Although Croatia's largest peninsula, Istria (Istra to the locals), is still relatively small, meaning you can pack a lot into just one trip. The western coast hosts some of the region's most popular towns, including Umag, Poreč, Rovinj, and Pula. The eastern coast is quieter but still offers secluded beaches, Austro-Hungarian glam in Opatija, and a large national park, Učka.
While the coast is perfect for swimming, boating, and eating lots of fresh seafood, inland Istria offers an entirely different scene. In the north, you'll find the hilltop towns surrounded by vineyards and forests, including Motovun, Grožnjan, and Buzet. In the south, it's much flatter with fields of olive groves that produce some of the world's best liquid gold. Favorite towns include Bale and Vodnajn, plus Fažana, which, along with Pula, offers access to the islands of Brijuni National Park.
With forests, beaches, mountains, rivers, islands, and even a fjord, one of the best ways to experience Istria is outside.
Cycling Around Rovinj
Explore Istria's natural beauty, history, and archeology with a bike ride through Rovinj's coast and countryside. By following a popular cycling route, you'll pass several interesting sites, including an old Venetian rock quarry, a nature reserve home to over 220 bird species, Roman ruins, medieval churches, and one of the locals' favorite swimming spots. Read More
Explore the forests of Istria with the help of a professional truffle hunter and his dogs! Travelers love this unique adventure, as you can only find truffles with the help of trained dogs or pigs. Enjoy walking through lush Mediterranean forests while learning about this delicacy beloved by foodies around the world. After finding truffles, learn how to prepare a delicious truffle-infused meal and enjoy it for lunch. Read More
Customize your trip with help from a local travel specialist.
One way to explore a new place is through its local and regional food. Luckily, Istria is known for some of the best treats, including wine, olive oil, and truffles.
Olive Oil Tasting
Istria has won the title for the best olive oil growing region more than once, rivaling its Italian neighbors. Discover what makes the Croatian version unique and delicious with an olive oil tasting. You'll first stop in the village of Vodnjan to visit the country's premier olive oil manufacturer and learn all about the growing, harvesting, and processing steps. If time allows, make your way to other areas of Istria to stop and sample the local olive oil. Read More
Villages of Istria
One of the region's biggest draws is its quaint and charming villages. From the seaside favorites to the inland secrets, you'll discover a unique culture that shifts and changes from one corner of Istria to another.
Rovinj Walking Tour
Follow a local through the twisting streets of Rovinj's Old Town as you listen to stories about the area's history and culture. You'll stop to admire a few of the sites, including the farmer's market, the baroque Catholic church, the main square and port, and Punta Corrente Park. Let the tour be your own, and stop into artisan shops or taste local seafood at one of the city's renowned restaurants. At the end of the day, catch one of the Mediterranean's best sunsets. Read More
You might not believe that Pula has a Roman amphitheater that rivals the Colosseum. In fact, Pula's 1st-century theater is better preserved than the famous one in Rome, as it's the only one remaining to have all four towers intact. After marveling at the amphitheater, you can visit other historic sites, including the 17th-century Venetian fortress, the old Roman Forum, beautifully preserved mosaics, and even an underground network of tunnels. Read More
Explore the Inland Villages of Istria
Istria's most popular villages may be along its western coast. Still, the region's inland hamlets are known together as "Little Tuscany" and sit atop hills surrounded by vineyards and olive groves. Visit two of the most scenic: Motovun and Grožnjan. Motovun is known for its vineyards and truffle forests, while Grožnjan has a celebrated art community and incredible views across the valleys. Read More
How to Craft the Perfect Istria Itinerary
Although Istria is a region of its own, it pairs nicely with the other areas in Croatia. Because it's set in the northwest of the country, it works best to fly into Zagreb and make your way to Istria from there. But if you want to build a larger itinerary with more than two Croatian regions, you can also fly into Dubrovnik in the south and make your way up the coast, then fly out of Zagreb. This way, you don't waste any time backtracking!
How many days you spend in Croatia depends on what you want to see and do. If you only want to visit Istria on its own (which is easily combined with a trip to Italy or Slovenia), you just need about 4-5 days. But if you want to see more of the country, many travelers set aside one week and combine Istria with Zagreb and northern Dalmatia. If you plan to add in Dubrovnik and one or two of the Dalmatian Islands, tack on another week.
Past kimkim travelers have enjoyed the following itineraries featuring experiences in Istria: