Istria

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  • 1. Arena

    Designed to accommodate 23,000 spectators, Pula's arena is the sixth-largest building of its type in the world (after the Colosseum in Rome and similar arenas...

    Designed to accommodate 23,000 spectators, Pula's arena is the sixth-largest building of its type in the world (after the Colosseum in Rome and similar arenas in Verona, Catania, Capua, and Arles). Construction was completed in the 1st century AD under the reign of Emperor Vespasian, and the Romans staged gladiator games here until such bloodthirsty sports were forbidden during the 5th century. It has remained more or less intact, except for the original tiers of stone seats and numerous columns that were hauled away for other buildings. Today it is used for summer concerts (by musicians including Sting, James Brown, and Jose Carreras), opera performances, and the annual film festival in mid-July. The underground halls house a museum with large wooden oil presses and amphorae.

    Flavijevska ulica bb, Pula, Istarska, 52100, Croatia
    052-219–028

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: 70 Kn, Jan.–Mar. and Nov.–Dec., daily 9–5; Apr., daily 8–8; May–June and Sept., daily 8 am–9 pm; July–Aug., daily 8 am–midnight; Oct., 9–7
  • 2. Crkva Sv. Eufemije

    Inside this 18th-century Baroque church, the remains of Rovinj's patron saint are said to lie within a 6th-century sarcophagus. Born near Constantinople, Euphemia was martyred...

    Inside this 18th-century Baroque church, the remains of Rovinj's patron saint are said to lie within a 6th-century sarcophagus. Born near Constantinople, Euphemia was martyred in her youth, on September 16 in AD 304, under the reign of Emperor Diocletian. The marble sarcophagus containing her remains mysteriously vanished in AD 800 when it was at risk of destruction by iconoclasts—and, legend has it, it somehow floated out to sea and washed up in faraway Rovinj. (Note the wall engraving just to the right of the entrance of St. Euphemia holding Rovinj in her arms.) On September 16 of each year many people gather to pray by her tomb. There is no better place to enjoy 360-degree sunset views of Rovinj than from the church bell tower. In summer, concerts and art shows take place in the piazza in front of the church.

    Trg Sv. Eufemije, Rovinj, Istarska, 52210, Croatia
    052-815–615

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Church free, campanile 20 Kn, No tours Nov.–May, May–Nov., daily 10–6
  • 3. Eufrazijeva Basilica

    The magnificent Eufrazijeva Basilica is among the most perfectly preserved early Christian churches in Europe, and as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, one of the...

    The magnificent Eufrazijeva Basilica is among the most perfectly preserved early Christian churches in Europe, and as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, one of the most important monuments of Byzantine art on the Adriatic. It was built by Bishop Euphrasius in the middle of the 6th century and consists of a delightful atrium, a church decorated with stunning mosaics, and an octagonal baptistery. Added in the 17th-century were a bell tower you can climb (for a modest fee) and a 17th-century Bishop's Palace, whose foundations date to the 6th century; the basement contains an exhibit of stone monuments and mosaics previously on the basilica floor. The church interior is dominated by biblical mosaics above, behind, and around the main apse. In the apsidal semidome, the Virgin holding the Christ child is seated in a celestial sphere on a golden throne, flanked by angels in flowing white robes. On the right side there are three martyrs, the patrons of Poreč; the mosaic on the left shows Bishop Euphrasius holding a model of the church, slightly askew. High above the main apse, just below the beamed ceiling, Christ holds an open book in his hands while apostles approach on both sides. Other luminous, shimmeringly intense mosaics portray further ecclesiastical themes.

    Eufrazijeva 22, Poreč, Istarska, 52440, Croatia
    052-451--784

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: 50 kn, Closed Sun., July, Aug. 9–9; Apr.–June, Sept.–Oct., 9–6, Nov.–Mar., weekdays 9–4; Sat. 9–2
  • 4. Forum

    The Forum, the original central square, administrative hub, and marketplace of ancient and medieval Pula, is still the city's most important public meeting place after...

