Sprinkled along the shores of the Adriatic Sea, Porec (Parenzo in Italian) firmly stands as the most developed tourist hotspot, not only in the Istria region but across the entire Croatian landscape.
The entire Porec area is devoted to summer tourism, so if you decide to stay anywhere in the region, you will be treated like royalty.
The tourist resorts stretch north and south along Istria’s west coast. They draw in tourists from other European countries, mainly Italy and Germany, usually from June to September. And that is when you should plan your visit too in order to get the most out of Porec.
The tourist facilities dot the 37-kilometer stretch of the Porec Riviera coastline, between the Mirna River and the Limski Channel.
Southward, you’ll find sprawling tourist villages with amazing beaches and sea views like Blue Lagoon, Green Lagoon, White Cove, and Brulo.
Towards the north, you have Materada, Cervar, Ulika, and Lanterna. And these are the areas where over 30% of foreign tourists to Croatia come for unforgettable vacations.
In today’s article, we will learn why so many people love the Porec region in Croatia, but I will also tell you about some of the best places to stay here, things to do in the region, a bit of history and, of course, the best beaches you MUST visit.
Best Places to Stay in Porec, Croatia
Even before setting foot here, you must choose a place to stay. There are plenty of high quality options available, but if you want my opinion, here are three of the best for all budget ranges (including some of the best all-inclusive hotels in Croatia).
My top recommendations in the Porec Riviera are:
- 4 star Valmar Tamaris Resort Porec: An All-Inclusive, high luxury and recently renovated resort that is perfect for families, located in the oasis of the Lanterna peninsula in Porec.
- Hotel Park Plava Laguna: One of the top picks in Porec, this beachfront resort is surrounded by stunning green parks and sometimes has All Inclusive deals (but not this year).
- All-Inclusive Hotel Zorna: With a beachfront location, the All Inclusive Hotel Zorna in Porec offers everything you need for a relaxing holiday on a budget.
Porec on the Map & How to Get There
Occupying the western park of the Istria peninsula, Porec is nestled on a small but extremely charming peninsula that is approximately 400 meters long and 200 meters wide.
The city’s harbor is naturally protected by several islands, with St. Nicola Island being the most prominent.
The greater area of the Porec Riviera extends from Novigrad in the north to Vrsar in the south, covering a span of 37 kilometers.
Its strategic geographical location puts Porec within easy reach of central Europe’s major cities. Therefore, it is located just 49 kilometers away from Trieste, Italy, and 102 kilometers from Venice.
The nearest airports are Pula Airport, just 44 kilometers away, and Zagreb Airport, approximately 197 kilometers from Porec. The city itself, as well as the entire area, is very well connected by buses which are really cheap in Croatia.
Those driving from Italy or Slovenia can take Highway A9, a north-south motorway in Croatia stretching over 78.3 kilometers. You can learn more about this highway on Wikipedia.
Visitors from the Italian city of Venice can also hop over to the Istria peninsula – and Porec easily – taking advantage of the Venezia Lines, a high-speed passenger ferry operator linking the North Adriatic coast of Italy with Croatia.
The company maintains regular connections to the Croatian coast from late May to mid-September.
To better pin Porec on the map, you can read my previous article sharing the Istria peninsula map.
Porec, Croatia Weather: Perfect Summers for Tourists
Porec benefits from a mild, pleasant Mediterranean climate, boasting warm summers with low humidity and over 10 hours of daily sunshine.
Sea temperatures sometimes soar up to 28°C, providing a warmer experience than the southern Adriatic, while the weather itself remains bareable.
Of course, with the climate change that is going on, we’ve seen in the past couple of years some shifting and strange weather patterns in the Porec area, sometimes with record hot temperatures, but also with temperature drops and unexpected rain or wind.
The region experiences moderate winds normally, with the light mistral most common in the summer. Winters are mild too and snow is a rarity.
A Glimpse into Porec’s History
Porec’s history, spanning over 2000 years, has seen the city under the rule of various states and rulers. The most influential epochs in Porec’s history include:
- Around 2 BC, the Romans established a settlement along the natural harbor, developing it into a fortified town. The Roman influence remains visible today in the city’s orthogonal street grid, with main streets such as Cardo Maximus and Dekumanus, and the central Forum remaining intact.
- During the period of Christian persecution in the 3rd Century, Porec’s first bishop, Mauro, fell victim to the Romans’ oppression. In the 6th Century, Bishop Euphrasius constructed a basilica that is now a gem in the town’s architectural heritage and one of the top things to visit when here.
- From 1267 to 1797, Porec was under a Venetian rule. Its influence is still evident today in the Romanic houses and a handful of striking Venetian Gothic palaces.
Top Things to Do in Porec, Croatia
Being a place with such a rich history, Porec has a few attractions that you must visit during your breaks from the rest and relaxation provided by the amazing hotels, as well as the beautiful water.
