The Istrian shore segment, which is more than 400 kilometres long, has several sights to visit. Picturesque bays, restaurants, local markets and cosy bars along the crystal clear sea water – they all guarantee that you have a versatile experience during your holiday. Istria is amongst the most beautiful and interesting regions in Croatia. It has a more pleasant, moderate Mediterranean climate than southern regions, so there are areas with green forests and beaches here.
This article gives you an overview of the following topics:
- General information about the Istrian peninsula
- What to see in Istria: In search of the most beautiful sights
- The best places to stay in Istria: nature awaits
The average summer temperature on the peninsula is 23 – 28°C. The sea water during this period is a pleasant 24°C. You can find something to your taste regardless of whether you go sightseeing or swimming on one of the amazing beaches, thanks to the beauties of nature. You must definitely visit the most famous ports and fishing towns, so if you happen to sail in the region, you might not want to miss the cities of Umag, Porec, Rovinj and Pula, as well as the Brijuni National Park and Krk islands.
Istria is well-known for its unique natural treasures, its fishing towns and its gastronomy. The peninsula is famous for the fantastic wines that are only produced here, the truffle, the special seafood and the local olives which have a unique taste. We should definitely try these delicacies.
Umag, a city with nearly 8,000 habitats, was built on a tiny peninsula. Due to the close proximity of the Italian border, around 20% of the population is Italian. The city of Umag offers countless sights to visit and recreational opportunities, both to those looking for entertainment and those who would prefer exploring the historic past of the city.
The most important sights can be found in the main square. One of these is the St. Mary of the Assumption Church, which was built in the 18th century, and the separate bell tower from the 17th century. The entire old city is characterised by the wonderful harmony of buildings from the Renaissance and Gothic era. Another interesting sight of the old city is the towers located in the southern and western ends. During the summer, they organise musical events – often all night long – in the old city. They also have “Roman days” every summer, commemorating the ancient Roman times. During these days, many locals wear Roman clothes to entertain the audience. We can try several authentic old Roman dishes as well.
Umag – Savudrija – Sipar
If you are in the neighbourhood of Umag, you should visit the Savudrija lighthouse. The oldest lighthouse of the Adriatic was built in 1818. It is 36 meters high, and its light can be seen from a distance of more than 30 kilometres. Going in the direction of Savudrija from Umag, we can find Sipar with its ruins; Sipar was established in the Roman times. There used to be a large castle in the ancient city, protecting Sipar from invaders. Unfortunately, as a result of earth movements, Sipar started to sink into the sea. In 876, pirates attacked Sipar and destroyed the whole city. If we go for a walk around the peninsula, filled with ruins, we can explore the remains of the ancient towers, ports and buildings.
It is a picturesque town on the beach, most famous for its old fishing port. Porec is about halfway between Umag and Rovinj. Once we are here, we should visit the old city of Porec, which can be found on a tiny peninsula.
We can enjoy the unique atmosphere walking amongst the sights and on the cosy Venetian style streets. The narrow streets, the city walls and some towers were built in the Roman times. One of the main spectacles of the old city of Porec is the Marafor square that has a perfect rectangular shape. The square used to be the home of Temple of Neptune. The town hall (Loggia, Porec) is located in the southern corner of the peninsula on the beach next to the Rotonda. Due to its amazing Mediterranean nature, this is one of the most frequently photographed buildings in Porec. We can also find an aquarium in the old city, with 24 pools and 70 different sea creatures. There are indigenous species and tropical fish as well. The aquarium is open between 9 a.m. and 10 p.m. every day.
It is often referred to as the most beautiful town in Istria. Rovinj is an authentic, old-fashioned romantic town with narrow streets and marvellous tiny squares. Approaching the town from the direction of the sea, we can spot the tower from a great distance, roaring into the sky. The lofty tower is one of the symbols of Rovinj. The town used to be on a tiny island. In the medieval times, they demolished the bridge connecting the island to the land, and the part between the two was filled up. Following the transformation, Rovinj became a peninsula attached to the land.
We can admire many crooked alleys, small squares and antique houses in the old city. The architecture of Rovinj has several Venetian style houses and small buildings. It is worth visiting the restaurant called Puntulina located on the western side of the old city at the beach. It is unique because of its arrangements; we can enjoy the finest dishes and drinks sitting on the terraces built on rocks. The local specialities include fresh seafood, different courses with meat and unique dishes made with the locally produced truffle. The Puntulina is also famous for the fact that in the evenings they lighten up the sea floor, making the restaurant a very exciting place.
Pula, which is the largest city of Istria, can be found in the southern corner of the peninsula. We can find monuments from the Roman and Venetian times, such as the Forum or the Fort. The most famous sight is the giant amphitheatre, where they organise dozens of concerts, theatre productions and film festivals. After visiting the Arena, it is also worth seeing Tito’s Park where we can admire a giant model of the old city of Pula. Medulin is located nearby; it is a more peaceful resort about 10 kilometres from Pula. Pula is an ideal choice if we are interested in beaches, cocktails and parties as well. Pješčana Uvala and Veruda are several nightclubs and bars. The old city of Pula has many bars and clubs, too, where they organise great salsa days every year, available to anyone.
Brijuni National Park
The Brijuni National Park, which is the only nature reserve on the Istrian peninsula, can be found near the shores of Pula. The archipelago consists of 14 smaller and larger islands; the two largest ones, Veli Brijun and Mali can be found on Brijun. The Brioni archipelago has 3 larger and 12 smaller islands. The National Park has a beautiful Mediterranean fauna and a safari park with several exotic animals. We can also find several archaeological sites from the Roman and Byzantine period, offering a perfect recreational opportunity for those who are looking for historic sights.
The largest and most populous island in Croatia. It provides countless swimming opportunities with its nearly 2000-kilometre-long shore segment. The island is mostly surrounded by small pebble – and a few sandy – beaches, and hidden bays with crystal clear water that is hard to access. There are many small islands in the close proximity of Krk, such as Rab which has sandy shore segments. The island is a great choice if we would like to go on a hike or do watersports. There is a town called Baska here; it has a wonderful old city that has nostalgic narrow streets. It is worth visiting the hidden Golden Beach as well, only accessible from Baska by boat.
Spectacular beaches, ancient fishing towns, Medieval and Renaissance architectural sights and beaches with unspoiled beauty; everything needed for sailing can be found here. Istria is the perfect spot for a family holiday, recreation and sports. HELP ME TO CHOOSE THE PERFECT BOAT