sanfior, Hotel Mimosa, Adoral Hotel, Mare e Monti, Hotel Villa Annette, and Casa M Apartments.

Additional information about Labin and Rabac is available at Rabac-Labin Tourist Board.

This concludes the section of the major towns of Istria and their top attractions. If you’re staying in Istria for an extended time, you might also want to explore some of the smaller towns in Istria that were mentioned in the book but not covered extensively.

Additional information about all towns of Istria and brochures that you can download can be found at the Istria Tourist Board.

Go to the Best of Istria homepage to read other chapters of the book.

Best of Istria | Rovinj Region

rovinj-region-map

Rovinj is known as the most romantic place on the Mediterranean. The Rovinj region stretches from the Lim Bay to the town of Rovinj. With a stunning natural heritage, beautiful landmarks, expansive coast, and protected islands, Rovinj continues to draw millions of visitors from all over the world and is the most popular destination in Istria.

Although this section is focused on Rovinj, these nearby towns are also worth visiting if you’re looking for unique Istrian experiences:
- Bale: Nearby village that dates back to 983. See the Soardo-Bembo Palace from the 15th century and have a coffee at Kamene Price Jazz Bar. At Colone Cove near Bale a site of fossils belonging to several species of dinosaurs has been discovered.
- Kanfanar: Kanfanar is best known for the St. Jacob’s day in July when Istria selects the most beautiful Istrian ox (Boskarin).

Rovinj

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Perched on the central western coast of the Istrian Peninsula, Rovinj was once an island. The channel separating it from the main peninsula was filled in during the mid-1700s connecting it to the mainland. Twenty-two tiny islands continue to welcome visitors to this very Venetian town, sporting a distinctly Italian vibe. From its early Illyrian heritage, Rovinj endured rule by the Romans, the Byzantines, the Franks, then the Venetians, who ultimately built walls and gates for protection against intruders. The 18th century fall of Venice opened the door for Napoleon, followed by Austria and Yugoslavia. This lovely fishing village and tourist town also provides education, research, and medical treatment in the Center for Marine Science, Center for Historical Research, and the Martin Horvat Orthopedic and Rehabilitation Hospital. This beautiful, compact town makes for a wonderful walk among its sites. The St. Euphemia Church in the town center, with its bell tower, is a must see, along with the fabulous market, the square at the bridge, The Batana Boat MuseumEco-Museum, and the Balbi Arch, crowned by a winged lion, a Venetian artifact. From the hill forts echoing the Bronze Age, to the wine bars, concerts, modern hotels, and busy markets today, Rovinj remains a relaxed, inviting, romantic destination for visitors and residents alike.

Best of Rovinj:

- St. Euphemia Church:  Dates back to 18th century. Located on the highest point of Rovinj. Relics of St. Euphemia are kept inside the church.
- Old Town: Classical architecture with narrow streets, cozy shops, and cafes. Rovinj’s most famous street is Grisia, a narrow pedestrian alleyway.
- Golden Cape forest park (aka Punta Corrente and Zlatni Rt.):  One of the most important natural parks of Istria. Visit the park for its many stony beaches and amazing views.
- Batana Eco-MMuseum: This museum is dedicated to the famous flat-bottomed fishing boats made in Rovinj. You can book package deals on Tuesdays and Thursday to attend the museum, go on a batana boat ride, and have a light dinner.
- Heritage Museum: Paintings from as far back as the 15th century.
- Rovinj Port: Wonderful port and an interesting sightseeing spot in St. Euphemia Church.
- Palud: Ornithological reserve with more than 200 bird species.
- Franciscan Monastery: Built in 18th century Baroque style.
- St. Katarina Island: See Rovinj from another angle, especially during sunset.
- St. Andrija Castle: Castle built between the sixth and the 17th century, currently used as a hotel on a nearby island.
- Crveni Otok: Also known as Red Island, this is a nice getaway from the coast.
- Histria Aromatica: Native medicinal and aromatic plants park.
- Rovinj Aquarium: Aquarium dates back to 1891.
- Lim Bay (aka Lim Channel and Limksi Kanal): 9km karst channel with huge rock walls.
- Dvigrad:  Dvigrad dates back to Bronze Age and was demolished by the Venetian army in the 14th century. The defensive walls, towers, and palace ruins are still visible. The town was deserted in 1630 due to a plague and raids by pirates. Legend has it that Captain Morgan hid some of his treasure in Dvigrad. Near Dvigrad, you’ll also pass the village of Mrgani where Captain Morgan and his crew settled.
- Baron Gautsch: Well preserved and among the most beautiful shipwrecks.
- Legend has it that the there’s also an island of Cissa underwater nearby, the Rovinj Atlantis, which sank during an earthquake in the 6th or 7th century and whose inhabitants fled and founded Rovinj. Although its existence has never been proven, Cissa is still alive in the stories of local fishermen who have caught fragments from the island around the place Cissa once existed.
- Rovinj Day: The feast day of the City's patron saint, St. Euphemia, celebrated in the middle of September is one of the greatest folk festivals in Istria.
- Grisia Annual Arts Festival: One-day art competition exhibition held each year in August since 1967 that has artwork from renowned and amateur artists.
- Croatian Summer Salsa Festival and Summer Sensual Days: Week-long music festivals held back-to-back in June, with multiple artists and DJs, concerts, and parties.
- Restaurants: Best restaurants are listed in Chapter 31. You can find other recommended restaurants in the Best of Istria Google Map.
- Accommodation: Hotel Adriatic, Hotel Lone, Hotel Monte Mulini, Villa Meneghetti, Hotel Park, Family Hotel Amarin, Island Hotel Katarina, and Hotel Eden.

