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Istria: The Heart of Croatia

Towns and places of interest on the Istrian Peninsula

Istria can be defined as heart shaped peninsula, situated in the north-west part of Croatia, bordering with Italy near Trieste. One of the best developed regions for tourism in Croatia, it's popular with Italian and Slovenian visitors in particular, being its closest neighbours. Istrian peninsula is lapped by the Adriatic Sea coastline on the east and south.

Heading to the interior reveals the ancient villages, farmhouses, green valleys, ancient ruins, all lapped by the sea! After leaving the beautiful Istria coastline, you are welcomed by pine trees into the virgin countryside. The vine yards, amazing valleys, pine forests and grapes farms make Istria a tourist hub! Once in the farmhouses, you can either go to hunt for Truffles or picking wild asparagus.

Istrian towns and bay seen from the air
Istrian peninsula is abundant with beautiful towns, hidden bays
and pristine countryside,
making it a popular destination for yacht charter.

Getting around the area

Hiring a car is the best options since getting a bus or a train in the area is very sporadic! Nevertheless, the sea lies only a short distance from the area; you can take a cruise around the great Istria coastline, enjoy a cool breeze or dive into the blue waters!

Take the rare chance to visit Pazin - it is a 100m abyss in which river Pazinčica sinks to form three underground lakes! The lakes have been known to inspire Croatian writers not forgetting Jules Verne imaginations!

Places you must visit while you are in Istria:


Many define Gračišće as a medieval town while others refers to it as the highlight of Istria. The fascinating thing is the surrounding rolling hills and its ancient buildings. Skimming the Guinness book of record reveals a Truffle weighing 1.31 kg - the biggest truffle in the world. It was found in Istria by Gianario and Diana, his dog. Truffles are locally known as 'tartufi'.

Natural black truffles
Istrian peninsula is well known for its truffles, which are usually found by locals
their dogs, to be served in restaurants as a local delicacy.


Another alluring site is Motovun; it is a fortified town built by the Venetians in the 14th century. It comprises of Gothic buildings, thick walls and a Romanesque. The ancient houses are now used as art studios and exhibition halls. Well, if you want to feel the true spirit of this town, attend the summer film festivals!


The medieval town of Vodnjan lies some ten kilometres north of Pula, popular with the lovers of macabre. In amongst its attractions are remains of centuries old saints, whose bodies unexplainably failed to decompose. They're believed to possess magical powers!

It's also home to many old churches, including an early Roman church, one of the largest parish churches in Istria. You will find many sporting activities in Vodnjan as well as a number of summer festivals.

Butterfly house

The Butterfly house lies in Majkusi, a small rural village overlooking the sea. You can enjoy a refreshing local drink as you also enjoy the sun rays over Mount Učka, Italian coastlines and the Adriatic Sea. It is interesting to note that the two century house comes with a dance floor and a pool too!

Other great sites include:

  • St Blaise's Church - in the town of Vodnjan
  • Church of St Euphemia - located in the town of Rovinj
  • Euphrasian Basilica - a World Heritage site, in Poreč
  • Waterfalls, naturist and beautiful beaches - found throughout Istrian region
  • Dinosaur footprints - can be found in Brijuni Cretaceous Park
  • Dvigrad ruins - an abandoned medieval town in central Istria
Town of Motovun in Istria atop a hill
Home to one of the most popular film festivals, Motovun town is set atop of a
277 metres
high hill, making it one of the most picturesque towns in Croatia.


Some of the must do activities include, overnight camping, bird watching and water sports. On a sunny afternoon you can go for a dive or skiing at the Adriatic Sea. Istria offers an ancient and a natural feeling taking you back to the venetians periods!

These are just some of the highlights of the Istrian peninsula. Next time you visit this reagion, you will find plenty of things to do and places to explore on this beautiful Croatian peninsula.

Author bio

Ruby Andrew lives in Bristol, UK and is an avid reader and blogger. Since her early years she’s had a passion for writing. Her articles have been published in leading UK newspapers. Her areas of interest are food, book and movie reviews, travel, fashion, lifestyle, fitness and health. She works as a guest blogger on her chosen areas of interest.

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