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Istria - Travel and visas
Nationals of EU countries no longer need a visa to stay in Croatia and Slovenia, and will merely need to show a valid form of identification such as a passport or an ID card. However, arrangements for UK nationals may change following the country’s exit from the EU. Most nationals of other countries may visit Croatia and Slovenia for up to three months within a six-month period starting from the first day of entry.
Istria has one international airport, at Pula, or, more accurately, 7km northeast of Pula near the village of Valtura. Rijeka also has an international airport, though it’s actually on the island of Krk so is less convenient for Istria.
Rijeka is easily reached by train from Zagreb, as is Koper from Ljubljana; Pula can also be reached by train from Ljubljana, with a change at Hrpelje-Kozina.
The Istrian coast is well connected to the rest of Croatia and several international destinations by bus. Pula has buses to Trieste, Ljubljana, Belgrade and Frankfurt, while Rovinj and Poreč have services to Trieste, Ljubljana and Belgrade. Rijeka has international services to Trieste, Ljubljana and Munich, and is well connected to most places in Istria by bus. Pazin is the only place in inland Istria with international bus connections, with one service a day to Trieste, Venice and Belgrade.
During the summer, international ferry routes operate between both Trieste and Venice in Italy, and Poreč, Rovinj and Pula in Istria, as well as to Piran in Slovenia, making it quite possible to ferry-hop between several towns on the coast.
Istria is easy to reach by car. For those flying in, or arriving by boat, major car-rental companies such as Europcar, Budget and Sixt are available at the main airports
serving onward travel to Istria. These also allow you to pick up in one country and drop off in another if you wish (at a cost).
Train travel within Istria is limited to the Pula–Pazin line, which continues to Lupoglav and then north to Slovenia. Rail fares are very reasonable in Croatia, eg: Pula–Pazin costs 37kn. A return ticket will be cheaper than two singles, and two people travelling together can get a joint ticket, which is slightly cheaper but means you must travel together.
Bus is the most convenient means of public transport in Istria, with frequent, fast services between all main centres on the coast. Pazin also has a good, fairly regular bus timetable, but most other places in inland Istria do not (most notably Motovun, despite being by far the most visited town in the Istrian interior).
Travelling by ferry is a lovely way to get around the Croatian coast, and tickets for foot passengers are a bargain (although if you’re taking a car on the ferry it’s another matter).
Istria is very easy to get around by car, and the peninsula has been on a tarmacking spree in recent years with many roads in the interior also being upgraded from the old dirt tracks (though some of the smaller minor roads still are dirt tracks, called makadamska cesta or bijela cesta). Istria’s only motorway, known locally as the ipsilon because of its ‘y’ shape, is a toll road like all motorways in Croatia.