Additional information about Rovinj is available at Rovinj Tourist Board.

Go to the Best of Istria homepage to read other chapters of the book.

Best of Istria | Vrsar and Funtana Region

vrsar-funtana-map

Vrsar and Funtana are two small fishing settlements located between Porec and Lim Bay. Since ancient times, these villages supplied sailors with drinking water from springs by which both places got their names. Today, they’re modern tourist centers with serene island archipelago, blue sea, and green environment. It’s a great place to enjoy nature, taste the distinctive, traditional cuisine unique to this region, and take part in daily panoramic, fish picnic excursions to Lim Bay and Rovinj.

Vrsar

vrsar-best-of-istria


The city of Vrsar, a picturesque hilltop village, has seen it all, from its earliest prehistoric hill fort to its current status as one of the most well-kept, neat and tidy resorts on the Istrian Peninsula. Taking its name from the pre-Illyrian Usaria, translating "ur" to "springs", Vrsar and the nearby village of Funtana provided important water resources for seafaring visitors. With the Roman era followed by Goth, Byzantine, and then Carolingian rule, Vrsar emerged as a free municipality during the Middle Ages, ruled by its own bishops from the 13th to the 18th centuries. It then became part of the Austrian empire (1813 to 1918), followed by Italy (1918 to 1943), and Yugoslavia after WWII. Known for its quarry, the summer sculptors school at Montraker is a popular August retreat. As the Porec Bishops' summer residence, Bishop's Castle is another important 12th century landmark with a beautiful view of the Lim Bay, a 12 km fjord with crystal clear water perfect for swimming or harvesting shellfish. Vrsar also has a bit of a wild streak, perhaps initiated by Giacomo Casanova's exciting visits and memoirs of the 18th century. It is known as the home of the first commercial naturist (nudist) camp in Europe, Koversada. With deep roots, Vrsar spans the ages from ancient to modern, serving tasty seafood cuisine, providing comfortable seaside lodging, and sharing a beautiful archipelago of 18 uninhabited islands with tourists from around the globe.

Best of Vrsar:

- Aeropark Vrsar: Panoramic flights and skydiving over Istria.
- Old City Walls and Streets: Multiple historical layers of the streets and walls.
- Dzamonja Sculpture Park: Beautiful park with a variety of Croatian artwork.
- Diving and Sailing: There are many diving centers in Vrsar. Starfish Diving Center provides memorable diving experiences.
- Sv. Juraj Island: Nice one-day escape.
- St. Martin Church: Parish church. Climb to the bell tower for panoramic views.
- Water Sports: Learn windsurfing at the Sport Center Montraker.
- Boat Trips: Enjoy a scenic boat ride to nearby Lim Bay.
- Biking: Vrsar is connected to Porec via a cycling trail by the sea. There are also cycling paths through vineyards and toward Lim Bay.
- Flengi: Farming village between Vrsar and Lim Bay with fresh local produce and numerous splendid small restaurants offering freshly roasted meats at amazingly low prices.
- Montraker Live Festival: Rock festival of Croatian and international musicians in mid-July.
- Koversada: One of Croatia’s most famous naturist resorts.
- Restaurants: Best restaurants are listed in Chapter 31. You can find other recommended restaurants in the Best of Istria Google Map.
- Accommodation: Hotel Pineta, Hotel Vista, Resort Petalon; Resort Funtana, Resort Belvedere, and Apartments Riva.

