How to visit Oprtalj – Istria’s secret hilltop town

Want to visit some of Istria’s beautiful hilltop towns? The must-see places in Oprtalj are the large Venetian loggia, main town gate, church and the old abandoned ghost houses.


Nestled in the picturesque hills of Istria lies the small, secret village of Oprtalj, also known as Portole.

Oprtalj used to be a fort surrounded by defensive walls. Opposite the town gates, there’s a loggia from the 16th century where you’ll get a beautiful view of the countryside!

If you’re looking for a rural, off the path experience in Istria, Oprtalj is it!

Let’s take a look at the things to do in Oprtalj.

Read next: 10 stunning Istria hilltop towns you have to visit

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How to get to Oprtalj

Oprtal is rural, authentic Istria – a true hidden gem. It’s so hidden in fact, that you can only visit with a car or on an organised tour.

Organised day tour

As of now, there’s only one day tour that offers a visit to Oprtalj. I recommend taking it with Viator, since a similar tour on GetYourGuide is quadruple the price!

On the Viator tour, you’ll be picked up from your hotel in Umag, Novigrad, Porec, Rovinj, Pula or Medulin and then drive to Groznjan (one of the most charming hilltop towns in Istria). After that, you’ll continue to Oprtalj where you’ll have a delicious meal after sightseeing the town.

Check rates and availability with Viator here.

Oprtalj, Istria
Oprtalj, Istria

Rental car

I’ve been to Oprtalj a few times, one time with a tour and the other two times with a rental car.

In general, it’s a good idea to have a car if you’re visiting Istria. It gives you much more freedom and flexibility to explore, especially since many of the sights are off the path.

Best Car Rental Company:


When booking your car rental online, I recommend Discover Cars. They compare prices at car rental agencies all over the country to get you the best deal.

Things to do in Oprtalj

1. St George’s church

St. George’s church is located in the heart of Oprtalj.

It was erected in 1526 on the remains of a smaller Romanic church and has a classic Baroque façade and a late-Gothic structure.

Inside, you’ll find altars and paintings from the 16th to the 18th century.


2. St. George’s bell tower

St. George’s church tower is the hallmark of Oprtalj.

It towers 27 meters above the city and was constructed in 1749.

The tower’s confined structure suggests that it was used for defence and as a military checkpoint, like many other towers.


3. The town gate

As you enter the old town, you’ll walk through the town gate. It’s the only one out of three that’s still around today.

They fixed it up in 1756 but kept some of the old wall like a walled arch on the left side where soldiers probably used to stand guard.

There also used to be a tower on top of the gate, but now people live in it. It’s shaped like a half-circle with the year 1756 on it.

4. Discover the abandoned houses

Oprtalj is home to several abandoned and overgrown houses that make the town seem ghostly.

Watch your step if you go inside, the buildings are falling apart. But the Indiana Jones vibe makes it worth peaking inside.

Oprtalj, Istria

5. Sv Marijain church

The old chapel of Sv Marijain is a large porch surrounded by columns. It’s located by the west entrance of the town, next to a bunch of cypress trees.

The church was originally built in the 15th century, but they added a porch and sanctuary in 1770.

Inside, there are paintings from 1471 and some writing on the walls. It’s mostly locked, but you can look through the keyhole in the door.

Sv Marijain Oprtalj

6. Church of St. Rocco

Another religious gem in Oprtalj is the Church of St. Rocco near the south entrance of the town, close to the elementary school.

The church was built in the 16th century on top of an older church as a way to end the plague.

Inside, there are paintings of saints, made by the famous Anthony of Padua. You can also see tombstones from the Baroque period, which show that important Oprtalj families were buried there.

7. Wander the quaint streets

My favourite thing to do in Oprtalj (besides the Loggia) is wandering the cobblestone streets.

They’re narrow and old, there’s an eerie feeling, something I couldn’t quite put my finger on. But it was really interesting to explore the abandoned part of town.

Take your time to soak in the town’s charming doorways and houses.

