Quite remote, so a car is essential. But that was what we wanted this time round.
The combination of coast and mountains in the Istrian region provide extremely varied leisure facilities. Hiking, cycling and pony trekking are popular activities through winding country lanes, rolling hills and coastal pathways. Beautiful rocky beaches line the rugged shores while underwater ancient wrecks, coral reefs and caves are inhabited by schools of colourful fish.
Waterskiing, windsurfing and tennis are all available to try, or visit the scattering of neighbouring islands and national parks to breathe in the fresh, clean country air.
Built in old stone, Istria’s main bustling summer holiday resorts on the Istrian coast are a delightful mix of narrow cobbled streets and Venetian-style houses. Picturesque squares reveal a medieval urban structure, alongside old town walls, Baroque churches and fortresses. Explore ancient Roman influences and medieval settlings - found in equal measures in Istria’s main resorts and in tiny historic hamlets scattered amongst the rolling hills. Byzantine mosaics and sculptures are widely celebrated and on display, while local pastimes are regularly practised across the region.
Plenty of small restaurants, pizzerias, café-bars and galleries line the waterfront resorts. Its calm, relaxing atmosphere is perfect for casual dining and late-night coffee drinking. Known as a region for concerts, film and culture, you’ll find evening entertainment varies between the main coastal areas - from musical events to art, sculpture and dance.
A sprinkling of cocktail bars and busier nightspots are on offer, but the discreet, social atmosphere lends itself more readily to the traditional Croatian way of life.
Local dishes are depicted by Croatia’s history, with strong Italian and Austrian influences. Expect to find freshly grilled fish, soups and stews on the coast, and pastas, wild boar and truffles further inland. Istrian hospitality has evolved into a tradition that is widely shared with visitors enjoying a villa holiday. Rural estates offer dishes prepared in the traditional style of ancient recipes - washed down with locally brewed beer and wonderful wines that you can either enjoy there or in the comfort of your own private villa. A simple sign ‘vino’ means you are passing an area rich in farms and tasting houses.