To put it simply – Istria is perfect.
This heart-shaped peninsula is a place unlike any other in Croatia. Istria is often referred to as “the new Tuscany”, known for its exquisite wine, superb gastronomy and spectacular scenery.
Undulating green hills give way to thick forests and miles of vineyards. Its meandering roads lead to the indented coastline and crystal-clear waters of the hypnotizing blue Adriatic. It is a place where time stops and you are left with nothing else to do but to enjoy the best life can offer.
Exploring Istria is a time well spent. Here are our suggestions on some of the things you can see and do in this northern Adriatic heaven.
99 things to see and do in Istria
- Swim in one of 45 beautiful Istrian beaches that have been awarded a blue flag – a prestigious symbol given only to places with the cleanest seacoast.
- Cycle down Parenzana, the trail which follows the same route as former Parenzana railroad, once connecting Trieste and Poreč.
- Visit one of many Istrian castles adorning its undulating hills.
- Visit the Savudrija lighthouse and learn about its tragic love story.
- Savudrija is also a popular place for golfers.
- Relax at the Kanegra Beach, one of Istria’s most stunning beaches.
- Visit the unique squirrel park near Umag.
- Did you know that outstanding ATP World Tour tennis tournament takes place in Umag?
- Roam through the medieval heart of beautiful Brtonigla.
- Visit the Marble Cave in Brtonigla, one of the largest underground caves in Istria.
- Feel like a king in a ruined castle on a cliff in Momjan.
- Walk underneath the umbrellas in Novigrad.
- Go kayaking on Mirna, the longest Istrian river.
- Admire the starry skies at Višnjan Observatory.
- Learn about Istrian traditions at Buje’s Ethnographic Museum.
- Every summer enjoy the sounds of classical music and jazz on the streets of Grožnjan, the town of artists and music.
- You’ve heard of the leaning tower in Pisa – but Istria also has a leaning tower, in Završje Village!
- Find the hidden gold and treasure on the lighthouse of Cape Black Punta.
- Take your entire family in one of several gorgeous aquariums in major Istrian towns, such as Rovinj, Pula and Poreč.
- Explore the underwater life through a semi submarine.
- See stunning 14th century frescoes in the Romanesque church of St.Barnaby in Vižinada.
- Relax in the lavender infused atmosphere of Deklevi lavender fields.
- Admire the architecture of 2,000 years old town of Poreč…
- …and walk along Decumanus, original main Roman streets.
- Explore Poreč’s Euphrasian Basilica, protected as UNESCO World Heritage site.
- Go skydiving in Vrsar!
- Vrsar also has one of the most beautiful beaches in Istria – Koversada.
- Admire the beauty of Lim Bay, one of Istria’s most stunning natural features.
- While you’re there, visit Romuald’s Cave, the important bat habitat.
- Climb the tower of St Euphemia’s Basilica for the stunning panorama of entire Rovinj.
- Watch a beautiful sunset over Rovinj.
- Go cycling in Rovinj’s Zlatni rt forest park…
- …or try free-climbing!
- Explore the picturesque Rovinj Archipelago.
- Explore the spectacular underwater of Rovinj.
- Admire the sunken Adriatic Titanic just off the coast of Rovinj.
- Learn about the ancient past at Monkodonja Archaeological Park near Rovinj.
- Participate in Dolce Vita Rovinj, the first vintage festival in Croatia.
- Did you know that Rovinj has a beautiful sandy beach?
- Go bird-watching in Palud cove, Istria’s first ornithological reserve.
- Admire the beautiful butterflies at Istria’s Butterfly Garden in Bale.
- Trail down the olive groves roads interspersing the peninsula and learn about the olive oil making traditions.
- Did you know that Istrian cheese is among the best ones in the world? So go cheese tasting!
- There are several exquisite spas in Istria just waiting for you to enjoy some relaxing time!
- Visit the church of St Blaise in Vodnjan to see the mummified bodies of three saints.
- Take fantastic photos of exotic animals in the safari park in Brijuni National Park…
- …and see real life dinosaur footprints!
- You can even see dolphins in the waters surrounding Brijuni.
