Wonder what to do in Istria on your next visit? Here is a list of the 45 best things to do in Istria!
Istria Riviera, a heart-shaped peninsula, located in the northern Adriatic is the most visited region in Croatia. The Istrian peninsula is very popular among foodies, cyclists, history aficionados, and just anybody looking for a relaxing beach time.
In summer, tourists visit Istria in search of beach fun, water sports, and other fun-under-the-sun activities. But, as you will discover here, Istria also has so much more to offer than pure beach fun.
Best things to do in Istria
From cycling, winery tours to zip line, water activities, and day tours, Istria has a lot to offer to the visitors.
Visit a winery
To avoid drinking and driving (never drink and drive!), you can book THIS WINE TOUR with a guide and a driver. Also, this way you’ll be able to visit many wineries in one day.
From flat and easy coastal trails to the hilly hinterland, cycling in Istria is perfect for beginner and experienced cyclists alike.
This is the reason why both, recreational and professional cyclists love Istria! And not to mention new cycling enthusiasts: 60+ on electric bikes.
For the ultimate cycling experience in Istria, take on the Parenzana trail!
Don't forget that the sun and the sea are still the main reasons to visit Istria. Get your swimming suit, snorkeling gear, and dive right into the deep blue Adriatic Sea.
From beautiful pebbly beaches of Rabac and amazing underwater caves along the coast of Pula to fancy beaches of Rovinj Lone Bay, and shaded rocky beaches of Porec, Istria offers ample opportunity for swimming, snorkeling, and cliff diving.
Local, fresh, seasonal, what else to ask from a perfect food?! Istria is a foodie's dream destination.
Truffles, pork tenderloin, bean soup for the fall and winter, asparagus, wild mushrooms, crab meat, cheese curd, scrambled eggs for the spring, fresh vegetables, anchovies, sardines, and other fish for the summer.
Here are the best restaurants in Istria!
Taste one of the world's best extra virgin olive oils
Yep, that's right! Chiavalon extra virgin olive oil is a world champ in the olive oil arena. World's Best Olive Oil Association named Chiavalon one of the TOP 25 olive oil producers in the World and recently the Italian Organization Premio il Magnifico awarded their olive oils with 3 stars (think Michelin 3 stars but in the world of olive oil) and placed them among the TOP 12 producers in Europe.
Visit Chiavalon Estate in Vodnjan, and book yourself an olive oil tasting!
History aficionados will enjoy discovering Istrian past through many historical sites, monuments, remains, and documents. Many of them are very well preserved to this day.
The two most popular historic sites in Istria are the Episcopal Complex of the Euphrasian Basilica in Poreč from 6th century, a Unesco world heritage site (for more info on Things to do in Porec, check this post); and Pula's Amphitheater dating back to the 1st century AD, the sixth-largest Colosseum in the world.
Venetian architecture, medieval hilltop towns, churches, and towers are testimony of the region's rich history.
Rovinj is the nicest town and a must-see place in Istria! Explore its winding cobblestone streets, visit charming art galleries, climb the bell tower for awesome views, have a real Italian gelato, taste fisherman's pie at Maestral, and have a glass of wine in the Mediterraneo Bar.
Explore Istrian countryside
Istrian countryside with its rolling hills, medieval hilltop towns, vineyards, and olive groves, will make your dream. Take a day out to explore towns of Motovun, a village of music and art Groznjan, a mystical and abandoned Zavrsje, or lovely Oprtalj. Visit sleepy watermill in Kotli and Hum, the smallest town in the world.
Visit Brijuni Islands national park
An archipelago consisting of 14 small islands, the Brijuni islands are one of Croatia’s eight national parks.
A visit to Brijuni Islands includes a boat transfer from and to Fazana, a tourist train ride around the island of Veli Brijun, a visit to the remains of the ancient Roman villa dating back to the I century B.C, the archaeological museum and the Church of St. Germain.
The ticket costs 190 Kn (March, April, May, October), 230 Kn from June through September, and 160 Kn in January, February, November, and December.
Hike Ucka Mountain
Visit Ucka, the highest Istrian mountain separating the peninsula from the rest of Croatia. It is a protected area and a nature park.
Choose one of the marked hiking trails and get up to the Vojak, the highest peak (1396 m). You'll enjoy nice views over Istria, the sea, and islands.
