Croatia Travel Guide To Istria
Croatia is truly a beautiful country and if we are to choose which region is the most amazing, that would be an incredibly difficult task.
Each city is spectacular in its own way. But to some, Istria Croatia is the most ideal place to indulge. They say it’s an enchanting seaside retreat.
It is only fitting that this peninsula is shaped like a heart because tourists end up falling in love with it and never wanting to leave.
Istria is outlined with rolling hills that attract the artsy travelers to its hilltop villages where you will experience perhaps one of the most unbelievable sunsets you will ever watch in your lifetime.
Though other beaches in Croatia may beat Istria’s, the sea is clean and you can choose from plenty of secluded spots for your perfect vacation.
Another advantage of Istria is that it’s not as crowded as the more popular cities in Croatia. Umag Croatia also has a lot of fun sites but we’ve featured the best towns below.
The Best of Istria: Pula Croatia Attractions and Entrance Fees
Our first stop in this Istria Croatia guide is the city of Pula. You will not run out of places to see and things to do in Pula Croatia but so far, these are the ones that you absolutely must include in your itinerary.
Pula Arena – Istria
Want to travel back in time to watch a real gladiator fight? No need for a time machine because the Arena at Pula, also called the Pula Amphitheater, will take you back and make you feel the intensity and uncanny excitement like you’re in a real gladiator combat field.
Of course, that’s not such a fun thought when you think about those poor men who had no choice but to fight for their lives, but it’s a piece of history and there is always something to learn from sites like these.
Entrance Fee: Entrance to the Pula Arena costs 50kn for adults. Students and children pay a discounted rate of 25kn.
How to Get There: The Pula Amphitheater is just about a 10-minute walk from the main attractions in the city which will be a pleasant walk since you will be passing by shops and other pretty structures along the way.
From the Arch of Sergii site, for example, you can simply walk along Giardini and head straight to Scalierova ul.
Hours and Best Time to Visit: The arena opens at 8am and closing times vary per day between 5pm to 9pm, sometimes midnight. Make sure to check the website for accurate schedules on the specific day that you plan to go.
Today, it is also a venue for many different events so you may want to check the shows and competitions that are happening during your trip and choose a day when there’s an event that you like.
Temple of Augustus
This temple is the center of attention in Pula’s main city square. The square was called the Forum where townspeople gathered during the ancient times through the middle ages.
Temples and public buildings used to occupy the square but the Romans left it and it had undergone a few changes until it was reconstructed to this small museum after a bombing in 1944.
It’s the only structure in the square that’s been fully preserved, originally dedicated to the goddess Roma and Emperor Augustus.
It may be one of the simpler Roman structures in Croatia but it’s still worth seeing because of its ancient design. It’s a simple square edifice that is strengthened by four columns that are made of marble.
Entrance Fee: Admission is 10kn for all guests.
How to Get There: A lot of people simply walk to the temple from the city center. It’s ten minutes away most attractions like the Art Gallery and the Fortress.
Hours and Best Time to Visit: The temple is open from 10am to 5pm every day. It’s busiest from 1pm to 2pm so you may want to schedule your visit before or after those times. It only takes 30 minutes to explore the entire area.
Arch of Sergeii
If you have a fascination with ancient Roman structures and design, you will really enjoy Pula Croatia.
One of the most valued of these monuments still existing today is the Arch of Sergeii that stands steadfastly on a wide street now lined with shops, restaurants, and cafes.
It was called the Golden Gate in the ancient times because of its lavish decorative arch. It was originally built as a symbol of victory by a powerful Roman family, specifically the three brothers of the Sergii family who were in power for centuries.
This monumental structure was a superb architectural achievement and its magnificence is still visible today.
Its two pillars are huge, joined by two smaller pillars designed with Corinthian capitals on top and acanthus leaves – a classic Roman design.
Entrance Fee: None. The arch simply stands in the middle of the street and tourists and locals alike can pass through and stop by freely.
How to Get There: It stands on the street of Slavoluk Sergijevaca – Zlatna vrata and is accessible by foot from almost all the popular spots in the city center.
