Istria is a special region of Croatia located on a peninsula and known for its gourmet delicacies, Roman heritage and of course beautiful coast and seductive inland. Because of its diversity, there is something for everybody and its local nickname is "terra magica", meaning magic territory. Whether you are a family, a gourmet traveller, a nature lover or history lover Istria has something to offer.
Did you know that you could visit this magical place as part of our BLOGGER RETREAT with Marina Comes!?
What to see?
Well, where to start? There is so much to see in Istria. The whole peninsula is the size of Tokyo but there are dozens of towns and villages one should visit while in Istria.
Pula is the largest city on the Istrian peninsula with cca. 57 000 inhabitants with surroundings. It is not the first destination that comes to mind when thinking of Croatia but it is an interesting city that offers Roman sightseeing at the footstep of multiple nice city beaches and good access to the Istrian inland ( if you get tired of the beach and city crowds).
The Roman reign left the city with historic jewels sprinkled around the town like a little treasure hunt and you can easily visit them during an afternoon or evening stroll through the city with an ice cream in your hand. Amphitheatre, locally known as Arena, is among the six largest surviving Roman arenas in the world. It is lesser known but equally spectacular as the Colosseum in Rome. You start from Golden gate aka Zlatna Vrata which was the roman antic entrance to the city and walk down “Prvomajska” to the Forum. Locals believe you should make a wish the first time you go under the Golden Gate! Forum is actually a square with a lot of bars and restaurants but there are much better places to eat so sit down for a coffee (or a beer) like a local and admire the sight of the temple of Augustus as well as the people. If you want you can look for the Roman theatre on top of the hill and in the centre of Pula. If you are eager to see the Arena just continue straight from the Forum and in less than 5min you should be able to reach it. Of course, there is a more direct way to reach the Arena but that wouldn’t be as exciting.
Located only 30-40min drive away from neighbouring cities Rovinj is equally popular with the locals as with the tourists, both as a day trip or a night out. With its romantic charm of a fishing town, a beautiful sea promenade with a view of the city, rich with local restaurants, shops and bars it is a perfect spot for exploring and a true star of Istrian tourism. With 22 neighbouring islands within the Rovinj archipelago, you can easily change the scenery for a day. Hop on a ferry to Red island (Crveni Otok) or St. Katerina which are the biggest and best-known islands. Rovinj has a beautiful sea promenade with a great view of the city that makes it perfect for a romantic date with your loved one. Wine and dine in one of the local restaurants, stroll through the city or have a cocktail on the rocks and with a direct view to the sea.
Groznjan is a little gem located on a hilltop. This stone village filled with charm, art galleries and studios is absolutely a must-see while in Istria. In summer a jazz festival is held within the city that attracts many visitors and musicians. This artistic vibe of the city has recently been extended with an annual painting festival, the Extempore. Nevertheless what your artistic preferences are you should find time to enjoy a glass of Malvazija, local white wine on the terrace with a view at the entrance of the city.
Known as the smallest town in the world it is populated nowadays only with 20 inhabitants, but it has everything a small town should have - a church, post, a restaurant, a major (inhabitants always rotate) and few shops. Try some local products from Aura shop and stroll through the stone streets. It is incredibly picturesque. On your way back stop to Kotle, a natural stone bowl shaped by water. If there is water it just looks amazing and you can enjoy the view from the restaurant.
Located on top of a hill in the heart of Istria is a little picturesque village called Motovun. It is very known for its Film Festival in the summer that has become a trademark of the city among the locals and backpackers but also the film scene. If you are in Istria it is a must to visit its inland and Motovun is high on that list of to-dos. Surrounded by massive city walls you can enjoy a walk around the town, sit down at one cafe or restaurants and enjoy the view.