I’ve been lucky enough to visit Croatia a few times over the last 18 months, and in that time I’ve come to really love the place, for many reasons. If you’re a culture vulture, like me, I’m sure you too will love Istria – the North Western peninsula of Croatia. But there are also loads of places to visit and attractions ideal for a great family day out, and fitness fanatics will also not be disappointed…
So if you’re wondering what all the fuss is about, I have squeezed everything into a classic ‘Top 5 Reasons to Visit…’ countdown for you
5. Sporting activities
Not an obvious choice I hear you cry, however, Istria is full of different sporting facilities so anyone wanting to try something different or experience a certain activity for the first time will be in their element! Water sports, tennis, golf, horse riding, hand gliding, cycling, caving and climbing facilities (to name but a few…) can all be found scattered around Istria. Whether it’s a leisurely cycle around the area or a more serious instructor-taught lesson you want, you’ll definitely find it here.
This Northern part of Croatia does has some fab beaches, although mostly pebbly or paved. But the facilities at most of them are very good, the water is typically clear and shallow so great for kids, and the views across the water from most of them are amazing! And of course, you don’t take half the beach home with you 😉
3. The food
Istria is famous for its wine, ham, olive oil and in particular, truffles. I don’t think I’d ever tried truffle before being in Croatia but thinking about the bowl of freshly made pasta topped with truffle shavings we had one day for lunch is making me salivate as I write this!
This part of Croatia belonged to Italy for a number of years in the early part of the 20th century and its influences are still obvious today. Istria has a rich wine and olive oil producing background, in strong competition with Italy. The last Sunday in May is Wine Day, a popular festival when all of the local farms and wineries open their doors to anyone wanting to find out more about the process of making wine, as well as sample some and even buy a bottle or three to take home with you!
The same goes for olive oil. There are various planned routes along the Adriatic coastline where you can visit olive oil mills, plus taste and buy the produce.
2. The scenery
Croatia is simple beautiful, end of. Always make sure you have a photo taking device to hand so you can, as I did below, capture moments like this!
The number 1 reason to visit Istria has to be its wealth of art, interesting history and culture.
Despite our Croatia programme only currently having villas close to Pula and Porec, anywhere in Istria can be reached in around an hour or so by car so hiring one and exploring the area is a must! We saw the Roman Amphitheatre, the Roman Arch of the Sergi and statue of James Joyce in Pula, the Church of St. Euphemia in Rovinj, and explored the quaint cobbled streets in Porec. Just walking around you’ll see so many photo opportunities, stunning architecture, and beautiful scenery across the harbours and hillsides. And there are various archaeological sites, museums, collections and frescoes to see as well.
Sadly, I didn’t get to see the beautiful island of Brijuni, the valley of Lim, or Hum, the world’s smallest town. But that just gives me a good excuse to go back!