Rovinj and Porec may be very picturesque and Pula may be industrial, urban and cosmopolitan but the real treasure of Istria lies inland, away from the tourist resorts and summer crowds.
Inland Istria offers a varied landscape of hills and valleys, vineyards and orchards. There is a whole series of medieval towns that are situated on top of the hills - always dominating the surrounding landscape and taking advantage of the secure settlement on top of the hill. They are never too far one from the other, always at a visual distance (so messages of the oncoming conquerors could be sent from one campanile to the other, from one hill to the other).
All hill towns have the same elements of narrow streets, square and church at the center of the settlement and a town loggia where important decisions used to be made.
Exploring the inland area will most likely require a car, but you will be treated with some spectacular landscapes and picturesque towns. Some of Croatia's best wines are grown here and dishes with truffles are the reason for many gastro-tourists coming here in large numbers.
The Lim Valley, also known as Limska draga or dolina, is 35km along the river Pazincica, which turns into the estuary - the Limski Kanal (also called Limski Fjord or just Lim Fjord) which cuts the west coast of Istria in two. It is a 10km (6 mile) fiord between limestone cliffs and wooded slopes. Whilst it is called a fjord, technically it is not because it was not carved by a glacier.
The Lim bay is a geographic feature found near Rovinj, south of Porec.
Boat trips along the kanal are readily available from Rovinj
There are big towns in Istria, mainly Pula, Rovinj & Porec. Pula most notably for it's Roman amphitheatre, Rovinj which is the Venice of Croatia & Pula which houses the most amazing and UNESCO World Heritage mosaics in Basilica of Euphrasius.
But, as well as the big towns there are some much smaller (and some tiny) villages which are real gems not to be missed - Beram with it's "Dance of the Dead" fresco being my personal favourite.
It is not so easy to travel internally around Istria without your own set of wheels but it is very worth it (if only to get away from the tourists who all tend to hang out in the larger towns).
Because they are so close it is quite possible to do day trips from Istria into Slovenia. The roads on the Istrian side are the most painful because they go ALL around the houses.
However, Slovenia is a very beautiful country and if you have the means to and the time, a day trip into it should not be passed up.
Ljubljana (Slovenia's capital) is small, clean, safe and beautiful. A day here is certainly enjoyable and calm.
It is also possible to do a day trip to Lipica to see the famous white horses. Istrian school children all make this day trip at some point. It's a lovely place to visit but I would recommend it in conjunction with another stop/sight, due to the lengthy drive.
There are two amazig caves in Slovenia : Postojonska Jama & Skocjanske Jame. Both are spectacular. Postojonska are more easily available to get to without your own transport and are firmly on the tourists map. Skocjanske have UNESCO World Heritgae status and it is not hard to see why - they are absolutely astonishing and if you only go to one Skocjanske Jama would be the one I would recommend.
Due to Istria's position it is very easy to do a day trip to Italy. Either catch a ferry from Rovinj across to Venice or go in a more northerly direction to Trieste.
Both very different cities and both worthy of a trip. If you have a car, Trieste is not so far (in fact, a lot of people use the airport in Trieste to visit Istria) and a cheaper option for a day trip.
If you are in or around Rovinj the ferry to Venice is a viable option and a beautiful city to see.
This is such a pretty little place.
Svetvincenat is based, archetecturally, on a quadrilateral Renaissance square in the centre of the town. The building that dominates the sqaure is the Morosini Grimani citadel.
Zminj was built on a height with fortified walls which are still preserved.
During the Middle Ages Zminj was part of the Pazin dukedom.
The houses and church are Baroque in style. Apparently the church has many frescos inside. We didnt get to see them - they are allegedly of high quality but damaged.
On August 24th each year Zminj celebrates St Bartholomew's Day with massive festivities and people come here from all over Istria.
Throughout history Pazin has always played an important role and today it is the administrative centre of Istria.
In 1374 Pazin became the possession of the Hapsburgs (Austrian-Germans). The founadtion of the feudal strongholds was the Citadel built on the steep sliff over the Fojba (abyss into which the Pazincica flows. The Pazincica being the only underground river in Istria).
Baredine Caves are in the Karsk region, as are the Postojnska & Skocjanske caves in Slovenia and out of the three they hold third place. However, if you haven't been to the other two then Baredine Caves are just fine.
If you are lucky and keep your eyes peeled you'll spot cave toads. At the end of the cave tour you'll get to meet a proteus... a strange type of salamander that lives deep deep underground, can go years without eating and... well is a bit of a highlight
We found a bit more nightlife in Pula compared to other towns around. The centre of town had a number of bars which you could sit in or outside and enjoy an aparatif. With child in tow we found it a little more difficult to find somewhere to eat after 8pm but a little hunting ended up no problem. Recommend walking through the area and sampling the bars if you can, maybe next time for me. We also found restaurants a lot less expensive than other areas, can't explain why. One picture here shows a restaurant that we tried. Excuse the attempts at fancy photography sepia and stuff, it is a new camera.
The amphitheatre is teh most striking of monuments. It is an absolute must see in Pula. You have to go in and check out the place. On our visit they were getting ready for a concert which would have been great to see, check out local listings. There is an audio guide but to be honest I didn't enjoy this as much as taking in the sights. The museum below ground shows a few old pots and things.
You should go to Pula, as it has several ancient Roman ruins. The highlight of which is the Colleseum, which is largely intact and holds concerts even today. Parking is a bit of a problem depending on the season. A fee is charged to enter the ruins, but they are relatively free and open to roam around. There could be more information regarding the historical background of Pula and it's place in the Roman world. There is also a Roman temple and several other sites scattered around the port city.
Click here to visit my page on Motovun
Motovun is in the north-west of Istria, 21 km south-east to Buje. It is built on a 277 meters high hill that dominates the plain with the Mirna river and the Motovun forest, famous for its white truffles. It is perhaps the most picturesque of the numerous Istrian inland jewels. In summer, it is always sunny. In October/November, the season for the white truffle, it can be misty.
Motovun has a history stretching back over 2300 years : there had been on top the hill a prehistoric enclosure. In the 10th and 11th century, it was belonging to the bishop of Porec and the patriarch of Aquilea. Since 1278, it came under the Venetian rule. The oldest part of the city is inside the 13th-14th century city walls, on top of the hill, with a breathtaking sight on the valley.
Motovun is now well known for its film festival, dedicated to independent film makers and producers. It takes place each year at the end of July-beginning of August.
Click here to visit my page on Livade, white truffle city
Livade is a very small city in the plain of the Mirna river valley. It is 1 km north from the main road from Buje to Buzet while Motovun is 2 km south. Since year 2000, the company "Livade tartufi d.o.o;" has organized truffle days every week-end of October. Livade is now well known for its truffle days that draw visitors from all over Europe. The best truffles on exhibition are valuated and rewarded by experts. There is also an exhibition of other agricultural products of Istria, including the famous Istrian ham, Istria produced wines and agricultural material.
57-71 euros per person in a double room, half board -most expensive in Pula -very big (if you like...more
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Can I tell you that there CENTRAL BOOKING telephone number is:: 451 430 ?? Do use it and you will...more