A guide to 11 irresistible and most picturesque Istrian towns

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You have booked your vacation in Istria and the next thing to do (of course) is making a plan of what to see and do while on vacation.

As this is a very diverse region there’s plenty to experience; from visiting Roman ruins by foot to cycling through vineyards and olive groves and tasting delicious produce on the way to enjoying local cuisine from a hilltop town with an extremely beautiful view.

Therefore, be sure to read our guide to the end and prepare an impeccable plan!

1. Rovinj – the most beloved town in Istria

We start with Rovinj, a seaside gem and often the most beloved town in Istria due to numerous romantic spots. The old town nucleus lies on a promontory which was until 1763 part of a coastal islet that was later connected with the mainland. Rovinj maintains close cultural and historical ties with Italy as it was a part of the Venetian empire for centuries.

As one of the last remaining Mediterranean fishing towns, still totally authentic, with colorful houses lined in cobbled streets, this small town offers you an escape from your daily routine. Plan your morning coffee along the sea with an incredible view, grab something to eat at one of the numerous piazzas, and make memories and pictures along narrow streets filled with shops. And don’t forget to walk a bit to a Venetian bell tower of the St Euphemia Cathedral, the most imposing structure, recognized worldwide and very well worth visiting.

2. Vrsar – A thrue Istrian hospitality

Heading up north, in the coastal area lies a small fishermen’s town Vrsar. A tourist-oriented town with true Istrian hospitality, lovely beaches, and high-quality accommodation facilities is best known for Giacomo Casanova. This well-known Italian writer and adventurer were a true “Don Juan” who fell in love with this place and through numerous visits to a beautiful woman made many interesting events that characterized his stay here.

3. Poreč – The most popular holiday resort

Even more north, after passing the famous Lim Fjord, you will reach the town of Porec. This most popular holiday resort reaches far back in history to prehistoric times. The largest settlement, still available today by foot, called Picugi, was home to an Illyrian tribe called the Histri (which is where Istria gets its name) in around 800 BC.

In 129 BC, the Romans succeeded in capturing Istria and the Roman settlement Parentium – present-day Porec – emerged and evolved. It grew in strength and importance and included Roman military and army bases. After the fall of Rome, Porec came under the rule of various empires – Roman, Austrian, Italian, and Yugoslavian – until it became part of Croatia.

Due to the town’s long history, a visit to the old town is a must. Be sure to start your walk by the 6th century Euphrasian Basilica, a UNESCO World Heritage site, that is wonderfully preserved and well known for its beautiful gold mosaics. The Decumanus, once the main road is today’s most visited main street ended by a Marafor square where a Roman forum was once situated. Remains of two temples, to Neptune and Mars, are the biggest in Istria despite only a portion of its wall and foundations being preserved.

4. Grožnjan – The village of artists

Heading inland, you’ll reach the village of artists, an internationally significant Groznjan. Every year in May, Grožnjan wakes up for the intensive summer months filled with art, theater, and dance workshops and summer music academies. Well-known teachers and arts and music lovers spread their love and expertise which can be found at every corner of this tiny town. Its little narrow streets host numerous galleries, so find some time to stop for a moment and witness an art coming alive.

5. Završje – A perfect display of ancient architecture

Nearby, on a cliff above the Mirna valley lays a medieval town with a breathtaking view – Zavrsje. Situated on ruins of a prehistoric hill-fort from the 11th century, Zavrsje is a perfect display of ancient architecture, a combination of wood and stone, witnessing numerous possession battles and fortification skills come alive. The mystical quality of Motovun forest combined with a village as a single monument is a place you wouldn’t want to skip on your journey.

6. Motovun – Filled with typical and delicious Istrian food

The most visited of all Istrian hilltop towns due to the best breathtaking views from the town walls is Motovun. This tiny old town, set atop a 270-meter hill, is home to a striking old church and walkable medieval walls. Nevertheless, some excellent restaurants and stores with local produce offer typical and delicious Istrian food – truffles, olive oils, and wines so be sure to enter Motovun with an empty stomach.

7. Oprtalj – A magnificent view of the sea

By many one of the most picturesque towns in Istria is another hilltop gem just across the Motovun, named Oprtalj. Once a fort with strong defensive walls protecting row houses to the town gates, is today’s historical monument with a huge Venetian loggia still proudly standing and offering a magnificent view of the sea.

8. Hum – The smallest town in the world

In a pure and untouched inland, the smallest town in the world resists the time and weather. First mentioned in the year 1102. it survived the Venetian and the Turks attacks without bigger damages. Also known as The Gates of the World, it is recently recognized for the authentic type of brandy called Biska. It’s a mistletoe brandy whose original recipe comes from Hum so an exhibition and competition for the best brandy became a yearly tradition in October.

