The azure shores of Istria blend ancient cultures and ageless sea. Located in the westernmost region of Croatia, Istrian villages offer so much more than your average beach town. Here, you can visit classic European seaports, beautiful Baroque churches, and old Roman ruins, while also enjoying the relaxation and beauty of the Mediterranean shore. Without a doubt, the coastline is Istria's most famous asset, a long strip of rocky shores and pebble beaches that dip into the deep blue waters of the Adriatic Sea. On Istria's beaches, sunbathing and swimming are the most popular activities, though you'll also find boating, fishing, and scuba diving outfitters throughout the region.
Just south of Trieste in Italy, Istria shares a great deal of cultural heritage with its neighbor. In fact, Istria was once a part of the great Venetian empire. Later, it fell under control of the Romans, who left behind numerous ruins along the coast. Today, the Italian influence is still strong in this region, where seafood, pastas, and good wines are abundant.
For culturally minded vacationers, Istria has a lot to offer. Among other spots, the fishing village of Rovinj is one of the region's top destinations, boasting both natural beauty and incredible cultural heritage. The Cathedral of St. Euphemia was built in the 18th century, and is one of the largest and most beautiful Baroque buildings in the region. In the town of Porec, you can see a spectacular example of Byzantine art and architecture in the Euphrasian Basilica, built in the 6th century.
Istria's top destinations include:
-Rovinj: One of the most popular destinations in Istria, this historic port town has a beautiful marina, great food and shopping, and lively beaches.
-Pula: The city of Pula contains some of the region's most impressive sights, including the Archeological Museum and a 1st century Roman amphitheater.
-Rabac: There are many small coves and secluded rocky shores around the small town of Rabac, well-known for its warm and crystal clear shores.
-Umag: An incredibly picturesque port town, Umag has a well-preserved Old Town, the remains of a Roman amphitheater, and beautiful beaches.
-Brijuni Archipelago: There are 14 islands in this gorgeous Adriatic archipelago, but only two, Veliki and Mali Brijuni, are open to the public.
-Groznjan: This lovely hilltop settlement near the Italian border is a wonderful place to enjoy traditional Croatian culture, food, and the arts.
Plan your stay in a comfortable vacation rental along Istria's famous coastline. In Rovinj or Rabac, look for a beachfront condo with a patio and sea views. For true European luxury, seek out a spacious villa in the beautiful green forests along the Adriatic shores.
As featured in USA TODAY and recommended by Travel + Leisure in its annual Villa Guide:
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