If you’re coming from the Pula Arena, it only takes 8 minutes to walk to the arch, aiming for the direction of the Art Gallery and ending up on Giardini.
Hours and Best Time to Visit: The Arch of Sergeii is accessible 24/7 and is not enclosed within any gate.
National Park Brijuni
Just on the outskirts of Pula’s port are the Brijuni Islands and this spot is one of the most fun destinations in Istria Croatia. The National Park Brijuni is ideal for those who love wildlife and those who just want to marvel at the beauty of nature.
Imagine a secluded place where you can take a tram ride on the fields, seeing wild animals just freely doing their business, uninhibited by cages.
Cattles grazing, zebras playing, and elephants simply enjoying a nice warm day out in the open.
What’s unique about this park is that it combines the wild outdoors with the fun activities we like to do on private fields like golfing. Now, that sounds like a spot for the perfect vacation!
Entrance Fee: Access fees to the park vary depending on the type of tour or excursion that you want to do. You can choose from several packages that include a combination of activities. Pick the one that you and your group would enjoy the most.
These trips must be arranged by the park administration so you have to book in advance by visiting their website. Adults typically pay 210kn and the fee for children up to 14 years old is 105kn.
How to Get There: This whole stretch of islands is in the SW coast of the Istrian peninsula and you can reach it by various modes of transportation including trains and cars. You can take a train or drive to Fazana which is the main terminal and take a fifteen-minute boat ride to the park.
Hours and Best Time to Visit: You have to arrange your tour or excursion in advance. It’s best to visit the park during the warmer seasons so you have more chances of seeing the animals out in the fields.
Visit Zerostrasse in Pula
Tunnels can be quite fascinating but the underground system of tunnels in Pula called Zerostrasse is truly out of the ordinary. It’s another historical site in Istria and was built before the first World War as a shelter for the citizens of Pula and a storage for ammunition.
Today, visitors can pass through its numerous sections, all leading to the central spot that features a photo exhibit showing the history of Pula’s aviation technology.
If you have a fear of dark passageways, you don’t have to worry because the Zerostrasse is well-lit so you can fully appreciate the beauty of the rock formations inside. It’s amazing because it’s like going inside an underground museum.
Entrance Fee: Tickets to the Zerostrasse cost 15kn for adults and 5kn for children and students.
How to Get There: Zerostrasse is close to the city’s other sights. The nearest building to the site is the archeological museum. Entrance to the tunnels is through the Twin Gate or Double Gate.
Hours and Best Time to Visit: The tunnels are open from 8am but closing times vary depending on the seasons between 5pm-10pm.
It’s best to visit Zerostrasse on days that are dry and sunny but visiting during the winter is no problem because the tunnels are temperature-controlled.
Visit the Venetian Fortress
There is a reason why the Venetian Fortress is called the Pula “Kastel” which means castle. This whole enclosed area was a fortress built by the Venetians to defend the city and the port. It has 4 pentagonal towers for added security.
But it’s not just the interior of the fortress that you must see, it also gives you a magnificent view of the city and the bay.
Entrance Fee: Entrance to the fortress is free.
How to Get There: It’s easy to walk to the Venetian Fortress from Pula’s city center and main attractions. It is 5 minutes away from the Temple of Augustus and 8 minutes away from the Arch of Sergii by foot.
Hours and Best Time to Visit: There are no opening and closing hours for the fortress. It is accessible at any time but it gets pretty crowded during the afternoon so may want to go either in the morning or evening.
Fortress Verudela in Pula
Another defensive structure that has been erected in the city of Pula in the ancient times still standing today is the Fort Verudela. This fortress was considered as one of the best European fortification constructions in the 19th century.
It was built when the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy in Pula turned the town into a maritime center at the same time that they built numerous other structures like hospitals and arsenals.
The fortress was positioned excellently so today, it will still give you a good view of the bay and Brujini islands from different angles.
The fort encloses the Aquarium Pula so that’s another place you may want to add to your itinerary.
Entrance Fee: Entrance to Fort Verudela is free. What you would have to pay for is the entrance to the Aquarium if you want to go in.