Hum is also the final point of the famous Glagolitic Lane commemorating the importance of Glagolitic literature. The Lane stretches for 7 km from Roč to Hum.

9. Bale – Surrounded with endless vineyards and olive groves

About an hour to the southwest the stone town of Bale offers a perfect combination of Istrian highlights. It is another hilltop town surrounded by endless vineyards and olive groves, only 10 minutes from the sea and a beautiful seashore. Widely known for its Jazz festival, one of the most popular festivals of its type in this part of Europe, it gives you a special kind of artistic atmosphere. Along narrow, cobbled streets you will find many historical remains and travel back in time when visiting a Bembo family castle dated from the 15. Century.

10. Fažana – A pure nature and a beautiful promenade

Nearby a perfect place to relax, apart from all the mass tourism is Fazana. A tiny village not far from Pula and with a boat connection to a National Park Brijuni, it offers you pure nature and a beautiful promenade full of restaurants and bars overlooking the islands. It is an active fishing port known for its excellent seafood and Istrian cuisine so plan at least one dinner in this charming seaside town.

11. Labin – A cultural center of Istria

Save some time to also visit the Istrian west coast and the medieval town of Labin. First mentioned as Albona in 285 AD it is an administrative and cultural center today. Visit the unique experience in this part of Europe, a miniature coal mine which used to be of a high significance to the Labin region, as a part of Town’s Museum. Explore the Memorial collection of Matthias Flacius Illyricus, the reformer, and collaborator of Martin Luther, or walk along the Sculpture Park in Dubrova with over 70 stone sculptures.

Remember, a good vacation plan has time to explore and be active but also to relax and enjoy like a local!

Fiore Tours - Cycling and walking travel agency, Croatia

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ENQUIRY

OUR GROUP SERVICES

If you’re considering bringing your group to Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia & Hercegovina or Montenegro trust FIORE TOURS to organize and deliver your custom travel experience. Our comprehensive group services include:

All components for an integrated tourism experience. These include professional driver and licensed guides, transportation (car, minivan, 15 passenger minibus or coach), accommodation (hotel, motel, bed and breakfast, private accommodation, even camping), meals (from picnics to fine dining) and activities (hiking, biking, kayaking, rafting).

Innovative itinerary development. We work with our clients to develop itineraries that respond to their customer’s psycho-graphics and exertion and comfort levels. Feel free to ask us for examples of popular itineraries or ones that are more “off the beaten path.”

Outstanding customer service. Our success is largely due to our guides who place the customer first. As a “hands on” tourism business, our guides also work in the office, help set policy and basically keep the rest of us honest. We respond to all inquiries within 24 hours and keep a 24 hour emergency line open.

Value for money. The quality of our product and its cost represent some of best value for money spent. Our local knowledge, innovative ideas, access to a wide variety of unique properties and direct service delivery contribute to competitive pricing and customer satisfaction.

WHAT IS RESPONSIBLE TRAVEL?

Tourism is the world’s fastest growing industry. Traveling to far flung places gives us a wonderful opportunity to experience cultures that are so different from our own. But with the wondrous joy of travel comes the responsibility of ensuring that we do not adversely affect those countries that we visit. In a nutshell, Responsible Travel is about ensuring that you, as travelers, and Fiore Adventure, as a promoter of travel:

  • respect the local culture
  • do not inadvertently introduce new social ills and
  • promote & practice environmental responsibility in the places that we visit


That way, you enjoy a unique and memorable experience as well as authentic cross-cultural exchange and our local resources, cultures and customs are protected.

It has always been at the heart of Fiore Adventure’ ethos to not exploit local communities’ culture and environment.

We ensure our tours are:

  • low impact on natural resources
  • respectful and observant of local customs and
  • supportive of local economies


All staff of Fiore Adventure are locally employed and all our guides are, ensuring a more authentic experience for travelers, as well as sensitivity to local customs and culture. We also involve local communities in remote areas that we travel to.


Our environmental policy:

  • We recycle all our waste paper
  • Our correspondence and promotion is carried out via the internet and email, minimizing the amount of paper used for our activities
  • We use established, locally-owned and run accommodation wherever possible and aim to leave sites in better condition than we find them.
  • Our vehicle fleet is managed to minimise environmental impact.
  • Our group sizes are small, helping minimise cultural and environmental impact.
  • We monitor our impact, and where necessary alter our programmes accordingly.
  • We always abide by site-specific guidelines pertaining to flora and fauna.