Additional information about Vrsar is available at Vrsar Tourist Board.

Funtana

funtana-istria

Funtana gets its name after the local fresh water springs which served as a source of drinking water for the Porec area. The town was developed in the 17th century by Bernardo Borisi, the Lord of Funtana, to whom Venice awarded this estate. During summer droughts, people from distant villages travelled great distances to get fresh spring water from this site next to the sea, creating many paths to the village. Today, Funtana still has the appearance of a typical seaside village with fishing and fertile agricultural land, making it a delight to visit.

Best of Funtana:

- Water Springs of Funtana: See the famous water springs of Funtana, after which the town has been named.
- St. Bernard’s Church: Dates back to the 17th century.
- Gallery Zgor Murve: Art exhibitions.
- Dinopark Funtana: This park is set within natural forests and offers refreshing walks over more than 1.5 km of walking trails. Children under 8 will enjoy the park most, especially the life-size animatronic dinosaurs that move and roar. There’s also an amusement park with rides for children under 8.
- Sailing: Sail out and follow the Odyssey’s footsteps along Funtana’s coastline.
- Beaches and islets: This part of Istria has the most indented coast in Istria with many bays and islets. There are also many nudist beaches in Funtana.
- Nature: Lots of unspoiled nature to explore.
- Restaurants: Best restaurants are listed in Chapter 31. You can find other recommended restaurants in the Best of Istria Google Map.
- Accommodation: Maistra Resort Funtana and Villa Maja.

Additional information about Funtana is available at Funtana Tourist Board.

Go to the Best of Istria homepage to read other chapters of the book.

Best of Istria | Porec Region

porec-region-map


Porec has over 100 years of experience in hospitality. The region offers rich cultural history, various fun activities, fine cafes and restaurants, rich night life, and mesmerizing sunsets.

Although this section is focused on Porec, these nearby towns are also worth visiting if you’re looking for unique Istrian experiences:
- Kastelir-Labinci: The two villages have been expanding together and merged into one municipality. Visit the Ethnographic museum for a history of the region.
- Tar-Vabriga:  Originally two settlements, Tar and Vabriga are joined into one town separated by the main road connecting Porec and Novigrad. This region is famous for exceptional olive oil. Head to Tar’s bell tower for panoramic views of Novigrad (north) and Porec (south).

Porec 

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On the west coast of the Istrian Peninsula, the ancient town of Porec sits majestically on its own small stretch reaching into the sea. A military installation, or castrum, established by the Romans in the first century, it was later named the municipality Parentium. Its origin is still debated among experts between Greece, Illyrium, and Venice. Ruins harking back to the first century include the Temple of Neptune and Temple of Mars, emphasizing the city's historic past. Known for its stunning, sixth century Byzantine landmark, the Euphrasius Basilica stands today on a foundation built in the third century, complete with original floor mosaics. The Venetian, Gothic, and Baroque architectural influences are magnificent, with examples like Zucchato Palace, House of Two Saints, Parisi Gonano Lion House, Romanesque House, Sincic Palace, and many others lining the historic streets of the old town. The glorious age when Porec was the political center of Istria is reflected in the halls of the ornate Istrian Parliament. Today, classical concerts ring through the Euphrasius Basilica, wine enthusiasts gather during Vinistra in May to sip the region's best vintages, and vacationers enjoy a relaxing, comfortable, Mediterranean resort with great local cuisine and fascinating art, both ancient and contemporary.

