After we had to cancel our trip to Japan for the second time and the rules for Italy changed a few days before we were supposed to leave for holidays, we turned our hopes to Istria.
It’s a Croatian peninsula which is so easy to reach from the Czech Republic, it makes it the perfect destination for a quick break by the sea, which we have just started discovering. So if you’re ready for the charm of Croatian towns, green hills, stunning rocky coastline and turquoise sea, let’s start exploring.
We chose to book an apartment in Rovinj, which is a city as charming in real life as it is in pictures. It’s the perfect town to enjoy the laid back vibes of a small town living with the locals, which is why we chose an Airbnb in a residential area where it is easy to park, it’s close to the sea and a 20-minute walk to the center so you feel like you can just about reward yourself with an ice-cream in the harbour.
The town center is so cute. The narrow alleys that take you up the hill to the church remind us of Mont St. Michel (which we wrote about here) except there were hardly any people here with us so we had it all to ourselves. From all the towns we’ve been to, Rovinj was the cosiest town to go out for dinner, coffee or ice-cream, to just sit in the harbour, watching the boats, the sun setting and to enjoy the off-season vibes and calmness.
Walking along the pastel coloured houses, admiring the perfectly clean cobbled streets and many tiny squares, we really had the perfect time. Can’t recommend the town enough if you just want to relax and enjoy the slow life by the sea.
Find out more about how to spend the best time here in the previous post from Rovinj.
Motovun was actually the first town we took a picture of when we arrived in Croatia. We drove past it on our way to Rovinj and it was later recommended by our host as one of the best places to see. It truly is stunning, on the hill surrounded by vineyards and olive groves.
It is best known for the truffles that grow in the forests in the valley and for delicious wine and olive oil. Walk around the town and definitely explore the walls of Motovun, the views are insanely beautiful and it only costs a few euros.
Motovun bylo první městečko, které jsme si po příjezdu do Chorvatska vyfotili. Jeli jsme kolem něj cestou do Rovinje a hned jsme si slíbili, že sem se musíme podívat (podpořil to i náš “pan domácí” který Motovun označil za absolutní must-see na Istrii). Je to opravdu nádherné město. Z kopce shlíží na vinice, olivové háje a lesy, které ho obklopují a které také přináší to, čím se oblast nejvíce proslavila - lanýže, víno a olivový olej. Při procházce po městě nevynechejte procházku po hradbách, vstupné stojí pár korun a výhledy odsud jsou k nezaplacení.
Again, since we visited Motovun in October there were not that many people and we could park the car on the hill behind the church, so here is an important tip - when you arrive to the parking lot, ask if you can drive up, the hill is really steep and it would take a while to get up. And when you drive up, give it a chance and drive to the church, there is a rather large parking lot behind it so it’s not necessary to park along the road.
What Motovun and the area around is famous for though, as I mentioned before, is truffles. We managed to book a table at the Zigante restaurant which is one of the most famous truffle restaurants in the world and we were lucky enough to visit during the truffle main season so we booked a free truffle hunting tour with our lunch as well.
We absolutely loved the experience, so continue reading about it here where we wrote about it in a lot more detail.
Díky tomu, že jsme na Istrii přijeli v říjnu, se nápor lidí vyhnul i běžně tak populárním místům, jako je právě Motovun. Takže když nám paní dole na parkovišti po zaplacení parkovného prozradila, že můžeme vyjet až nahoru na kopec, neváhali jsme ani vteřinu. A pozor, nenechte se odradit auty stojícími podél silnice při cestě nahoru, někteří to vzdali zbytečně brzy, haha. Vyjeďte až nahoru, kdy po levé ruce uvidíte závoru směrem do historického centra a na pravé straně kostel, za ním je celkem velké parkoviště, takže sjeďte tam a omrkněte možnosti, pokud by bylo plno, můžete vždycky sjet o něco níž.
Ale zpátky k těm lanýžům. V okolí je několik populárních restaurací, které nabízí jídla s lanýži a výpravy na jejich “lov”. Nám se poštěstilo zamluvit si hned na další den stůl v restauraci Zigante, která je jednou z nejznámějších restaurací specializovaných na lanýže na světě a hlavně jsme se před obědem mohli (zadarmo, my favourite) zúčastnit hledání lanýžů organizovaného přímo restaurací - o celém zážitku a lanýžových dobrotách si můžete přečíst celý článek.
We’ve been to Pula before, a few years ago and we loved it. It is a very charming town and the Pula arena dominates the center. It has this Italian laid back vibe that just makes you want to sit down and sip coffee overlooking the square and the old churches.
There is a lot more we have to say about the city so check out the whole post with many more pictures here.
Porec is a cute seaside town, quite similar to Rovinj with the narrow streets guiding you through the city center. It is the perfect place to spend an afternoon and finish the visit with a dinner. It is a town with very rich history and we couldn’t miss the UNESCO Heritage site in the center - Basilica Eufrasiana. It is one of the oldest Roman catholic churches in the world and you can join a tour and climb the bell tower which for sure offers some great views of the town (we arrived to late for the tour though so we only visited some parts of the basilica.
To be honest though,the best memory we have from Porec is the dinner. We found a random tip on the internet for Sv. Nikola. The menu seemed great and prices reasonable so we decided to give it a try. What we didn’t know was that the restaurant has had a place in the MICHELIN guide for a couple years now. Honestly, what a surprise when I went upstairs to the bathroom and found all the Michelin badges.
As you can probably guess by now, the food was excellent. The service was perfect as well and we sat there for a couple hours, just enjoying the views, the wine, the delicious food… and for a very reasonable price, considering the obvious incredible quality of the restaurant. Can’t recommend visiting this place enough!
In the 14th century this was a very important fortress, now it is an important stop if you want to see the best of Istria. You can really see in the position, the medieval walls and architecture it was a strategic town back then but now it’s all about arts.
Groznjan was forgotten for many years and wasn’t a popular tourist destination at all despite its beauty, but some time back it was rediscovered by artists, musicians, actors and now every summer it turns into a big theatre with a festival. We saw so many galleries and shops, it was all unfortunately a bit quiet, however I’m sure if you visit a bit sooner than in the middle of October, you’ll be able to visit most of the galleries and maybe choose a piece of Croatian art to bring home.
Have you been to Istria? Have I missed any city that you loved? Send me a message on Facebook. And save this post on Pinterest so you can refer back to it once we can travel again.
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