Croatia has steadily become more popular amongst British travellers, with Istria, the westernmost region of the country and the largest peninsula in the Adriatic Sea, attracting one third of Croatia’s tourists. Here are five reasons why a visit to this stunning region of Croatia should be on your travel to-do list in 2018:
- Stunning coastline and blue flag beaches
Istria is famous for its interesting rocky coastline, crystal clear waters and seemingly endless islands and peninsulas along the coast. Many of the region’s beaches have been awarded the Blue Flag, an international symbol of a preserved, safe and pleasant beach environment and high-quality, clean water. The marinas dotted along the coastline offer space to moor anything from an impressive yacht to a small sailing boat.
- Medieval villages and rolling hills
Istria is well-known for its medieval villages. The best known amongst these are the hilltop towns of Motovun and Groznjan, with their unspoilt examples of Venetian colonial architecture. Istria is often referred to as ‘little Tuscany’ thanks to its rolling hills offering an abundance of natural beauty, from deep forests and hilltop hamlets to jagged cliffs and red-earthed vineyards.
- Truffles, truffles and more truffles
Istria is the hotspot for truffles with the highest-quality fruity fungus in Europe, which, unsurprisingly, is the highlight of the local cuisine. Devotees claim that once you have tasted the small, nut-shaped delicacy, nothing compares. Because no signs of the truffle appear above ground, dogs (or traditionally pigs) are used to seek them out by the delicious smell. Istrian truffle-hunting dogs are highly trained. Puppies begin training at two months, with only about 20% of these going on to have fully fledged ‘careers’ as truffle trackers. The truffle-hunting season starts in October, when some 3,000 people and 9,000 to 12,000 dogs wander the damp Motovun forests on the hunt for three months.
- Culture and history
Istria has belonged to many rulers over the centuries, but always remained Croatian and Istrian above all else. Arguably, the most influential rulers have been the Romans, who colonized the region in the 3rd century BC. The main sites of the Roman colonisation are the Amphitheatre, the Sergius Arch and the Temple of Augustus in Pula. Istria was later subject to Venetian, French, Italian and Habsburg rule. The region was ruled by Austria in the 18th century, and Pula became the main naval base of the Austro-Hungarian Empire by the end of the 19th century. It was annexed to Italy in 1920, returned to Croatia after World War II, and eventually incorporated into Yugoslavia in 1954. Today, Istria is one of the most culturally developed of Croatia’s regions, with a trilateral heritage (Croatian, Slovenian and Italian).
- Abundance of adventure
Istria is a hotspot for those with a penchant for adventure. Nearly every beach offers water skiing, jet skiing, windsurfing, sailing, paragliding and more. Adrenaline junkies will enjoy the numerous adventure parks here, with high-rope gardens, go karting and motocross. Meanwhile anyone who enjoys more low key activities, will love discovering the extensive cycling and hiking routes along the coastline and up into the rolling hills, as well as swimming in the crystal clear waters of the Adriatic.
If you want to discover Istria, Single Parents on Holiday offer both single parent holidays and solo holidays to Istria in 2018. The solo holiday for singles and anyone wanting to travel without partner and/or kids takes place on 8 May for 4 days and the single parent holiday departs on 18 August for 7 days. Both holidays offer a combination of beach time, sightseeing and fun activities.