Go truffle hunting
Did you know that the largest white truffle in the world was found in Istrian forests? It even made a Guinness World Record.
Don't miss on truffle hunting in Istria when holidaying here!
Visit Glavani park
If you are looking for adrenaline-pumping activities, Glavani Park is a place to see! It is a high ropes adventure park with 2 m, 6 m, and 10 m high rope courses, 11 m high giant swing, and Europe's first suspension bridge across the valley.
Spend a day in Istralandia or Aquacolors water parks
What a better way to spend a hot summer day than splashing around in the water park!
From a 27 m high free-fall slide to family rafting and gently rides through the lazy river, Istrian water parks offer the fun for the whole family!
Paragliding, Tandem flying, and Hang gliding
You'll find eight take-off and landing sites for hang gliders, and ten sites for paragliding. They are all located in the area of Buzet, at the Cicarija, and Ucka Mountains. All flights are coordinated with local clubs.
Paragliding club Tići organizes tandem flights. The club currently has twenty paragliding pilots. More info you can find at their Facebook page.
Hang gliding is organized by flying club Homo Volans, based in Opatija. You can find more info on their website (Croatian only).
Paragliding Istra is another paragliding club with a flight training facility located in Motovun. They also offer tandem flights. The prices start at 700 Kn for a 15-20 min flight.
Panoramic flights over the Istrian peninsula
Get yourself on one of those scenic flights and enjoy the panorama of the Istrian peninsula. The prices start at 150 Kn (20 €) per person for a 10-minute flight. It's seriously not that expensive. You need more courage than money for this activity.
All these water activities and more, you'll find in Istria!
Jet-ski, boat rental, pedal boat, banana boat ride, diving, SUP, kayaking, and parasailing are the most popular water activities found in every coastal town and every resort in Istria.
In Istria, nine rock climbing sites on 20-30 m high short-rocks have more than 270 equipped ascents.
These sites are Zlatni Rt Forest in Rovinj, Lim Bay, Dvigrad, Vitnjan near Pula, Rabac, Istarske Toplice, Raspadalica above Buzet, Vranjska Draga near the Ucka tunnel, and Pazin.
Istria has many underground caves, abysses, and pits. Some are open to leisurely visitors, while others are aimed at experienced explorers with professional equipment.
Popular caves in Istria are: Baredine Cave near Poreč, Pazinska Jama near Pazin, Romualdova Spilja in Lim Bay, Feštinsko kraljevstvo near Žminj, a 361 m deep Rašpor pit on the Ćićarija Mountain, a 1036 m long Piskovica Cave in the central Istria, and Mramornica cave near Novigrad.
Visit Dinosaur Park in Funtana
Dinosaur Park in Funtana is a perfect place to visit with small children. Set in an ancient quarry and surrounded by thick woods, the park has over 1.5 km of paths, life-size electric dinosaurs, amusement rides for small children, and a small farm where kids can ride ponies. The park also has regular shows throughout the day.
Zip line Pazinska jama
Looking for a real heart-pounding adventure? Go ziplining in Pazin! Feel like a bird while you are soaring through the treetops at speeds up to 50 km/h.
The views are spectacular particularly from the last, and longest line as you see wonderful Pazin Castle in front and the Pazin canyon below.
The site is open from May to October, from 10 am to 7 pm (the rest of the year by appointment only).
Rope jumping free fall
Another activity for adventurous kinds, rope jumping free fall is organized by the same guys who run Pazin Zip Line. And the site is at the same spot. As you jump into the abyss from the small bridge, you swing within a 25 m radius. Definitely not for the faint-hearted folks!
It’s open on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, from 12 pm to 6 pm. The price is 150 Kn (approx. 20 €) per person.
Contacts | Most Vrsic, Pazin | t: +385 91 1683 126 | e-mail: [email protected]
A day trip to Ljubljana
Ljubljana is only 170 km from Istria. And Ljubljana is really beautiful and if you have a day to spare, it makes a great day trip from Istria.
Ljubljana is a real little gem. A small, walkable (and cyclable) city with only 600.000 inhabitants, downtown Ljubljana is set along the river, and it boasts great bars, restaurants, shops, and lovely architecture.
You can easily reach Ljubljana on your own by car (if you don’t have a car, rent one here). Once you pass the border, you should be in Ljubljana in no time. To avoid lines at the main border crossing (Kastel), head for a small border crossing near Buzet.
