• Photo: A.Vasilyev / Shutterstock


Yet another onetime island, the peninsula town of Umag draws the fewest tourists of any of the major towns along Istria's western coast, even if it has more than its share of the usual beach resorts nearby. Perhaps it's the frustration with waiters who, while twiddling their thumbs in front of their restaurants, call out to every passing tourist, "Italiano? Deutsch? English?" and, less often, "Français?"

And yet Umag is a nice enough place to stroll for a couple of hours if you are passing this way, even if you might not be moved to stay for the night. Although the town grew up under the rule of Rome, practically none of its ancient roots are apparent in what remains of the historic core, which dates to the Middle Ages.

A spacious main square, Trg Slobode (Piazza Liberta—i.e., Freedom Square) is a jarring architectural mix from the medieval to the 20th-century mundane. It's where you'll find the towering Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary & St. Pelegrin, built in 1757 on the site of the original church. Among its main attractions are a wooden, 14th-century Venetian triptych and a 16th-century painting depicting the resurrected Christ.

Just off Trg Slobode is the town's best-preserved historic street, Riječka ulica, where the souvenir vendors tend to congregate. The palm-lined main road leading through town from the coastal road to the square is a pleasant, comparatively modern, somewhat bustling thoroughfare. Along it you'll pass a large open square to your left that is home to both the tourist office and Istria's newest aquarium. A bit farther down, the Church of St. Roche, a lovely little stone structure, was erected in 1514 to mark the end of a plague outbreak some years earlier.

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