Pedal through the vineyards, olive groves, and lavender fields of Istria's rolling landscape on this week-long cycling tour. Reminiscent of Tuscany, this part of Croatia offers a slower pace of life with its medieval hilltop villages, charming seaside towns, and rich, flavorful food. You'll sample wines and olive oils, visit ancient Roman ruins, and bask on sunny pebble beaches between tranquil rides through the countryside.

Highlights

  • Visit the artists' colony in the 1,000-year-old village of Groznjan
  • Enjoy tastings of locally-produced wines and olive oil
  • See Roman ruins and dinosaur prints in Brijuni Islands National Park
  • Explore the beautifully-preserved Venetian town of Rovinj

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Brtonigla – Groznjan - Motovun Motovun
Day 2 Motovun Loop Motovun
Day 3 Motovun – Porec Poreč
Day 4 Porec – Bale Bale
Day 5 Brijuni Islands National Park Bale
Day 6 Bale – Rovinj Rovinj
Day 7 Departure  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Brtonigla – Groznjan - Motovun

The hilltop town of Motovun
The hilltop town of Motovun

Begin your cycling tour in the medieval town of Brtonigla. From there, you'll ride past small communities and historic churches towards the village of Groznjan. This walled, hilltop town is over 1,000 years old, and is known for its plethora of art studios and galleries. 

After exploring Groznjan, you'll continue on to the city of Motovun. The damp forests surrounding the town are the perfect environment for sought-after truffles to grow, and tonight you'll enjoy a gourmet dinner of homemade pasta and local truffles.

Cycling distance: 23 miles (37 km)
Elevation gain: 1,700 feet (520 m)

Day 2: Motovun Loop

The rolling hills & vineyards of Istria
The rolling hills & vineyards of Istria

Pedal through the heart of Istria today on a loop that will take you to peaceful local vineyards and historic villages. You're unlikely to see any traffic in these parts, creating a sense that time is simply standing still.

Visit the villages of Vrh and Racice to discover hidden frescoes painted by medieval masters. Check out the wineries you see along the way and enjoy a sampling of regional wines. Make sure to try the Malvasia white wine — one of Croatia's best varieties. You'll also have the option to see how olive oil is made or to go on a truffle hunt with the locals.

On your return to Motovun, perhaps enjoy a live jazz concert in the main square as you sip on a glass of Istrian wine.

Cycling distance: 25 miles (41 km)
Elevation gain: 2,630 feet (800 m)

Day 3: Motovun – Porec

Porec
The sunny seaside town of Porec

Today you'll descend to the sparkling seaside. Cycle over the rolling green hills and vineyards, past pre-historic Illyrian settlements towards the coast.

You'll end the day in the waterfront town of Porec, which is home to the 6th-century Euphrasian Basilica and its striking mosaics.  As you walk along the city's streets, you'll notice it has a distinctly Venetian twist to its architecture. If you have time, make sure to take a refreshing dip in one of the hidden bays along the coastline.

Cycling distance: 26 miles (43 km)
Elevation gain: 1,050 feet (320 m)

Day 4: Porec – Bale

A cold press olive oil producer in Bale
A cold press olive oil producer in Bale

Ride south along the coast today until you reach the Lim Fjord, which cuts deep into the peninsula. Stop to take in breathtaking panoramic views from above. Then continue along the trail to get to a family-run agriturismo, or farmhouse that offers fresh farm-to-table meals to guests. Enjoy a delicious locally-sourced lunch before moving on.

Your destination today is the medieval village of Bale. Explore the cobbled streets of this perfectly-preserved community, where the art galleries, shops, and taverns give it a laid back, artsy kind of vibe. Stop at the Soardo-Bembo Citadel, where Casanova was said to have visited on his travels in the 1700s.

Cycling distance: 32 miles (52 km)
Elevation gain: 1,250 feet (380 m)

Day 5: Brijuni Islands National Park

Brijuni Islands National Park
Brijuni Islands National Park

Board a ferry for the short journey to Brijuni Islands National Park, an archipelago of small islands that have long attracted the rich and powerful. In ancient times, they were a favorite retirement spot for Roman legionnaires. They became known as a health resort that attracted aristocrats from all over Europe, and more recently the summer residence of the Yugoslavian dictator Josip Broz Tito, who used the islands to host dignitaries from John F. Kennedy to Queen Elizabeth II.

You'll cycle on the big island's main path, which is closed to vehicle traffic. Brijuni is steeped in history, and on your ride today you'll come across dinosaur footprints, the ruins of an ancient Roman villa that dates back to the 2nd-century B.C.E., the remains of a Byzantine palace, and a 1,700-year-old olive tree.

Back on the mainland, spend the afternoon exploring the city of Pula at the tip of the Istrian Peninsula. A local historian will provide insight into the various vestiges of ancient Roman rule, including a well-preserved 2,000-year-old amphitheater. End your day by sampling locally-produced olive oil before returning to Bale for the night.

Cycling distance: 22 miles (35 km)
Elevation gain: 1,120 feet (340 m)

Day 6: Bale – Rovinj

The picturesque seaside town of Rovinj
The picturesque seaside town of Rovinj

On your last cycling day, you'll head towards one of the most beautiful places in Croatia. Along the way, you'll travel on small gravel roads through the Palud bird reserve and past some of the best white pebble beaches in the region.

It's a relatively short day of cycling in order to give you time to properly explore the town of Rovinj, where you'll end your trip. Rovinj dates back to the era of Venetian rule over this part of the country, and you'll wander the narrow, colorful streets with a local guide. The city is teeming with cafes, restaurants, antique shops, and galleries, where you'll be sure to find unique souvenirs. 

Make sure to visit the Church of St. Euphemia, which dominates the skyline and provides spectacular views over the town and sea. Enjoy an afternoon aperitif by the waterfront, and walk or cycle through Golden Cape Forest Park to reach spectacular secluded beaches for a last dip in the Adriatic Sea. Dig into fresh seafood paired with a Malvasia wine for dinner. 

Cycling distance: 13 miles (22 km)
Elevation gain: 60 feet (20 m)

Day 7: Departure

The streets of Rovinj are full of art galleries
The streets of Rovinj are full of art galleries

Your Istrian cycling adventure ends today, but feel free to extend your trip and continue exploring this beautiful part of Europe. You'll have the option to transfer to an airport in Pula, Zagreb, Ljubljana, Trieste, or Venice for your onward flight.

Map

Map of Cycling in Croatia's Istrian Peninsula - 7 Days
Map of Cycling in Croatia's Istrian Peninsula - 7 Days