Best of Porec:

- Porec Old Town: Explore the old town, especially the pedestrian-only Eufrazijeva and Decumanus streets.
- St. Euphrasius Basilica: Located in the city center, the sixth century Basilica is a real jewel.
- District Museum (Zavicajni Muzej): Located in the 18th century Baroque palace. This is the oldest museum in Istria, dating back to 1884.
- Istrian Council House:  For over a century, this was the home of Istrian Parliament assemblies and District Parliament still holds its formal sessions here. The Istrian council house was originally a Gothic Franciscan Church from the 13th century.
- Romanesque House: Dates back to 13th century and is now used as an art gallery.
- Pentagonal Tower: Old tower offering great food with a great view.
- Round Tower: A steep climb that rewards visitors with an amazing view, once you get up there.
- Trg Marafor: Located at the former site of the Roman forum, it still contains Mars and Neptune temple remains.
- Sveti Nikola Island: Take a boat from Porec to the island to go swimming.
- Zelena Laguna: Concreted bathing area great for swimming.
- Ski Lift: Cable surfing and wake boarding.
- Segway Tours: Use Segway to get to know most picturesque and romantic spots around.
- Traktor Story: Various agricultural machines on display, including tractors.
- Baredine Cave (aka Jama Grotta Baredine): Interesting monument of nature with a series of limestone caverns. Legend has it that lovers Gabriel and Milka got lost here in 13th century and died in the cave looking for each other.
- Aquacolors Porec: One of newest and largest water parks in Croatia.
- Motodrom: Adrenaline destination with go-carts, cross-karts, quad rides, paintball, and various other adventurous activities.
- Vinistra: Wine festival in May.
- Giostra: Festival about knights, with roots in the middle ages, held in September.
- Beaches: There are lots of beaches to choose from between Cervar Porat and Zelena Laguna.
- Meet Frank and Vera: Visit Villa Rupeni and learn all about Istria from the authors of Frank about Croatia blog.
- Restaurants: Best restaurants are listed in Chapter 31. You can find other recommended restaurants in the Best of Istria Google Map.
- Accommodation: Valamar Isabella Hotel, Valamar Riviera Hotel, Grand Hotel Palazzo, Hotel Porec, Valamar Diamant, Valamar Crystal, Pical Hotel, and Hotel Laguna Parentium.

Additional information about Porec is available at Porec Tourist Board.

Go to the Best of Istria homepage to read other chapters of the book.

Best of Istria | Central Istria: Pazin, Buzet, Groznjan, and Motovun

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You’re most likely visiting Istria for the coastline but don’t miss out on inland Istria, just short distance from the coast. With its rolling green hills, historical hilltop villages, prominent grapevine and olive roads, and gourmet konobas serving delicious Istrian dishes, central Istria is not to be missed. One visit to Central Istria and you’ll see why many are referring to this region of Istria as the new Tuscany or Umbria.

