We visit Croatia every year, as it is not just very near to our home, but also very beautiful and diverse. On our recent trip we went to Istria, which is the most north-western region of the country. We were here before in the coastal area, but this time we wandered around the inland.
My old dream was to live in an old Istrian stone villa. And for a few days Jure made this dream true.
He found Lovely Istria, which offers renovated traditional stone villas for rent (they have pools, saunas etc. 😉 ) and rented a villa in a mini village called Lubiani (just 4 houses). As we were there with friends, our villa had 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, a living room, fully equipped kitchen with an attached dining room, a beautiful terrace with a grill and a small children playground and the best – a heated pool. Look at their website or Instagram (they have villas from 650€/week for 6 people!!) and you can thank me later 😉
Ok, now let’s see, what we can show you in inland Istria (we were based in our Lovely Istria villa near Motovun the entire time):
It is not a coincidence that this village is on 1st place. I just loved it and I can say it is my favorite. The narrow cobblestoned streets are filled with art galleries, artists studios and truffle shops. The renovated houses are beautiful and the wooden sun blinds are painted in happy colors. You can take a small piece of the described with you – Kamenko is an art atelier where a friendly man makes doorways, walls and small round local houses called Kožun – all from stones! Everything is hand made and the prices are still very low in my opinion.
They call themselves the capital of truffles. Here you’ll find even more truffle shops and restaurants. Motovun is already a bit bigger and more touristy – if you arrive by car there’s a parking fee of 20 kuna for 24 hours and to visit the city wall you have to pay an entrance fee. But the town gate, the church and the stone streets were charming enough for us.
I have to admit I didn’t know about this village before, but since our villa was very near and the owners recommended a short visit we couldn’t resist. The village is quite empty, and some houses are abandoned, but it has soul. We had a small wine tasting at a local wine shop and basically all the streets just for us. Just outside the village down the hill is a beautiful tree alley which reminds us of Tuscany a lot.
Welcome to the smallest town in the world – at least this is what they are calling it. It’s on a hill with a church in the middle and a few stone houses around. But the village is historically important because of the Glagolitic alphabet (old Croatian writing) and all the way to the neighboring village Roč you can admire glagolian statues in this “glagolian avenue”.
Pazin is also called the heart of istria as it lies in the middle of the green peninsula. The town is divided into the new and old part – you’ll be interested in the old part, where you’ll find “Kaštel”, kind of a castle standing on a 130m cliff. Inside is a museum, which is closed on Mondays. From Kaštel there’s a round walk over a bridge and wooden paths through a forest with breathtaking views over the old town, the river Pazinčica and the cliff. If you need an adrenaline rush – you can try the zip line or descent into the Pazin cave – but be aware that both attractions are closed in heavy rain.
Buzet is a town very near to the Slovenian border. The old town is on the hill surrounded by a city wall. There are 2 entrances to the old town – the small and the big city door. Inside the city wall are 2 churches and many museums. We were particularly interested in the old bakery next to the St. George church, but unfortunately it was closed. Also don’t miss the narrowest street, which is really a scale for BMI 😉
This is also a relatively undiscovered gem in Istria. This are ruins, remains of a once small prehistoric town. You can climb up and walk around, just be careful as there are no safety measures. There are 2 big towers still standing and some parts of the St. Sophia church are still seen. In hot weather don’t wander too much around as this looked like snake territory. Oh and don’t miss the view to the high bridge above the Lim fjord.
8. Sv. Lovreć
We found this mini village by accident. There were literally NO tourists and because of the weather we also didn’t meet any other people (or no one lives there?). Anyway, it was nice to see a totally local village, the main square and the church are nice as well as all the stone houses around – I can’t help myself, I just love this architecture.
9. Lim fjord
It is not as spectacular as the Norwegian fjords, but it’s still a natural masterpiece – this is a karst valley flooded by the ocean. It’s aprox. 9 km long and 600 wide. You can drive down to the water, where you can see fish farms and have a fish lunch/dinner at the restaurant. Oh, we also saw boat trips through the fjord, but we didn’t ask for the price.
10. Waterfall Sopot
We had no idea this waterfall existed and if we didn’t have a drone, we wouldn’t really appreciate its size. In Istria there are 2 waterfalls called Sopot – this one is near Buzet, the other one near Pazin (which supposed to be the highest waterfall in Istria). We just wrote into google maps “Sopot” and it took us to this one. And we can’t complain about it as the stream lading to the waterfall was beautiful, then the water was falling through a stone window who knows how many meters down. Just wow.
There are still places we didn’t have time, energy or the weather didn’t allow it to explore. But this is just another reason to come back. I hope I could show you some off the beaten path places in this beautiful and still undiscovered part of beautiful Croatia.
Wanna see how it looks like in moving pictures? Here you have our VLOG 😉