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8 reasons the Istria region in Croatia should be your next vacation

Istria is one of my favorite destinations in the world and here is why I recommend you visit there:


What is Istria and where is it?

Istria (don’t confuse it with Austria!) is a peninsula in Croatia located close to Italy.

istria-on-the-map europe

During the 1 week I traveled there, I couldn’t help but wonder –

How oh how is it going to be possible to fit enough interesting things in an 80 km. strip of coastline?

But I was wrong and I publicly apologize, my dear Istria!


Rolling hills, the crystal clear Adriatic Sea, charming medieval towns, tasty delicacies, extreme activities – I felt like not even a couple of months wouldn’t be enough to fully discover the region!


You should start planning your trip to this paradise, and here is why:

1. Fantastic scenery!


Would you like to stroll through wineries, hills, palm trees, and the seaside, all in the same place?

The perfect blend of all these, without even having to drive more than 20 minutes – that is what made me fall in love with Istria!

If olive groves sharing the landscape with palm trees and the sea in the background is your idea of paradise, Istria is your ideal choice.

It is a perfect honeymoon destination (especially for towns like Rovinj), family vacation spot, party place, adventure vacation – all in one!

2. Fooood!


Even if I am not a food blogger, oh-my-God, I instantly wanted to become one trying all those delicious dishes!

Seafood especially is amazing in Istria so don’t miss your chance to try its different variations. That is what I ate all week long while there!

If you are on a diet, you can forget about it in Istria! It is impossible to say “No” to all the delicacies of the region.

You can see a more detailed post with restaurant recommendations by town in this post.

3. Istrian unspoiled hospitality


Did you know that sometimes Istria is referred as unspoiled Tuscany?

Do you know why?

Being just 2 hours away by boat from Venice, Istria has an identical landscape to Tuscany. While tourism is vastly growing in Croatia now (just check all the amazing things to do in Dubrovnik in only 2 days), it is far from what they have in Italy.

Because of the Italian “Dolce Vita” and the abundance of tourists, the service in Italy might not always be great.

As I  lived in Rome for 2 years, I have firsthand experience and I know how often things can go wrong there (Rome remains my favorite city on Earth despite all that though! I love you, Rome!).

In the case of Istria (and Croatia in general), the locals tend to be more people-oriented because of their different mentality, and, thus, the hospitality is unspoiled there.

I guess what I am trying to say is in the case of a vacation in Istria, the views are just as spectacular, while the possibility of something going wrong is lower than in Italy! 😉

4. Wine tasting in Istria!


“Živjeli” (cheers in Croatian) – remember this word, you will use it a lot in Istria!

I love wine, I have done wine tasting in places like Bordeaux and Chile and I can certainly say that the quality of Istrian wine is just as good!

Inland Istria is blessed by fertile land– you will see countless beautiful vineyards here, there and everywhere!

The fact that the Istrian region was forgotten during the Yugoslavian War is partly an advantage now.

Why? The soil was not exhausted by fertilizers as it was pretty much abandoned during the war, and now they can produce amazing quality organic wine there!

5. Thrilling adventures!


If you are an adventure seeker, you could not have chosen a better place for your vacation!

While I like to stay on a beach with a beautiful view sipping a cocktail, I easily get bored of this.

Combining the lazy and the fun – that is my perfect type of holiday!

When in Istria – the only problem is tryinh to choose among all the options of fun activities.

You can hike in the national park, go biking around an abandoned railway station, paraglide in Motovun, rappel in caves and even take a small plane (the Viper Flight) around the the coast to catch some unforgettable views!

Which one would you choose? Or maybe all of them?

Prices and contact information about each activity is in this post.

6. The most virgin olive oil in the world!


Or that’s how they presented it to me :).

Olive oil is part of the culture in Istria, it is simply indispensable. When I was a kid, my mom used to tell me:

“You have to eat soup every day to be healthy”.

Istrian moms tell you that about olive oil:

“One spoonful of olive oil a day keeps the doctor away”

Again, because of the organic soil, it has this exceptional aroma of fresh grass and olives that makes the taste truly unique. Mmm, I loved it that much that I bought a bottle to bring back home to Paris!