Social policy:

  • All staff of Fiore Adventure are locally employed and all our guides are, ensuring a more authentic experience for travelers, as well as sensitivity to local customs and culture. We also involve local communities in remote areas that we travel to.
  • Our accommodation is mostly provided in small hotels, guest houses or apartments.
    On all our tours we use local produce and provide local-style meals, and we encourage our guests to try local dishes and delicacies
  • We support local economy and small business by supporting locally owned shops, restaurants, and using local guide services.
    Using local employees, accommodation providers, local restaurants and transportation services, Fiore Adventure ensures that financial benefits remain in the local community.

What you can do:

  • Learn something about Croatia: culture, religion, geography, politics and local customs.I strongly recommend to get a good travel guide such as Lonely Planet guides or Croatian Tourism Board. They are very useful before and during your staying.
  • Try to speak at least a few words of Croatian, you will make a big impression by doing it and it’s also a show of respect and interest on your part.
  • In many places fresh water is a very precious commodity and should not be wasted, so use a minimum for showering and washing, especially when you are on islands, tap water is drinkable throughout Croatia
  • Turn out the lights or air condition when you leave your room, use the public transport as much as you can, minimize your waste generally
  • Pick up your litter, never live any trace in nature, when you are in rural areas please stay to the trails and don’t damage or take any plants or flowers

TRANSPORTATION SERVICES

Fiore tours & adventure operates a fleet of different vehicles from cars, minivans and minibuses. Each van is equipped stereo radio/ CD sound systems with microphone, cloth/velour upholstered seats, carpeted interior and air conditioning. The vans are regularly serviced and continuously checked by a well established network of maintenance and service facilities throughout the country. This adds up to the best preventative maintenance program, but technical problems are not always avoidable.

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TRANSFER SERVICE

We cater to clients from all around the world and in doing so understand their basic needs and requirements. Whether you are on a business trip or on a holiday, we can assist you move in and around Croatia.

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BEFORE YOU GO

Preparing for your trip!!!! So you have booked! Please take the time to read the following information; it will help you prepare for the trip of a lifetime. The information provided here is a guideline and should be used as such, if you need further information please feel free to contact us – one of our staff will be happy to help you.

Travel documents

Passports
Passport valid for at least three months beyond length of stay is required for those nationals that need a visa. Those not requiring a visa need a valid passport and must leave the country before the passport has expired.If you don’t have a passport, apply for one in good time. If you do have a passport, check the expiry date.

Visa
Citizens of Australia, Canada, the EU, New Zealand, and the US do not need a visa for stays of up to 90 days. Visas cost US$26 (single-entry), US$33 (double-entry), and US$52 (multiple-entry). Apply for a visa at your nearest Croatian embassy or consulate at least one month before planned arrival.

Travel Insurance
A requirement for all overland travel is that you have valid insurance cover for the duration of our tour. It must cover you against personal accident, medical, cancellation, curtailment and repatriation expenses , you should also make sure you are covered for hiking and other expedition activities or optional excursions that you intend to do. You should purchase your travel insurance policy at the same time as you book your tour.Please remember to bring your policy with you.

Regional Information
Read more about Croatia….

Packing list – adventure travel
One word: versatility. Your destination and the duration of time you’re traveling generally dictates what—and how much—to bring along. But whether you’re living out of your bag for two weeks or four months, pack clothes that can do double duty, ones that are functional enough for the trail but sharp enough not to stand out in a city. Sun hats can become rain hats, backpacks with detachable daypacks free your hands when lugging your gear from bus stop to hotel, and a good pair of travel pants with a concealed zipper pocket could stand in for a money belt.

When it comes to clothing, stay away from cotton (or at least aim for poly/cotton blends; it may be comfortable, but it takes forever to dry), and try for wrinkle-free clothes. Pack one nice outfit for that must-have dinner in a Parisian café, and always have pants or a skirt that’s long enough to cover your legs should you be traveling in a country where custom dictates a degree of modesty. In warmer climes, you’ll naturally be packing lighter. In cooler locales, layering will stretch your wardrobe. Another piece of advice: darker colors generally blend in anywhere, let you mix and match without becoming a fashion accident, and save the hassle of constant washing. And if you’re heading someplace with inexpensive markets and shopping (Southeast Asia, for example), you can always buy a few new items when the need or desire strikes.

In the brave new world of bags, you can get a rolling bag/backpack hybrid that gives you the versatility, and the newer generation of rollers come with wheels that swallow up Central European cobblestone as much as NYC asphalt. But if you’re uncertain, let your interest be your guide. Trekking in Annapurna? Go with a traditional backpack. Crawling the pavement of South America’s metropolises? A rolling bag will save your back and serve you well.