    The Forum, the original central square, administrative hub, and marketplace of ancient and medieval Pula, is still the city's most important public meeting place after 2,000 years. Today, the forum is a spacious square ringed with bustling cafés, shops, and restaurants. There were once three temples here, only one of which remains: the Temple of Augustus. Perfectly preserved, the Augustov Hram was built between 2 BC and AD 14. Next to it stands the Gradska Palača (Town Hall), which was erected during the 13th century using part of another Roman temple as the back wall. The arcades on three sides of the forum square were added later during the Renaissance.

    Pula, Istarska, 52100, Croatia

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Augustov Hram 10 Kn, Augustov Hram Closed Oct.–Apr., May–June, Sept., daily 9–9; July–Aug., daily 9 am–11 pm; Apr., Oct., daily 9–7;
  • 5. Kozlović Winery

    At the Kozlović family's stylish, modern winery, which blends perfectly with the scenic countryside, you can enjoy an extensive wine tasting indoors or on their...

    At the Kozlović family's stylish, modern winery, which blends perfectly with the scenic countryside, you can enjoy an extensive wine tasting indoors or on their outdoor terrace overlooking the vineyard. If you've called ahead you can enjoy a full tasting of wine and olive oil as you enjoy local cheeses and proscuitto. Next door is the Stari Podrum, one of the best taverns in Istria.

    Vale 78, Momjan, Istarska, 52462, Croatia
    052-779–177

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Closed Sun., Mon.–Sat. 10–7
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  • 6. Labin

    Perched in all its compact medieval redolence atop a hill a short drive or walk from the sea, Labin is Croatia's former coal mining capital...

    Perched in all its compact medieval redolence atop a hill a short drive or walk from the sea, Labin is Croatia's former coal mining capital and the birthplace of Matthias Flacius Illyricus, a Reformation-era collaborator of Martin Luther. Its narrow, historic streets are well deserving of a good walk—followed, if time allows, by a dip in the sea at Rabac, the coastal beach town just 3 km (2 miles) below, filled with hotels, resorts, apartments, and villas to rent, and a vibrant promenade lined with cafés, restaurants, and family activities. From Labin's endearing little main square, Titov trg, with its 16th-century loggia and bastion, it's an easy stroll to Šetalište San Marco, a semicircular promenade with a spectacular view of the sea. Walk to the end and take a sharp left up the cobblestone road. Once you reach the top of the hill, you can climb another 98½ feet up for an even better view from the town's onetime fortress, the Fortica. Making your way down the other side of the hill back toward the main square, you will pass the Crkva Rođenja Blažene Djevice Marije (Church of the Birth of the Virgin Mary). With a facade featuring a 14th-century rose window and a 17th-century Venetian lion of the sort you will encounter elsewhere in Istria, the church is a mix of architectural styles dating back to a late-16th-century renovation, though its foundations may date to the 11th century. Dotted throughout Old Town Labin are working art studios, souvenir shops, museums, and galleries. In July and August, the Labin Art Republika hosts art openings, live musical concerts and outdoor films.

    Labin, Istarska, Croatia
  • 7. Rabac

    With its beautiful aqua blue bay and splendid, natural surroundings down rocky cliffs that call to mind the Amalfi Coast, the seaside resort town of...

    With its beautiful aqua blue bay and splendid, natural surroundings down rocky cliffs that call to mind the Amalfi Coast, the seaside resort town of Rabac has transformed from a quiet, 17th-century fishermen’s village into one of the most popular tourist destinations in Istria. Perfectly situated just 3 kms below Old Town Labin and equidistant from Opatija and Pula, Rabac offers an endless number of white pebble beaches and untouched nature ideal for hiking, biking, kayaking, windsurfing, fishing, diving, and exploring. Many hotels, resorts, boutique hotels, villas, apartments, and campgrounds host international tourists looking for family-friendly holiday experiences. Yet, despite its growing popularity, Rabac still manages to transmit the same casual coastal charm and welcoming spirit of that 17th-century village it once was. An added bonus is having the medieval hilltop town of Labin just 10 minutes up the road, where its numerous chic restaurants, live music programs, art galleries, and historical sites further enrich your holiday.

    Rabac, Istarska, Croatia
  • 8. Vrsar

    This pretty, waterfront medieval hilltop town just 10 km (6 miles) south of Poreč is situated near the fjord's northern juncture with the sea (and...

