Continental Croatia meets the Adriatic in Istria (Istra to Croats), the heart-shaped, 3600-sq-km peninsula just south of Trieste in Italy. The bucolic interior of rolling hills and fertile plains attracts artsy visitors to Istria’s hilltop villages, rural hotels and farmhouse restaurants, while the verdant indented coastline is enormously popular with the sun-and-sea set. While vast hotel complexes line much of the coast and the rocky beaches are not Croatia’s best, facilities are wide ranging, the sea is clean and secluded spots are still plentiful.
The coast, or ‘Blue Istria’, as the tourist board calls it, gets flooded with tourists in summer, but you can still feel alone and undisturbed in ‘Green Istria’ (the interior), even in mid-August. Add acclaimed gastronomy (starring fresh seafood, prime white truffles, wild asparagus, top-rated olive oils and award-winning wines), sprinkle it with historical charm and you have a little slice of heaven.
Croatia's best music festivals for summer 2014
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The Istrian Coast
At the tip of the Istrian peninsula is Pula, the coast’s largest city. The Brijuni Islands, Tito's former playground, are an easy day trip from here. The east coast of Istria centres on the modern seaside resort of Rabac, just below the ancient hilltop town of Labin. The west coast is the tourist showcase.
Truffles in Croatia: the gourmet's golden egg
Whether you want to go hunting for prized black truffles or to enjoy the gourmet fungus in risottos, pastas and omelettes, the perfect place to do it is in Istria, Croatia...
Istria: the heart of Croatia
Continental Croatia meets the Adriatic in Istria, the heart-shaped peninsula just south of Trieste in Italy...
Rovinj (Rovigno in Italian) is coastal Istria’s star attraction. While it can get overrun with tourists in summer, and residents have developed a sharp eye for maximising profits by upgrading hotels and restaurants to four-star status, it remains one of the last true Mediterranean fishing ports.