How to Get There: The Fort Verudela is a bit farther from Pula’s city center than other attractions and you would need a car or take a taxi to get to it. Take Arsenalska ul., Tomasinijeva ul. and Veruda ul. The continue on to get back to Veruda ul.
Hours and Best Time to Visit: There are no opening and closing hours for the fortress. It is accessible at any time.
A lot of concerts, exhibits, and events are being held in the Fort Verudela today so you may want to watch out for what’s happening on the day of your visit and see if there’s anything that’s of interest to you.
The Best of Istria: Poreč Croatia Attractions and Entrance Fees
Another beautiful town to visit in Istria Croatia is Poreč. In fact, it’s the most popular holiday resort in the city. The town has numerous historical sites and like other towns in Istria, it has a long history from way back the Roman times.
It’s quite a touristy destination, perfect for families. These are the spots that you don’t want to miss in Porec Croatia.
Visit Euphrasian Basilica in Poreč
The city considers it its most valuable cultural property and it has been registered in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list.
The basilica was constructed during the time of Bishop Euphrasius as an attempt of the regime to unite the divided people of the Roman empire. It is composed of the 6th-century octagonal baptistry, a 16th-century bell tower, colonnaded atrium, episcopal, and a trefil-shaped memorial chapel.
Entrance Fee: There is no fee to enter the Euphrasian Basilica but small donations to the church are appreciated. Accessing the notable spots such as the bell tower and episcopal would require a fee of 40kn for adults.
How to Get There: The Istrian Assembly Hall is the nearest landmark to the Euphrasian Basilica which is a 3-minute walk away. It is also the same distance from the Aquario di Parenzo.
Hours and Best Time to Visit: The basilica is open from 9am to 9pm from Monday to Saturday. If you want to attend mass, it’s best to go on a Sunday.
Lim Bay – one of the most beautiful natural resources in Istria
Cruising along the coast of Istria at its finest – that’s what you experience at Lim Bay. Take a boat ride to see picturesque towns and sail through beautiful Istrian waters.
The Lim Bay is part of the Lim Valley and stretches down Pazin. It’s about 30 meters deep and up to 600 meters wide.
Its deep blue waters are surrounded by steep hills left and right. But you don’t have to sit through the whole boat ride, you can stop by a refreshing swim in Vrsar Croatia and sail all the way to Poreč.
Entrance Fee: Fees to cruise the bay would depend on cruising companies and from nearby towns that offer excursion boats for rent.
How to Get There: You can cruise Lim Bay from Rovinj or Bale.
Hours and Best Time to Visit: It’s best to go on a cruise or boat excursion along Lim Bay in the early spring where the trees in the surrounding hills are deep green or during the fall when the leaves create a colorful crisp canopy of orange and yellow.
Visit Aquacolors Poreč Aquapark
One of the best ways to spend your Istria Croatia vacation is to take a splash in its beautiful waters.
But you’re not limited only to its beaches! Take the kids and the whole family to Aquacolors Aquapark for a full day of water fun.
Maximize the thrills by going down its numerous slides. There is also a wave pool which makes this site a great and safer alternative for those traveling with small children.
Cruise along the lazy river with your floats and after a good swim, you can play volleyball or tennis under the sun.
Entrance Fee: When you access the park, you would have to make a 50kn deposit which would get you a bracelet that would give you access to lockers and other facilities.
The bracelet would record your spending including food and drinks and your total would be billed to you upon exit. Take note that you cannot pay cash inside the park.
How to Get There: Aquacolors Aquapark is located near the Zelena Laguna resort south of Porec Croatia.
It’s easy to reach and if you’re renting a car, you won’t have trouble parking. It’s only an 8-minute drive from the main attractions in Porec, the fastest route being Ul. Karla Huguesa to D75/Ž5002.
There are no buses or trains going to the park.
Hours and Best Time to Visit: Though it’s a bit more crowded, it’s not too bad to visit the Aquacolors Porec Aquapark in the weekend.
Lines do not get too long and you can still do everything conveniently in one day. It is open Monday to Sunday from 10am to 6pm.
