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Despite its diminutive size, the peninsula packs in so much, ticking boxes for those seeking outdoors activities, culture, gastronomy, history or just rest and relaxation.
Perched at the top of the Adriatic, where the Croatian and Slovenian coasts meet, Istria is a compact destination, ideal for short breaks. Despite its diminutive size, the peninsula packs in so much, ticking boxes for those seeking outdoors activities, culture, gastronomy, history or just rest and relaxation. An enchanting starting point is Rovinj, where a stroll through its narrow streets can be punctuated by al fresco coffee and dining breaks. Istria’s past is on display around every corner but the showstoppers are Pula’s huge amphitheatre and the UNESCO-listed Byzantine mosaics in Poreč. Be sure to venture inland and uphill to gaze out over rolling vineyards from settlements like Grožnjan, Hum and Motovun.
If you want an active element to your holiday then Istria doesn’t disappoint. Its blue seas make swimming, sailing and diving irresistible. Hiking routes range from scenic strolls to demanding mountain treks. Those who favour two wheels will also feel at home, especially on the off-road route along the old Parenzana narrow-gauge railway. And then there’s the food – what the coast delivers in fresh fish and seafood, the inland area answers with truffles, olives, game and dry-cured pršut. All sorts of idiosyncratic festivals put a quirky spin on visits – from world-class film screenings in Pula and Motovun, to Lovran’s celebrations of wild asparagus, chestnut and cherry.
Istria’s location makes it a great base for day trips to nearby Rijeka. It’s also highly recommended to hop over the border to Slovenia’s coastal towns, like Koper and Piran, and inland sites such as Postojna Cave and the Lipica stud farm.