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Istria Area Information

“Thank you so much...
...for a fantastic holiday in such a beautiful location. I spent the whole week being continuously speechless - as did the whole party!”
Miss K Lawson, London

We say...
“I first went to Istria in Croatia six years ago and was instantly smitten by the warmth of the people, the spectacular landscapes and the remarkable restaurants.
But it was the vibrant colours that particularly stood out for me: the conker-red fertile soil, perfect for sustaining the battalions of olive groves and vineyards; the turquoise sea, clean and transparent; the warm, golden hue of the local stone; the lush greenery with pine woods here, oak forests there.
Delving deeper, I discovered a fascinating and chequered history that has bestowed a rich legacy; a legacy brought vividly to life in the region's traditions, architecture and excellent cuisine.”
Andrew Hillyard
Area Specialist Croatia


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HOME | Croatia | Istria Area Information

Istria - Croatia Area Information


Area Information for Croatia

Heart-shaped and surrounded by crystal clear Adriatic waters, Istria has for centuries been an intersection of different cultures: visit Roman ruins; Venetian ports; haunting medieval hilltop towns; and be sure to look inside its larder, bulging with grapes, olives, truffles and seafood.

Pretty country byways snake up and down this striking peninsula through vineyards and olive groves. As Istria is only around an hour's drive from top to bottom, you are never too far from anywhere, including the coast which is not more than 30 minutes away from all the houses in our portfolio.

Tranquil Beauty Perched atop a lush, green hill is the historic little medieval town of Motovun. Life here is relaxed and friendly:do not be surprised to be offered a glass of local grappa (called biska, a mistletoe flavoured liquer) by hospitable locals. This is the heartland of 'truffle country' - a forested area world famous for this rare delicacy, with virtually every restaurant boasting its own truffle related speciality.

Laid back Oprtalj is equally impressive. A place where children play in the cool shadows of narrow cobbled streets and alleyways, amongst the stone and brightly painted façades of beautifully restored buildings standing as testament to a rich architectural heritage.

Area Information for Croatia
Grožnjan is the city of artists and music where galleries and concerts abound. Sleepy Sovinjak offers one of the most dramatic views in the whole of Istria whilst Završje, largely uninhabited, is an aesthetic delight. South of here, hilltops punctuated with cypress trees give way to rolling fields and woodland dotted with glorious stone built villages, some bustling, some with just a handful of residents, others deserted, all equally captivating. Compact Višnjan, dominated by its tall campanile, is an attractive cluster of terracotta roofed dwellings. A wander around its intimate network of narrow streets with views across to the Adriatic is most rewarding.

Many towns on Istria's west coast merit close attention. Peninsula bound Novigrad has a Venetian derived bell tower and medieval rampart remnants; Poreč, on a finger promontory, is a precious city overlooking the sea. Decumanus, the main artery of the old town,was built by the Romans whilst the grandiose basilica, completed during Byzantine times, is now one of UNESCO's world heritage treasures. Vrsar is a hilltop town crowned with an impressive church tower looking down onto a marina where fishing boats snuggle up to luxury yachts; and Rovinj, all pale, pastel painted waterfront façades whose old town is a clenched fist of cobbled alleyways, arched passages and captivating Venetian architecture.

The dramatic Limski Kanal, a fjord like rift stretches inland, rich in fish, oysters and mussels and home to two spectacularly located,widely celebrated restaurants. Svetvinčenat, a town of just 300 people,bursts into life every summer hosting concerts in the walled fortress of Grimani and dance festivals in the town square - one of the most attractive piazzas in all of Istria.

Historic Barban with its grand baroque gate (Vela Vrata), announces the rugged eastern coastline of Istria where the old town of Labin, with its wealth of soft ochre painted palaces, high on a hill, offers staggering views over the Gulf of Kvarner, across to the island of Cres.

Area Information for Croatia
Vodnjan's sizeable Italian speaking community dates back to when the peninsula was part of Italy. The towering campanile of St Blaise's church, modelled on St Mark's in Venice, is the tallest in Istria and as the patron saint of singers it is not unusual for opera stars to visit the church prior to performing in Pula's amphitheatre. It was the Romans who established Pula; their rich legacy includes the Forum, the temple of Augustus and the aforementioned amphitheatre, the fifth largest in the world, which today plays host to many summer concerts and festivals. A lively market also takes place daily.

The Brijuni Islands lie north-west of Pula, a small archipelago famous as the summer retreat of former President Tito and now a National Park.Access to this historic conservation area is strictly controlled with ferries running only from the picturesque little fishing village of Fažana. Croatia's coastline is indented by wide bays and sheltered coves lapped by warm Adriatic waters renowned for their clarity.

Most Istrian beaches are of the shingle, pebble or weathered rock type with the sea temperatures usually reaching a peak of around 22-25°C in August and September. Naturism has been widely practiced on the Adriatic coast for many years and there are specific coves and stretches of beach specifically set aside for naturists.

Cuisine

Istrian cuisine is comparable to Italian and French gastronomy with a central European influence. Hearty Istrian soup, maneštra, is an equivalent of Italy's minestrone, rich in beans, vegetables and, sometimes, cuts of meat. Spicy sausages, game and various grilled meats are widely available as well as a lovely array of fresh seafood. Fuži is a homemade pasta often served with a helping of goulash, asparagus, mushrooms or wild boar. Istria offers an overwhelming choice of truffle based dishes including polenta topped with melted truffle cheese, veal in truffles or ombolo, a semi dried grilled meat, softened by a rich truffle sauce.

Seafood such as octopus, squid, mussels and scampi is ubiquitous; the scampi is served in its shell, the size of jumbo prawns, often on a bed of pasta in a sauce known as buzara, made from garlic and white wine. For dessert, try pancakes (palačinka) filled with chocolate, ice cream, walnuts or jam. Accompany your meal with a locally produced wine such as Degrassi, Koreniki, Arman or Matešović.

Climate

Istria enjoys a largely temperate Mediterranean climate. In the spring and late autumn, days will be comfortably warm with cooler nights. Summer months are hot, tempered by a cooling breeze in the evenings.

Getting There

At the time of going to press, Ryanair fly from Stansted to Pula three days a week (Tuesday,Thursday, and Saturday) whilst Thomson has flights from Birmingham, Gatwick and Manchester to Pula on a Tuesday between May and September. In addition, Jet2 operate a Manchester - Pula flight on a Saturday between mid May and early October. Alternatives are to fly to Trieste in Italy with Ryanair or to Ljubljana in Slovenia with easyJet, both daily from Stansted and both about 100km from Istria via good road links. For these routes we have arranged with our suppliers special permission and rates to take your hire car across the border(s) into Croatia. Istria is also within driving distance of the cross Channel ports and can be reached with one overnight stop each way.

All visitors to Istria are required to pay a one off Registration Fee of Kn36.60 (€5 approx) per person and a Resident Tax of Kn7 (€1 approx) per adult per day (12 - 18 yrs pay half this amount), under 12's, no charge. These taxes are collected locally unless otherwise specified in the property description (Please note: amounts correct at time of going to press but are subject to change.).