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The peninsula of Istria is known for its untouched natural landscape, pebbly beaches, rich heritage and its fantastic Mediterranean-style food and wine. There is something for everyone from biking and hiking, to wine tours, truffle tasting or taking in the ancient Roman monuments and Bronze Age ruins. Or slow things down a bit and lie on a beach or cruise around uninhabited islands.  

Things to do in Istria

Lie on a beach or sail around uninhabited islands. Venture inland to find adorable hill-top towns scattered throughout the countryside, surrounded by vineyards and olive groves. Istria is not a huge area, so wherever you choose to stay, you will be able to easily visit most towns, beaches, parks and attractions.

Outdoor activities

Istria has stunning natural landscape with forests, mountains, beaches, rivers, caves, valleys and protected national parks. Istria boasts 60 bike trails, through the forests and over mountains. You can either bike your way across the whole region, or explore a smaller area, visiting vineyards and olive groves as you go. Hiking is possible all year round, with an abundance of hiking trails along the coastline, through the forests and between historical villages. 

There are also several horse riding centres, which offer short rides or day treks through the countryside. Hunting is also possible at a number of game parks dotted around the region. Istria has about 440km of fantastic coastline, where you can go sailing around islands, diving on shipwrecks, fishing, surfing, water skiing, jetskiing and more. You can also explore caves, go rock climbing or kayaking local winding rivers.

where to stay in istria

  • Pula

    Stay in or near to the UNESCO World Heritage Town of Pula to soak in the local history and pure authenticity of the area.

  • Central Istria

    A stunning rural escape, rich in vineyards, fine foods, agritourism and plentiful beaches.

  • Vrsar and Funtana

    These areas offer many gastronomical establishments and some fun outdoor activities to get stuck into.

  • Umag and Novigrad

    With natural beauty and a rich cultural heritage, these locations are attractive with delicious local cuisine.

  • Labin and Robac

    These medieval towns are full of history and offer an array of outdoor activities such as hiking and sea kayaking. 

  • Rovinj

    One of the most beautiful seaside towns in all of Croatia, stay here to experience charm and character.  

The Best Beaches of Istria

Istria has some lovely beaches with a great range of sandy, pebbly, rocky and paved beaches. More than 40 of the beaches have Blue Flag status, which means the beaches meet strict safety, water quality, and environmental criteria. The best beaches in Istria include St Andrija beach on the island of Crveni Otok near Rovinj, Maslinica beach in Rabac, and Katoro beach in Umag. Poreč has 16 Blue Flag beaches - the most Blue Flag beaches of any region in Istria.

Food and Wine

The food in Istria has a lot of Italian and Mediterranean influences, as well as a lot of traditional Istrian dishes. In coastal Istria you will find a lot of freshly-caught seafood, including sea bass, crab, lobster, clams, octopus, scampi, mussels and scallops. Locally-grown truffles are served in most inland Istrian restaurants, and often in coastal restaurants. Chefs really make the most of the fresh fruit and vegetables that are grown all over Istria, thanks to the fertile Mediterranean soil. Particular Istrian favourite vegetables are olives (you can do tastings at olive groves) and asparagus. Most areas have traditional Istrian taverns or “konoba”, pizzerias, gourmet restaurants, and agritourism establishments - where people can eat home-grown food at a local farm.

Istrian specialities:

Some of the best wine in Croatia is made in Istria, with more than 100 wineries in the region. Wherever you choose to stay, there will be nearby vineyards where you can do tours and tastings. Istria is known for producing dry, fruity white wines, especially Malvasia and red Teran wine. See Wine of Croatia for more information. (this can be a link to a page of the same name)

  • Lush green vineyard in Istria


Istria has been settled since at least the Bronze Age and has been fought over for hundreds of years with Romans, Byzantines, Venetians and Italians ruling over it at different times. You can see remains of Bronze Age settlements such as the ruins of hill fort Monkodonja near Rovinj, from around 2000 BC. The Romans settled the area in the 1st and 2nd centuries and left behind some amazing monuments in Istria. Pula has one of the largest Roman amphitheatres, as well as a Roman temple dating from the 1st century. Most Istrian towns have relics or evidence of Roman settlements which you can visit. After the Romans came the Byzantines, who built the impressive Euphrasian Basilica in Poreč in the 6th century - now a UNESCO World Heritage site. The Venetians ruled over Istria from the 13th century until the 18th century, and much of the architecture still standing in Istria is Venetian style. Everywhere you go you will see the Venetian lion carved above doorways and city gates. After the Venetians, Istria was under the control of the Austrians for more than a century (with a short 7-year interruption by Napoleon). Italy then took over Istria in 1919 after World War I, when locals were forced to speak Italian and take on Italian culture. Following World War II, Istria became part of Yugoslavia until 1991, when it finally became part of Croatia.

  • Roman Amphitheater Arena

  • Motovun City

Culture and agritourism

Being under the control of Venetians and Italians in recent centuries has given Istria’s culture a very Italian flavour. Despite this, the locals still maintain their Croatian roots and traditions, apparently unaffected by tourism. Most of the locals are bilingual in Italian and Croatian and the food and way of life is very similar to coastal towns in Italy. The people of Istria have always farmed the land, and part of their culture is centred around growing and harvesting fresh, good-quality produce. Coastal Istrians have more of a connection with the sea, and fishing is both a job and a pastime. To experience the local way of life in Istria, go to one of the many “agritourism” establishments where you can stay or dine with locals on their farm.

  • Istrian Weather

    Istria is sunny most of the year, with dry, warm summers and mild winters. During summer the Istrian coastline gets an average of 10 hours of sunshine per day. About three weeks per year there are temperatures above 30°C. The warmest month is August with an average temperature of 24°C. The coldest month is January, with averages of 7°C. The rainiest months are November to January, but coastal areas get less rain than inland areas. The best time of year to visit Istria is from April to October, especially if you plan to enjoy the sun, swim and do outdoor sports. At other times of year it should still be sunny, but slightly cooler and great weather for biking, hiking and exploring Istrian history and culture.


  • Getting there

    The most convenient international airport for visitors to Istria is in Pula. Rijeka airport is 90 minutes away, Trieste airport in Italy is two hours away and Zagreb airport is 3 hours away. The best way to explore Istria is by car, as there are lots of tiny interesting towns which are not on bus routes. Buses go between Pula airport and all the main towns, and most places have bikes available for hire.