Gračišće, 7km southeast of Pazin, is a sleepy medieval town surrounded by rolling hills, and is one of Istria’s well-kept secrets. Its collection of ancient buildings includes the 15th-century Venetian-Gothic Salamon Palace, the Romanesque Church of St Euphemia, and the Church of St Mary from 1425. Most of these buildings are unrestored (although some work is being done).
In the southwestern section of Istria, between Rovinj and Vodnjan, the medieval town of Bale is one of Istria’s best-kept secrets. Only 7km from the sea, it features a maze of narrow cobblestone streets and ancient town houses that developed around the recently restored Gothic-Renaissance castle of the Bembo family.
Crveni Otok & Sveta Katarina
A popular day trip from Rovinj is a boat ride to lovely Crveni Otok (Red Island). Only 1.9km long, the island includes two islets, Sveti Andrija and Maškin, connected by a causeway. In the 19th century, Sveti Andrija became the property of Baron Hütterott, who transformed it into a luxuriantly wooded park.