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Istria Travel Guide

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  • Photo: Stefan Petru Andronache / Shutterstock
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Plan Your Istria Vacation

The word conjures something magical as it rolls off the tongue: Istria. Beyond sounding poetic, however, the name of this region of Croatia is derived from the name of the Illyrian people who occupied the area well before the Romans first arrived in the 3rd century BC—namely, the Histrians, whose chief architectural legacy comprised numerous hilltop fortresses. In the northwest

corner of Croatia bordering Slovenia, the triangular-shaped Istrian peninsula looks rather like a bunch of grapes—and, given its strong viticultural heritage, some might say this is not a coincidence.

Much of Europe's history has passed through Istria for more than a thousand years, not least the history associated with three great civilizations—the Roman, the Germanic, and the Slavic. Centuries of Venetian rule later reinforced by years of Italian occupation between the world wars have left a sizable Italian minority here, and Italian influence is apparent in the architecture, the cuisine, and the local dialect. Here, even the effects of the concrete-box style of communist-era architecture seem relatively minimal compared to the overall sense of a much deeper past suggested by the rich mix of architectural styles—from a whole array of well-preserved Roman ruins to early-Christian churches, Byzantine mosaics, and Romanesque basilicas; from breathtakingly well-preserved medieval towns, towers, and town walls to baroque palaces and Austro-Hungarian fortifications.

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Top Reasons To Go

  1. Take a walk through the Roman Area in Pula, where you will find one of the world's biggest and best-preserved amphitheaters (in fact, the sixth-largest in the world).
  2. Have dinner at one of Rovinj's elegant seaside restaurants (Monte is widely regarded as the city's finest dining establishment).
  3. A scenic drive through the medieval towns of Grožnjan and Motovun in the hilly interior is not to be missed; these are villages that time seems to have forgotten.
  4. Enjoy a tour of the amazing 6th-century Byzantine mosaics at St. Euphrasius Basilica in Poreč; St. Euphrasius is one of the best-preserved early-Christian churches in Europe.
  5. As in Italy, gelato is available everywhere in dozens of flavors all over Istria. Grab a cone and enjoy the early evening passeggiata, a stroll through any town square in the evening, just like a local.

When To Go

When to Go

If you are partial to sun and the idea of swimming in the warm, blue-green waters of the Adriatic, and you don't mind crowds and a bit of extra expen...

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Itineraries

Istria Itineraries

Travel Tips

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