Feature: Istria’s Top Rural Retreats

Agritourism is an increasingly popular accommodation option in Istria’s interior. Some of these residences are working farms engaged in producing wine, vegetables and poultry; some are country houses with apartments to let; while others are plush modern villas with swimming pools.

The Istrian tourist office (www.istra.hr) has a brochure with photos and information about rural holidays throughout Istria. You’ll need your own car to reach most of these lodgings, as many are located in the middle of nowhere. There’s often a supplement for stays of less than three nights.

Casa Matiki Three friendly dogs, a charming hostess and a clutch of chickens (in that order) will welcome you to this large rural property near the small town of Žminj, right at the heart of Istria. There are three spacious apartments in the main house, plus two sweet little guest cottages and a lovely pool tucked behind the olive grove.

Agroturizam Ograde Two separate houses (sleeping eight in one, 12 in the other) are available for rent at this animal-filled farm in the village of Katun Lindarski, 10km south of Pazin. In July and August a minimum week's booking applies. The food is the real deal: veggies from the garden, home-cured meats and wine from the cellar.

Pruga In the village of Lovrinići, 8km south of Pazin, this is a lovely rustic choice for a quiet getaway. Choose one of two beautifully renovated apartments in a traditional limestone Istrian house, each with original details and fully equipped kitchens. Breakfast of local cheese, homemade jams and cakes is served outside among fruit trees.

Hotel Parenzana In the sleepy village of Volpia, 3km north of Buje, this rural inn has 16 simple rooms with rustic wood-and-stone decor, and a konoba (tavern) popular for its Istrian food. It's extremely handy if you're touring on the Parenzana cycle trail.

San Rocco This boutique hotel in the village of Brtonigla, 5km southeast of Buje, is a rural hideaway with 14 stylish rooms. No two are alike, but all are equipped with modern conveniences and graced with original details such as heavy wooden beams and exposed stone walls. There’s an outdoor swimming pool, a top-rated restaurant and a small spa.