Picture yourself in a small Istria countryside village on a green hilltop. From the top, you have a panoramic view over the valleys, vineyards, a lake and other hilltop towns. Now, imagine waking up in the morning to the sound of singing birds. You look out the window only to discover the whole valley enclosed in mist with the sun rising in the distance, covering the sky in a palette of colors.
That’s how the Istria countryside is like, at least if you’re in the town of Motovun.
I love the countryside in Istria because it has such a rustic village feel and because of the great food (you know how much I LOVE truffles). Here are a few of the best countryside retreats in Istria that also happen to be located on beautiful hilltops.
MORE CROATIA TRAVEL TIPS: GET MAPS, ITINERARIES AND CROATIAN PHRASES
A MAP OF ISTRIA COUNTRYSIDE
Zoom in or out on the + and – sign in the right corner if you want to have a closer look.
FRESCOS IN ROC
Roč is this little village in Istria you’ve probably never heard of. Not a whole lot is happening here expect for the ancient frescos inside the Romanesque small church of St. Roč. The village sits behind a 16th century city wall and with its narrow lanes, it savours the rustic feeling of Istria countryside.
Roč is just 10 km from Buzet and I came by car. I’m not entirely sure, but I think public transportation is out of the question.
Things to see in Roč:
- The folk music festival (International Accordion Festival) in the second weekend of May
VISIT THE WORLD’S SMALLEST TOWN – HUM
This next little countryside town is one of my favorites. It’s called Hum and it’s listed in Guinness Book of Records as the world’s smallest town.
Hum is really easy to walk as it only has two streets and covers an area of 100 x 35 meter. Despite only having 20 inhabitants, the town has kept the old ritual of electing a prefect for the year. Once a year, all the men from the parish gather at the town hall to elect the mayor by carving their votes into a wooden stick.
If you visit Hum, I highly recommend paying a visit to the local restaurant Humska Konoba where you will enjoy delicious local food with a view over the hilltops. Also, try the biska, which is a local specialty of brandy spiced with mistletoe. I’m usually not a fan of strong liquor, but this was quite good.
Things to see in Hum:
- The town church
- City walls
- The frescos from the 12th century in St. Jerolim chapel
- The Grappa festival, which is a brandy competition held every year in October
- The Glagolitic Script at the entrance to the town
CROATIA’S TRUFFLE CAPITAL – BUZET
If you like truffles, and who doesn’t, you’ll love Buzet. This is the truffle capital of Croatia and it’s the place to indulge in this gourmet delight. Buzet is a larger city and it has quite a few interesting food and wine stops. When there, I visited Batura Tartufi where I had truffles in all shapes & sizes and I got to taste chocolate, honey, salt, sausages, cheese and cookies with truffle. It was great!
Things to do in Buzet:
- Truffle tasting at Natura Tartufi
- Truffle hunting (I hear the Karlic family is a good company to go with. Make sure to book ahead of time)
- Visit the Aura Distillery for liquor tastings
ABOVE THE CLOUDS IN MOTOVUN
Last but not least we have Motovun placed high atop a hill. Motovun is small, but its cute cobblestone streets and alleys will charm you away. This hilltop town is one of my favorite places for sunrises, right next to Lake Bled in Slovenia. What makes it so unique is the morning mist that covers the valley with the sun rising above it. It’s epic, that’s what it is.
If you have a car, I highly recommend driving to Oprtalj and have dinner at Loggia – it’s such a great restaurant with an outstanding view and sunset.
Things to do in Motovun:
- Walk the city walls
- The church of St. Stephen
- Motovun film festival (in late July)
- Visit a winery
- Paragliding (the price is around 550 Kuna / US $82)
Many thanks to Visit Istria for hosting me in Croatia. Whenever I travel, there will always be full disclosure about whether my stay was hosted by a tourism board. And even if I’m on a press trip, my view will never be swayed one way or the other.
Which Istria countryside town do you like best?
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