    This pretty, waterfront medieval hilltop town just 10 km (6 miles) south of Poreč is situated near the fjord's northern juncture with the sea (and yet another place you can catch a tour of the fjord). Famous since Roman times for its high-quality stone, which helped build Venice, Vrsar is home to the 12th-century Romanesque church Sv. Marija Od Mora (St. Mary of the Sea), which has three naves. In his memoirs, the Venetian adventurer Casanova fondly recalled the local red wine, Teran. Just a couple of miles south, by the way, is Croatia's oldest and largest naturist resort, FKK Park Koversada.

    Istarska, 52450, Croatia
  • 9. Aquacolors Water Park Poreč

    Whether you're looking for an adrenaline-filled day or just a relaxing day by the pool, Aquacolors water park has you covered. With 12 slides and...

    Whether you're looking for an adrenaline-filled day or just a relaxing day by the pool, Aquacolors water park has you covered. With 12 slides and more than a full acre of pools, it's the largest water park in all Croatia. A looping, 61-meter-long (200-foot-long) slide rockets you down at high speed, while a 204-meter-long (1/3-mile-long) lazy river eases you along on an inflatable tube. The park offers endless hours of fun for the whole family, as well as favorable family pricing.

    Molindrio 18, Poreč, Istarska, 52440, Croatia
    052-219–671

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: 135 Kn–230 Kn, Closed Oct.–Apr.
  • 10. Aquarium Pula

    Located on the ground floor of the onetime Austro-Hungarian fortress in the resort complex of Verudela, a few kilometers from the city center, the aquarium...

    Located on the ground floor of the onetime Austro-Hungarian fortress in the resort complex of Verudela, a few kilometers from the city center, the aquarium also serves as a sea turtle rescue center. Its 35 pools offer a colorful look at hundreds of sea creatures from the Adriatic's underwater world, and include a touch pool with sea stars, sea urchin, crab, and sea squirt. Climb to the roof of the fort for great vistas over Pula.

    Verudela bb, Pula, Istarska, 52100, Croatia
    052-381–402

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: 120 Kn, Apr., May, daily 10–6; June, Sept., daily 9–8; July, Aug., daily 9 am–10 pm; Oct.–Mar., daily 10–4
  • 11. Chiavalon Olive Oil Tasting Room

    Sandi Chiavalon was barely 13 years old when he planted his first olive trees and decided to become an olive-oil producer. Less than two decades...

    Sandi Chiavalon was barely 13 years old when he planted his first olive trees and decided to become an olive-oil producer. Less than two decades later, Chiavalon's extra virgin olive oil was chosen among the 15 best olive oils in the world by the prestigious Flos Olei. A visit to the Chiavalon tasting room is well worth a detour; just call in advance to arrange the tasting and farm tour, some of which are accompanied by delicious Istrian fare like cheese, prosciutto, and sausages. Make sure to take or ship home their oils, as well as their homemade tomato sauce and jams.

    Vladimira Nazora 16, Vodnjan, Istarska, 52215, Croatia
    052-511--906

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Closed Sun., Reservations essential
  • 12. Crkva svetog Blaža

    From the tourist office on the main square, stroll down ulica Castello to Crkva svetog Blaža, an 18th-century structure built in the style of architect...

    From the tourist office on the main square, stroll down ulica Castello to Crkva svetog Blaža, an 18th-century structure built in the style of architect Palladio that not only has the highest campanile in all of Istria but is also the unlikely home of the mummies or mummified body parts of six saints impressively preserved without embalming. Among the best preserved are St. Nicolosa Bursa and Leon Bembo the Blessed. Nicolosa, whose relatively elastic skin and overall postmortem presentability make her one of the best-preserved human bodies in Europe, was born in Koper (Istria) in the 15th century and was a nun in Venice and elsewhere; she's the one with the garland of flowers still on her head. Leon Bembo the Blessed was a 12th-century Venetian priest who was tortured in religious riots while ambassador to Syria. And then there is St. Sebastian, a Roman officer-turned-Christian who was whipped and strangled around AD 288 in Rome after initially surviving torture by arrows. The head, spinal column, neck muscles, and related parts of this very famous saint are on display here. As for St. Barbara, from 3rd-century Nicomeda (in present-day Turkey), only her leg remains; she so disagreed with her father's pagan, slave-keeping lifestyle that he personally killed her with a sword. Admittance to the mummy room, behind the main altar, includes an English-language recording that sums up the saints' lives and roads to mummihood. Call to make an appointment to see the collection.

