If you know very little, or nothing at all, about Istria, here’s where you can find out about this beautiful Croatian peninsula, in the northern Adriatic. Rich in history and European cultural influences, it’s pretty near perfect! Small in size, in a day you can be in the Roman city of Pula in the south, in the very hilly interior, east to the once very industrial, but now very chic, port of Rijeka, north to the borders with Slovenia and Italy and west to the Adriatic coast, with the jewels in the crown of Rovinj and Porec.
The west of Istria is Italian, specifically Venetian, influenced with its pastel coloured buildings around the harbour in Rovinj, and Italian inspired cuisine. Obvioulsy with an Istrian twist. The east, having once been the playground of the Austro-Hungarian elite, is very different in feel with its very palatial villas and sweeping coastal promenades, especially in the towns of Opatija and Volosko.
Towns and areas which appeal to tourists are geared up for modern life, but if you want to escape the 21st century, Istria is for you. Often described as being like Tuscany, you can find yourself lost (although not literally) in rolling hills, covered in vineyards, with the sea shimmering in the distance.
If sport is your thing – come to Istria. Bike trails snake around the peninsula, taking in the coast and for the more serious cyclists, up and down mountain roads, weaving in and out of medieval villages. Being surrounded by the sea, water sports are in abundance – sailing, kayaking, paragliding. If swimming is more your thing, you can plunge into the turquoise waters from the rocks above Rovinj. Or, you can roll out your beach towel and just soak up the summer sun rays.
Time Out Croatia has released a special edition which focuses entirely on Istria – andit’s well worth a flick through…