A visit to Postojna Cave
Just 120 km from Istria, you can visit the largest cave in this part of the world – Postojna Cave. It boasts in total 24 km of underground passages, halls, and galleries, although only 5 km are open to the public to explore.
There is an underground train that takes visitors for a 3.5 km ride. The rest is explored on foot.
You can visit Postojna cave on your own. However, it might just be more convenient to book yourself on a group tour to Postojna Cave out of Porec, Rovinj or Pula.
Visit Lake Bled
Lake Bled is another natural marvel of Slovenia that offers a plethora of things to do. It’s located in the Julian Alps, 475 m above sea level, and surrounded by lovely forests.
Bled Castle, atop of a high cliff and a small island in the middle of the lake with Church of Assumption Mary are two main attractions. Vintgar gorge, just five km away from the lake, is another popular site worth visiting.
The lake is 220 km away from Istria. You can visit it on your own for a day, but it would perhaps be better if you either plan an overnight in Bled or you take a group tour.
When you are already in Istria, don't miss a chance to easily visit Venice. Only 250 km away, it takes less than three hours to visit Venice. Or even better, visit Venice for a day by boat. There are two companies serving this route: Kompas' Prince of Venice, and Venezialines.
Book your trip to Venice in advance and save!
Explore the Cape Kamenjak Park
Explore the Cape Kamenjak, a beautiful natural site, and the southernmost point of Istria.
This protected area is a great place for swimming, hiking, cycling, kayaking, surfing, cliff jumping, or just chilling by the sea. The visit is free for pedestrians and cyclists while car fee amounts to 80 Kn per day.
Don't miss chilling out after the swim in the Safari Bar! Surrounded by tall reeds, and hidden under a canopy of branches, Safari Bar in the Cape Kamenjak Park is the coolest bar in Istria.
Visit Aura Distillery
How about tasting local brandies while on holidays in Istria? Visit Aura Distillery or one of their four shops in Istria. From Istrian mistletoe, honey, or wine liquors to less common choices like almonds and olive oil, rosehip, or sage brandy, Aura makes great liquors.
They also produce jams, and other delicacies like chocolates, and wild apple vinegar.
Take a boat tour
Boat tours in Istria are very popular. The most popular boat tours include a sunset cruise, a dolphin watching tour, and Lim Fjord tour with lunch.
All those tours are available from various boat companies in Rovinj, Poreč, or Pula.
Other less common boat tours include tuna-fishing and recreational tours abroad smaller motor yachts (check Tunaholic Fishing on Instagram or Tripadvisor), adrenaline-filled tours abroad very fast speed boats (check Arsnautica’s awesome 750 hp speedboat), submarine tours, glass boat tours, and sailing tours (check Spark sailing out of Rovinj).
Go-kart and other high-octane activities
If you like cars, and other high-octane actions, you'll find a couple of interesting sites in Istria. Half-way between Porec and a village of Tar, you'll find Motodrom Porec. This is the longest, and the best kart track in entire Istria. At the same site, you will also find cross karts, baby karts for kids, and quads.
Park Santarija is a motocross park located just outside Pazin, in central Istria. For more information check their website.
Moto Club from Zminj organizes Enduro adventures in Istria. You can find more information on their website.
Taste Istrian craft beer
Are you a craft beer aficionado? No worries, Istria has you covered!
San Servolo Brewery is the largest and best known of all local breweries. You can visit their property located near Buje, in northwestern Istria. You'll find there not just a brewery, but also San Servolo Resort where you can stay overnight, have a craft beer bath (I know, seriously?!), and have a beer tasting and hearty lunch at their beer and steakhouse.
Bura Brew is located in Porec. You can find their beers in many bars and delicates shops all over Istria, but you can also taste and buy their beer directly from the brewery. More info here.
Kampanjola is the latest addition to an already exciting Croatian craft beer scene. This is the first Istrian eco craft beer. Check their Facebook page for more info.
If you happen to be in Istria in the first week of September, don't miss visiting Medulin Craft Beer Festival.
Mummies of Vodnjan
Vodnjan, a small town not far from Pula, is home to one of the world's largest and unique collection of 370 Christian relics belonging to 250 saints. The relics include a piece of Virgine Mary's veil, a thorn from Jesus' crown, and bones of many apostles.