Although this section is focused on Pazin, Buzet, Groznjan, and Motovun, these nearby towns are also worth visiting if you’re looking for unique Istrian experiences:
- Oprtalj: Oprtalj is a picturesque town with panoramic views not far from Motovun. It is best known for three churches dating back to 15th and 16th centuries with frescoes: St. George, Blessed Virgin, and St. Rocco. Oprtalj is also known for its famous Chestnut Festival (Chestnut Fair or Kestenijada) held in October.
- Svetvincenat: Svetvincenat is the best representation of Renaissance architecture, which is uncommon in Istria. Visit the renaissance square “Placa” for a celebration of the Renaissance period. Also visit the Morosini-Grimani castle with Venetian architecture. The New Wine Festival in October is a popular event that has been held for over 40 years celebrating the wine makers.
- Visnjan: Visnjan is a town with a rich cultural heritage. In nearby village Strpacici, copper earrings and needles from the Bronze Age were found. Visnjan is also home to the famous Visnjan observatory in Istria. Astrofest is a popular event celebrating the summer solstice, June 21 and 22.
- Vizinada: Visit Vizinada, a town on the hill rising above the Mirna valley, for panoramic views of Green and Blue Istria.
- Zminj: Zminj is the geographical center of Istria and the main historical intersection of roads in Istria. Main attractions are Festinsko Kraljevstvo cave tour and three small churches (Holy Trinity, St. Cross, and St. Anthony the Monk) painted in frescoes. Also, every last Saturday in August, Zminj hosts the biggest folk fest festival of Istria.
- Gracisce: Visit the nearby 12th century village with Venetian homes. Also check out Palace Salomon in Main Square and the parish church St. Mary na Placu, featuring frescoes and nails in the walls which, as legend has it, helped women get pregnant. The St. Simon walking trail takes you on a nice tour that includes a waterfall.
- Kringa: Visit the nearby village of Jure Grando, Europe’s first vampire. Legend has it that vampire Grando brought terror to the families of this town for 16 years after his death. Villagers opened the coffin to discover his body still intact. Only after they beheaded his corpse did the terrors stop. There is a Vampire Museum next to the village’s Vampire Cafe that you can visit.
- Sveti Petar u Sumi: This nearby village was named for its Benedictine monastery that dates back to 1174. Unlike other villages and towns of Istria, there are no houses around the church or monastery in this village. Legend has it that the Hungarian King Solomon spent some time here in the 11th century after he was dethroned in dynastic struggles.
- Zavrsje: Mystical, abandoned Medieval village surrounded by ancient walls and towers.
- Roc: Roc is a famous Istrian cultural center and has been the center of the Glagolitic literature since the 13th century. Roc is also well known for its folk music tradition centered on triestina, a type of accordion. The International Accordion Festival held during the second week in May is a great time to see the folk music live.
- Hum: Hum is the smallest town in the world, a spectacle in itself. When in Hum, also visit the Glagolitic Alley, a 7-km long trail that connects Hum with Roc. It consists of 11 sculptures created in the 1980s as copies of important Glagolitic scripts. Glagolitic alphabet was an archaic Slavonic script that was used by Istrian priests from Middle Ages until 19th century.
- Kotli: Spend quiet time in the isolated village by the waterfalls of the Mirna River, and enjoy the open-air Jacuzzis created by the waterfalls. There’s also a historic water mill that was in operation until 1964.
- Tinjan: Best known for the Istrian prsut (dried ham) festival in October, the Istrian house from 1442, and the round stone table with 12 stone seats where important decisions used to be made.
- Draguc:  Draguc is also known as “Istrian Hollywood” because many films have been filmed in this town. In Draguc you’ll also find many beautiful frescoes and will enjoy beautiful views from the hill.
- Sveti Lovrec: Sveti Lovrec is located near Vrsar and Porec, and is one the best preserved medieval fortified towns in Istria.

Pazin

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Pazin is the administrative capital of Istria. Pazin has been called the “heart of Istria” since the 19th Century because of its central location. The Pazin Castle was first mentioned in 983. During its 11-century-long history, the Pazin Castle was subjected to several major reconstructions and renovations. The castle is now home to the Ethnographic Museum of Istria and Pazin Town Museum. In the surrounding area of Pazin, there are many medieval towns holding secrets and treasures that make them worth visiting.

Best of Pazin:

- Pazin Castle: Best preserved castle in Istria with two museums inside.
- Ethnographic Museum of Istria: Inside the Pazin castle. Documents history of Istria.
- Zip Line Pazinska Jama: Two zip lines with great views.
- Pazin Cave: Pazin cave inspired the work of authors Jules Verne, who mentioned Pazin in his novel Mathias Sandorf but never visited Pazin himself, and Dante Alighieri, who lived in Pula during his exile and was inspired by the Pazin cave in describing the gateway to Hell in Inferno, the first part of his epic poem Divine Comedy. Fun activities include walking and zip lining inside the cave, and Speleo Adventure.
- Church of St. Nicholas: Built in 1266 in Romanesque style, the church houses frescoes from 15th century.
- Motocross Park Santarija: Take a ride on a dirt bike track.
- Church of St. Mary: See 15th century frescoes at the Church of Mary at the nearby Beram, including the Dance of Death fresco.
- Restaurants: Best restaurants are listed in Chapter 31. You can find other recommended restaurants in the Best of Istria Google Map
- Accommodation: Hotel Lovac and Resort Cize


Buzet

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Elevate your taste buds with some of nature’s most exclusive and expensive mushrooms in the ‘City of Truffles’, Buzet. Dogs scour the forests around this northwestern city for the world’s most highly prized truffles. Truffle business is lucrative as one kg of ruffles can cost in excess of $3,000. In Buzet and Motovun, group truffle tours teach tourists about this prized chef’s ingredient and why it is so important to the area. Every September, celebration of the white truffle season brings fans from far and wide, through the end of the season in December. This pleasant city, shaped by ancient Roman settlements then refined by the Venetians, quietly invites exploration of its charming streets and historic buildings. The new part of the town sits at the base of the hill, but the short walk up is worth the effort. Rewards include a peaceful walk over ancient cobblestones, steeped in the history of the ages.

