Istria is one of the growing travel trends of the spring. Croatia’s been in our portfolio for quite a few years now. We are seeing a continuously growing interest in this small, gorgeous country. Of course, ‘Game of Thrones’ helped fuel the fire of excitement surrounding Croatia. However, everyone who takes a vacation there, for GOT or not, understands that the country is something special.
Dubrovnik, Split, and Hvar are all ‘must-sees’ for our clients. Yet, lately we’ve been having more requests to include the north-western area of the country. This are is called the Istrian peninsula- and there is good reason to visit!
Getting to know Istria
This peninsula is located just south of the Italian region of Friuli-Venezia-Giulia. It was under Venetian command for circa 500 years until 1797 when the Hapsburgs moved in. After that, Napoleon had a brief reign before the Austrians ruled for a little over a century. The end of WW1 saw the peninsula officially become Italian territory until Yugoslavia was formed in 1947. Finally, in 1991, Croatia became its own country and the region of Istria a part of it.
With all of this international movement in such a small area, the peninsula took on an interesting mix of different cultures. You might hear some Italian thrown in when someone speaks in Rovinj. Or find houses that look faintly Austrian in an inland village. It’s a wonderful seaside mix of uniquely Croatian culture with a Mediterranean and Austrian flair.
Istria is easy to get to- it has it’s own little airport in the city of Pula. If you’re flying internationally, the best choices would be Venice or Zagreb. Both are just about 3 hours away from the peninsula. Istria can easily be combined with Venice. It can also be incorporated into a complete Croatian itinerary that includes all of the beautiful coastline.
Things to see in beautiful Istria
Gorgeous Rovinj is a wonderful village to base your self when visiting the local area. The town has a definite Venetian look to it – in fact it’s officially bilingual. It’s also home to one of the most luxurious properties to have opened in the past years, the Grand Park Hotel. Located outside of the village, but an easy walk or bike ride away, the hotel was built in a modern style, yet incorporates the hillside in its architecture. The many floor-to-ceiling windows look straight out onto the picturesque village.
From Rovinj, there are a number of daytrips that you can take, both in the inland and on the coast. One of our favorites is truffle hunting with a local family. Most people don’t know that Istria has one of the most favorable climates for both the black as well as the prized white truffle. The type of truffle depends on the season, but year-round different types of truffles can be found. We love walking through the woods with anticipation of what the dogs might find- and then enjoy the fruits of their search with a home-made meal overlooking the panoramic countryside and Istrian hill-towns.
On your way back, why not stop in charming Groznjan? Home to artists and other creatives, the town is delightful to visit all year long. During the summers, a number of talented musicians host camps for those studying instruments and often host impromptu concerts throughout this Medieval village.
Istria also is home to high-quality Croatian wine makers. Ancient traditions and modern investments are at the heart of most of the wineries in the area. A day of wine tasting- or even relaxing at a winery resort for a few days is a great activity for your stay in Istria.
Brijuni National Park
The Brijuni National Park is a group of 14 islands off the coast of Pula and worth a visit for its cultural, archeological and natural importance. A day trip there could also include a stop in the town of Pula to visit the remarkable Roman ruins.
Istria for beach lovers
If you don’t want to venture too far for your beach vacation, the laid-back islands of Cres and Lošijn are a short boat ride away from the Istrian mainland. Nature-lovers and active travelers will love the stunning countryside and crystal-clear waters that both offer.
Croatia tailor made for you
If Istria looks like the perfect addition to a Croatian vacation, contact us to learn more. These are only a few of the many ideas we have organized for clients. Istria has been so requested in the upcoming year. So many of our clients looking to discover this special Adriatic country. There are so many incredible experiences in Croatia that we cannot wait to show you!