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Why you should skip Split and Dubrovnik and head to Istria instead • allé custom travel planning and travel inspiration

Rab Island

For a trip to Croatia, most people are fast to rush off to well-liked cities Split and Dubrovnik. And yes, these cities are pretty. The Dalmatian coast and Recreation of Thrones filming places are sufficient to draw anyone in. But did you know there’s more to Croatia than simply Split and Dubrovnik? Permit us to introduce you to Istria.

Istria is the guts shaped area in Croatia’s northwest. It borders Slovenia and is surrounded by the waters of the Adriatic Sea. Istria is the mixture of Mediterranean and Italian influences, as well as Central European impression and historical past. This fascinating region has the whole lot going for it – from beautiful seashores and charming towns to delicious meals and homegrown wine – with out the crowds you will discover in Split and Dubrovnik.

Listed here are six reasons for you to add Istria to your Croatian itinerary.

Lovely seashores

Istria’s 336 mile lengthy coastline is residence to a number of the most lovely beaches in Croatia. They’re numerous and whether you’re in search of family fun, dog-friendly, or romantic and secluded, you’ll find a seashore that fits your needs right here.

Whereas you gained’t find many sandy beaches in Istria, you will find rugged landscapes, pebble beaches, clear waters and lovely views of the Adriatic. Take pleasure in rocky slopes and pine forests that shield bathing coves from getting overcrowded. Away from the large towns, you’ll still find a way to find pure and unspoilt seashores that you can have all to your self.


Another thing the beaches in Istria have going for them? The Blue Flag (plava zastava). The Blue Flag is a world certification of ecology and environmental preservation that’s awarded to qualifying beaches. This certification guarantees that awarded beaches preserve the surroundings, have high requirements for water and seashore high quality, and are surrounded by lovely scenery and high-quality providers. The Blue Flag, awarded annually, is given to many Istrian beaches making certain they’re a number of the greatest on the earth.

For lovely pebble beaches, take a look at Sipar, Cuvi, Njive and San Polo. If you choose sandy seashores, Istria does have a number of together with Bijeca, Lanterna and Zambratija. For naturists, head to Sveta Marina and Porto Sole. There are also some lovely seashores on the islands off of Istria, however extra on that in a minute!

Island hopping

Visiting the islands off the Dalmatian coast is a well-liked exercise for Croatian travellers, and the same may be carried out for the islands off of Istria.

From Rovinj, you can take a fast day trip to the small island of Crveni Otok. Take pleasure in lovely water views from every angle and pedestrian dwelling. However the primary islands you’ll need to discover lie to Istria’s east.

Start on Cres Island, a rugged place with tall cliffs on the coast. Head to Cres City, the Venetian harbour city that looks like a sleepy Italian fishing village out of the 15th Century. Venture additional to Osor, which was once a business buying and selling middle within the Middle Ages, and Valun Seashore, a small seashore with calm waters. Lastly, you’ll need to visit the eco-center that’s residence to Cres’ well-known Eurasian griffon vultures. These creatures have a wingspan of greater than nine ft and stay on Cres’ coastal cliffs.

Mali Losinj

From Cres Island, head south to Losinj Island. If you’re there in Might you can enjoy the Losinj Culinary Pageant, good for seafood lovers. The town of Mali Losinj will possible be your first stop. This previous shipbuilding centre is now greatest recognized for its lovely scenery. Go to Mali Losinj’s port and Cickat Bay, house to one among Istria’s few sandy seashores.

After Mali Losinj, you’ll need to go to her little sister, Veli Losinj. Veli Losinj is an attractive fishing village with charming slender streets, stone houses, lush gardens, and a famed Venetian Tower.

Veli Losinj

Additionally in the area you’ll discover Croatia’s largest island, Krk Island, residence to one other one among Istria’s uncommon sandy seashores, Baska. Spend your time exploring medieval Krk City, consuming Zlatina wine in Vrbnik, viewing the Franciscan monastery on Kosljun Island, and having fun with the seashores of Malinska.