Travel Items
• passport + photocopy of front page of passport
• airline tickets
• travel insurance
• wallet (cash, credit cards, traveler’s cheque, ID Card)
• money belt
• medications
• list of contact addresses and telephone numbers
• backpack
• daypack
• multi-tool or pocket knife
• headlamp
• camera, memory card/film, charger/extra camera batteries
• ziploc plastic bags
• travel alarm clock / calculator
• small umbrella
• reading material
• International electric adapters

Clothing
• 2 to 3 synthetic/wicking polo shirts or t-shirts or 1 to 2 short-sleeve blouses, gauzy material
• fleece jacket or vest
• rainjacket (gore tex or similar)
• convertible nylon pants or a few skirts
• underwear and socks
• clothing and shoes for downtime and restaurants
• lightweight sarong
• sun/rain hat
• mid thigh-length shorts
• swimmsuit
• sleepwear
• sunglasses

Footwear
• waterproof sandals (or flip-flops for public showers)
• trail-running or hiking shoes
• “dress up” shoes (or buy them in-country)
• hiking socks
Toiletry Kit
• super-absorbent camp towel
• dramamine, or other motion sickness tablets
• anti-diarrhea medicine
• anti-bacterial cream
• insect repellent
• sunscreen and lip ointment
• handi Wipes
• feminine products
• shaving accessories

Repair Kit
• safety pins (keep straps together, etc.)
• clothespins (keep curtains closed and hang clothing to dry)
• mini sewing kit

Packing list – Cycling Holidays
Complete packing list for adventure travel
Bicycling Clothing & Gear
• bicycling shoes or stiff-soled sneakers
• bicycling shorts
• short-fingered bicycling gloves
• brightly colored cycling jerseys or synthetic T-shirts
• lightweight jacket or vest
• breathable windproof and waterproof rain jacket
Optional Bicycling Clothing & Gear
• arm and knee/leg warmers
• headband that covers ears (worn under helmet)
• synthetic mid-weight socks
• toe covers or booties (worn over clip-in bike shoes)
• bicycling tights
• windproof outer gloves (worn over biking gloves)
• lightweight but warm cycling cap that fits under helmet (skullcap)
• hydration backpack
• personal biking gear and helmet

Packing list – Walking/Hiking Holidays
Complete packing list for adventure travel
Walking/Hiking Clothing & Gear
• waterproof hiking boots/shoes
• walking/hiking shorts
• long-fingered, waterproof gloves
• lightweight windproof jacket/vest or warm sweater
• synthetic walking/hiking pants
• synthetic T-shirts
• walking sticks optional

Packing list – Sea Kayak Holidays
Complete packing list for adventure travel
Sea Kayaking Clothing & Gear
• water bottles/hydration pack
• dry bags
• synthetic T-shirts
• waterproof sandals
• swim suit and spare
• towel
• hat: baseball or wide-brim
• polypro long-sleeve top
• suncream & lipsalve
• gloves

Packing list – Multi-Sport Holidays
Complete packing list for adventure travel
Bicycling Clothing & Gear
• bicycling shoes or stiff-soled sneakers
• bicycling shorts
• short-fingered bicycling gloves
• brightly colored cycling jerseys or synthetic T-shirts
• lightweight jacket or vest
• breathable windproof and waterproof rain jacket
Optional Bicycling Clothing & Gear
• arm and knee/leg warmers
• headband that covers ears (worn under helmet)
• synthetic mid-weight socks
• toe covers or booties (worn over clip-in bike shoes)
• bicycling tights
• windproof outer gloves (worn over biking gloves)
• lightweight but warm cycling cap that fits under helmet (skullcap)
• hydration backpack
• personal biking gear and helmet

Sea Kayaking Clothing & Gear
• water bottles/hydration pack
• dry bags
• synthetic T-shirts
• waterproof sandals
• swim suit and spare
• towel
• hat: baseball or wide-brim
• polypro long-sleeve top
• suncream & lipsalve
• gloves

Notice On Filing Customer's Complaints

Pursuant to Article 8 Paragraph 2 of the Law on Consumer Protection (Narodne Novine Official Gazette No. 97/07 and 125/07 – corr. 79/09 and 89/09 – corr., 133/09), we inform our clients that complaints regarding the quality of our services can be submitted in writing to:
Fiore d.o.o., travel agency, Mate Vlašića 6, 52440 Poreč, Croatia or sending to following E-mail address: adventure@fiore.hr

You will receive a response to your complaint in writing within 15 days of receipt of the complaint. Required information: name and surname of the person filing the complaint, the exact address for submission of responses.

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