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New Book: Best of Istria

best-of-istria-new-book

New Book: Best of Istria

I've been working on the Best of Istria book since summer 2015, shortly after participating in the ShareIstria contest. Istria is an amazing place that everyone must visit at least once.

Istria Tourist Board has many outstanding resources about Istria on its website, and there are many blog posts about Istria on the web. However, my goal with this book is connect all highlights of Istria to Google Maps, so they're all available in one interactive Best of Istria Google Map.



As a Google Local Guide, I appreciate the value of connecting the Best of Istria book with Google Maps where the reader can learn more about the place, find its location and use Google directions to get there, see pictures, get contact information, and read reviews. By tying Best of Istria book to Google Maps, I hope to provide readers with a practical guide to exploring Istria that is truly unique.

Best of Istria: Content

The book covers the highlights from the following destinations (highlights link to Facebook posts; a new link will be posted every day in August):

  • NW Istria (includes Umag, Novigrad, Brtonigla, and Buje)
  • Central Istria (includes Pazin, Buzet, Groznjan, and Motovun)
  • Porec
  • Vrsar and Funtana
  • Rovinj
  • Pula and Medulin (also includes Brijuni Islands)
  • Labin and Rabac

The book also covers the highlights organized by the following interests:
  1. Istria's top attractions
  2. Blue Istria coast drive
  3. Green Istria inland drive
  4. Beaches
  5. Camping sites
  6. Historical sites
  7. Nature and national parks
  8. Adventure
  9. Family fun
  10. Biking
  11. Hiking
  12. Museums and galleries
  13. Lighthouses
  14. Castles
  15. Winereies
  16. Olive oil producers
  17. Gourmet restaurants
  18. Agrotourism
  19. Bars
  20. Nightlife
  21. Churches
  22. Frescoes
  23. Shopping
  24. Diving
  25. Sailing

Best of Istria: Share Your Favorites

Through end of August, I invite you to share your favorites of Istria:

You can also email me with your recommendations or share them on Twitter.

Everyone who makes a contribution will get a free electronic copy of the Best of Istria book once it publishes.

Thanks for the help, and look forward to learning about your secret spots in Istria! :)


Recap of Croatia Local Guides Meet-Ups: Tour of Istrian Wineries and Rovinj Photo Walk

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Two Croatia Local Meet-Ups

On July 16 and 17, Croatia Local Guides got together for two Google Local Guides Meet-Ups in Istria, Croatia:

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croatia-google-local-guides-meet-up-rovinj

We got started early, some leaving their countries as early as midnight to make it to the meet-ups on time. We tasted a lot of delicious wine, ate Istrian specialties, took lots of photos, reviewed many places, formed new friendships with local guides and business owners, and just had a grand time.


Tour of Istrian Wineries Google Local Guides Meet-Up



There are many great wineries in Istria. Narrowing them down to just a few was difficult. We decided on visiting the following three wineries:

croatia-google-local-guides-meet-up-kabola

croatia-google-local-guides-meet-up-deklic

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These three wineries give a different flavor of the wineries in Istria: Kabola has a long history of winemaking; Deklic is a favorite supplier to many restaurants in the regions; and Roxanich wines are just unique (you have to try them to experience the unique taste of their wines).

Wine was great, views were amazing, and we got to meet the wonderful Istrian wine makers!

Rovinj Photo Walk Google Local Guides Meet-Up



Rovinj is Istria's most popular tourist destination and rightfully so.

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We started the Rovinj meet-up with coffee at a local restaurant by the water.

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We then walked up the historic streets to Cathedral of St. Euphemia built in Venetian Baroque at the beginning of 18th Century.

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We then walked down to the other side of Rovinj, stopping at many places along the way.

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Next stop was Zlatni Rt. (Golden Cape) for cool shade in the woods, pristine swimming spots, and amazing views.

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Istrian Wineries Meet-Up vs. Rovinj Meet-Up

Which was more memorable: Istrian wineries or Rovinj? Both, if you ask me.

+AureaiSland ® and others agree.

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We're looking forward to the next Croatia +Google Local Guides meet-up. Let us know in the comments where it should be.


Panorama Flights in Istria with Aeropark Vrsar


Aeropark Vrsar Panorama Flights: See Istria from the Sky

I've done a lot of driving through Istria but have not seen Istria from the sky. It was always on my bucket list and should be on yours too.

If you decide to take panorama flights, your best choice is Aeropark Vrsar.

As expected, the views were amazing.