With these in mind, let’s talk more about the things to do and see in Porec, as well as around the old city.
1. Visit the Euphrasian Basilica
Without a doubt, the most popular attraction in Porec, we have the Euphrasian Basilica, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Take your time to wander through the well-preserved complex of religious structures, including the bell tower that offers a nice panoramic view and a chance to take some truly Instagram-able photos.
An amazing testament to Byzantine artistry, the Euphrasian Basilica is a must see attraction for people of all ages.
2. Take a Walk on the Old Town’s Streets
The old town of Porec has preserved the street layout of the Old Roman Castrum, with the two main streets, Dekumanus and Cardo Maximus, still in their original, antic forms.
Dekumanus Street, the main promenade running east to west through the center of the Old Town, is one of the main things to see when here and you will enjoy walking this street soaked in history, for sure.
The former Roman forum, now known as Marafor Square, still holds remnants of two temples. The most prominent, dedicated to the Roman god Neptune, is an impressive 30 meters wide and 11 meters long.
3. Explore the Baredine Cave
A short drive away from Porec, the Baredine Cave will definitely amaze you. There are stalactites and stalagmites aplenty, extending five floors below ground.
I recommend getting a guided tour in order to maximize your experience and learn more about the cave itself and its unique wildlife (including a unique type of fish, called the human fish).
Plus, most guided tours also offer a ride to and back from the cave, which is an added bonus for those who don’t have a car.
4. A trip to Sveti Nikola Island
Just a short boat ride away from Porec’s mainland, Sveti Nikola Island is the perfect place for a day of sun-soaked relaxation on a sandy beach near Porec (Maro Beach) or a trip in the unique park of the fairy tale Istrian Fantasy Forest, just opened in 2023.
With well-maintained beaches and a crystal-clear sea, this island paradise offers a tranquil retreat from the hustle and bustle of city life and definitely a nice escape, at least for one day.
5. Enjoy the delicious local wine
Wine lovers are treated well when in Porec, where local wine cellars and vineyards offer various types of wine tasting opportunities and amazing food.
You simply must try Croatian wine, which should always be on the menu for any Croatia itinerary.
My favorite? By far Damjanić, where you can taste the amazing Istrian Malvasia Classic dry white wine, or the intense Duro Istriano (red wine). You can find out more about them on their website.
6. A day full of Adrenaline at Aquapark Aquacolors
With plenty of adrenaline-pumping slides (and little natural shade), Aquapark Aquacolors is a perfect choice for those looking for some adventure in Croatia’s largest aquapark.
After testing your courage in one of the water slides, relax a bit in the largest lazy river in Southern Europe (500 meters long) or practice your swimming in one of the three huge pools, including a Wave Pool with a pebble beach and a pool for children.
I strongly recommend getting a full day ticket – click here to check out the prices book in advance.
7. Savor the Sea on a Boat Tour
Many operators offer day trips that take you around the Lim Bay and Rovinj, often including lunch and swimming stops.
Some even provide evening tours, allowing you to witness the magical Istrian sunset from the sea or dolphin watching.
No matter what you prefer, a boat tour is a must when you visit Croatia.
8. Enjoy the Local Gastronomy
No visit to Porec would be complete without indulging in the local Istrian cuisine. The region is renowned for its truffles, olive oil, and fresh seafood, as well as the wine that we’ve already mentioned.
For a memorable gastronomic experience, try the local fuzi (traditional Istrian pasta) with truffles, or feast on a platter of the day’s fresh catch in a konoba, a traditional Croatian tavern.
To get more to the point, I strongly recommend you to visit Cotton Club Porec first – while it is indeed a touristy place (most of them are), it has amazing food and is one of the oldest running restaurants in the area. All their dishes are absolutely awesome.
Once you’re done with it, even though you will most likely want to visit again, don’t ignore the fine dining at Restaurant Spinnaker for dinner only (prepare to spend some serious money there though) or the more affordable, but really good Kono Aba (again, dinner only).
Best Sandy Beaches Near Porec, Croatia
Most likely, your main reason for visiting Porec in Croatia is that of enjoying the sun, the beaches and the amazing waters of the Adriatic.
While Croatia wasn’t blessed with plenty of sandy beaches like other summer destinations in Europe, there are still a few really good ones to choose from and enjoy during your stay.
From secluded inlets to lively, amenity-packed stretches, here are my top picks for the best sandy beaches in and around Porec, Croatia:
- Maro Sandy Beach (on the Sveti Nikola Island)
- Beach Parentino (with small sand area)
- Plaza Hotel Marea
- Beach Laguna
- D’OR Beach Club (to the South, towards Funtana)
Now you know about the amazing Porec area in Croatia and you can enjoy the best of it. If you still have advice in terms of what to do – or additional questions, let me know and I will gladly answer.