This recommended Istria itinerary is the best way to discover all the Istria highlights scattered all over the popular peninsula.
That harmony of blue and green colors makes Istria an irresistible target for many visitors – and today we’re going to check out a 7 Days Istria Itinerary that will cover the most important attractions.
Croatia is such a diverse country that it is difficult to standardize any travel plan of action that will cover all its important places without leaving out many ‘must-sees’ – especially when the number of days to spend in the country.
But despite all these, seven days in Croatia give you more time to check out at least the most important parts of the country.
Being very close to Italy, Istria has a strong Italian flavor. The fact that the Istria region offers a surprising diversity of natural resources, many compare it with the Tuscany region in Italy.
There are two reasons why Istria is lately very often on the ‘bucket list’ of many travelers. The first one is its vicinity to Italy (from Trieste is less than an hour drive or from Venice by high-speed boats, it takes about three hours).
The second reason is the lower price what makes the cost of a week in Istria well below the cost of the same week just across the Adriatic.
More about the main Istria cities:
- Pula – famous Roman amphitheater
- Rovinj – romantic Venetian style coastal town
- Porec – extraordinary Byzantine mosaics
- Motovun – top Istria hilltop town
- Groznjan – hill town artists’ colony
- Buzet – town of truffles
7 Days in Istria – Itinerary
Is a week enough to explore the Istria peninsula? To make the most of a trip to Istria, a car hire is essential in order to cover as much space as possible. Fortunately, car rental in Croatia is really cheap and there are many options available.
All Croatian cities with an airport will have several car rental businesses, and most of the other important cities in Croatia will offer many options as well.
For today’s recommended week-long itinerary in Istria, we’ll start in Pula (as it is one of the major entry points in the region).
Days 1 & 2: Pula
On day 1, after you land at the Pula airport, take a cheap car transfer (less than 30 US$ for 1 to 4 personas) to your hotel. Take one of centrally located hotels to be close to the most important Roman monument in Istria.
After you settle in at your hotel, start exploring Pula’s stupendous Roman ruins. Start at the spectacular 2nd-century Roman Amphitheater and be sure to rent one audio tour apparatus to use as you explore the arena.
If you are traveling with kids, audio tour will help them revive the underneath of arena where animal and human competitors were kept before battles.
After the amphitheater, take a walk to the Temple of Augustus on Trg Republike in the center of town. Explore the top town highlights like Augustus Temple, The Triumphal Arch of the Sergi, best known as Porta Aurea or the Golden Gate.
If you prefer, take a two-hour guided walking tour that includes all most important historical monuments.
End the day with pizza, spaghetti or a fish dish at one of Pula’s many restaurants. Don’t worry as when you get the bill you’ll know you’re in Croatia and not Italy. Pick one of best ranking restaurants in Pula according TripAdvisor travelers.
On Day 2 , of Istria Itinerary it’s time to hop on a boat to the lovely and historic Brijuni Islands. Be sure to book a tour that includes an actual stop on the islands and not just a ride around them.
The Brijuni islands consist of 14 islands and islets with two bigger ones, Veliki i Mali Brijuni (Big and Small Brijuni). They’re just 6km away from Pula and they’re a real joy to the eye!
These islands, today considered a National Park, are famous because of their former owner Josip Broz Tito, who had a very rare hobby, collecting exotic animals inside his Safari Park.
Days 3 & 4: Rovinj & the Limski Fjord
Start Day 3 by picking up your rental car and heading north to Rovinj. It’s only 36 Km from Pula.
Book in advance one of the hotels near the Rovinj old town to make sure that you’re close to all the important attractions.
I suggest the 4-star hotel Adriatic, a luxurious boutique hotel situated in the heart of the lively old town, offering a magnificent view of St. Catherine’s Island. The hotel offers a free parking place and free boat ride to the the islands of St. Katarina and St. Andrew (make sure to double check when you book to make sure that the offer still stands).
After you check in, spend the hottest hours of the day at the hotel’s terrace overlooking the seaside promenade and the main square, to rest a bit and prepare for some exercise.
In the afternoon, start with a walk up Rovinj’s hilly streets to its highest point and St. Euphemia Church.
Visiting St. Euphemia Church, you will be rewarded with fabulous views of the sea and the islands of St. Catherine and the Red Island. Do not miss climbing for 10 Kuna on church belfry.
The best part of Rovinj sightseeing is strolling old town streets from Grisia street, known for its artists and galleries.
Another one is the Vladimira Svalbe street, one of the most beautiful and unspoiled streets in the old town and there are so many interesting things to see.
If you have enough time, also visit Carera Street, Rovinj’s most famous shopping street in the town.
On Day 4, take a tour to the Limska Draga Fjord north of Rovinj. It’s about a 20 minute car-ride away known as one of the most beautiful natural resources of the Istria peninsula, Lim Bay.
Lim Fjord is part of the 35 km long Lim Valley (Draga). The Fjord itself is a little bit longer than 10 km, it is 30 meters deep. The water of the Fjord is partly brackish, where you’ll find a well-known fish and oyster farm (oysters, mussels, sea basses ).
There’s a little hut where you can buy the fresh shellfish and naturally a couple of restaurants that are specialized in seafood – where you can try the cooked version if you prefer it better, ha.
Days 5, 6, & 7: Porec and Green Istria
The next stage on your Istria itinerary will be Porec Croatia, your base for the rest of the week. Porec is 34 km to the north of Rovinj and driving by car is the best way to explore not only Porec, but some of the highlights that are deeper inside the Istria peninsula.
On your first day in Porec, take a walk around the Basilica of Euphrasius and enjoy the numerous Renascence buildings and take a look at the amazing Byzantine mosaics preserved there.
Have dinner and then spend some time wandering around Old Town’s shops with an ice-cream cone in hand from one of Porec’s many ice-cream shops before you return to your hotel.
Day 6 on your itinerary will be entirely dedicated to Green Istria’s medieval hilltop towns. Take your rented car to visit some of the most famous hilltop towns like Motovun and Groznjan.
From Porec, you can stop at the Livade village to visit the world’s largest truffle area where you can try a gourmet lunch at Zigante’s restaurant.
If you’re there in September or October, you can book a truffle hunt around Livade village calling ahead directly to the Zigante restaurant. They will arrange the tour for you and your friends.
Day 7 on your Istria itinerary is the departure day, but if you are leaving from Pula airport, you have still time to stop at Pazin.
It is located in very center of the Istria peninsula, 53 km from Pula, 36 km from Rovinj, 58 km from Umag and 32 km from Porec.
The town Castle is the biggest and the best-preserved medieval fortress in Istria. It was first mentioned in written documents in 983.
The Pazin cave is a top attraction that leaves a strong impression on every visitor and it’s possible to learn and find out more about the Pazin cave by walking on the pedestrian trail.
If you have time, you can finish your Istria itinerary taking the short drive from Pazin to Beram, a small village with one of the most interesting late Gothic frescoes in Croatia!
The frescoes are not exactly in Beram but in a tiny cemetery chapel, about one kilometer to the north-east of Beram, called Sveta Marija na Skrilinama (St.Mary).
But the detail this church is best known for is definitely the Dance of Death or Danse Macabre with skeletons carrying scythes and blowing horns as they lead townspeople to death.
After that it will be time to get on the road and head out of town through the Ucka Tunnel and to Pula airport or all the way to Zagreb if your Istria itinerary has started from there (or if that’s where you’re planning to end it).
Hopefully this was helpful and our recommended 7 day itinerary for the Istria peninsula will help you fall in love with this part of Croatia.