The Brijuni islands are a group of 14 small islands that were developed in the late 19th century. You'll need to pass through Fažana to get here, and though the town seems to offer little more than the usual collection of touristy restaurants along its small harbor, it is at least refreshingly quiet compared to some other tourist-traveled spots along Istria's west coast. Fažana's main cultural attractions—all just a short walk from the harbor—are the 15th-century Church of Saints Kosmas and Damian, whose bell may be in need of oiling, as it sounds like a fork striking a plate; and the smaller but older 14th-century Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, which you enter through an atmospheric loggia and whose ceiling features several layers of fascinating 15th-century Renaissance frescoes. But you are presumably here to visit the archipelago. Before doing so, call or email the Brijuni National Park office in Fažana at least one day in advance to make a reservation; you
can also do so in person, but especially in midsummer there is a substantial risk that there won't be space. (Though various private tourist agencies in Fažana and Pula offer excursions, they do not generally measure up, in cost or quality, to making your arrangements directly with the national park. Some of the tourist agencies simply reserve you a spot on the "official" tour, adding their own commission when doing so.) Take the National Park ferry from Fažana, which is about 15 minutes. The entire tour of the park takes about four hours. Your first view is of a low-lying island with a dense canopy of evergreens over blue waters. Ashore on Veli Brijun, the largest island, a tourist train takes you past villas in the seaside forest and relics from the Roman and Byzantine eras. The network of roads on this 6½-km-long (4-mile-long) island was laid down by the Romans, and stretches of original Roman stonework remain. Rows of cypresses shade herds of deer, and peacocks strut along pathways. The train stops at the Safari Park, a piece of Africa transplanted to the Adriatic, its zebras, Indian holly cattle, llamas, and elephants all gifts from visitors from faraway lands. In the museum, an archaeological exhibition traces life on Brijuni through the centuries, and a photography exhibition, "Tito on Brijuni," focuses on Tito and his guests.
Those who have made the rounds of Kupelwieser's golf course—the oldest golf course in Croatia—report that it is more a historic experience than anything else, since it looks much the same as it did when built in 1923, with "natural," sandy tees and deer grazing where there is grass; it's blessed by an absence of fertilizers. Even if it isn't quite up to snuff by modern golfing standards, how often do you find a course that allows you to take a dip in the sea between holes?