Istria is located on the most northern latitude where olives still grow and that is what makes the taste exceptionally soft and virgin. No jokes, try it for yourself!

7. Truffle hunting!


Istria is world famous for being the largest supplier of black truffles.

I bet you didn’t know that, did you?

Truffles are one of the most expensive and exquisite foods in the world. When in Istria, you can eat it with almost any dish – pasta, seafood, meat, ice cream and even jam with truffles! Am I making your taste buds anxious right now? 🙂

Truffles are rare. It is not that easy to find them, so you need to go hunting for them with a specially trained dog (or pigs!).

You can scavenge for truffles in the Motovun or Umag forest during the season from October to early November. It can be interesting to go see the process and who knows, maybe you will be lucky and find one!

If you are too lazy to search for one, go to the Zigante Restaurant. That is where EVERYTHING is made with truffles. More of my experience at the restaurant here.

The owner of the restaurant found the biggest white truffle in the world (it is in the Guinness Book of World Records!). Instead of selling it (worth about 5,000 EUR!), he threw a huge party for the whole town!

That is what they call Istrian hospitality! 🙂

8. Reasonable prices


I would be lying if I told you that Istria has no tourists.

On the contrary, there are many!

But soon it will get even more popular, so my advice would be to hurry up before the whole world visits it! 😉

You won’t find Balkan prices in Istria, but it is still a bargain compared to Western Europe.

The quality you get for your money is great, especially if you book your trip in advance.

I found Istria to be much cheaper than the Dalmatian Coast and definitely cheaper for what you would pay in Italy.



When I think of Istria this is what I see:

  • Unforgettable landscapes,
  • Romantic getaways,
  • Restaurants of exceptional quality,
  • A large variety of extreme activities,
  • Authenticity unspoiled by crowds of tourists.

All these make it an ideal destination for any type of vacation. I didn’t even get to discover all of it yet!

I spent 10 days in the region in total doing different things every day, and it is just incredible how there are still so many things to see and experience. I will definitely go back as soon as I can!


P.S. I am actually a huge fan of Croatia and I have written a couple of posts about the places that I liked the most! Other MUST visits in the country are Split and the Plitvice lakes.

NEW POST: 8 Charming towns in Istria you should visit!

Thanks so much for reading this article; if you liked it, please share!

Any questions – just write them down in the comments, I will reply ASAP!


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By |2020-08-10T10:05:21+04:00September 15th, 2016|Croatia, Europe|15 Comments
About the Author:
Yulia is originally Russian but truly is a world citizen in the heart. She was traveling around the world for over 4 years now. Her blog is created with the purpose to inspire people to travel more and to share her advice on how to travel "smart".


  1. @findandjourney 16.09.2016 at 05:47 - Reply

    Hi Yulia,
    Thanks for sharing your experience How did Istria become on your radar? I’ve never heard of Istria before reading your article.
    P.S. Awesome website, truly inspiring!

    Thanks, LaVerda

    • Yulia 28.09.2016 at 12:33 - Reply

      Hello and thanks so much for commenting!

      I know, it is interesting how Venice in Italy just 2 hours away is overpopulated, but people hardly ever heard about Istria that is definitely not less beautiful!
      I give it a couple of years maximum before the beauty of Istria will be discovered and widely known by everybody. I guess I play my part in it too, sorry! 🙂

      If you choose to go there, have a great vacation and maybe this post might help you to better plan your stay – 🙂

  2. Annika 16.09.2016 at 11:03 - Reply

    I find Istria very comforting. Thanks for the recommendation but Dubrovnik is my favorite destination so far.

    • Yulia 28.09.2016 at 12:35 - Reply

      Hi Annika!
      I still havent been to Dubrovnik (one day for sure!), but I am afraid my heart is left in Istria already! 🙂

  3. Jon Dunn 03.05.2017 at 14:20 - Reply

    Great article. I spent a week there, based in Pula but did trips to Rovinj and Poreč – where I had the most incredible pizza of my whole life, to back up your ‘Tuscan’ theme! Sadly, no boats were running to the Brijuni Islands when I went.
    For outdoor enthusiasts and fitness fiends, there’s a disused narrow gauge railway line that’s been converted into a path for walkers and cyclists, called the Parenzana.
    Some details here – if posting links is allowed?