Best of Buzet:

- Truffle Hunting: Buzet is known as “Truffle City.” Truffles are highly prized for their exquisite taste and aroma, and can be found in the surrounding area. Go truffle hunting in the Buzet area with Prodan Tartufi or Karlic Tartufi
- Truffle Tasting: You can find a variety of truffle products to taste at Natura Tartufi and Zigante Tartufi
- River Mirna: Nice views from this hill town situated right above the Mirna River.
- Buzet Region Museum: The museum in the Palace Bigatto houses pagan artifacts and items from the Roman period.
- Subotina Festival: September celebration of old crafts and fashion.
- Fritaja Event: Each September, Buzet citizens make a huge omelet feast with more than 2,000 eggs.
- Aura Distillery: Sample various brandies of Istria.
- Hot Air Ballooning: See Istria from above with a hot air balloon ride that you can schedule with Gral Putovanja
- Nearby Towns: Medieval towns around Buzet are a great way to spend afternoons.
- Wine Roads: Visit wine producers on the wine roads of Buzet.
- Mirna Valley: There are various well-marked trails you can explore by walking or cycling.
- Istarske Toplice: A health spa famous since Roman times. It is highly ranked among the therapeutic hot springs in Europe for beneficial effects on arthritis and skin conditions.
- Pietrapelosa Castle: Nearby castle dates back to 10th century.
- Restaurants: Best restaurants are listed in Chapter 31. You can find other recommended restaurants in the Best of Istria Google Map
- Accommodation: Vela Vrata, Hotel Fontana, and Vela Sterna B&B.  

Additional information about Buzet is available from the Buzet Tourist Board.

Groznjan

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The merry sound of music, accompanied by the creative buzz and lively color of the artists' community make Groznjan an irresistibly romantic destination. The summer music, drama, and peace-focused academies turn the quiet hill town into a cultural gem. A place where new Bohemian chic entwines amicably with Old World structures, Groznjan welcomes the creative class, having declared itself a town of artists in 1965. Set 225m up a hillside about 27km from the Porec, the town warmly welcomes visitors with authentic hospitality, opening the doors of its 14th-century Venetian splendor along with its galleries, cafes, and shops.

Best of Groznjan:

- Town Center: Town of artists and writers, with a fun, energetic ambience.
- Cobbled Streets: Enjoy walking in narrow streets paved with the cobblestones.
- Panoramic Views: Small covered terraces are perfect local spots to relax after exploring the town.
- Jazz is Back Festival: Traditional international jazz festival held in July.
- Groznjan Musical Summer: Outdoor music concerts held in August.
- Art Galleries: Groznjan includes 64 art galleries.
- Art Exhibitions: Starting in May, Groznjan transforms into a hub for music, film, and art.
- Street Music: Summer music, particularly jazz.
- Restaurants: Best restaurants are listed in Chapter 31. You can find other recommended restaurants in the Best of Istria Google Map

Additional information about Groznjan is available from the Groznjan Tourist Board.  


Motovun

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Famous for many things, the hillside town of Motovun continues to entice visitors to its coordinates with a pleasant mix of old and new. There are gravestones from the first century, Venetian ramparts from the 14th century surrounding the old town, and a beautiful Venetian Renaissance church. A legendary gentle giant from Motovun represents the Croatian people in a favorite folktale. Surrounding vineyards produce well-crafted local wines. The vineyards are fabulous reasons to climb the hillside to Motovun, but they are eclipsed each July as the annual film festival gathers crowds inside the ancient walls to view creative works by European and American filmmakers. A delightful destination, imagine the Andretti brothers, Mario and Aldo, as young boys racing their hand-built wooden cars through Motovun's narrow, winding streets. 