Krk Island

For more island hopping, there’s Rab Island and Pag Island. Rab Island is the place you’ll discover a lot of sunshine, lovely beaches in Lopar, rural vineyards and scenic Rab City. Pag Island, a well-liked filming location, is understood traditionally for its salt manufacturing. Lately it’s additionally house to a well-liked music pageant, native cuisine like Pag cheese and Pag lamb, and untouristed rock seashores.

Pag Island

Town life

Istria is house to a few of the most charming and must-visit towns in all of Croatia. Listed here are a number of of our favourites.

Begin your exploration of Istria in the northeast in Opatija, an cute seaside city. This was as soon as the chic place to go for the Austro-Hungarian elite. Nowadays, there’s still numerous glamour and luxurious to be found in Opatija, as well as baroque villas from days gone by. And when you’re in the temper for some delicious delicacies, head to close by Volosko, certainly one of Istria’s foodie scorching spots.



Head west to Istria’s inside Mirna Valley to Buzet, the truffle capital. Buzet is situated on a hill and was as soon as part of the Venetian empire, benefitting from structure of that time. At the coronary heart of truffle country, Buzet celebrates Istria’s prize produce with monthly festivals and an enormous pageant within the fall.

From Buzet, we’ll head to interior towns Motovun and Groznjan. Towns like these are the rationale why Istria is usually referred to as “the new Tuscany.” Step again in time and take pleasure in Venetian colonial structure in Motovun. Visit the Church of St. Stephen, the Renaissance Municipal Palace, and the stone lions in town walls. Groznjan, a Venetian fortress, is now better referred to as an art colony. Visit galleries, take pleasure in open-air live shows, and admire the Venetian structure of yesteryear.



A drive to the west coast takes us to Istria’s crown jewel, Rovinj. This lovely city is full of boutiques, art galleries, wine bars and pastel colored Venetian houses. Explore the Previous City, climb the Cathedral of St Euphemia, visit Crveni Otok island, and indulge within the day by day catch that you watch the fishermen usher in off their boats. If you’re on the lookout for luxury, there are plenty of VIP seashore clubs and positive dining alternatives to satisfy.


Lastly, we’ll head to Istria’s southern tip and visit Pula. Pula is greatest recognized for its Roman ruins and impressive shoreline. Take a look at the Roman amphitheatre and different historic sights in Pula’s historic centre, take to the water at the Verudela peninsula, and take pleasure in optimum diving and snorkelling in Pula’s clear waters.


Foodie heaven

What’s a vacation vacation spot with out a tremendous food scene? Lucky for foodies, Istria is the right spot to indulge. For more intimate experiences, you can participate in cooking courses, farm-to-table restaurant eating, and even go truffle mushroom searching with educated canine.

With its advantageous spot within the Adriatic Sea, Istria is clearly residence to great seafood. Nevertheless it’s additionally impacted by the meat-loving tradition of Central Europe and the cooking types of nearby Italy. All of that, mixed with recent native produce, leads to loads of nice consuming throughout the area – from family-run inns to effective dining institutions.

Recent seafood, like oysters, crab claws, fish and octopus, are plentiful throughout Istria. Every little thing is recent and seasonal. Probably the most famous seafood in the region is oysters from Limski Kanal. Restaurants participate in a Shellfish Days Pageant within the spring to have fun recent oysters, mussels and scallops.

Istria is usually heralded for having a few of the greatest olive oil in the complete world. It is usually produced by local farmers making certain high-quality and individual flavours. The Buje area produces a few of the greatest olive oil and is properly value a go to for a style.

In fact, probably the most well-known Istrian produce is the truffle. The inland hills, like truffle capital Buzet, are famed for his or her truffle manufacturing. And this delicacy is added to virtually every dish in Croatia. Truffle varietals, such as the prized white truffle, grow at totally different occasions throughout the year in the Mirna Valley. They’re discovered during a truffle hunt with educated canine or pigs.

One other Istrian specialty? Asparagus! Wild asparagus grows within the spring in Istria and is usually added to salads, soups and purees. Cheese is one other highlight of Istrian cuisine, probably the most well-known being truffle cheese, in fact.