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Aeropark-Vrsar-Istria-Croatia- Brijuni

Many different panorama flights are offered:
  • Vrsar, Lim Fjord, and Rovinj (10 mins)
  • Vrsar, Rovinj, and Porec (15 mins)
  • Vrsar, Rovinj, Porec, Novigrad, and Umag (30 mins)
  • Vrsar, Rovinj, and Brijuni Islands (30 mins)
  • Vrsar, Porec, Groznjan, and Motovun (45 mins)

Other Offerings at Aeropark Vrsar

Aeropark Vrsar offers so much more than panorama flights.

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For starters, there are a lot of airplanes to see. And, best part, all cockpits are open so you can get into all of the airplanes. How cool is that! 


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Other offerings include:
  • Sky bar
  • Museum
  • One day pilot programs
  • Skydiving (tandem jumps)

Aeropark-Vrsar-flyer

Locals, and anyone who often flies to the Vrsar airport, can also join the Aeroklub Vrsar club to connect with other pilots and flying enthusiasts.

Where is Aeropark Vrsar?

Vrsar Aeropark is located at the Vrsar Airport at Crljenka 6, Vrsar 52450, in Istria, Croatia.



You can contact Aeropark Vrsar via e-mail or by phone at +385(0)(98233676.

Happy flying and good luck skydiving!

4x4 Off-Road Driving in Istria, Croatia


Off-Road Tour in Istria

After planning to go off-road in Istria for a long time, I finally did this summer.

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My tour guide was Boris at Camelus Adventures.

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We drove on roads that I didn't even know existed in Istria. We drove on dirt roads, mud road, hills, plains, woods, grass fields, and even on river beds. The views were amazing!

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Istria Off-Road Itinerary

The Google Map below shows the major towns that we visited.



Note that some of the other towns and most of the roads we drove on don't exist on Google maps. Luckily Boris had an off-road GPS that guided us throughout the trip.

Off-Road Tips

Driving off the beaten path can be an adrenaline rush but it can also be dangerous.

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Here are some tips on staying safe while having fun:

  • Know the terrain: go with a guide or know the terrain so you don't get stuck or lost.
  • Have the right car: don't attempt this with your rental car.
  • Bring emergency gear: just in case your car gets stuck and you have to move on walking.
  • Bring plenty of water, especially during summer.

Have you done any off-road driving in Istria? Share your favorite experiences in the comments below.

RoamFree Ninja: Unlimited Mobile Wifi in Croatia

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Test Drive of RoamFree Ninja

For 2 weeks I tested the RoamFree Ninja, a pocket sized (about the size of old Nokia phones) mobile WiFi hotspot (router) to which one connects mobile devices for internet.

I had it with me everywhere I went: towns, beaches, off-road, top of castles, and even on an airplane.

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It worked everywhere (except on the airplane once we ascended into the sky) and the internet speed was always great, even off-road.

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There were no dropped connections anywhere; just great wifi everywhere!

Benefits of Using RoamFree Ninja

Typically visitors buy SIM cards for use in Croatia, especially if coming from US, because internet charges on personal phones from the home country get very expensive very quickly.

However, even with SIM cards, the charges for internet access quickly use the available balance, especially if watching videos. From experience, a 20€ SIM card doesn't last more than 2 days if accessing the internet and making international calls. You also have to remember to unlock the phone and then hassle with SIM card replacement.

Key benefits to using RoamFree Ninja:

  • Unlimited internet access
  • Fast internet speed (~ 20 mbps)
  • Connect up to 10 devices at the same time
  • Ability to make phone calls via internet (with Viber, Whatsapp, Skype, etc.)
  • Recharges with the included USB cord that you can connect to mobile phone plug
  • No set-up: just turn on and connect to wifi (see instructions below)
  • No hassle: free pick-up at your address in Croatia and free prepaid return envelope
  • Affordable: for 5-14 day rental, the cost is 8.95€/day (all fees included)

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Great for Families

If you're traveling as a family, your family will love RoamFree Ninja. We're a family of 4 with 2 mobile phones and 2 iPads and 2 computers. With RoamFree Ninja, all our devices had wifi access, making everyone happy, even the kids!

Everyone was sorry to see RoamFree Ninja gone once we returned it.

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RoamFree Ninja won't disappoint, regardless of where you travel in Croatia. I hope they soon expand to Slovenia and other neighboring countries.

First-Ever Croatia Local Guides Meet-Ups on July 16 and 17

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Google Local Guides Program

Google has recently launched a Local Guides program to help improve Google Maps with reviews and pictures of places, and, more importantly, help everyone explore the world and share favorite places we discover.

See video below for more information on how to get started as a Local Guide.




Not a Local Guide yet? Join here.

Google Local Guides Communities

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There are now thousands of Local Guides building Local Guide Communities to explore and share places in their local communities.

Join the Croatia Local Guides Community here.

