Nowhere in this tiny peninsula is very far, and even when you are up in the hills of the interior, the coast is only ever 30 minutes away. A frequent bus service connects Pula with the coastal towns of Rovinj and Porec, which both look out to their grandfather, Venice. In season, a ferry can take you across the water for a day trip to the sinking city, not that you really need to. Rovinj was built by the Venetians and the tall buildings of the former island drop down to the water in true Venetian style.” Antonia Windsor, The Guardian
We are sure that you’ll like the Istrian rolling hills inland as well as the clear blue sea and the beaches, but here are alternative tips for your trip. In no particulars order.
As you enter Pula town the first thing to greet you, will be the Arena; a Roman Amphitheater, which was once the site of gladiator fights. It was built in the 1st century AD during the reign of Emperor Vespasian, at the same time as the magnificent Colosseum in Rome.
The arena is a magnificent monument where in the summer is used for classical as well as pop concerts; not to be missed! Additionally one can watch movies in this amazing setting during the Pula film festival season.
MOTOVUN FILM FESTIVAL
We love Motovun town.Situated in central Istra; its is a beautiful medieval hill town situated on 300 meters above sea level.It offers 360 degrees panoramic view of Istrian valleys all the way to Adriatic Sea. Architecturally, Motovun is very interesting place; with several Romanesque and Gothic houses in the very centre of town,as well as system of fortifications with walls, towers and gates, built in the period between the 14th and the 17th centuries.
Motovun its awesome by itself, but during the summer; the independent film festival ads to its charm.Films as well s music and partying take centre stage for 24 hour mini festival. Many people camp on its hills as accommodation in this area is scarce.
Groznjan is a 14th-century Venetian town; situated in central Istria above the river Mirna. Its location provides breathtaking views over Adriatic Sea and the neighboring hills. The town centre is still preserved until today and Groznjan’s medieval urban core has remained untouched for the most part.Todays, Groznjan is known as Town of Artists – an arts colony, where, since 1965, painters, sculptors and musicians came to live and work. This small town oozes with art and young musicians from all over the world.
Grožnjan is also the location of an annual jazz festival, attracting international musicians, such as Georgie Fame in 2007. The festival last for up to three weeks during July and August months. In 2008 it won the European award for best small jazz festival.
We like Vrsar it’s pretty, small with fanstatic views of the Lim Bay. Lots of narrow cobbled streets leading to small intimate squares above which rise the picturesque buildings,The view from the hill is truly magnificent – 18 beautiful islands resting on the wide blue sea.
Fisherman’s festival before and after the summer; May and August.Check our blogb for more news.We love this authentic local tradition of celebrating fish, wine and some local music.
On the western coast of the peninsula, you ll find the small roman town of Porec or Parenzo. Its major landmark is the 6th century Euphrasian Basilica, a UNESCO World Heritage Site; its a must see. Almost 2000 years old this lovely town is filled with cobbler roman sreets to walk and loose yourself in its charms.
Porec is a lively town at night with its many bars on the seafront you wont get bored.
We like to walk the cobbled streets around the basilica and stop for a glass of wine in the winery just opposite the church. Ask for some local ham; you wont be disappointed!There are many events happening all around the year; we’ll post them on our blog! Many of our apartments for rent are in this area.
”Surrounded by the sea on three sides, Rovinj is like a little hunk of Venice draped over a hill. It’s simply romantic.” San Francisco Chronicle
Absolutely stunning roman town situated on the western sea front of the Istrian peninsula. Its maze of narrow streets leads from the top of St.Fuma Church towards the harbour full of fishing boats as well as sailing boats and yachts. There are plenty of arts shops to explore. Located on the small peninsula its modeled on Venice; hence its Mediterranean look.
After a walk trough the town, one should have a glass of bubbly at caffe/ bar Valentino.; where the chairs are protruding stones from the water with some cushion on them! Unmissable!
BRIONI OR BRIJUNI NATIONAL PARK
The Brijuni islands an archipelago of fourteen islands is located off the west coast coast of Istria; it requires 15minutes boat journey.Well worth a visit if you like adventure, nature or the outdoors.
Apart form natural beauty Brijuni are famous for its recent past, as Yugoslav President Marshal Josip Broz Tito made Brijuni Islands his personal State Summer Residence. Various foreign head of state as well as film stars such as Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Sophia Loren, have visited. Tito died in 1980, and by 1983 the islands were declared a National Park of Yugoslavia.
If you like animals on Brijuni island you can see many local and imported species of animals roaming freely around the island; such as Istrian goat, Indian blue antelope, Somalian sheep, zebras, lamas and many more.
Right at the bottom of the peninsula you’ll find the Cape Kamenjak. Kamenjak is long, narrow peninsula. It has been proclaimed as nature park and it is under special protection. The entrance is charged a few Kunas. Kamenjak means rocky so the whole stretch is very rocky dotted with numerous inlets, coves miniature beaches and small islands. There are many dirt roads and paths all over the peninsula leading to the most hidden areas. Its very attractive area for diving, windsurfing, trekking and mountain-biking.
If you like a secluded Robinson Crusoe type of break, why not renting a operating lighthouse! Well help you find them, email us.
Since you in the neighborhood, why not visit the smallest town in the world?In central Istria, you’ll stumble upon a a medieval fortified Town, that has 17 inhabitants, and according to the Guinness book of records is the smallest in the world. Hum and the surrounding area are full of medieval Glagolic statues celebrating the glagolic script dating back to the 12 century.
Three of those 17 inhabitants own a restaurant that overlooks the valley. This place is unmissable, amazing food in a perfect setting. Ask for the specials of the day, as the menu is limited to what is in season.
Few miles from Porec you’ll find another mysterious world which took thousands of years to develop. This cave has an abundance of stalagmites and stalactites, underground sculptures created by patient and long-lasting performance of water. One can also see the so called human fish (Proteus anguinus), an endemic species that lives only there, in the karst landscape, and the miniature transparent crabs and beetles.
On the way out of the caves why not have the best pizza in the area. We love the Birikin pizza on the main road toward Porec. Not the best location but certainly the best pizza.
PLITVICE LAKES NATIONAL PARK
Not technically in Istria but we still think you should make an effort and see this Unesco protected national park 3 hours driving distance from Istria. Its absolutely stunning!