So by now you’ve probably seen my fashion roundup post, but as promised here is my full travel guide, from my recent trip to Istria, Croatia. Myself and my friend Kelly were invited to visit by the Croatian Tourism board, and we were so grateful for the chance to visit such a beautiful and interesting part of Europe.
Croatia is becoming an increasingly popular holiday location for Irish people, and it’s easy to see why. If you’re looking for sun, sand and beaches on a reasonable budget, that’s exactly what you get in Istria. But really, there’s SO much more to this costal region than that.
Situated on the western peninsula of Croatia, overlooking the Adriatic sea, Istria boasts some of the most beautiful coastlines I’ve seen. We visited marina towns such as Poreč old town, Vrsar, and Rovinj, with each one more romantic and picturesque than the last.
One of the biggest things that surprised me about Istria is just how mediterranean it is. Both it’s climate and people are warm, welcoming and very relaxed, just like the Irish! It really doesn’t feel very eastern European at all, and driving around the rolling hills and valleys in the countryside, myself and Kelly felt like we were in Tuscany, it was so incredibly beautiful. Istria is a region famous for its wine, due in no small part to the strength of its grape vineyards, and a winery tour is a MUST if you are visiting the region. We visited two on our first day in Umag, and not one spit bucket was used that day, haha!
Due to its position in Europe, Croatia has lots of Mediterranean influence in its language (many Istrians speak a mix of Italian and Croatian dialect) but of course, in it’s food also. I honestly have never eaten so well over four days, their dining is done to an impeccable standard, even if you find yourself eating in one of the more relaxed “Konoba” (which are local, tavern-style restaurants) you’ll still get a fantastic meal. Istrians are hugely proud of their food and well they should be. Using as much locally sourced, regional produce as possible in their dishes, you can certainly taste the difference. Istria is a region famous for it’s truffles (those fancy strong-tasting mushrooms that grow underground) and you’ll find them peppered in your pasta, your cheese, and even your olive oil, which the region is also famous for producing.
If you’re looking for a short holiday that boasts incredible food and wine, beautiful surroundings, a rich culture, and of course beautiful beaches and mediterranean weather, then Istria should be high on your list. For the particular tour we did, I definitely recommend renting a car, as it gives you so much more freedom, but you could stay in any one of these regions for your own mini-break. They’re all located so close to each other (some are only 30 minutes drive away) so it takes very little time to travel between them, which I strongly recommend doing.
Here’s a breakdown of the places we visited:
– Northwest Istria (Umag, Novigrad, Buje, Brtonigla, Grožnjan )
– Poreč ( Tar, Vrsar )
– Rovinj ( Bale, Kanfanar, Svetvičenat )
Where we stayed:
- Hotel San Rocco, Brtonigla (2 nights)
- Hotel Laguna Molindrio, Poreč (1 night)
- Hotel Lone, Rovinj (1 night)
Where we ate:
- San Rocco gourmet restaurant, Brtonigla
- Dinner in a restaurant “Sv. Nikola” Poreč
- Cheese tasting in Stancija Špin
- Lunch in restaurant Puntulina in Rovinj
All photos shot on an Olympus Pen E-PL7 with a 75mm lens
(Read why I think it’s the ultimate blogging camera here)
What we did:
- Tour of Kozlović and Kabola wine cellars in Umag
- Grožnjan old city tour
- Vist to Oma Jola oilve oil production factory
- Tasting and brief education on truffles in Natura tartufi
- Tour of Old town Poreč and Euphrasian Basilica
- Adventure activites at the Motodrom in Tar
- Walking tour of the Marina in Vrsar
- Walking tour of Rovinj
- Morosini-Grimani Castle tour in Svetvičenat
- Visit to the Lavanda lavender factory
For more travel updates, be sure to follow the hashtag #CODTRAVELS over on my instagram to see all my adventures, and for the first look at where I’m off to next. I have another big trip planned and I’ll be announcing all the details soon, exciting times ahead!