  4. Fagun 27.08.2017 at 22:15 - Reply


    It’s been great reading your blog.

    We are travelling to Istria for 2 days and would like to visit a vinery. Can you recommend a vineyard that that we can visit that would conduct a tour and a tasting session

    Thank you

  5. Kasia 17.05.2018 at 16:29 - Reply

    Hi Yulia,
    Thanks for all your advises. I love your blog!
    This year we would like to go there, but we are not sure if this place is suitable for a 1.5 year old child. I am worried that the beaches will be steep and rocky.
    Can you recommend any places / beaches for families with children?

    Thanks a lot!

    • Yulia 18.05.2018 at 17:04 - Reply

      Hello, Kasia!
      I agree that beaches like Punta Kamenjak could be dangerous for kids, but Istria is still a safe place where you could go with your little one if you don’t mind the little pebbles (gravel) beaches.
      Some examples of this kind of beaches are: Fazana Beach, Njive Beach (this one has a rocky part but also a gravel part), Four Elements Beach (same), Plomin Luka (small gravel), Sandstrande (normal sand!).
      I must say that most of the peninsula has gravel beaches (very rarely sand) or rocky parts/cliffs so if you’re very concerned about this aspect then I think it’s better to choose a more child-friendly destination, just to be at peace and enjoy your vacation 🙂

  6. Edy 30.12.2018 at 17:20 - Reply

    Love your tips to Croatian traveling. I’m in the begging stages of my planning a trip there and I am definitely going to spend some time reading your blog! Thank you 🙂

  7. Madhvi Bhatia 17.05.2019 at 19:03 - Reply

    Very helpful…thanks for all your information.

    • Yulia 17.05.2019 at 19:45 - Reply

      You’re welcome, I’m happy to help! 🙂

  8. Jane 07.06.2019 at 17:42 - Reply

    Hello – i found your website and it’s great! I’m trying to plan a trip with 2 friends and it’s overwhelming and I could use your help. We are flying into Ljubjana on Saturday morning and leave the following Saturday morning. Where should we go in between? I don’t want to spend a lot of time traveling by car. We have been friends for over 30 years (since college) and this is our first trip together. We just want to hang out, explore, eat great food, drink great wine and see beautiful sites. One thought was driving to Plitvice Lakes, then Rovinj then ferry to Venice and back to Ljubjana. I’m not sure about transportation. Your recommendations would be great appreciated! We are going mid-Sept 2019. Thank you!!!

    • Yulia 07.06.2019 at 18:01 - Reply

      Hi, Jane! Thanks a lot, glad you found it useful!
      I understand your concerns about how this trip can be overwhelming to organize 🙂 So I will offer some suggestions.
      If you are arriving in Ljubljana, you can spend some time there (here you can find some things to do in the city), then maybe spend a day at Lake Bled as well? (this is also mentioned in the linked article). Lake Bled is 1.5 hours away by bus from Ljubljana, so it could be a nice day trip if you decide to include it in your itinerary.
      Your suggestion about going to Plitvice Lakes and then to Rovinj and then to Venice seems pretty good and I think it is do-able for your time frame. Another way to do it would be to go to Venice first, then to Rovinj and then to Plitvice Lakes and then come back to Ljubljana. If you are not sure about Rovinj, you can replace it with any of these 8 towns in Istria instead! (although Rovinj is pretty great!). You can also find suggestions about things to do in Rovinj in the article I linked.
      Either way, renting a car and using it to get around in the area would be my recommendation, as both Slovenia and Croatia offer amazing, scenic views! Plus, the distances aren’t that big between the cities you are mentioning (around 2-3 hours each drive). You can, indeed, take a ferry from Rovinj to Venice, but it will take you more or less the same amount of time as going with the car, so the decision is yours! You are traveling in a group, so splitting the costs for renting the car might be a better and quicker option than buying individual transportation tickets for everything. Plus, your time will be flexible and you will be able to go wherever you want! 🙂 You can find some good offers for car rental here.

      I hope this helps! Have a great trip with your friends! 🙂

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