Istria

Istria, probably the most-visited tourist destination in the country, offers a stunning range of possibilities for any traveler type. Regardless of whether you prefer sightseeing, gastro-tours or a more active form of tourism, there is a good choice of day-trips and activities offered in virtually all parts of this incredible region.

 

The largest peninsula in the Adriatic Sea, shared by 3 nations: Croatians, Slovenians and Italians, has always been considered a geographic, climatic and cultural crossroads. The mountainous plateau in the northern and north-eastern part of the peninsula (comprising the Učka and Čićarija mountain ranges) and the central Istria have a continental climate. The climate of the north-western coast of Istria (the areas north of the Dragonja River belonging to Slovenia and Italy) is sub-Mediterranean, just like the climate of the east coast (from Opatija to Rabac and Labin). The west and south coast (areas between Piran and Pula) enjoy a warm, Mediterranean climate with significantly less rainfall.

Motovun-Istria
Pula-Arena

Centuries of the Venetian rule and a century of the Austrian-Hungarian reign have left their traces on the architecture and culture of Istrian towns. History lovers will be enchanted by ancient Roman towns (such as Pula, Rovinj and Poreč), numerous churches, monuments, archaeological sites, fortresses and castle ruins. The gem of ancient Roman culture, Pula, boasts a temple of Augustus, a Roman Forum and, most importantly, one of the best preserved amphitheatres in the world.

Medieval town of Hum, in the central Istria, is officially listed as the smallest town in the world, with its population of 21. Despite its miniature size, the town possesses considerable charm, abundance of historic places and the best Istrian herb-flavoured grappa (called Biska).

 

Natural attractions of extraordinary beauty, such as the Brijuni National Park, the Lim estuary, Cape Kamenjak, as well as numerous caves and caverns, are an excellent setting for engaging in outdoor activities like trekking, horse-back riding, free climbing, diving, sailing, fishing and speleo-adventure.

Town of Hum-Istria
Gastronomy
Truffles-Istria

Istrian gastronomy is a mix of Italian, Austrian and Slavic culinary influences and local traditions, with a heavy emphasis on the use of aromatic herbs, edible wild plants and organic produce. In comparison with other Croatian regions, Istrian traditional dishes are somewhat lighter, due to the fact that Istrians prefer boiling to roasting their food. They eat a lot of fish stews, Maneštra (thick bean, potato and pancetta soup), black cuttlefish risotto, Novigrad-style scallop stew, boškarin carpaccio or steak (the indigenous cattle breed in Istria) and, of course, pasta dishes (there is a choice of home-made pastas, such as fuži, pljukanci and pasutice) served with chicken or game goulash. Many of these dishes are regularly seasoned with the immensely popular Istrian specialty – black or white truffles. They can be served with literally any dish – from a starter to a dessert – and they will taste fabulous. One of the best traditional spring starter dishes is undoubtedly a wild asparagus frittata, served in all restaurants across the peninsula in April and May.

 

Fine Istrian wines are usually accompanied by premium cold cuts, which invariably include: the Istrian non-smoked prosciutto, Ombolo, exquisite Istrian sausages seasoned with truffles, rosemary or olives, blue cheese with honey, marinated pilchards and pickled olives. The region’s signature product – award-winning extra virgin olive oils – come in a variety of flavours, depending on the combination of olive varieties. Traditional growing and processing techniques make the Istrian olive oils a very sought-after product among both the locals and the foreign visitors.

Wines
wine tours istria

The best-known Istrian wines, Malvasia Istriana and Teran, have numerous fans worldwide, due to their gentle flavor and the fact that they are easily paired with any food. The full-bodied, harmonious Malvasia, with a light flowery aroma that reminds of acacia and a slightly bitter almond flavour, has its own festival, celebrated every year in the picturesque town of Brtonigla.

 

Eminent Istrian winemakers, such as Cattunar, Bertoša, Degrassi, Kozlović, Veralda, Trapan and Tomaz, excel in the production of refreshing and seafood-friendly whites (Malvasia, Žlahtina, Chardonnay and Sauvignon), as well as rich and robust reds (Teran and Merlot), which are a perfect match for dark meat dishes, such as game stews.

 

To finish a great meal, Istrians may serve a simple traditional dessert such as labinski krafi (sweet ravioli filled with fresh cheese, raisins, rum and lemon zest) or cukerančići (dry biscuits soaked in grappa and coated with sugar) with a glass of their most delicious Muscat. The white Muscat of Momjan, whose irresistible smell of wild carnations, roses and sage, is said to have aphrodisiac effects.