Native Museum of Poreč
The Native Museum of Porec features the cultural and civilizational heritage of Porec. They aim to present the exhibits to the public in a scientific manner.
Though the collection is not the biggest among the museums in Istria, there are lots to see that would give you insights into Porec’s history.
Entrance Fee: 20kn
How to Get There: The museum is in the center of the main attractions in the city. It’s about 8 minutes from the basilica by foot.
Hours and Best Time to Visit: It’s best to visit the museum in the weekdays, open from 9am to 5pm.
The Best of Istria: Rovinj Croatia Attractions and Entrance Fees
Cobbled streets, old historical towns, and beautiful places to lounge by the sea. If you like that picture, you will definitely like Rovinj Croatia. Here are the best things to see in the city.
Church of St. Euphemia, Rovinj Istria
The Church of St. Euphemia is Rovinj’s showcase, standing on the perfect spot on the top of the hill at the heart of the peninsula.
Unlike other old churches in Istria, the Church of St. Euphemia features bright white walls that give it a bit of a modern look.
It was built in 1736 and is the largest baroque structure not just in the town but in the city. You will find some interesting sights inside like the tomb of St. Euphemia which is accessible through the altar on the right side of the church. The said altar is rich in marble.
The bell tower is another point of interest and on top, you will see the copper statue of the saint which also functions as a wind bane.
Entrance Fee: There is no fee to go inside the church but donations are accepted.
How to Get There: You can walk to the church from the town center of Rovinj Croatia. It is 12 minutes away from the Rovinj bus station going through Carera ul traversing to the left to Ul. Grisia.
Hours and Best Time to Visit: The church is open to the public from 10am and closing times vary from 4pm to 6pm. It takes 30 minutes to explore the whole church.
Park Forest Zlatni Rt in Rovinj, Croatia
If nature tripping is your goal, as it should be since you’re in Croatia, make sure you spend some time at the Park Forest Zlatni Rt, also called the Forest Park Golden Cape or “Punta Corrente”.
It is one of the best natural attractions in the town of Rovinj, Istria. And it has quite an interesting history.
The entire space was originally intended for a large spa. It was begun by Georg Hütterott but he died in the middle of the construction so the project was not completed. Later, the citizens decided to develop the area to increase tourism in Rovinj instead.
This park is ideal for various outdoor activities like cycling, running, and other sports. People, both tourists and locals alike come here for free climbing. If you’re not sporty and prefer to just chill, a stroll around the park is definitely a delightful one on a breezy afternoon.
You will find plants native to Istria in almost all corners of the park such as Himalayan cedars, cypresses, and pines. It’s a paradise for the self-proclaimed tree-huggers out there.
Entrance Fee: Entrance to the park is free.
How to Get There: Park Forest Zlatni Rt is on Skaraba Road and it is accessible by car or taxi in 7 minutes from the town’s center. There are no buses that lead directly to the park like other attractions in Rovinj so it’s a good idea to rent a car or prepare for taxi rides throughout your trip.
Hours and Best Time to Visit: The park is open 24 hours. The best time to visit the park would really depend on your preferences.
It doesn’t get too crowded so it’s safe to go anytime you please. If you enjoy sunsets, you would love sitting somewhere with a view of the Adriatic Sea and watching the sun go down in this beautiful peninsula.
Rovinj Heritage Museum
Fancy an educational trip that’s out of the ordinary? Check out the Rovinj Heritage Museum in Rovinj Croatia.
What’s interesting about this place is that it’s not like any other historical sites in Rovinj or Istria or the whole of Croatia for that matter. It’s named as a heritage museum but the design is quite quirky and lively.
You will not miss the building, walking down the street with its tangerine walls, accented by white windows and archway.
It is located inside a baroque palace and it houses a collection of contemporary art and old masters. Visiting the Rovinj Heritage Museum will be a fun trip whether you’re on a solo trip or a group of friends or family.
Plus, you’ll learn a lot about the history of the town. It features an exhibit of archeological finds as well as a maritime section. There are also special exhibits going on from time to time.
