Six amazing things to do when Exploring Istria, Croatia

Rovinj Croatia
Rovinj Croatia
Croatian Countryside
Croatian Countryside

How did we get to the Istria Area?

We drove to the Istria from the Plitvice Lakes National park and the directions can be found here.  The journey was just over 3 hrs, 240km approx and a mix of motorway and A roads and some smaller country lanes.  The scenery was spectacular with high mountains coated in trees and we wondered if there were bears in the mountains which when we googled confirmed that there probably were.  If your not camping you can get direct flights to Pula from the uk Check out this link to get the latest schedule and fares

First of all let’s sort out somewhere to stay while we explore Istria. 

As usual we didn’t prebook anywhere and as it was towards the end of the season we figured that we’d find a spot on a campsite for Bob, our campervan. There were quite a few to choose from on the coast and we opted for Polidor Family Camping Resort in Funtana as it had some great facilities and was pretty central to where we wanted to visit.  

If your not camping and have flown in from the uk via the airport at Pula there are many options for places to base yourselves to explore the area. Pula itself is a beautiful city with many sights to explore Porec would be another great choice.

A Porec Sunset
A Porec Sunset
Our Croatian Campsite
Our Croatian Campsite

What is there to do in the area?

Explore Porec, Istria by Bike 

Having our bikes we cycled along the coastal path that took us into the town of Porec in around 30mins.  There were ample bike stands available on the promenade which allowed us to park our bikes up and explore the town.

The Euphrasian Basilica

This is a Roman Catholic basilica in Porec. The complex is an excellent example of  Byzantine architecture. Because of its exceptional value, it has been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1997.  The building has been rebuilt around 3 times as previous buildings have been destroyed by fire, flood and earthquakes.   Its well worth a visit and has some really cool features such as the mosaics, you cant miss those.

The Basilica is open daily from 7.30am -20.00pm and entrance is free of charge.  The basilica is located here – Eufrazijeva ul. 22, 52440, Poreč, Croatia

Romanesque House 

This house in the centre of town is incredibly quirky looking and dates from the 13th century.  Closed to the public but still worth a visit to see the medieval features. 

Right in the centre of town here – 52440, Poreč, Croatia so be careful not to miss it. 

Porec Museum 

This museum is primarily to protect the local culture and history.  It is spread over several buildings and has artefacts from a variety of eras.   The museum can be found here – Ul. Decumanus 9, 52440, Poreč, Croatia

It is currently closed due to restoration works and we will update when it is open again and the new entrance charges (updated info coming soon)

Take a dip in the cool clear ocean  

There are many beach areas both north and south of Porec with crystal clear water and a mix of rocky stones and fine sand beaches.   Watersports are available and equipment can be hired at many of the hotels that line the coast such as the Resort Zelena Laguna. 

Get on the Coastal Cycle Path 

There is a fantastic well maintained wide cycle route from Funtana to Porec and the cycle route passes by where we were camping.  The route is suitable for most fitness levels and is primarily flat with only a few rises.   It follows the coast mainly which offers some fantastic views of the region. 

Porec Basilica Croatia
Porec Basilica Croatia
Porec Croatia
Porec Croatia
Boat trip to Rovinj, Istria?

One of the best things we did was take a boat trip from Porec down the coast to Rovinj.   I don’t remember the exact company we used but there are many vendors lining the promenade of Porec offering all sorts of trips.   We chose one to Rovinj which left at approx 10am in the morning and returned around 4pm giving us plenty time to explore the city of Rovinj.   The boat journey was around an hour and it was lovely being out on the waves. 

Rovinj was beautiful and here’s a few things not to miss if you get the chance to visit:

  • Climb up the tower of St Euphemia 

  • Wander through the old town

  • Take a dip and chill on the beach

  • Have lunch in the many cafe’s & restaurants 

  • Relax at the port and watch the world go by

Rovinj was beautiful and here’s a few things not to miss if you get the chance to visit:

  • Climb up the tower of St Euphemia 

  • Wander through the old town

  • Take a dip and chill on the beach

  • Have lunch in the many cafe’s & restaurants 

  • Relax at the port and watch the world go by

Arriving at Rovinj by boat
Arriving at Rovinj by boat
The streets of Rovinj
The streets of Rovinj
Take a trip to the Istrian hill top town of Motovun

The medieval town of Motovun is spectacular as you approach it sitting atop a mountain and its a walled town and is mainly famous for its truffles. 

To get up to the town of Motovun you can drive but the streets are really narrow and there’s limited parking so we opted to leave Bob in the car park at the base and walk up to the town.  Its a fairly strenuous walk and there are shuttle buses available in the bottom car park for people who aren’t able to walk.  