It’s not all concerning the seafood in Istria. Meat plays a large position in Istrian delicacies as nicely. Prsut, cured ham, is salted and typically served as an appetizer with cheese and wine. Istria additionally produces boskarin (ox), kobasice (fatty sausage) and ombolo (smoked pork loin). Many of those flavourful meats are cooked on the open fireside.

With its Italian affect, Istria prides itself on its pasta. House-cooked Istrian pasta is recent and scrumptious – it’s typically eaten alone with just a few herbs and truffles. Anticipate to see handmade local variations of twisted pasta, fuzi, and gnocchi, njoki, in lots of Istrian restaurants.

Wine scene

In fact, you’re going to need one thing to wash all that fantastic meals down with! Luckily, Istria has simply the thing. The native wine scene is crammed with numerous and top quality wines good for any professional or newbie sommelier. Actually, Istria was awarded Wine Region of the Yr 2017 by the Swedish wine tasting association Munskänkarna. This award signifies that Istria’s wine region deserves extra attention, makes unimaginable wine, and is a superb spot for wine tourism.

The 2 most popular local wines you’ll find in Istria are Malvazija and Teran. Exploring the wineries around Istria permits travellers to style these two varietals, Malvazija and Teran, which are not heard of in lots of other wine circles around the globe.

Malvazija (or Malvasia) is a crisp white wine that’s produced everywhere in the Istrian peninsula and is the preferred white within the area. Radovan and Clai are two of the high-quality Malvazija producers within the area. Malvazija grapes are a few of the oldest in Croatia, courting back to historic Greece.

Teran is a wealthy, earthy pink wine. It’s Istria’s pink wine of selection. It is typically a deep ruby purple in color and may be mixed with different purple grapes. An area Istrian beverage, supa, is actually made by combining mulled pink wine with sugar, olive oil and pepper. It’s served with a slice of bread that’s used for dipping.

Once you’re carried out with the wine, you can transfer onto Istrian spirits. Probably the most famous Istrian spirit is Biska. It’s an amber mistletoe brandy made within the region round Buzet, the place truffles are discovered. Other well known and liked Istrian brandies embrace Ruda, famous for its inexperienced color and therapeutic properties, and Medica, a honey brandy served chilly.

Biking paradise

Apart from nice meals and lovely beaches, Istria is also referred to as a biking paradise. The right means to discover Istria’s vineyards, charming towns and seaside ports is on two wheels.

There are more than 620 miles of cycling trails all through Istria. Bike tourism is booming in Istria and is an space the area has completely developed over the previous few years. Bike and Mattress accommodations have popped up all around Istria to permit cyclists to benefit from their journey across the area. Bike Friendly Factors, where cyclists can service their bikes and get assistance with tools and spare elements, are one other improvement in Istria’s bike tourism.

Istria’s bike routes are broken down into two colors: Blue Istria and Inexperienced Istria. Blue Istria hugs the coast of the Adriatic Sea, affording cyclists blue water views and stops at Roman ruins in Pula and Porec. Inexperienced Istria includes the luxurious and hilly interior of the area, full with charming cities and vineyards.

Biking in Istria is appropriate for all health and experience levels. Routes are marked based mostly on problem, allowing cyclists to select the path that most accurately fits them. In reality, the area has such numerous biking trails that many professional biking teams head to Istria to practice. In the early winter months, when summer time crowds are gone and much of Europe is just too chilly for outside training, Istria is the right spot for skilled cyclists.

Probably the most well-known bike path in Istria is Parenzana. This route used to be a railway line that related 33 cities from Trieste to Porec. It has now been redeveloped for cyclists and hikers. If you’re in search of a challenge, attempt Ucka Mountain by Rijeka. This path is the ultimate leg of the Tour of Croatia cycling competition. It’s tallest peak, Vojak, is 1396 metres above sea degree and provides lovely views all the best way to Krk and Opatija.

With lovely clear water seashores, island hopping opportunities, charming historic cities, delectable cuisine, fantastic wine and all the biking paths you might need, how is Istria not your first selection in Croatia? Move over Split and Dubrovnik; we’re heading to Istria.