On the southern tip of the Istrian peninsula lies Medulin, one of the most visited tourist destinations in Croatia.
Unlike others in the group (namely Rovinj, Poreč, Dubrovnik and Umag), which are bigger coastal cities and undeniably more talked about, Medulin’s quiet rise to the top didn’t come from nowhere. Once primarily a fishing settlement, it slowly turned its resources toward tourism and steadily grew over time, inch by inch, offering something new every year.
Without further ado, let’s look at reasons why Medulin truly belongs among the Croatian tourist greats.
A remarkable riviera
The municipality of Medulin has seven smaller towns, besides the main one, Medulin. These are Premantura, Banjole, Pješčana Uvala (Sand Valley), Valbonaša, Vinkuran, Pomer and Vintijan.
Medulin is situated in a bay, with Pomer and Premantura on the west. It has its own splendid little archipelago, facing the open Adriatic Sea, with isles Ceja, Bodulaš and Levan.
What attracts the most is the cove Bijeca, with a phenomenal, kilometer-long sandy beach. If you are a parent, you probably want a place where you can easily watch over your kids playing in the sand or shallow water, while you’re lying on the beach or in the shade of a pine treetop, cozily reading a book or the paper. In that case, Bijeca is exactly what you’re looking for.
It also has fun water activities, like trampolines, pedal boats for rent and a water slide.
If you continue along south, you’ll eventually reach Škrape beach, a favorite among locals. It’s part rocky, part gravelly, with plenty of sunshine. There’s a surfing school at the beginning of the beach, and great restaurants along the way.
On the other side of the bay, you can find another great beach called Belvedere, right under the 4-star Hotel Belvedere. It has all kinds of sports playgrounds nearby, be it football, basketball, beach volleyball, paintball, mini-golf, or the popular Mediterranean game of bocce.
A well-lit promenade with numerous bars and restaurants connects the entrance to Camp Medulin with Belvedere.
Camping is very popular with visitors coming to Medulin, as you will see all types of tents or RVs around, with various flags and license plates from all over Europe and wider.
Camp Medulin starts from Bijeca beach, going through the Mediterranean pine forest of Kašteja and down to Škrape beach. It has all the amenities needed for a camp, like restrooms, showers, restaurants and shops.
A great spot is right at the end of Medulin Bay, past Škrape, where a small round peninsula offers cool shade, wonderful air and an even more wonderful view of the archipelago and opposite Premantura.
Camp Kažela is also very popular, located some 2 kilometres east of the town centre, past Hotel Belvedere. Similar to Camp Medulin, it is also partly located in a forest, equipped all-around, with every possible facility ranging from diners, cafés, news stands, shops to electricity, water etc. You will not have to give up virtually any of the comfort of your day-to-day life.
Both of these camps also include accommodation in air-conditioned mobile homes for a maximum of 5 people. If you’re looking for a classic stay with full comfort, there are several hotels in the area, with plenty of services.
The neighbouring four-star hotels Park Plaza Belvedere and Park Plaza right by Belvedere beach, the former being newly renovated, have rooms with balconies, hotel terraces, wellness centres, swimming pools and are overall thoroughly equipped. These hotels accommodate Croatian national teams and other professional athletes for their pre-season and post-season training, providing everything needed to keep their form and spirits up.
Three-star hotels Holiday and Koral are nearby, on the promenade in the vicinity of Belvedere and Bijeca. Another three-star hotel called Arcus, newly built, is located near Vižula peninsula, with a phenomenal view of the piers and bay from the room balconies.
Accomodation in private apartments and rooms for rent are offered literally all over town, ranging from typically Mediterranean old stone houses to newly built complexes.
A plethora of sights and activities
We mentioned some of the numerous activities Medulin offers, so let’s see what else is here.
Diving centers of Medulin, Banjole and Premantura will guide you to many sites with old ship wrecks on the seabed around the peninsula. The historical Pula and Rijeka harbours were important military strategic points throughout history, so a lot of battles were fought in an effort to take control of these cities. Remnants of various vessels and brought down planes are now part of the marine world, some still of unknown origin.
The Medulin Bay is one of the prime surfing areas in this region, with several centres offering different levels of courses, from beginners to advanced. Fans of the sport will definitely want to visit Hallowind, the European windsurfing championship taking place on Cape Kamenjak. Other extreme sports like mountain bike races and sports climbing are also featured in the competition.
You can explore the mainland on a bicycle, multi-cycle rickshaws, tourist trains or on the back of a horse. Samy’s Ranch in Medulin offers awesome horseback riding tours that lead through the surrounding forests and fields, down to the paths by the coast.
Take boat trips to the islands and even submarine tours to witness the lively underwater scenery through glass windows.
Panoramic flights over the Medulin Bay organized by Delić Air will give you a spectacular view of all the locations mentioned above, with a chance for fantastic photographs to show your relatives and friends. They also provide airplane taxi services, taking off from a small airstrip just outside Medulin.
If you’re a history buff, you might want to check out Vižula peninsula.
Remains of an ancient Roman villa are located on its south side, built in the period sometime between the first and fourth century AD and believed to belong to Emperor Constantine.
An educational trail will lead you through the refreshing forests of Vižula, where a Roman thermal complex used to be. Also, you can see a play called „Crispo“, which is a dramatic retelling of a story involving Constantine and his first-born son, performed on the site several times during summer.
While in or around Medulin, you must visit Cape Kamenjak, a protected landscape on the southernmost point of Istria.
Besides endemic plants and intact pine forests, there are sites with fossilized dinosaur footprintsdating from a hundred million years ago, with educational trails included.
The rocky macadam roads of Kamenjak are a particular treat for mountain bikers.
If you’re going there by car, you will have to pay a small entrance fee. Road signs will point you to beaches, some of which are pebbly, some with steep cliffs (ideal for jumpers) and hidden caves, but the crystal-clear sea is common to all of them.
If you’re lucky, you might stumble upon a school of dolphins, or the endangered Mediterranean monk seal, which is known to drop by Kamenjak from time to time, led by the Adriatic currents.
The gorgeous Brijuni National Park can be reached by boat from Fažana, a half-hour drive north from Medulin. The historical city of Pula is 15 minutes away, with its glorious Roman amphitheatre and numerous other antique sights.
Of course, there’s always something happening down at the promenade and in the town centre, with a market which is bursting with food, drink and souvenir stands during the summer. The youngsters will particularly enjoy the amusement park, now already one of the town’s trademarks, located right by the entrance to Camp Medulin.
You can choose between countless local restaurants, pizzerias and taverns all over town, many with live music.
Must-try local specialties: Istrian prosciutto, wine, truffles, olive oil and seafood dishes.
How to get here?
The so-called „Istrian Y“ is a complex of roads which connects different parts of the peninsula. You can get to Medulin from the east, continuing in the direction of Pula from the Zagreb-Rijeka highway, or from the border’s crossing north of Umag.
There’s also Pula Airport, some 20 minutes from Medulin by car, as well as a train and bus station.
All in all, Medulin continues to blossom, attracting more and more tourists every year, providing a joyful, relaxing and fulfilled vacation for all age groups.
Have you been to Medulin? Feel free to add your experiences in the comments! And thanks for reading!
Author: Dan Mekinec
Photo Credit: (1) Valter Stojsic, Photonet (Istria TB) (2) Miha Filej, Flickr (3) Thomas Hackl, Flickr (4) Christian Mathelitsch, Flickr (5) John W. Schulze, (6) Igor Zirojević, Photonet (Istria TB) (7) Goran Sebelić, Photonet (Istria TB)