Traveling to Motovun, Croatia: What to See, What to Do & Where to Stay

Many will agree that Motovun Croatia is one of the hilltop towns that has great similarities with Tuscany’s (Italy) hilltop towns.

For the modern travelers, Istria comes in two perspectives : coastal paradise and rustic hilltop hamlets. Because the region is only about 80 km wide and 100 km north to south you can have both in the same day.

Approaching Motovun from the Istria coast, this small hilltop village may seem as a vision. But it has nothing to do with a vision. It is a certainly the most provocative and attractive town of Istria interior.

Visiting this town sitting on a hilltop some 227 meters above sea level will become a trip to the past when this town was a part of Venice.

Motovun Croatia map

Motovun (Montona its Italian name) lies at an altitude of 227 meters in the central part of Istria peninsula, overlooking the Mirna River valley. It’s only 20 km northeast of Porec on the road to Buzet.

On the map you can see that Motovun is only 25 km from Slovenia border and approximately 71 km from Trieste (Italy).

Novigrad is only 29 km from this village while driving from Umag it will take you 40 minutes. Being located in the central part of Istria, Motovun can be reached in less than an hour of driving from any coastal town.

Things to see in Motovun Croatia

Motovun is especially attractive due to its medieval town surrounded by walls that close the town in a ring form and the spectacular view of the vineyards and the Motovun Park Forest.

The bell tower of Motovun, town’s landmark dominates over the entire landscape of the river Mirna valley. This 27 meters high tower was built in the 13th century, first as the observation post and later transformed into a bell tower.

During the Venice rule, there were two rings of walls for the town’s protection. The inner ring around the oldest part of the town dates back to the 13th and 14th century and passes through the inner town gate.

The second ring of the town walls was located around the southern hill slope and you can enter it through the outer town gate dating back to the 15th century decorated with different emblems.

Although the name Motovun (Montona in Italian) was mentioned for the first time in 804, this area was known during the Byzantine Empire as one of the the richest where Motovun paid almost the tenth of the total taxes and duties among Istria population at that time.

During the Roman Empire Motovun area provided famous olive oil that they sold all over the Empire. The strongest influence on town history was left by the Venetian Republic, which ruled here from 1276 until its fall in 1797.

Evidence of the Venetian influence is present everywhere from the city gates, squares, late Renaissance church of St.Stephan to Municipal Palace.

Motovun Surroundings Highlights

  • Kaldir – a small hilltop village five km southeast of Motovun surrounded by fruit trees, the source of two thirds of fruit production in Istria.
  • Parenzana – former narrow-gauge railroad from 1902, now bike trail, with many
    tunnels, viaducts and bridges.
  • Motovun Forest (Valley of the river Mirna). famous for natural variety of tree growing in this forest like the oak and the largest habitat in the world of the white truffle.
  • Livade – World Truffle Center – Only few km from Motovun, a small Livade village located along the edge of the Motovun forest has become a host of numerous annual events and fairs, especially during autumn, including Zigante Truffle Days gathering distinguished producers of indigenous Istria products and tourists from around the world.

Motovun Croatia Events

The legend of Veli Jože

Do you believe the world of fairy tales and giants doesn’t exist and that it’s just fantasy for little children? Motovun Croatia has its own giant Veli Jože (Big Joe), the good gentle giant who represents the Croatian people of Istria.

It is a tale written by the Croatian poet and writer Vladimir Nazor back in 1908, written 40 years before Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. The story was based on local folktales and symbolically represents the national struggles of the Croats (Istria people) against domination of Venetian rulers.

In name of this in Motovun Croatia takes place every year ‘Days of Veli Joze ‘ at the beginning of June. The aim of this festival is to create the image of Motovun as a destination of world giants, fantastic fantasy literature and a place that runs film with giants.

Throughout the day, the streets of Motovun will fill with activities for children; street performers and musicians, and in the evening theatrical performances will take place.

The festival is best described as a family festival because the programs and activities are designed for the whole family and kids of all ages can have fun, learn and enjoy the beauty of Motovun and it’s giants.

International film festival

If you are in Istria last week of July or the beginning of August, I highly advice to visit Motovun Croatia International Film Festival.

During the 5 days of festival , more than 60 film are shown at five different locations with 1500 available seats. Besides the festival you can visit same exhibitions and concerts. In this period more than 30.000 tourists visit this small village.

Motovun Truffle and Wine Festival

What’s the first foodie items that come to mind when we talk about Istria? Maybe wine or olive oil? Have you ever heard of truffles?

This festival is about Istria Teran wine and truffles. The festival includes the public tasting of almost all of the teran wines produced in and around Motovun, in combination of truffle exhibition which can grow as heavy as 500 grams.

The Festival takes place in October, this year (2017) date was October 21st. Before planning a trip about this festival, verify the festival dates with a local tourist information office.

Motovun Croatia Activities

Motovun has become a major tourist attraction due to its recognizable medieval shape and mild climate. The natural beauty of the this hill-town and its surroundings is a perfect place for those who love nature and adventures.

Visitors can enjoy walking through the medieval streets, taking in views from the city walls and exploring the countryside through various bike and walking trails.

Walking trails:

Visiting Motovun area with many thick forests, lush green meadows and paths, visitors can choose two popular walking trails; 661 Motovun-Zamask and 662 Zamask-Motovun.

Bike trails

There are three bike trails in the Motovun area which have been marked:

  • 602 Vocni put (Fruit Trail) –
  • 603 Stara ferata (Old railway)
  • 601 Veli Jože

Motovun Croatia Paragliding

From May until November is the best season for experience joys of flying like a bird. If you decide going paragliding in Istria, Motovun is the right place, solo or in a tandem with a paragliding instructor you can trust.

Motovun Golf Courses

Combine your hobby with a holiday and play golf in Motovun. Come to Motovun Golf Club, because your golf game in such ambience will become a whole new experience.

The driving range is powerfully dominated by the town whose tower serves as a perfect orientation point for a 6 hole drive.

At the foot of Motovun, only 6 km away from the hotel Kastel, Golf Club Motovun has its own golf course. Although it only has 6 holes that make a total of PAR 22. The golf course has a beautiful view of the old town of Motovun. The Motovun tower provides the perfect landmark for the “drive” to the 6th hole.

How to find it? Half way between Buzet and Buje turn left toward Motovun over the River Mirna, then after 100 m turn right, at the end of the pebbled road you’ll find the golf course.Contact Person: Tom Ivankovic, Mobile +385 98 257 180.

Where to stay?

3 stars Boutique Hotel Kastel is the only hotel in Motovun Croatia. The hotel itself has a fantastic location, probably the best place to stay in Motovun.

It’s located at the very top of a 277 meter-high hill where the medieval town of Motovun stands. In front of hotel there is a terrace with centuries-old chestnut trees which also mark the beginning of the promenade through the walls of the city.

The guests will find true pleasure in having their morning coffee or dining specialties from the kitchen of our restaurant in the shade of centuries old chestnut trees and closed areas of the restaurant.

Almost every window of the magical construction offers an exceptional view of the town square, the town streets, the landscape of central Istria, the valley of the Mirna River and famous Motovun Croatia vineyards.

Hotels offers also wellness and spa center with indoor swimming pool with hydro-massage and waterfalls, sauna oasis with Finnish dry sauna and Turkish steam bath, spa treatments (massages, facial and body treatments).

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