Five Things To Do In Istria, Croatia

Five Things To Do Istria | Stylonylon | Olympus
A few weeks ago, I travelled with Olympus – and perfect travel companions @jessonthames and @lifeofyablon – to visit the Croation region of Istria, the largest peninsula in the Adriatic Sea just across the water from Italy and bordering with Slovenia…

We flew to Ljubljana, the Slovenian capital, and took a two-hour car journey to Motovun in Istria, but there are various ways you can travel to the area – including training or planing to Venice and then ferrying across the water to the port of Rovinj or driving from Trieste or Zagreb…

*Trip hosted by the Istrian Tourist Board 
@visitistria #visitistria

With an incredibly rich historical past – potted history: once part of the Ancient Roman and Byzantine empires, ruled by the Venetians, the Habsburgs, Austrian Empire and Italians, ceded to Yugoslavia after WWII and becoming part of Croatia after the Yugoslav breakup – Istria is quite unlike anywhere I’ve visited before and very much with its own identity, a fascinating mix of Mediterranean and Slavic cultures.

And Istria is an absolutely fantastic holiday destination where you can combine city, culture and beach with incredible food. Here are my recommendations of things to do in Istria…


For this trip I took with me the OMD E-M10 iii with M.Zuiko 12mm f.2 & M.Zuiko 17mm f.1.8 lenses –you can use STYLO20 for 20% off at Olympus checkout!


Five Things To Do Istria | Stylonylon | Olympus
View of Rovinj Old Town

Explore the Old Town in Rovinj

The charmingly higglety-pigglety car-free medieval streets of  Rovinj are a complete joy to get lost in, every turn showing up another beautifully picturesque scene replete with a pleasing palette of coloured shutters, tucked away restaurants and cat-lined walls and corners.

Start at the hilltop church of St Euphemia and make your way twisting and turning at will down to the port, stopping for coffee along the way. We stayed at newly opened bijoux boutique hotel The Melegran with its own narrow street way entrance and perfectly charming shutters. A wonderful viewpoint of the city can be had up at the Grand Park Hotel lobby which you can get to by walking round the bay – you can also have a great meal in one of its many restaurants.

Five Things To Do Istria | Stylonylon | Olympus

Five Things To Do Istria | Stylonylon | Olympus

Five Things To Do Istria | Stylonylon | Olympus
The prettiest room with a view at The Melegran…

Five Things To Do Istria | Stylonylon | Olympus

Five Things To Do Istria | Stylonylon | Olympus

Five Things To Do Istria | Stylonylon | Olympus
Snapping the view from the Grand Park Hotel lobby… Picture: @lifeofyablon
Five Things To Do Istria | Stylonylon | Olympus
And this is Rovinj…
Five Things To Do Istria | Stylonylon | Olympus
Sunset time…  Photo by @jessonthames
Five Things To Do Istria | Stylonylon | Olympus
Here you go! The Rovinj sundown…
Five Things To Do Istria | Stylonylon | Olympus
Leaving Rovinj for Porec…

The superlight & very easy-to-manouevre Antler Clifton suitcase… perfect on cobbled streets! (gift)


Five Things To Do Istria | Stylonylon | Olympus

Eat at La Puntalina Restaurant

This is one to book ahead! And it’s clear to see why – La Puntalina’s exquisite seafood and pasta dishes, seafront panoramic views and easy access to the water for a dip before dining is an experience not to be missed! The tables for two and rock-placed drinks trays could not make for a more romantic setting and it was such a joy to see families splashing in the water and then sitting down to eat. This is definitely the perfect spot one for special occasion meals – trust me, I am already craving a return visit!

Foodies might also want to pay a visit to the Wine & Heritage Hotel Roxanich in the hilltop town of Motovun (two hour’s drive from Rovinj) with its very own vineyards and nearby truffle house Karlic Tartufi, where you can sample the best of truffle cuisine and even join a truffle hunt in the nearby forest!

Five Things To Do Istria | Stylonylon | Olympus
The incredible food at La Puntalina…
Five Things To Do Istria | Stylonylon | Olympus
My camera for the trip with Mimi Berry strap

 

Five Things To Do Istria | Stylonylon | Olympus
This is just by La Puntalina, so if you fancy a dip at anytime…!
Five Things To Do Istria | Stylonylon | Olympus
Seafood and pasta that cannot be beat…
Five Things To Do Istria | Stylonylon | Olympus
@jessonthames loving the Olympus OMD and pro lenses!
Five Things To Do Istria | Stylonylon | Olympus
All the seasparkles!

Five Things To Do Istria | Stylonylon | Olympus

Five Things To Do Istria | Stylonylon | Olympus
Thanks @jessonthames for the pic!
Five Things To Do Istria | Stylonylon | Olympus
The shot I’m taking in the picture above!
Five Things To Do Istria | Stylonylon | Olympus
Arrived at the hilltop Hotel Roxanich near the town of Motovun…
Five Things To Do Istria | Stylonylon | Olympus
We spent one night here, drinking the most delicious Roxanich wines!

