Trust us, Istria is not just a heart-shaped peninsula by chance. For many, visiting this beautiful place in northern Croatia is love at first sight. Not only because of its natural beauty, but also because of its rich culture and gastronomy.
This experience trip immerses you in the belle époque and lush parks of the 'Vienna by the sea'. Amid exotic nature and charming seaside resorts. And in irresistible historic city centres with Unesco World Heritage Sites.
But Istria is also the land of fragrant truffles, golden olive oil and unsurpassed wines. In short, heaven on earth for foodies. Let yourself be seduced by the flavours of the unknown...
Day 1: Departure to Croatia
As soon as you have collected your rental car, set course for your Caractère hotel where you will spend the first two nights of your unforgettable trip.
Day 2: The Kvarner Bay
Opatija is one of the oldest tourist resorts and the heart of the Kvarner Bay. Thanks to the construction of a railway line in 1730 and the arrival of renowned doctors, Opatija soon became a spa resort of international renown. This is where aristocrats, Viennese neurotics and Russian writer Chekhov came to relax. The 'Vienna by the sea' is the sign of the Belle Epoque, with lush parks and luxurious villas in Baroque, neoclassical and Sezessional styles and former summer residences of the Austro-Hungarian elite. Perhaps most beloved is the 12-kilometre-long promenade, named after Austrian Emperor Franz Josef, which connected Lovran with the fishing village of Volosko.
Day 3: Along the Učka Mountains to Pula
Owing to the shelter of the Učka Mountains, the Kvarner Riviera is home to exotic vegetation. A beautiful coastal road leads to Brestova, from where boats depart for the beautiful island of Cres. Your journey continues to Pula with its Roman amphitheatre, which today also serves as an impressive setting for numerous cultural events, opera and theatre performances. The historic centre with its beautiful Forum Square and narrow streets is undoubtedly a must-see. For the next five nights, stay at one of our hotels in the area.
Day 4: Rovinj
The charming Rovinj is arguably Istria's most beautiful and picturesque town, perched on a peninsula, with facades in warm colours and stepped alleys that look particularly Italian. In fact, street signs there are written in both Italian and Croatian, and the best restaurants are not on the quay, but in narrow alleys. Until the 18th century, this was an island and so the sea still seems everywhere. Not surprisingly, this seductively beautiful town has traditionally attracted numerous artists from all over the world. People often call Rovinj 'the most beautiful town in Istria'. And not without good reason...
Day 5: The Brioni Islands and the Kamenjak Nature Park
Today you will visit Brioni National Park with its idyllic natural beauty, where Yugoslav leader Tito had his country residence. He received many heads of state and film stars here. With the exotic animals he received as gifts from them, he formed a safari park on Veli Brioni, which still exists today. The national park consists of 14 islets. Also fun is the Kamenjak nature park, which is surrounded by 30 kilometres of coastline, dotted with many bays and beautiful beaches.
Day 6: The verdant Istria: land of truffles, wines and olive oil
It's time for the highlight of your trip. You will drive through the high and fortified village of Grožnjan, with its ochre-coloured houses, alleys and squares to Motovun, a medieval town, and Livade, an agricultural village and important 'truffle centre'. Back in ancient times, Roman emperors wanted only these truffles on their plates A truffle fair still takes place here every year. In the afternoon, near Beram, you can admire the extraordinary frescoes in the Gothic chapel of St Maria delle Lastre. You will continue to Hum, which prides itself on being the smallest town in the world. Make sure to pass by the 7 km-long Glagolitic Sculpture Trail: 11 lonely but intriguing monuments paying tribute to the monks who ensured the survival of this alphabet that was in use in Slavic liturgy until the 18th century. You then drive back via the mountain village of Buzet, also a truffle town and the old administrative capital of the Venetians. Finally, you continue on to Toplice and Momjan, a medieval village where you can possibly taste one of the region's best Muscat wines.
Day 7: Poreč
Poreč is Istria's most famous holiday resort. The old town centre sits on a 400-metre-long and 200-metre-wide peninsula, Sveta Nikola. Here in this old part of town, beautiful Venetian palaces adorn the harbour fronts, but it is especially the St Euphrasius Basilica, a gem of Byzantine splendour and declared a Unesco world heritage site, that makes a visit more than worthwhile.
Day 8: Going home
If your schedule permits, you can make another stopover at Slovenia's most beautiful coastal town, Piran. It is located at the tip of a peninsula, surrounded by city walls. Apart from fishing, salt from the nearby Sečovlje basins has been the main source of income for centuries; the excellent 'fleur de sel' salt is still available. After a final moment of adventuring, it's time to drop off your rental car and return home with a suitcase full of great memories.
Why book with Caractère?
- Best price guarantee
- Caractère extras
selected and approved hotels
instantly in touch with Caractère employees
- Affiliated to Travel Guarantee Fund