- Summer nights are perfect to enjoy the outdoor Ulysses theatre on Brijuni.
- Learn about the tale of secret Brijuni lovers.
- Visit the Pula Amphitheatre, the only Roman Amphitheatre in the entire world that has all three rows completely intact.
- Admire the Gates of Hercules in Pula.
- See Pula’s several thousand years old Temple of Augustus.
- Enjoy the impressive view from Pula’s Kaštel.
- Sip on a cup of coffee in a café where young James Joyce would visit when he lived in Pula.
- Swim in the crystal-clear waters of Cape Kamenjak, the southernmost point of Istria.
- Spend a couple of days at Porer Lighthouse away from the hustle and the bustle of hectic everyday life.
- Visit the Kalavojna Bay in the Raša River Valley. It is where the oldest proof of grape cine cultivation and wine production of Croatia can be found.
- Take in the immeasurable cultural heritage of the town of Roč.
- Explore Hum, the alleged smallest town in the world.
- The road between Roč and Hum is a true cultural experience – learn about the Croatian script called glagoljica on the Glagolitic Alley.
- Go on a truffle hunt in the woods of Motovun…
- …or explore its beauties from above – go paragliding over Motovun!
- Visit Buzet, the “city of truffles”.
- While we’re on the subject of truffles, pair them with fuži – traditional Istrian pasta.
- Have a taste of the traditional Istrian spirit biska.
- Indulging in renowned Istrian prosciutto is an absolute must!
- Admire kazuni, small Istrian stone houses once used by shepherds to store their tools.
- Visit the international film festival taking place each August in Motovun.
- Enjoy the enchanting sounds of water in the cave Kingdom of Festini.
- Learn about the vampire legend of Jure Grando in Kringa.
- Attend Svetvinčenat’s Medieval nights held in the town’s castle.
- Explore the stone village of Kotli in the scenic central Istria.
- Indulge in suburb Istrian delicacies in Valter Kolinase’s Konoba in Kotli.
- For the authentic rural experience visit Cerovlje – the Istrian Highlands.
- In Cerovlje you can also find a beautiful Gologoricki Dol Waterfalls.
- Horseback riding is one of the best ways to take in the immense Istrian beauty.
- And why not go glamping under the Istrian sky?
- There is a surprisingly large number of sun clocks in various Istrian towns, see if you can find one!
- Why not try your luck with balun, traditional Istrian dance!
- Visit the Pazin Fortress, the largest, best preserved and the most beautiful fortress in entire Istria.
- Explore the Pazin Pit, the alleged entrance to Inferno of Dante’s Divine Comedy…
- …and go ziplining over the pit!
- The Pazinčica River created a picturesque waterfall Zarečki krov, a popular summer swimming spot.
- Go down the most spectacular Baredine Cave and see the endemic the endemic olm Covjecja Ribica.
- On the third day of August go to Barban and observe the Race of the Ring, similar to Sinjska Alka.
- Learn about Labin’s mining traditions in its mining shafts…
- …and climb its highest point – Fortica – for the most impressive view of Rabac, Mount Učka and the islands of Cres and Lošinj.
- Go hiking on the hills of Plomin, a perfect place for spectacular photography.
- Go kayaking around the islands in Medulin Archipelago…
- …bask in the sun at Medulin’s famous, one kilometer long Bijeca Beach…
- …and go windsurfing next to Medulin’s beaches!
- Banjola is known for having some of the best fishing restaurants.
- Visit the beautiful Istrian mountain of Učka and go hiking…
- …explore the hills on a mountain bike…
- …or get an aerial view of the area paragliding.
- See the alleged oldest tree in Istria in Slum.
- Explore the less known Vela Draga beneath Mount Učka, known as a unique karst phenomenon in Istria.
- Učka is also perfect to finally try handgliding!
These 99 things to see and do in Istria only scrape the surface of extraordinary fun you can have in Istria. So pack your bags and start exploring!
How many of these have you ticked off the list?
Is there something you saw and did in Istria that is not on the list?
Author: Petra Škofić
Photo Credit: Photonet