Exploring the Istrian Peninsula, Croatia
Many, many people have discovered the delights of the Istrian Coast, and unfortunately this has led to that popularity being exploited. Sections of the coastline of this peninsula in the North of Croatia have been heavy built up with mega-hotels and associated infrastructure squashed in between its quaint alley-hugging traditional buildings. Fortunately, however, away from the crowds, it is possible to find an Istria undisturbed by the visiting throngs and big tourism business, an unspoiled place of quiet, arty villages and idyllic nature reserves which are havens for wildlife. This area is often overlooked in favour of the more in-your-face delights of the central Dalmatian coast, but Istria can offer much to the visitor willing to stray just a little from the well-beaten track.
We started our Istrian journey, as many do, in the ancient Roman city of Pula. This is a busy, working port, and such are the attractions of other sections of the coast nearby, many choose not to spend any time in the town itself but rather skip it and leave before getting to know it. While, outside of the summer months, much of the town's tourist infrastructure shuts down, during the summer months Pula is a vibrant town with much to recommend it. There are a number of pleasant eateries and drinking establishments and what is more – the concentration of historic sites in Pula is astounding.
Pula is home to the 6th largest Roman amphitheatre in the world. We took the time to visit it, paying the small entrance fee to enter the Colosseum and tour the caverns beneath. Roman remains are dotted throughout the town. The main square was once a Roman Forum, and there is a Temple to Jupiter, and the remains of another form a part of the Communal Palace which was built, incorporating a section of the former Temple of Diana, in the 13th Century. One can also see the Roman gates, remarkably intact. Other historical eras are also well represented here – we visited the 14th Century Monastery of St. Francis, and climbed the hill to Pula Castle, which was built for defensive purposes in the 17th Century, probably on the site of an earlier fortress. The views from the Castle of the town and surroundings were wonderful.
Leaving the city behind however, we headed inland, to explore the infrequently visited interior of the peninsula. Away from the coast we were greeted by a different world of sleepy hilltop villages and rolling farmland, which we took our time to explore, meandering our way slowly and happily from quaint artist haven to quaint artist haven. It was easy to see why this area is so popular with painters and other artists.
Later, we took to the waters. Chartering a boat, we headed out from the charming former-island of Rovinj, where fishing boats thronged, and made our way down round the coast, past other, smaller Rovinj islands and the Special Ornithological Reserve at Palud, where we delighted in the absolute solitude as we watched birds from the boat.
We had found a side to Istria that many people miss out on, a peaceful and pleasant place, to which we were sure we would return.
Croatia from space
90.4% Croats 4.4% Serbs 5.2% others / unspecified
Unitary parliamentary constitutional republic
Area - Total
56,594 km2 21,851 sq mi
GDP 2014 estimate
positive decrease 30.5 medium
Drives on the
ISO 3166 code
Have you been to Istrian Peninsula, Croatia?
Roman city of Pula
Would you visit this beautiful city?
Diocletian built the massive palace in preparation for his retirement on 1 May 305 AD— Wikipedia.org
Temple to Jupiter
Pula Communal Palace
The main square was once a Roman Forum, and there is a Temple to Jupiter, and the remains of another form a part of the Communal Palace which was built, incorpo
Temple of Diana
Cost FREE— Google
Temple of Diana
Would you like to visit the Roman gates
14th Century Monastery of St. Francis
Pula Castle, which was built for defensive purposes in the 17th Century, probably on the site of an earlier fortress. The views from the Castle of the town and
Leaving the city behind however, we headed inland, to explore the infrequently visited interior of the peninsula. Away from the coast we were greeted by a diffe
Rovinj boat trip
Chartering a boat, we headed out from the charming former-island of Rovinj, where fishing boats thronged, and made our way down round the coast, past other, sma
The smaller Rovinj islands and the Special Ornithological Reserve at Palud.
The Special Ornithological Reserve at Palud
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