Besides these relics, in the church of St. Blaise you can see the preserved bodies of three saints: St. Leo Bembo, St. Ivan Olini, and St. Nikoloza Bursa. Although these bodies are not embalmed, they are well-preserved, including interior organs, veins, and soft tissue. This makes them very unique.
Working hours | June-Sept., Mon-Sat: 9.30 am-1 pm, 2.30 pm-6.30 pm; Sun: 12 pm-6.30 pm | Oct.-Feb.: on request | March-May, Mon-Sat 9.30 am-5 pm; Sun: 12 pm-5 pm
Admission | Museum: 7 € | Holy bodies: 7 € | Church: 2 € | Combo (museum, holy bodies, and church): 10 €
Cook like a local
Traditional Istrian cuisine changes as you move from the coast to the countryside. But few dishes remain the same: manestra (a bean soup typical for Istria), fuzi and pljukanci (different types of Istrian homemade pasta), njoki (potato dumplings, identical to Italian gnocchi). Add to that an abundance of seafood, black and white truffles, wild asparagus, and various homemade cold cuts, and you have a winning formula for yummy dishes.
A couple of companies offer cooking classes where you learn to prepare some of the typical Istrian dishes, most often you'll learn to make at least one type of homemade pasta. We recommend Eat Istria cooking classes. You can find more information on their website.
Have a taste of Croatian islands on a day trip from Istria to Susak, a small car-free island with sandy beaches, lovely nature, and tranquility.
In July and August, a catamaran boat operates between Pula and the island of Susak 5 times a week. It leaves Pula at 7 am and arrives in Susak at 9.40 am. On a return trip, the boat leaves Susak at 7.25 pm and arrives at Pula at 10.10 pm.
This schedule gives you plenty of time to explore the small island of Susak.
The same catamaran continues down to Zadar, and it also makes stops on the islands of Mali Losinj, Ilovik, and Silba. You can also plan a visit to those islands too!
More info on the Catamaran line website.
A day trip to Cres
The largest of all Croatian islands, Cres is easily reachable from Istria. You can do it on your own, simply by taking a car ferry from Brestova across to Porozina.
Another, more relaxing way, to visit Cres is by tourist boat from Rabac. This way you get to see the most famed beach on the island (and one of the best Croatian beaches) – Beach Sv. Ivan below the village of Lubenice.
Over 1.200.000 guests stay in campsites in Istria every year. But if you are not ready to rough it in Istrian campsites, consider glamping.
From the beachside cabins, luxurious safari tents, to family-friendly 3-bedroom mobile homes and luxury camping villas with private pools, glamping in Istria is something completely different.
Check the Amber Sea Luxury Village, Superior Mobile Homes in the camping Veštar, Marbello Premium Village in the camping Lanterna, Deluxe Mobile Homes in the camping Valkanela, and One 99 Glamping in Pula.
Rent a villa
Vacation in style with a villa rental in Istria! Villas are a very popular accommodation option in Istria. The majority of them are located in a wonderful Istrian countryside, surrounded by lush gardens, and featuring a private swimming pool.
And they don't necessarily need to be expensive. If you are two families or a group of friends, you can share a cost and end up paying less than for an apartment rental.
Explore Istrian Waterfalls
I bet you haven't heard about Istrian Waterfalls! We've lived here for a long time before we have found out about them. I think many people in Istria still don't know about these waterfalls.
Gologoricki dol is a small waterfall not far from Cerovlje. The largest and best-known waterfall in Istria, Sopot Waterfall is simply beautiful, although an access to it via tiny and slippery downhill passage is rather scary. Check photos and reviews here.
Zarecki krov is a favorite summer swimming spot for people of Pazin. The waterfall is big, and it comes down to the lake from a large rock that looks like a roof. A great place to visit if you are in Istria. Check photos and reviews here.
Kotli is a small abandoned village not far from Hum. The Mirna River flows through the village, and it forms in its basin cauldron-shaped forms. These forms can get full of water depending on the total level of the water. Steep drops in water flow in some places create smaller and bigger waterfalls. Watch video from Kotli here.
Sv. Foska Church
If you like sacral buildings and other monuments, or if you just like to wander around a long narrow winding and dreamy roads, consider visiting Sv. Foska Church.
The entire place is magical, and locals believe that it is a part of the big energy field coming from the Brijuni islands through the sea, all the way to the church. People come here to meditate, ask for help, and just absorb this energy.