Oprtalj, Istria
Oprtalj, Istria
Oprtalj, Istria

8. City Loggia

The prettiest place in town is the Loggia!

It was built in the 16th century on top of an older loggia. The front part facing the town has some arches, while the other walls have bigger openings with a half-circle shape.

Back in the day, important decisions were made there, court cases were held, and people would even throw parties at the Loggia.

You can get a great view all the way to the sea, so it’s a great spot for taking pictures.

Also, make sure to look at the decorations – one of them has the year 1765 on it.


9. The Bastion

Right next to the Loggia is the old bastion. You can see how large it is from the hills nearby.

Back in the day, it was used for artillery, but they didn’t need it anymore in the late 1800s.

Instead, it was turned inside into a square for the new part of town. They even put up a monument with a flagpole in 1919.

Where to stay in Oprtalj

Oprtalj is a small city so options are super limited when it comes to accommodation.

B&B Palazzo Angelica Adults Only (⭐ 9.0) is the only place to stay in town. In return it’s quite amazing with an outdoor pool, a Finish sauna and an incredible view over the hills. Check availability here.


Where to eat in Oprtalj

Oprtalj is livelier once you step outside the old town walls.

Unfortunately, Loggia Restaurant is no longer open (so sad about that – the food was fantastic!). But instead you can head to the family owned restaurant Tončić where you can get truffles and much more!

Make sure to make a reservation, though! If it’s full, you can try Konoba Oprtalj.

Croatian food

Where to next?

Where are you off to next? Maybe to some of the nearby hilltop towns like Motovun, Roc, Hum or Buzet?


Motovun is a picturesque hilltop town located on the hill next to Oprtalj. It’s such a beautiful town and I highly recommend visiting.

Motovun is famous for its truffles, which are celebrated at the annual Truffle Days festival.

It’s also known for its stunning panoramic views of the countryside, charming cobblestone streets, and historic landmarks like the Venetian-style city gate and the 13th-century Motovun Castle.

Istria hilltop towns


Also nearby is the tiny hilltop town Hum, which is the smallest town in the world.

Hum is home to just 20 permanent residents, but has a castle, charming stone houses, ancient walls, and historic landmarks like the Church of St. Jerome.

The town is also known for its traditional brandy-making which you can taste at the nearby Biska distillery.

Istria countryside is the perfect getaway


If you love truffles (and who doesn’t), you’ll need to visit Buzet.

Buzet is home to the famous Karlic Tartufi, also known as my Croatian truffle dealer 🥰

They have a shop a few miles from town, but you can also have truffles at one of the town’s restaurant. It’s a larger town than Motovun and Oprtalj, and it also has a grocery store and gas station.



What are the top things to see and do in Oprtalj, Istria?

Some of the best things to do in Oprtalj is visiting the Church of St. George, exploring the Venetian-style Loggia, and walking along the town’s ancient walls.

Are there any local festivals or events in Oprtalj?

No, not in Oprtalj. But there’s a truffle festival and a popular film festival that takes place in nearby Motovun each year.

The Motovun Film Festival is a celebration of independent and international cinema, and is worth attending if you are in the area.

What are some of the best restaurants in Oprtalj, Istria, and what local dishes should I try?

Oprtalj is home to a few great restaurants where you can taste traditional Istrian food.

Some of the best restaurants in Oprtalj include Konoba Oprtalj and Tončić .

Local dishes that you should try are truffles and Istrian ham (prsut).

Is it easy to get to Oprtalj, Istria without a car, or should I rent one?

No, you’ll need to rent a car to get to and from Oprtalj.

The town is located in a rural area of Istria, and public transportation options are non-existing.

What are some nearby attractions or day trips from Oprtalj, Istria that I should consider?

The best places to visit in Green Istria are the charming town of Motovun, the tiny towns of Roc and Hum and the beautiful Groznjan.

Take a scenic drive through the Istrian countryside, stopping at local wineries, olive groves, and other agricultural sites along the way. That’s the best way to experience Istria.

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