This recommended Istria itinerary is the best way to discover Istria highlights scattered all over this green and blue peninsula. That harmony of blue and green colors, makes Istria an irresistible target for many visitors.
Croatia is such a diverse country that it is difficult to standardize any travel around plan of action that will cover all its important places without leaving out many 'must-sees'.
Being very close to Italy , Istria Croatia has a strong Italian flavor. The fact that Istria region offers a surprising diversity of natural resources, many compare this peninsula with 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 of 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.
When planning a trip in Istria, keep in mind that tourism in Istria, according rough calculation contributes with 40 percent of all tourist overnight stays in Croatia.
Is a week enough to explore Istria peninsula? To make the most of a trip to Istria, a car hire is essential as you'll find incredibly cheap car hire in Croatia.
Almost all Croatian cities with an airport have the highest concentration of car rental offices.
Let's assume that your Istria itinerary will start from Pula Airport.
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 islands are 6 km from Pula and are separated from the mainland by the Fazana channel through which boats from the Fazana harbor to Brijuni operate on a daily basis.
Brijuni islands consist of 14 islands and islets with two bigger ones, Veliki i Mali Brijuni (Big and Small). These islands, today National Park, are famous because of its former owner Josip Broz Tito, who had a very rare hobby, collecting exotic animals inside his Safari Park.
You can always arrange a special tours of the islands, visiting Brijuni National Park website or calling +385 (0) 52 525 888 ( firstname.lastname@example.org ).
I suggest Adriatic 4 stars hotel, a luxurious boutique hotel situated in the heart of the lively old town, completely renovated in 2015, offering a magnificent view of St. Catherine's Island.Hotel offers a free parking place and free boat ride to the the islands of St. Katarina and St. Andrew.
After you check in, spend the hottest hours of the day at hotel terrace overlooking the seaside promenade and the main square. 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 most important Rovinj sightseeing places are concentrated on its peninsula to enjoy the picturesque aspects of the old town. The best part of Rovinj sightseeing is strolling old town streets from Grisia street, known for its artists and galleries.
Another one is Vladimira Svalbe street one of the most beautiful and unspoiled streets in the old town and there are so many interesting details to visit.
If you have enough time visit Carera Street , Rovinj's most famous shopping street in the town. I'm sure Rovinj will be an unforgettable experience on Istria itinerary.
On Day 4 of Istria itinerary, take a tour and fish picnic on an excursion to 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. Read what Heather says in his travel blog about Viking, one of Lim Channel seafood restaurants !
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 inside Istria's peninsula highlights.
After you check in your hotel in Porec ( I suggest one of Valamar chain hotels) like Valamar Diamant Hotel, 4 stars hotel only a 10 minute stroll away from the historic center of Porec or Valamar Crystal Hotel, 4 stars family hotels (there's a tourist train to get to the center of Porec).
On your first day of Istria itinerary in Porec, take a walk around the Basilica of Euphrasius and many 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.
From Porec, you can stop at Livade village to visit the world's
largest truffle area where you can try a gourmet lunch at Zigante's
restaurant. Find out 5 reasons to visit Zigante !
If you're there in September or October, you can book a truffle hunt around Livade village calling ahead directly to Zigante restaurant. They will arrange the tour for you and your friends.
Restaurant Zigante organizes truffle searches in which guests have the opportunity to fully experience the beauties of a truffle hunt, enjoying in the captivating beauty of the forest of Motovun.
Day 7 on Istria itinerary tour is your departure day but it you are leaving from Pula airport, you have still time to stop at Pazin Croatia. Pazin is located in very center of 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 5.5 KM 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, about one kilometer to the north-east of Beram, cemetery chapel of 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.