Croatia Local Guides Meet-Ups

We have two Croatia Local Guides Meet-Ups scheduled for July 2016:


Hope you can join us, and look forward to meeting you at the Croatia Local Guides Meet-Ups next week!

Krk Island Travel Guide

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Inhabited since the Neolithic age, the island of Krk was one of the Apsyrtidian islands settled by Liburians. The Roman Empire took over, and during the battles between Caesar and Pompey, became part of the Eastern Roman Empire. Walls were built to fortify the city against the Quadi and Marcomanni threats, but in the 7th century, Avars penetrated the city, followed by the Byzantines, Venetians, and Frankopans. Again captured by the Venetians, Austrian rule took over after the fall of Venice, followed by Italy, and Yugoslavia. Independence in 1991, and the fall of the Eastern Block countries brought tourism to life on Krk. Remains of ancient thermal baths can be found near the Franciscan monastery. Evidence of Glagolitic script documents indicates the use of the language during the Medieval period. Today Krk is connected to the mainland by one of the longest bridges in the world, built in 1980. Krk is a port and trade center with several cities on the island, including Krk, Malinska, Dobrinj, and Punat. Krk Town, Punat and Baska, the main towns on the island, are all a short distance from the Balbiska ferry port connecting the island to the islands of Rab and Cres, as well as Brestova on the mainland.





Where is Krk Island?

Krk island is located near in the Bay of Kvarner. It has an area of 405.78 km2. Krk is the most populous Adriatic island, with numerous towns and villages that contain about 20,000 inhabitants.



Krk Island Tourist Board

Trg Sv. Kirina 1, Krk;
+385 (0) 51 221 359
 infopunkt@krk.hr; www.krk.hr

Attractions and Activities in Krk Island

1. Biserujka Cave: Cave above Slivanjska Cove with many interesting calcite formations
2. Frankopan Castle: Well preserved fortified defense castle with four bastions from12th century
3. Vineyards in the Vrbnik Field: Great walking path goes from Vrbnik through the fields
4. Cathedral: Built in 1188 on the site of a 5th century basilica
5. Parasailing: Put on a parachute and be lifted in the air by a motor boat
6. Soline Bay Mud: Famous mud beaches that are said to cure all aches and pains
7. Boat Trips: Local boat cruises; slow, romantic, and fun
8. Baska Beaches: Numerous and diverse beaches are around Baska, many of them holding Blue Flag
9. The Native Museum: Holds relics of a rich past diligently collected by the local people
10. St. Marak Cape and the Ruined Church: Beautiful atmospheric ruins of medieval church

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Restaurants, Bars, and Cafes in Krk Island

1. Bistro Bukarica: Mediterranean cuisine; Nikole Tesle 61, Malinska; www.bistrobukarica.com
2. Konoba Bracera: Mediterranean cuisine; Kvarnerska 1, Malinska; www.konoba-bracera.com
3. Bistro Francesca: Mediterranean cuisine; Zvonimirova 56, Baska; www.bistrofrancesca.com
4. Pizzeria Morska: Pizza; Pod Kaštel 12, Vrbnik
5. Restaurant Porta: Seafood, Mediterranean cuisine; Jurandvor 17A, Baska

Hotels and Accommodations in Krk Island

1. Hotel Tamaris: Nice family hotel; 3-star; $; Emila Geistlicha bb, Baska; www.baska-tamaris.com
2. Atrium Residence Baska: Beautiful hotel; 4-star; $; Emila Geistlicha 39, Baska; www.hotelibaska.hr
3. Hotel Marina: Wonderful hotel; 4-star; $$; Obala hrv. mornarice 8, Krk; http://hotelmarina.hr
4. Hotel Pinia: Beautiful hotel; 4-star; $$; Porat bb, Malinska; www.hotel-pinia.hr
5. Valamar Koralj Romantic Hotel: Nice hotel; 3-star; $; V. Tomasica bb, Krk; www.valamar.com

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Camps on Krk Island

1. Naturist Camping Bunculuka: Nature beach; 4-star; Pala bb, Baska; www.bunculuka.info
2. Camping Jezevac: Great nature and beaches; 4-star; Plavnicka bb, Krk; www.camping-adriatic.com
3. Camping Krk: Awesome nature and beaches; 4-star; Politin bb, Krk; www.camping-adriatic.com
4. Camping Pila: Great location and beaches; 3-star; Setaliste I. Brusica 2, Krk; www.hoteli-punat.hr
5. Camping Slamni: Great nature and beaches; 4-star; Klimno 8A, Dobrinj; www.kampslamni.com.hr

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Google Map of Recommendations for Krk Island

See ART Google Map for additional recommendations of places to see and things to do in Krk Island.

Explore other destinations in Croatia.