Best of Motovun:

- Motovun City Gate: The walk up to the town is long but enjoyable. Once you reach the gate, you’ll know you’ve arrived.
- Motovun Walls: Ancient walls are well preserved, marking the outer border of this hill town.
- Motovun Film Festival: Famous for its movie festival celebrating small, independent producers, the event began in 1999 and is held annually in late July or early August.
- St. Stephen Church: This Renaissance parish church has a 27-meter bell tower from the 13th century.
- Istra Paragliding: Enjoy paragliding over Motovun.
- Truffle Hunting: Go truffle hunting in the Motovun forest with Miro Tartufi. 
- Parenzana Trail: This former 130 km (80 miles) long train railway, which was operational from 1902 to 1935, runs from Trieste to Porec. Its name is derived from Parenzo, the Italian name for Porec. Today it is a bike and walking path. Take the small tourist train that runs from Motovun to Vizinada or go walking to enjoy the trail. Most scenic part of the trail is section connecting Buje, Groznjan, Livade, Motovun, and Vizinada.
- Motovun Group of International Publishers: A non-profit organization with about 80 members in over 20 countries, which was founded in 1977 by Bato Tomasevic and inspired by Motovun. 
- Restaurants: Best restaurants are listed in Chapter 31. You can find other recommended restaurants in the Best of Istria Google Map

Additional information about Motovun is available at the Motovun Tourist Board

Additional information about Central Istria (Pazin, Buzet, Groznjan, Motovun, and other towns) is available at the Central Istria Tourist Board.


Go to the Best of Istria homepage to read other chapters of the book.

Best of Istria | Events in Istria

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There are events and activities in Istria throughout the year, not just summer. Listed below are the major events, organized by seasons. Events specific to towns are also listed next to town sections of the book.


Summer Events in Istria

- ShareIstria (held during summer throughout Istria): Marketing campaign by the Istria Tourist Board bringing together social network bloggers to share their adventures of Istria.
- Istra Inspirit (held during summer throughout Istria): Interactive performances of historical and mythological stories and legends at authentic locations, accompanied by rich gastronomic offerings.
- Croatian Summer Salsa Festival (held in June in Rovinj) and Summer Sensual Days (held in June in Rovinj): Week-long music festivals held back-to-back in June, with multiple artists and DJs, concerts, and parties.
- ATP Croatia Open (held in July in Umag): The popular tennis tournament is accompanied by numerous events, including gourmet festival and music concerts.
- Pula Film Festival (held in July in Pula): Istria’s biggest open-air theater film festival held in Pula’s magnificent Amphitheater.
- Motovun Film Festival (held in July in Motovun): Famous international film festival with five-day long film marathons.
- Groznjan Jazz Festival (held in July in Groznjan):  International jazz festival featuring globally recognized jazz musicians.
- Night of Street Musicians (held in July in Rabac): Fun music program along the promenade in Rabac.
- Medieval Festival (held in Aug. in Svetvincenat): Knights, archers, horsemen and medieval ladies presenting the daily routine of medieval period at the Morosini-Grimani castle.
- Rovinj Events (held in Aug. in Rovinj): Enjoy daily evens in Rovinj, including St. Lawrence Night when lights are dimmed; Grisia Annual Arts Festival that features art work by various artists; and Rovinj Night with a fun program and spectacular fireworks.