Istria is a popular diving destination full of interesting shipwrecks. The most popular diving site is shipwreck Baron Gautsch near Rovinj. This Austrian passenger ship sank 9 nautical mines from Rovinj in 1914.
The wreck is today overgrown by algae and sponges. It lies at 28 m to 40 m depth, on a sandy and stone sea bed.
Other interesting diving sites in Istria include caves and reefs of Banjol Island near Rovinj, walls, and reefs of Sv. Marina, a wreck of cargo steamship Hans Schmidt, a minesweeper Coriolanus wreck, and many more.
Visit small islands
Although the Istrian coast doesn't abound in islands as Dalmatia does, there are still lots of small uninhabited islands around. This is particularly apparent around Vrsar, Rovinj, and Rt Kamenjak.
Red Island (St. Andrew Island) can be easily visited by the regular Maistra line. The boat runs from 5.30 am to 1 am on every full hour (from the Red Island), or every hour on the half-hour from Rovinj to St. Andrew Island. The return ticket coast 40 Kn per adult.
Dvi sestrice and Figarola are small islands off the coast of Rovinj. Many locals and boaties from nearby campsites come here for a swim.
Levan is an interesting island off the coast of Medulin. It's a popular day trip because of a sandy beach. There is also a bar-cum-restaurant on the island.
Fratarski island (Veruda) is located south of Pula, and it's favorite summer spot for people from Pula and beyond. Locals not only spend a day here but instead they spend the entire summer. There is a basic campsite on the island where many locals pitch their tents permanently for the summer.
Ceja is another island off the coast of Kamenjak. There is a beach bar, a small pier, and a beach. It's a simple chill-out place to spend a day.
Latus Dairy Farm
A small family-run farm located in a small village of Orbanici, near Zminj, in central-east Istria, Latus Dairy Farm produces cow cheeses (young, aged, and curd), as well as fresh milk, and yogurt. Latus also offers onsite tastings in their stylish milk & cheese bar. The bar is open from June to mid-September, on Wednesdays & Fridays from 10 am to 4 pm.
Contacts | a: Gornji Orbanići 12/D, Žminj | t:+385 52 823 765 | e: [email protected]
Dekleva Lavender Farm
Visit a family-run lavender farm located half-way between Porec and Visnjan for lovely walks amidst lavender, rosemary, olives, figs, and grapes. Enjoy amazing fragrances, take a moment and relax in nature, under the trees in a swing or hammock. A visit to the farm is free. But if you like what you see, you can buy some natural products made onsite by lovely owners. This is where they make money.
Contacts | a: Deklevi 1, Visnjan | t: +385 98 932 1745
Aquarium in Pula
Pula's aquarium is the biggest aquarium in Istria and in my opinion the only one here worth a visit. It's located on the Verudela peninsula, south of the center, and close to all big hotels. Located in an old military fortress from the time of Austria-Hungarian monarchy, the building itself is worth a visit. Pula aquarium features more than 250 species of fish, reptiles, and semiaquatic animals. The aquarium also features a sea turtle rescue center. You can read more here.
Sculpture Park Vrsar
If you like a nice and relaxing walk in a park with a bit of culture, then a visit to the Sculpture Park in Vrsar can just make your day. A visit to the park is free, and there is easy parking next to it. Sculptures exhibited in the park belong to Dusan Džamonja, a famed Croatian artist whose work was featured in the Tate Gallery in London and MoMA in New York, as well as in other museums of Modern Art, like those of Paris, Antwerpen, and Sao Paolo.
Where: Valkanela 5, Vrsar
Working hours | Nov.-Feb., 9 am-5 pm; Mar.-May, Sept.-Oct., 9 am-7 pm; June-Aug., 9 am-8 pm
Many visitors to Istria, quickly learn that Porec is known as the town of mosaics. This is due to mosaics found in Euphrasian Basilica, UNESCO World Heritage Site. However, only a few visitors leave Istria knowing that the county is also very rich in frescoes. These frescoes can be found on the walls of may churches, particularly those in inland Istria.
Some frescoes date back as far as the 8th century. However, the majority of Istrian frescoes were painted in the period from the 11th to 16th centuries.
The most popular frescoes are to be found in the Church of St. Martin and the Church of St. Mary in Beram near Pazin, and in the Church of St. Roc in Roc, in northeast Istria.
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Are you planning to visit Istria? What are your favorite things to do in Istria? Let us know in the comments below.