Eight unmissable stops in Istria
Istria is one of the most beloved camping spots in Croatia. This sun-kissed peninsula on the Adriatic Sea stands out for its incredible diversity. The extensive coastline is full of beautiful sunbathing spots, port towns, gorgeous beaches, and a crystal blue sea. Further inland, picturesque mountain villages are interspersed with breathtaking views and pristine natural landscapes. Could Istria be your next holiday destination? If so, you won’t want to miss these eight Istrian sights!
1. Motovun mountainside village
As soon as you head inland, you’ll see that Istria is more than just sun, see, and sand. This place is called the Terrae Magicae (magical region) for good reason. Honestly, every village is worth a visit, but Motovun is definitely not to be missed. You’ll enjoy breathtaking views from the mountainsides and taste local delicacies like truffles and Istrian wines in local restaurants like Pod Napun and Konoba Mondo. The altitude makes this a popular spot with paragliders, as well. Are you brave enough to give it a go?
2. Basilica of Saint Euphemia
Rovinj may be one of the most beautiful places in Istria. In the old city centre, you’ll wander through winding streets past historic buildings. The city has much in common with Venice, and that’s reflected in the Basilica of Saint Euphemia. This 18th-century cathedral sets the visual tone for the city and visiting is free. The clock tower of the Basilica of Saint Euphemia can be climbed for a fee and you can enjoy a view across the city’s orange rooftops from the top.
3. The Red Island
We’ll stay in the neighbourhood for this one, because the Red Island is just a 15-minute boat taxi ride from Rovinj. The beaches on these islands, as the Red Island is actually two separate Islands, Sveti Andrija and Maskin, are some of the region’s best. These pebbled beaches are where locals head to soak up the sun. If you head to the Red Island expecting to find a sandy, Mars-esque landscape, I’ll have to disappoint you. The plethora of pine trees actually mean the island is covered in green.
4. Aquacolors Poreč Waterpark
Time for some action! Poreč is a seaside tourist town with beautiful beaches and a historic city centre, but it also boasts a spectacular waterpark. Aquacolors Poreč is just south of the city where you can enjoy a full day out on the water. There are 13 different waterslides, several swimming pools, kiddie pools, and a 500-metre ‘Lazy River‘ that will entertain young and old alike!
5. Brijuni National Park
This next stop takes us from the busy water park into a tranquil natural landscape. The 14 Brioni islands make up Brijuni National Park, which is just off the coast of Pula and can be reached by boat from Fažana. On the islands, you can get lost in the beautiful natural surroundings and enjoy the archaeological highlights, or you can try your hand at more active pursuits like golf, tennis, and archery. The Path of Good Vibrations is particularly special. This hiking and cycling path was created so visitors could enjoy all of the area’s beautiful overlooks.
6. The Pula Arena
Pula is on the southern edge of Istria and is one of its biggest cities. Here you’ll find much in the way of Roman history, with the imposing Pula Arena taking centre stage. Centuries ago, more than 20,000 visitors packed this stadium to watch gladiators fight to the death. Today, the shows are a bit tamer and the capacity has been decreased to 5,000. In the summer, the theatre plays host to festivals and concerts. Want to dip into even more Roman history in Pula? Then the Pula Forum and the Temple of Augustus are worth a visit, too.
7. Baredine caves
Are you looking for a break from sunny beaches and historic buildings? Then take a walk through the thousand-year-old Baredine caves. Descend some 60 to 80 metres underground and get to know this mysterious world, far removed from the light of day. Marvel at the stalactites, walk along deep ravines, and you may even get lucky and catch a glimpse of the olm, a salamander-like creature that spends its entire life in the caves.
8. Euphrasian Basilica
For our last sight, we’ll make the trip back to Poreč, as the Euphrasian Basilica is not to be missed. The basilica is on the UNESCO World Heritage list, and the beautiful mosaics it houses are the true jewel in its crown. In addition to the basilica itself, the baptistery and the clock tower in the nearby bishop’s palace are also part of the complex. Today, the bishop’s palace also serves as a museum.
Can’t wait to start your own Istrian camping holiday? Croatian campsites live up to a high standard and easily match campsites in Spain and Italy. Suncamp holidays has put together a list of the three top campsites for you. They’re close to the coast, have plenty of beautiful sunshine, and are a perfect home base to explore all of Istria’s many sights.
The lovely Bijela Uvala family campsite is perched on the Adriatic, just west of Istria. It’s well maintained and ecologically responsible, and the Mediterranean vegetation provides a welcome bit of shade. The campsite is nestled amongst small coves with pebbled beaches where the clear water is the perfect place to cool down. Located just south of Poreč, this campsite is the perfect home base for visits to the city, the waterpark, and the Baredine caves. If you like a bit more luxury on your camping holidays, book one of the SunLodges at Bijela Uvala.
Sirena Aminess is situated in a beautiful bay on the Adriatic Sea. This four-star Istrian campsite is a true paradise for anyone seeking tranquillity and offers fantastic views over the sea, even from the pitches. The campsite has a Mediterranean feel to it and is kitted out with very modern facilities. In addition to modern, comfortable toilet facilities, there’s also a supermarket, grill restaurant, playground, and recreation centre. The campsite is on the north side of Istria, a stone’s throw from the charming port city of Novigrad. From Aminess Sirena, a trip to the picturesque mountainside villages of Motovun or Grožnjan is simple!
Valkanela Campsite is a large, fun, and peaceful campsite situated in a beautiful green bay between Vrsar and Funtana. Beautifully maintained pebble beaches line the entire bay, and some have even been turned into child-friendly spots. The campsite itself runs a fun entertainment programme and you have every amenity you could need. The Valkanela Campsite is in the heart of Istria, right on the coast. It’s easy to plan a day trip to virtually anywhere on the peninsula and it’s also the perfect base camp for a visit to Pula, a bit further south. The Valkanela Campsite also has a range of Lodge Tents and SunLodges available for an even more comfortable camping experience.