Entrance Fee: The price for admission inside the Rovinj Heritage Museum is 15kn for adults. Students pay a discounted rate of 10kn which is the same for children.
How to Get There: The Rovinj Heritage Museum is in the middle of the action, being in the center of the town along with other attractions.
It’s a 5 to 7-minute walk from Rovinj Bus Station, going either through Carera ul or Obala Alda Rismonda.
Hours and Best Time to Visit: The museum is open from 10am to 2pm then opens again from 6pm to 10pm.
Some months, they extend the closing times so be sure to call for updates on hours of operation. It’s open Monday to Friday and closed on the weekend.
Golden Cape Beach -Rovinj Istria
Above, we’ve mentioned the Park forest Zlatni Rt which is also sometimes called the Golden Cape but you may also want to visit the Golden Cape Beach.
It’s only a kilometer away from the town center, south of Lone Bay.
This coast is quite rocky so you may want to prepare your sandals. Nevertheless, it’s still an amazing view that will surely relax your soul.
When the sun is blazing hot if you visit during the summer, you can hide find shade under the huge pine tree shadows that spread across the sands. The beach is located inside the Park forest Zlatni Rt.
Entrance Fee: None
How to Get There: Golden Cape is inside Park forest Zlatni Rt. You can walk to the park then to the beach from Lone Bay in just a few minutes.
Simply follow the gravel road leading to the quarry where rock climbers go. The park itself is on Skaraba Road and it is accessible by car or taxi in 7 minutes from the town’s center.
Hours and Best Time to Visit: There are no opening or closing times for the beach just like the park is open 24 hours. Summer and spring are the best seasons to visit the beach but you can still take a pleasant stroll along the sands during the winter.
Palud – finest natural beauty on north of Istria
If you really want to make the most of your stay in Rovinj Croatia and be able to say to yourself that you’ve really experienced its finest natural beauty, then you must go to Palud.
Palud is a reserve on the south of Rovinj, Istria covering about 20 hectares during the rainy seasons and 2 hectares in times of drought.
The beach here is a perfect private spot which would be ideal for couples on a lover’s trip or those on a solo trip seeking some peace of mind. You can spend the day walking around the swamp then cool down near the waters.
Bird lovers will especially enjoy the place because you can observe numerous types of birds in the area. You have the option to join a guided tour to go bird watching but it should be arranged with prior notice.
Entrance Fee: The reserve and the beach are open to the public. If you want to take the guided birdwatching tour, the fee is 50kn per person for adults and 40kn for children up to 15 years old.
The fee already includes the equipment that you would need to observe the birds. Make sure to arrange for the tour in advance.
How to Get There: Palud can be reached by following the road going to Pula by car or taxi. Take the road going to Vestar campground then turn left toward the dirt road. If you are renting a car and driving, you need to park your car upon entry then walk to the beach.
Hours and Best Time to Visit: You can access the reserve and the beach anytime you want during your trip but you need to arrange for your birdwatching tour in advance.
It’s best to go this site during late spring when it is not yet too hot and no longer too cold.
A rather smaller ruin that would undoubtedly enrich your quest for history in this little town is the ruins of the Turnina tower along the marshes of M. Pilis.
You can walk or bike along the trail until you find the remains of this sacral place.
A rather smaller ruin that would undoubtedly enrich your quest for history in this little town is the ruins of the Turnina tower along the marshes of M. Pilis. You can walk or bike along the trail until you find the remains of this sacral place.
It may not look like a castle or a fortress now, but this tower is still fascinating to see. You can walk through the passageway if you’re brave enough or climb toward the top to take in the sights around the area.
Entrance Fee: None
How to Get There: The ruins of the Turnina tower is accessible along the St. Thomas trail.
It’s best to walk or bike to the spot. It’s not a good idea to go here solely for the tower because there are no other attractions to see so you can include this on a day that you would really like to walk or bike around the area.
Hours and Best Time to Visit: This area is open 24 hours but you may want to avoid going late at night because there are not a lot of lighting around.
It’s best to go here early in the morning when the sun has just risen and the wind is light which is perfect for walking or biking.