A few things you don’t want to miss at Motovun:
  • Church of St Stephen in the main square 
  • Take a walk round the town walls
  • Sample the famous truffles in one of the many restaurants – we chose Konoba Mondo and we weren’t disappointed

If you’re there for longer then there are some wonderful hiking trails to explore and also since truffles is the main tourist attraction you can book yourself onto a truffle hunting tour. 

Loads to do in a spectacular area. 

The hilltop town of Motovun Croatia
The hilltop town of Motovun Croatia
A countryside view from Motovun Croatia
A countryside view from Motovun Croatia
Explore a lovely little coastal town of Istria – Funtana 

Funtana was a town just down the coast from our campsite and it was a lovely cycle down, along the coast for an evening meal or just for a wander round the quirky little streets. 

One of the things that happened whilst we were looking for a bar to have a glass of wine was that Chris happened upon a little old lady who had a few benches in her yard and sold her own wine by the carafe.  A little bar attached to her home for her own special blend of local grapes to produce a merlot type red wine.

It was delicious and we would have stayed for more if it wasn’t for the fact we had to cycle back to the campsite but that didn’t stop us buying a couple of bottles.  I don’t have a basket on the front of my bike for nothing !

Local winemaker Funtana
Local winemaker Funtana
Local winemaker still in Funtana
Local winemaker still in Funtana
Visit the historic city of Pula 

The main reason I think people visit Pula is that they have the best preserved roman ruins outside of Italy with a nearly complete ampitheatre and other buildings of historical interest.   Here’s a few things not to miss:The Amphitheatre – Its one of the best preserved roman buildings in the world and is still used today to host concerts, sporting events and outdoor cinema showings.  

It costs around £8.00 to enter for an adult and £4.00 for a child and is well worth a visit as there’s a lot of it still intact. 

The Temple of Augustus is nearby and worth a visit.  Its dedicated to the goddess Roma and Emperor Augustus and is pretty much typical temple shape.  You can go inside and the cost is only around £1.50 

Pula also has loads of cafe’s & restaurants to explore as well as extensive beach areas where you can chill and take a dip in the beautiful ocean.  Its very much a tourist town and has all the relative amenities. 

We only stopped for an afternoon but will go back one day and explore more. 

Roman Amphitheatre Pula Croatia
Roman Amphitheatre Pula Croatia
Roman Temple Pula Croatia
Roman Temple Pula Croatia
Visit a local vineyard – and get the taste of Istria

This was one of the most fun things we did whilst in Croatia.  I mentioned above that we had lunch in Konoba Mondo we loved the house wine so much we asked the waiter where it was from. 

He explained that it was from a local vineyard Vina Visintin and when we enquired where the vineyard was he said it was only 2km away and gave us the address details..    

When we left the restaurant we made our way to the vineyard and knocked on the door.

The owner spoke no English and we spoke no Croatian but between us we indicated what we wanted and he gave us a tour of his vineyard and then showed us the cellar where he let us taste some fabulous wines. 

We were only interested in the one we’d tasted at the restaurant and we bought a case of that from him and he seemed really happy.  Gorgeous wine. 

Visit to a vineyard at Motovun Croatia
Visit to a vineyard at Motovun Croatia
Visit to a vineyard at Motovun Croatia
Visit to a vineyard at Motovun Croatia

Our view

Istra has an unexplored feel to it kind of like Italy must have been years ago before mass tourism. It has some wonderful cities and towns to explore. You won’t be the only tourists there but it will feel a little more real if that makes sense. If your into truffles and wine this is a area place to visit.

Booking resources for your trip

Flights

You can compare cheap flights on the Expedia platform or here on the Aviasales website.  Both will give you a good idea of how much its going to cost you to get to your chosen destination.

Accommodation

We have always tended to use Booking.com having said that if your on a tight budget another good site to try as a comparison is Hostelworld, If your looking to compare different sites you can do that on Hotellook, we tend to look on here first to make sure we are getting the best deal.

Tours & Tickets

You can book your visits as you go at the entrance to your chosen attraction or site.  Or you could use the following links to book in advance or just to find out what your choices are in the area. GetYourGuide and Tiqets are our go to choices you could try Viator to see how they compare.

For a full list check out our resources page. Don’t forget always shop around to find the best deal for you. What works for us should be good for you but it’s always reassuring to check.

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2 thoughts on “6 Amazing things to do when exploring Istria, Croatia”

  1. Oh wow! This was just stunning! Croatia is a beautiful country, I’ve only been once but I fell in love and can’t wait to go back! It was such a pleasure to read all about your adventures! I need to look into an adventure here myself?

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