    Sv. Roka 4, Vodnjan, Istarska, 52215, Croatia
    052-511–420

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €10, By appointment only. Closed Oct.–June, June–Sept., daily 9:30–6:30; Sun. 12–6:30
  • 13. Crkvica Marije od Trstika

    Once part of a magnificent basilica built in the 6th century by Bishop Maximilian of Istria, the humble stone Chapel of St. Mary of Formosa...

    Once part of a magnificent basilica built in the 6th century by Bishop Maximilian of Istria, the humble stone Chapel of St. Mary of Formosa can be found between Sigirijeva ulica and the port. Over the centuries, the chapel fell into ruin, especially during the 1242 fire at the time of the Venetian conquest of Pula. A large portion of its interior was shipped to Venice, where it was used in building the St. Mark's Library and the Sale delle Quattro Porte of the Doge's Palace. Usually closed to visitors, it's occasionally used as a gallery space, which will give you a chance to take a peek at the interior.

    Pula, Istarska, 52100, Croatia
  • 14. Cuj Winery

    The Cuj olive oils (and wines) are a true labor of love and passion. Owner Danijel Kraljevic—Cuj—will infuse you with both when you visit his...

    The Cuj olive oils (and wines) are a true labor of love and passion. Owner Danijel Kraljevic—Cuj—will infuse you with both when you visit his wine and olive oil estate in the village of Farnažine near Umag. A beautifully restored, old stone building houses an olive mill, wine cellar, and tasting room with an open fireplace. He produces three single-sort extra virgin olive oils—Buža, Črna, and Bjelica—and one multisort extra virgin olive oil—Selekcija. Call in advance to arrange a visit.

    Farnažine BB, Umag, Istarska, 52470, Croatia
    098-219–277
  • 15. Dvigrad

    When its residents abandoned Dvigrad's "two towns" suddenly in the mid-17th century—fleeing the combined misfortune of plague and attacks by Uskok raiders—and established nearby Kanfanar,...

    When its residents abandoned Dvigrad's "two towns" suddenly in the mid-17th century—fleeing the combined misfortune of plague and attacks by Uskok raiders—and established nearby Kanfanar, surely they didn't foresee that more than three centuries later tourists would delight in what they left behind. In any case, if exploring ruins is your (or your child's) thing, this is the place for you. Along an isolated road 23 km (14 miles) east of Rovinj, outside the sleepy town of Kanfanar (a short detour if you're headed north toward Poreč, Motovun, or Grožnjan), this huge maze of dirt paths surrounded by high stone walls makes for an adventuresome, imagination-stirring walk. Indeed, just enough restoration has been done to let your imagination "reconstruct" the rest: some of the walls are vine-covered, and much of the place is overgrown with vegetation. Nor is there a single explanatory sign, in any language. All this combines to give you the sense that you are discovering this eerie ghost town of a fortress city, even if a few other tourists are also wandering about. The battlements are impressively intact, and toward the center of the fortress you will find the remains of St. Sophia's Church, replete with depressions in the ground that contained the crypts of very important persons. To get here, take the main road east out of Rovinj toward Kanfanar. Just before you cross the railroad tracks and enter Kanfanar, you'll see a sign pointing to Dvigrad, which is to your left; from the sign the ruins are about 4 km (2½ miles) down an isolated, scrub-lined road. In May, a Medieval Fair takes place, complete with historical theater, music, jousting, food and drink.

    Kanfanar, Istarska, Croatia

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free
  • 16. Floor Mosaic

    The central scene of this large and lovely 3rd-century mosaic—which otherwise features geometric patterns, animals, and plants aplenty—is of the punishment of Dirce, who, according...

    The central scene of this large and lovely 3rd-century mosaic—which otherwise features geometric patterns, animals, and plants aplenty—is of the punishment of Dirce, who, according to Greek legend, lies under the enraged bull to whose horns she is about to be fastened. Once part of a Roman house, the mosaic was unearthed after World War II bombings. The mosaic can be viewed for free by looking down through a grate beside an uninspiring apartment building a stone's throw from the Crkva Sv. Marije od Trstika (Chapel of St. Mary of Formosa).