Autumn Events in Istria

- Truffle Days (held in late Sep. to early Nov. in Buzet, Motovun, and Livade):  Truffles are Istria’s highly prized culinary treasure.  They have a strong and distinct taste and are used very sparingly in cooking, typically grated over fresh food or used in a sauce. White (strongest flavor and most expensive) and black truffles have their natural habitat in the Istrian truffle triangle between Pazin, Buje and Buzet, especially in Mirna valley and Motovun Forest. Truffles grow underground and can only be found by specially trained dogs. Truffle-hunting season begins in late September and goes on throughout most of autumn. There are many festivities dedicated to truffles, including Zigante Truffle Days in Livade; Subotina with a giant truffle omelet in Buzet; Truffle Weekend in Buzet where you can taste and buy truffles and truffle products; Teran and Truffle (TeTa) Festival in Motovun with tasting of Teran wine and truffles; and Days of Momjan Muscat and Truffles in Momjan.
- Medulin Craft Beer Festival (held in Sep. in Medulin): Two-day craft beer festival with over 30 independent breweries from over 10 European countries with over 60 beers on tap.
- Istria Gourmet Festival (held in Oct. in Rovinj): Gathering of Istria’s leading chefs and restaurant owners to discuss future trends of Istrian gastronomy.
- ISAP International Prosciutto Fair (held in Oct. in Tinjan): Istrian prosciutto (also called vijulin, meaning violin, in Istria) is regarded one of the best in the world and it’s still produced following the traditional rules resulting in unique taste, smell, color, softness, and freshness.
- Chestnut Festival (held in Oct. in Oprtalj; ): Event dedicated to chestnuts and chestnut products.
- Festival of Istrian Grappa (held in Oct. in Hum): Annual review of Istria’s brandy which mostly originates from northern and central Istria.
- Restaurant Week (held in Oct. in Istria): Great opportunity to taste Istrian gastronomical delicacies in the best restaurants throughout Istria.
- Sole Fish Days (Oct. and Nov. in NW Istria): Month-long event in many restaurants and wine cellars of Umag, Novigrad, Buje, and Brtonigla dedicated to meals based on sole fish, served with quality wine and olive oil from Istria.
- Feast Day of St. Martin (aka Martinje; held in Nov. in Momjan): St. Martin, who is considered by European traditions consider to be the patron saint of vintners and wine growers, is also the patron saint of Momjan. Join the feast for wine-tasting sessions in Momjan and Buje cellars.
- Olive Oil Days (held in Nov. in Vodnjan): Annual international event attended by olive growers and oil producers from the entire Adriatic region. There are guided tastings of olive oil, lectures, and other fun activities.
- Open Door Days of Agrotourism (held in Nov. in various Istrian towns): Organized by Agency for Rural Development of Istria (AZRRI) in cooperation with Istrian county agrotourism to promote rural farms and Istrian gastronomy. The event includes over 10 agrotourism farms and restaurants where you can enjoy delicious farm-to-table meals.


Winter Events in Istria

- Rovinj Music Festival (held in Dec. in Rovinj): Music competition and festival.
- December in the City (held in Dec. in Pula): Numerous concerts, plays, gastronomical offerings, and other fun events.
- Christmas in Istria: Various Christmas events throughout towns of Istria.
- Days of Adriatic Squid (held in Dec. and Jan. in NW Istria): Month-long event in many restaurants and wine cellars of Umag, Novigrad, Buje, and Brtonigla dedicated to meals based on squid.
- Days of Seashells (held in Feb. and March in NW Istria): Month-long event in many restaurants of Umag, Novigrad, Buje, and Brtonigla with imaginative menus with shells.
- Carnival (held in Feb. in Istria): Cheerful parades with colorful masks and happenings throughout the streets and squares of towns in Istria.


Spring Events in Istria

- 100 Miles of Istria (held in April in Labin, Buzet, Motovun, and Umag): Endurance race along the Istrian hiking trail, starting in Labin and finishing in Umag.
- Days of Asparagus (held in March and May in NW Istria):  Month-long event in many restaurants of Umag, Novigrad, Buje, and Brtonigla focused on delicious and fragrant delicacies made from Istrian wild asparagus.
- Easter Festivals (held in March or April in Istria): Celebration of Easter throughout Istria.
- Exhibition of the Wine of Central Istria (held in March/April on Easter Monday in Gracisce): Tasting of various wines from Central Istria.
- Popolana (held in April in Rovinj): Three-day event in Rovinj offering a variety of fun activities for families.
- Istria Wine & Walk (held in May in Buje): The 11 km tasting walk consists of delightful meetings and tasting sessions with 8 Istrian winemakers and 8 local producers and caterers.
- Vinistra Exhibition (held in May in Porec): International exhibition of wine in Istria. The exhibition is open to the public and there’s wine tasting throughout the exhibition.
- Day of Open Wine Cellars (held on the last Sunday in May; ): 70 renowned Istrian winemakers open their wine cellars to the public.
- Gnam-Gnam Fest (held in June in Novigrad): Fest celebrating scallops as well as other shellfish and seafood.
- Veli Joze Days (held in June in Motovun): Festival dedicated to Istria’s giants and other fantasy creatures.


There are many other activities throughout the towns of Istria. Check the Istria Tourist Board website and events pages of the towns for the most current information.


Go to the Best of Istria homepage to read other chapters of the book.