The triangular peninsula of Istria, found in Croatia’s far north, slices into the sparkling blue of the Adriatic Sea. Characterised by miles of coastline and a richly rural interior, this region has its own unique identity formed by years of Italian and Habsburg rule. These historic influences are evident in the Roman ruins, Venetian façades and Austro-Hungarian style hotels dotted across the peninsula’s elegant coastal resorts, and also in its creative local cuisine. Istria is known as the ‘Tuscany of Croatia’ – and with medieval hill towns, stone farmhouses, verdant vineyards and pine woodlands folded amongst the fertile green hills of the hinterland, it’s easy to see why.
based on two sharing in a twin/double room, with a minimum of 35 passengers travelling in a specific month
April, May, June, September, October
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Refined and grandiose, Opatija’s elegant Habsburg-era villas speak of its golden age. Added to this, a wealth of architecture from many different styles is complemented by the resort’s stunning location on the Adriatic Coast, backed by deep green forest. The lovely promenade stretching across the town’s waterfront makes the perfect place to take a stroll and admire the impossibly blue waters.
Crowning a hilltop, the fortified medieval town of Kastav is packed with history, enjoys wonderful views of the sea, and is home to a magnificent castle. With a rich heritage, it’s a fascinating place known for its festivals, events, and gourmet scene.
Sitting at the very heart of the Istrian peninsula, Pazin is known for its medieval heritage and dramatic stone abyss. It was this chasm that inspired the adventure writer Jules Verne. Within the town, the Parochial Church of St. Nicholas is a fascinating construction with Gothic features, 15th century frescoes, and incredible star-shaped vaulted ceilings.
Lovely little Beram is an authentic hilltop gem which shelters some of the region’s most accomplished sacred art. Hidden within Beram’s parochial church is a much older, Gothic sanctuary that is adorned with incredible frescoes. Just outside of the village, the chapel of St Mary on the Rocks harbours excellently-preserved late-Gothic frescoes, which cover the inner walls almost entirely in a striking demonstration of mastery.
From its hilltop position this fairytale town, surrounded by atmospheric forests, enjoys wonderfully unspoilt views of the fields and vineyards blanketing the Istrian countryside. Within its fortified Venetian walls, a cluster of artists’ studios, restaurants and Romanesque buildings add to Motovun’s charm.
This engaging, commercial port town is lifted from the everyday with its breathtaking historical remains. Pula’s wealth of architectural treasures span a timeline dating as far back as the 1st century, and include Roman triumphal arches, temples, and gates, as well as a dramatic Austro-Hungarian fortress. The city’s crowning glory, however, is the astonishingly well-preserved Roman amphitheatre, which cuts an imposing silhouette on the skyline and is still used to host concerts during the summer.
With a charming smattering of Gothic, baroque and Romanesque architecture and close proximity to Istria’s verdant countryside and vast coastline, it’s easy to see why this ancient Roman town continues to draw visitors. Poreč’s highlight is the wonderful, UNESCO-listed Basilica of Euphrasius, an ecclesiastical must-see featuring luminous and brilliant Byzantine mosaics.
Surely vying for the title of most picturesque town in Istria, Rovinj is a delight with its pastel façades, cobbled piazzas, charming alleyways and pretty bell tower. Wandering the streets of this arty and creative town is a lovely way to soak up the atmosphere, but don’t miss St Euphemia’s Church: this imposing baroque building looks out over the compact port town and the sapphire sea surrounding Rovinj’s tiny peninsula.
Take to the sparkling turquoise waters of the Adriatic to enjoy the colourful waterfront houses of Rovinj from a different perspective, and admire the tranquil, car-free Red Islands. Despite their name, these two breezy, pine tree-clad islets are not red, but they do have pretty pebble beaches and intriguing rocky coves strung along their shores.
“Our suggested itinerary gives a lovely overview of the area’s highlights. I’d recommend this area to any group – it’s stunning.” (Jackie)
4 minute read
Istria is a green and rural region in the far north of Croatia, and is a destination I’ve wanted to explore for some time. Sitting on its own peninsula by the border with Slovenia, for much of its history Istria has been under various divisions of Italian rule before becoming...
By Jackie Cook
19th Dec 2018
Hand picked destinations
A land that is home to rugged mountains and a wealth of cultural heritage, what is most immediately striking about Croatia is its coast. Nearby, the tiny republic of Montenegro is a land of colourful contrasts, natural beauty and centuries of traditions.
A land that is home to rugged mountains and a wealth of cultural heritage, what is most immediately striking about Croatia is its coast. Over the border, the deep turquoise waters of Slovenia’s Lake Bled are impossibly picturesque.
The tiny republic of Montenegro is a land of colourful contrasts, natural beauty and centuries of traditions, where ancient stone towns lapped by the turquoise waters of the Adriatic Sea.
Sitting on a rocky promontory thrust into the ocean, the pale shimmer of limestone and warm glow of terracotta roofs in Dubrovnik’s old town are unforgettable. The lovely town of Cavtat sits peacefully across the brilliant blue water.