Five Things To Do Istria | Stylonylon | Olympus

Five Things To Do Istria | Stylonylon | Olympus
A misty morning and view of the Roxanich vineyards in the distance….

 

Five Things To Do Istria | Stylonylon | Olympus
The Karlic Tartufi tasting restaurant…
Five Things To Do Istria | Stylonylon | Olympus
So many truffle related delights to be had!

 

Five Things To Do Istria | Stylonylon | Olympus
Sunset time at Rovinj…
Five Things To Do Istria | Stylonylon | Olympus
Love this shot by @jessonthames 

Five Things To Do Istria | Stylonylon | Olympus

See The Colosseum at Pula

With its very own Ancient Roman amphitheatre – built by Augustus in the 1st century around the time of Rome’s Colosseum – the city of Pula is home to the only remaining Roman arena, the sixth largest arena int the world, to have all its four towers intact. It is absolutely tremendous to see and you can also visit the sizeable underground level to learn more about how the amphitheatre was used in Roman times. Nowadays the arena is used for concerts and theatre…

Also at Pula is the quite brilliant House of Istrian Olive Oil museum which we absolutely loved – not only learning about the how olive oil was made and how it now is made in the Istrian region, but also learning through a tasting how to identify different grades of olive oil – a fantastic skill to have! And just around the corner is one of Pula’s most popular bars, The Shipyard Pub.

Five Things To Do Istria | Stylonylon | Olympus
The quite spectacular Pula Roman amphitheatre…

Five Things To Do Istria | Stylonylon | Olympus

Five Things To Do Istria | Stylonylon | Olympus
So much history to explore in Pula…
Five Things To Do Istria | Stylonylon | Olympus
Just around the corner from the House of Istrian Olive Oil, is one of Pula’s most popular bars The Shipyard Pub…

Five Things To Do Istria | Stylonylon | Olympus

Soak Up The Sun at Hawaii Beach

Along the Pula coastline is the most glorious aquamarine water and white pebble beaches. Although our visit was mid-October it was still warm enough for people to be sunbathing and swimming. A wonderful walk exploring the little rocky coves and soaking up the sea air was the perfect way to spend an afternoon.

There were a few coves where you can sunbathe and swim and the one pictured is named Hawaii Beach! The area is also home to an old seaside resort, currently under renovation but you’ll still find somewhere to eat at the end of your walk!

Five Things To Do Istria | Stylonylon | Olympus

Five Things To Do Istria | Stylonylon | Olympus
The wonderfully named Hawaii Beach!

Five Things To Do Istria | Stylonylon | Olympus

Five Things To Do Istria | Stylonylon | Olympus

 


Five Things To Do Istria | Stylonylon | Olympus

Visit The Byzantine Basilica at Porec

Porec is a wonderful mix of Rovinj and Pula – with its pretty streets and historical ruins – and is somewhere in between sizewise. The main focus is the perfectly preserved 6th century Byzantine Euphrasian Basilica – with exquisite mosaics and bell tower (cue the requisite many steps up a wooden staircase to the top…) for the fabulous city views! This World Heritage Site is a huge pull for history lovers.

It makes for the perfect morning or afternoon strolling around the city – there are some lovely restaurants along the sea front where we had lunch – stopping at the Roman temple ruins and then onto the Basilica. I also love how Porec’s seafront, like Rovinj’s, is dotted with seawall ladders along the roadside – just in case you fancy a quick dip!

Five Things To Do Istria | Stylonylon | Olympus
The Euphrasian Byzantine Basilica…

Five Things To Do Istria | Stylonylon | Olympus

Five Things To Do Istria | Stylonylon | Olympus
Shot by @lifeofyablon – thanks Emma!
Five Things To Do Istria | Stylonylon | Olympus
The city of Porec…
Five Things To Do Istria | Stylonylon | Olympus
With the lovely @jessonthames – Jess is such a fabulous photographer, go see her Instagram and blog.
Five Things To Do Istria | Stylonylon | Olympus
Roman temple ruins in Porec, from 1st century…
Five Things To Do Istria | Stylonylon | Olympus
Loved the seawall ladders dotted around Porec, and Rovinj too!
Five Things To Do Istria | Stylonylon | Olympus
The streets of Porec…

Five Things To Do Istria | Stylonylon | Olympus
Very last cafe snap before we headed off for the airport!

A big thank you to my wonderful travel companions @jessonthames & @lifeofyablon and our guide Nenad Stojkovski from the Istrian Tourist Board, Hotel Roxanich and The Melegran for making this such a great trip! And to Olympus, as always, who make photography such an ease and a pleasure!

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