The cute, small towns in Istria is one of the things I love most about Croatia (aside from the gorgeous food of course). Some of them are fortified and have a well-preserved medieval style. Others are colorful or just plain charming and cute.
If you’re going to Istria and looking for small gems, this is where to go. The list includes places like Lim Fjord and Brijuni islands, and although they’re not technically towns I still wanted to include them because they are a must-see in Istria.
Ready to be swept away? Ok, here goes:
The first town in Istria I want to introduce you to is the super romantic Vrsar. Aside from having a name I dare not pronounce, it was described as “a place of good wine and beautiful women” by the legendary Casanova.
This was my second visit to Vrsar and I keep discovering new beautiful spots around town. Vrsar has so many view points, charming houses with small benches in front, and narrow alleys with old houses, chairs and seats. Also, it has a beautiful marina with the best seafood restaurant (Trost) I’ve visited thus far.
Another Croatian town I like is Vodnjan. It’s not as colorful as many other towns in Istria, but it has plenty of charm. The streets are smooth and shiny, and the Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architecture brings something extra to the table.
If you’re visiting, make sure to pay a visit to the mummies in the St. Blaise church basement.
The village of Zminj is very small, but there are a few interesting things to see around the area. I tried cheese tasting and was introduced to truffle cheese with great delight. And just outside Zminj there is a cave with an impressive inside view. It takes about 20 minutes to walk around it and it’s a fun experience.
* Photography tip: The cave is dimly lit so bring a tripod to get good, clear photos.
4. BRIJUNI ISLANDS
Just 20 minutes ferry ride from Fazana, you’ll find Brijuni Islands, which is a group of 14 small islands. It was the summer residence of the former Yugoslavian leader Tito, and there’s a museum dedicated to him on the main island.
I liked Brijuni and felt it was a fun destination for half a day. You can rent a golf car and drive around the main island. One of the main attractions is the open zoo with animals like elephant, llama, zebras and ostriches. Also, there’s a dinosaur footprint, which is worth checking out if you’re interested in that.
5. LIM FJORD
This is kind of funny, but we also have a place in Denmark called Lim Fjord. It’s not as beautiful as the one they have in Croatia, which has a really good viewpoint from the top. By the waterside, there’s an oyster farm where we had oysters – they were really good and super fresh.
I’m saving the best for last!
This year I was introduced to a few new towns in Istria – Bale was one of them and I instantly liked it. Bale is built on a hilltop and has narrow streets and a charming bell tower. It’s one of those places you just love, but can’t really put your finger on why.
So far Bale is my favorite discovery this year and I have a feeling I’ll be back for more.
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 of these small towns in Istria do you like the most?
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