    Between Sergijevaca ulica and Flaciusova ulica, Pula, Istarska, 52100, Croatia
  • 17. Galerija Sv. Toma

    Today a public art gallery, St. Thomas is a small, bright-yellow church dating to the Middle Ages but was rebuilt in 1722. It's on your...

    Today a public art gallery, St. Thomas is a small, bright-yellow church dating to the Middle Ages but was rebuilt in 1722. It's on your way back down the hill from the main cathedral, and right after you pass by it, you will pass under a lovely, arched hall some 50 feet long and with a wooden-beamed ceiling. On your left, you'll notice a small courtyard, encircled by pastel painted houses with green and blue shutters and colorful flowers in the window. St. Thomas is part of the Heritage Museum of Rovinj.

    Bregovita ulica, Rovinj, Istarska, 52210, Croatia

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free, Closed Mon.--Tues. and Oct.--Jun., June–Sept., Tues.–Sun. 6:30 pm–10 pm
  • 18. Istralandia Waterpark

    The first water park in Istria opened in 2014, featuring 20 waterslides, including an almost 90-foot-high free-fall waterslide; family rafting in inflatable rafts; three pools,...

    The first water park in Istria opened in 2014, featuring 20 waterslides, including an almost 90-foot-high free-fall waterslide; family rafting in inflatable rafts; three pools, including a children's pool with water castle, pirate ship, and several smaller slides; sand volleyball; and a badminton court—a great place to spend a day! Direct buses from Poreč, Novigrad, and resort towns in between run throughout the day in July and August.

    Novigrad, Istarska, 52466, Croatia
    052-866–900

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: 170 Kn–220 Kn, Closed Oct.–June, June, Sept., daily 10–6; July, Aug., daily 10–7
  • 19. Jama Baredine

    Far from sun and sea though it may be, the Baredine Cave has long been one of the Poreč area's top natural attractions. About 8...

    Far from sun and sea though it may be, the Baredine Cave has long been one of the Poreč area's top natural attractions. About 8 km (5 miles) northeast of town, near Nova Vas, this wonderful world of five limestone halls includes not only the miniature olm (known as the cave salamander) and insects but, of course, stalactites, stalagmites, and dripstone formations—from "curtains" 30 feet long to "statues" resembling the Virgin Mary, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and the body of the 13th-century shepherdess Milka, who supposedly lost her way down here while looking for her lover Gabriel (who met the same fate). One of the halls includes a hatch some 70 yards deep that leads to underground lakes. Groups leave every half hour on a 40-minute guided tour. Those without car transport may wish to join an excursion to the cave from Poreč or another nearby town.

    Tar - Gedići 55, Nova Vas, Istarska, 52446, Croatia
    052-421–333

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: 75 Kn, July and Aug., daily 10–6; May, June, and Sept., daily 10–5; Apr. and Oct., daily 10–4
  • 20. Kabola Winery

    Near the small medieval hill town of Momjan, the Kabola Winery is a must-visit for wine and olive-oil aficionados. This boutique winery offers tours of...

    Near the small medieval hill town of Momjan, the Kabola Winery is a must-visit for wine and olive-oil aficionados. This boutique winery offers tours of its wine cellar and small wine museum, as well as full tastings in its picturesque, traditional Istrian farmhouse. Vintners since 1891, the Markezic family produces only organic wines and extra virgin olive oil. Their wines are wonderful, with their Malvazija Unica, Teran, and Dolce some of the more popular. Their olive oil is a blend of three kinds of olives: indigenous Istarska Bjelica mixed with Leccino and Pendolino. Fresh, well-rounded, and balanced, it marries perfectly with seafood, cheese, and salads. Call in advance to arrange a visit.

    Kanedolo 90, Momjan, Istarska, 52462, Croatia
    099-720–7106

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Closed Sun., July–Aug., Mon.–Sat. 10–6; May–June, Sept.–Oct., 10–6; March–Apr., 10-5; Nov.–Mar., 11–4

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