Meintje & Camiel: the five best places in Istria
Meintje and Camiel are true campers, and together, they’ve traversed across plenty of countries with a tent, a pop-up camper, and now with a full-size camper. They find the most beautiful spots and share photos of their travels on Instagram. Croatia is one of their favourite destinations, and they’re big fans of Istria province. What are their top 5 spots in Istria?
Istria boasts a gorgeous coast and an amazing natural landscape, but there are more than enough picturesque locales in this province to suit any traveller. Some are better than others, so we’ve put together a list of our top 5 best places in Istria to go along with our earlier list of the province’s top 5 sights.
1. Grožjnan artist’s village
This medieval village is in inland Istria, perched on a hilltop. There are beautiful views across the surrounding area, and Grožjnan is famous for being an artist’s village, packed with galleries and studios. There’s nothing better than strolling through the picturesque streets and enjoying the gorgeous vistas. In the summer you’ll often stumble across festivals or open-air concerts, like the Jazz Is Back festival in July. The whole village turns into one giant stage, and you can sit back and listen to the jazz musicians for free on one of the many terraces.
2. Truffle tasting in Motovun
If you’re planning to explore the green interior of Istria, a visit to this medieval locale is truly a must. This breathtaking hillside village of medieval buildings looks out over the Mirna valley and the surrounding mountains. The hills are dotted with grapevines used to make Istrian wine. Motovun is famous for the truffles hiding in its forests, so the restaurants here are full of truffle dishes and you’ll find a range of truffle products for sale in local shops. The event calendar in Motovun is busy, with things like the Motovun Film Festival.
Keep in mind that the old city centre is only accessible for permit holders, so if you’re arriving by car, your best bet is to park in a car park below the village. Parking costs around 20 kuna (about €2.70).
3. Rovinj: a charming peninsula town
Rovinj is one of the most beautiful places in Istria. The old, car-free city centre lies on a peninsula, and the charming cobblestone streets, the colourful houses and the winding alleyways give it a uniquely Mediterranean feel.
The cathedral of Saint Euphemia looms large from its hillside home above the town, and it’s worth a visit even if just for the beautiful walk to reach it. Entry into the church is free, but it costs 10 kuna (around €1.45) to climb the tower). At the top, you’ll be rewarded with a beautiful view. Local fishermen still use the Rovinj harbour, and they sail in every morning to sell their fresh catch to local restaurants. The harbour is also full of lovely terraces where you can enjoy a delicious ice cream, a cold drink and the stunning view.
4. Fažana and the Brijuni islands
Fažana is an enchanting fishing village with a buzzing harbour and lovely restaurants. The promenade boasts an excellent view out across the Brijuni islands. Fažana is the perfect starting point for a visit to Brijuni National Park. The park is a group of fourteen islands bursting with unique natural landscapes, history and archaeological finds. Veliki Brijun is the largest island and the only one that is open to visitors. It has a storied history to match the beautiful outdoor setting.
5. Roman history and tennis in Umag
You’ll find this ancient, picturesque town perched on the Slovenian border and surrounded by clear blue sea. Umag has a rich history and was originally founded by the Romans. You can still see remnants of the original roman walls. The Umag harbour is prominent yacht harbour, and there’s a constant bustle of activity, day and night. The old city stretches out around the harbour, boasting plenty of seafood restaurants and romantic streetscapes. If you’re a tennis fan planning a Croatian holiday, you’ll want to book in July, when the town hosts the ATP tennis tournament.