5 things to do in Istria, Croatia

Rovinj in Istria, Croatia
The city of Rovinj in Istria, Croatia

UPDATED: 26.1.2024.

Istria’s spectacular and diverse landscapes, many architectural vestiges of its fascinating history, and delicious regional cuisine make it one of Croatia’s must-see and must-experience destinations.

This heart-shaped peninsula nestled in the Adriatic Sea has a unique charm and a lot to offer. For this reason, a trip to Istria deserves plenty of time so it can be fully savored and experienced.

In this post, we cover:

The facts are these…

5 most popular things to do in Istria, Croatia

#1 See the seaside towns in Istria, Croatia

The city of Poreč, Istria
The city of Poreč, Istria

Picturesque Rovinj is the best-known of Istria’s many stunning seaside towns, but Pula, Vrsar, Poreč, Novigrad, and Umag have their charm and also deserve a visit. The clear waters and pebble beaches draw many tourists to the beach resorts of Istria’s west coast during the summer months, but those who like to get off the beaten track will enjoy the quieter but just as scenic beaches of Rabac on Istria’s east coast.

[Read: Mošćenička Draga in Istria, a Croatian holiday town in transition]

#2 Head to the Istrian hills

Motovun landscape
Motovun landscape

The spectacular landscape of rolling hills of central Istria easily rivals that of Tuscany. A walk through the cobble-stoned streets of charming hilltop towns like Grožnjan, Motovun, Oprtalj, Buje, Završje, Labin, and Gračišće is like taking a step back in time. Once encircled with ramparts and towers, many of the old buildings making up these medieval fortified towns date back to Venetian and even Roman times.​

[Read: Hum, Istria: Smallest city in the world]

#3 Hop over to the islands in Istria, Croatia

Brijuni National Park
Brijuni National Park

Brijuni National Park is made up of a collection of small islands off Istria’s southwest coast and just a short 15-minute ferry ride from Fažana. The two larger islands, Veliki Brijuni and Mali Brijuni, are open to the public and best explored by bicycle (available for rent).

​[Read: Visiting Brijuni Islands, a national park in Croatia]

Just off Istria’s eastern coast and a short ferry crossing away from Brestova, are the beautiful islands of Cres and Lošinj. These sparsely populated islands are a haven for nature lovers, with many hiking and biking trails passing through charming port towns and fishing villages with stunning sea views.

#4 Eat at a typical Istrian konoba

Traditional Istrian konoba
Traditional Istrian konoba

A konoba is a traditional tavern, often family-run, serving up Istrian specialties like fuži, a type of handmade pasta; kupus (sauerkraut) and maneštra, a soup made with vegetables and beans. Here you can taste fresh local produce like mushrooms and wild asparagus, as well as white and black truffles, a gourmet specialty unique to only a few regions in Europe.

​[Read: Konoba Stari Podrum in Momjan, Istria]

#5 Sample the Istrian wine and olive oil

Vineyard in Istria
Vineyard in Istria

Istria is also well-known for the excellent wine and olive oil produced here. The marked ‘wine roads’ lead the way to local producers who cultivate the home-grown Malvazija grapes used to make a popular local wine. Other grape varietals grown here include Teran, Merlot, Pinot, and Cabernet Sauvignon.

[Read: Croatian wine cheat sheet]

The many signposted ‘olive oil roads’ point you in the direction of local oil producers. Istrian olive oil is cold-pressed only once, and extracted by mechanical and not chemical means, with the result being an exquisite unadulterated olive oil with a subtle fruity flavor.

View our other articles on Croatian regions

Istria outside my window

Please note: Information provided by Expat in Croatia is only for the purposes of guidance. It does not constitute legal or financial advice in any form. Croatian laws and bureaucratic rules often change, and each personal case is individual, so different rules may apply. For legal advice, contact us to consult with a licensed Croatian lawyer. For financial advice, contact us to consult with a licensed Croatian tax advisor or accountant.

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