Walk, Cycle & Kayak in Istria, Croatia

The Croatian peninsula is a gorgeous travel destination. Istria is blessed by nature with beautiful landscapes and clear blue water.

Towns with amazing architecture, friendly locals, great food, excellent wines and craft beer.

In the video you can see the places that we’ve enjoyed the most in our active Istrian holiday. Scroll down for more info and impressions.

Walking the old city streets of Rovinj, Pula, Porec, Vrsar & Motovun

Our holiday in Istria was a sportive one, we went mainly for triathlon training and most of the time we did just that. However, we couldn’t be there and not visit the some of the cities.

Rovinj was my favorite. Steep old city streets going up to the Church of St. Euphemia. A lot of shops, street art, terraces and a relaxed general atmosphere.

Pula is the biggest city that we’ve been. It can take you an entire day if you really want to properly visit it . We had only 2-3 hours so went up to the Fortress to see the view, circled the Roman Amphitheater and wandered the pedestrian streets.

In Porec we stayed most of the time. I think is the best place to accommodate and then visit everything else starting from there. It is smaller than the other towns, so less crowded. It’s more like a sea side resort with a lot of green areas, parks and pedestrian paths.

Vrsar and Novigrad are worth a visit also but make sure you don’t miss a trip to the medieval town of Motovun. It is the only one located inland, up high on a green hill.

Kayaking and snorkeling in Kamenjak & Valovine

We’ve took our own inflatable kayak on this trip but there are several rental and tours providers if you don’t want to do it by yourself.

The best place for kayaking is around Cape Kamenjak, also known as the Peninsula of Premantura. It’s a small natural reserve (you have to pay a ticket to get in) with secluded bays and numerous beaches. There are a lot of plant and animal protected species so it’s a interesting place for exploring natural beauty.

The strip of land is quite narrow, less than 1km, so we decided to put the kayak on water on one side, at Njive Beach, circle the peninsula and end the trip on the other side, at Uvala Portic.

The second kayak trip was on Valovine Beach, near Pula. Both places are equally beautiful. The seacoast is rocky, with natural caves and a lot of places where you can stop and jump in the water for snorkeling.

Here is a map of the 2 routes (zoom in for more detail):

Relaxing on the Opatija riviera

Located 80km away from Porec, on the eastern cost of Istria, Opatija is maybe the most opulent resort. It used to be a residence for different royal families, including the Austrian emperor Franz Joseph I . And it really is more luxurious and the general feel is that it targets a richer segment of tourists. Beautiful located on the foot of Ucka Mountain National Park.

 

Cycling all around the peninsula

Istria has to be one of the best cycling destinations in Europe. There are options available for everyone. Hundreds of kilometers of good quality paved roads, intense mountain biking trails or just easy, recreational paths.

If you are a road cyclist, please check out my 6 recommended routes on this dedicated article: https://mystreet.website/2021/01/04/road-cycling-trip-in-istria-croatia/

I’ve took my road bike on this specific trip and, while passing through different areas, I was seeing all sorts of signs for mountain biking trails. So for the next visit in Istria i plan to bring the good bike for that also.

Parenzana Trail seems another really nice thing to do. It is a easy mountain bike trail build on a former narrow-gauge railway route (~130km) that was operating in Istria between 1902 and 1935 and connecting the ports of Trieste and Porec.

For even more relaxed pedaling and no big efforts, you can try the pedestrian/cycling path that runs along the sea, between Porec and Funtana. 10km without any car traffic. It’s really a pleasant way to spend an afternoon, even if you are just walking or running.  Here are some photos from a sunset run:

Dolphin watching on a sunset cruise.

Everyday afternoon, from Porec or Vrsar, you can embark on a Sunset Dolphin Cruise. I was quite suspicious about this, thinking that it’s the usual tourist trap but i really enjoyed it. A medium size boat takes you out to sea and, while watching a superb sunset, you “photo hunt” dozens of playful dolphins that are swimming around. A great experience at the end of our trip.

Where to stay?

We traveled to Istria by car and stayed in Porec at the Urban Premium Apartments. Here is my review to see why you should consider it for your trip in Porec : https://mystreet.website/2021/01/26/urban-premium-apartments-in-porec-istria-croatia/

Places around Porec where we’ve enjoyed eating

Eating in Istria is an experience by itself. Here are the places that we’ve liked the most: https://mystreet.website/2021/01/26/places-around-porec-istria-where-weve-enjoyed-eating/

 

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