Kempinski Blog Article
One of Croatia's best-loved regions, Istria combines the idyllic beauty of the Adriatic with ancient historical attractions, beautiful coastal towns and delicious cuisine. If you are looking for a Mediterranean destination where you can enjoy green countryside, UNESCO heritage sites and dense forests, side-by-side with sunny beaches and lively nightlife, Istria is the place for you.
Istria's central location has meant that over the years it has been conquered by all kinds of emperors, kings and dictators - Roman, Venetian, French, Austro-Hungarian, Italian, and Yugoslavian. Due to this complex history, the region is dotted with a diverse range of sights, making it a great place for a historical and cultural trip.
The peninsula's approach to tourism is equally mixed, offering visitors everything from large resorts and budget destinations, to deserted, forest-lined coves and cultured hilltop villages, home to restaurants that use ingredients from the local surrounding fields.
Then there are the seaside towns of Poreč, Pula, Rovinj and countless others, all known for their pretty, winding streets, authentic restaurants and distinctive character.
Istria's main travel hubs are Pula and Poreč. Pula welcomes many international visitors from destinations such as London, Dublin, Oslo and Frankfurt, while Poreč sees boat traffic from Venice. The Italian city of Trieste, approximately 80km from Istria, is also serviced by multiple international airlines.
Travelling by train, services run to Rijeka and Pula from Ljubljana in Slovenia, and by bus, Pula, Rovinj, Pazin and Motovun can be reached from Venice, Zagreb, Trieste and other cities in the region.
When entering Croatia, you will need to check whether or not you require a Schengen Visa or Croatian Visa, as Croatia is part of the EU, but it is not part of the Schengen zone. Click here to find out more.
Visitors staying at Kempinski Hotel Adriatic near Umag can enjoy the scenic one hour drive through the Istrian countryside from Pula to the hotel, or a 40-minute drive from Poreč. Once you arrive, you can enjoy the hotel’s peaceful setting amongst vineyards and olive groves, five restaurants and bars, luxury spa treatments, and a range of outdoor activities including golf, sailing and scuba diving.
The region's food is world-renowned, using a mix of traditional flavours and the fresh local ingredients available, such as boskarin beef from Istrian cattle, of which only a small amount is produced each year. Then there is the abundance of fresh seafood on offer, such as Novigrad scallops, Adriatic squid, and oysters which can all be enjoyed year-round. Wild asparagus and truffles are also tasty local delicacies.
For Mediterranean flavours Monte in Rovinj is a good choice for fine dining, while Toncic in Zrenj offers a truly rustic experience. Choose to eat at the acclaimed Buščina (Umag) and La Puntulina (Rovinj) restaurants, which combine the two styles for a delicious and enjoyable meal.
The extensive peninsula of Istria has lots of places to explore and sights to discover. Whether you prefer charming scenery or ancient monuments, here are our recommendations.
One of the most picturesque towns in Istria, Rovinj was established by the Romans, before developing through the years into a town with a variety of different architectural styles. Medieval, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, and Neoclassical buildings line the winding streets, making for an elegant and enjoyable place to explore.
Built in the first century by Roman Emperor Vespasian, the amphitheatre in Pula is the region’s most famous attraction. Once capable of seating 20,000 people within its white walls, today it can still host 5,000 visitors for festivals, and there are museum exhibits to explore in its underground passageways too.
Brijuni National Park
Once the summer home of ex-Yugoslavian president Marshal Tito, the 14 islands that make up Brijuni National Park contain all sorts of hidden treasures, including historical ruins, beautiful scenery and even a safari park. To visit, head to Fazana and take the ferry across the water to this spectacular archipelago.
Located in Poreč, the Euphrasius Basilica is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that dates back to the sixth century. See stunning gold-leaved mosaics, a huge range of archaeological finds, and learn about the history of Christianity in the Istrian region.
If you want to experience what traditional life is like within Istria's interior, head to the pretty hilltop village of Groznjan. This beautiful retreat has wonderful architecture, cafes, art galleries and amazing views over the surrounding countryside – perfect for sunny days out.
For more information on the treasures that Istria has to offer, click here to contact our team.