Looking for things to do in Motovun? Discover the best sights in this amazing little hilltop with the best view in Croatia.
One of the best-hidden gems in Istria has to be Motovun which sits on a hilltop above the Mirna River valley.
It’s a quaint medieval town with Venetian architecture, truffle hunting and the best panoramic view in Green Istria. And that makes it the perfect attraction for both foodies and anyone really who’s looking for a relaxed getaway.
I’ve been to Motovun a couple of times and I love the atmosphere and the calmness there is to this little village.
Here is how to visit Motovun in Croatia and all the amazing things that you can do there.
Things to do in Motovun
History of Motovun
Motovun is located on a hill 270 metres above sea level, on the site of an ancient city called Castellieri.
Motovun was first mentioned in written records in 804 as Montouna. The name of the village is of Celtic origin and it means “a town in the hills”.
It was home to many noble families, especially in the pre-Venetian period.
In the 13th century, the bell tower was built, and you can see more evidence of the Middle Ages in the medieval houses and the Romanesque part of the Praetorian Palace.
Where is Motovun?
Motovun is located in central Istria, Croatia. It’s situated about 35km inland from Porec.
Motovun is located on a hill that dominates over the valley of the Mirna River.
How to get to Motovun
Buses to Motovun are far between, so your best option is visiting by car or an organised day tour.
I’ll go through your two options below:
Organised day tour
You can find half day and full day tours to Motovun from most places in Istria and also from Rijeka and Zagreb. I’ve handpicked the best tours for you below:
- Day tour from Zagreb to Motovun (⭐ 4.5/5) Book here
- Day tour from Rovinj to Motovun (⭐ 5/5). Book here
- Day tour from Rijeka to Motovun (⭐ 5/5) Book here
- Day tour from Pula to Motovun (⭐ 5/5). Book here.
If you’re not joining a day tour, you’ll need a rental car.
That’s how I’ve always visited, and the town is easy to find. You’ll need to park your car at the parking lot at the foot of the hill or midway. Most accommodations will pick you up from there.
Where to stay in Motovun
Guesthouse Villa Marija (⭐ 9.4) These owners will pick you up below the hill so you won’t have to drive up! There’s a beautiful view from the room where you can enjoy your breakfast! Check rates and availability here.
15 things to do in Motovun
1. Explore the walls
Motovun is a walled town and you can walk on the walls and get the most amazing panoramic view of the countryside!
From the walls you can see the Mirna River valley, the famous Motovun forest and even some of the other hilltop towns.
You’ll get the most magical views in the morning when it’s all misty.
2. Visit the Benvenuti or Tomaz winery
Visiting a winery is a must when you’re in Istria.
No matter which you choose, you can try some of the locally-made wines at these famous wineries.
3. Climb the bell tower
Motovun has a medieval bell tower that’s 27 meters high and was built in the 13th century. It used to be the town’s main tower and observation post.
Next to the tower is the Church of St. Stephen.
4. Parish Church of St. Stephen (Sveti Stjepan)
St. Stephen’s Church is a late-Renaissance building from the early 17th century.
Inside, there are marble statues of St. Stephen and St. Laurence by Francesco Bonazzo and a 17th-century Last Supper painting by an unknown Venetian artist.
In front of the church, you’ll find 14th and 15th-century water cisterns.
5. See the most magical sunrise and sunsets
My favourite thing to do in Motovun was waking up at 4.15 to these views. Aside from a magical sunrise at Lake Bled, this is the most mind-blowing amazing sunrise I’ve ever seen in my life.
Because the whole valley is covered in mist, which makes it look otherworldly. So, this is definitely worth getting up early for!
The sunsets are also magical up here so make sure not to miss them.
6. Enjoy a glass of wine with a view
Right at the city gate, you’ll find The Montona Gallery.
What most people love about the Montona Gallery is its terrace. From there, you can enjoy the view of the historic city walls and the beautiful Istrian landscape while sipping on a glass of delicious Istrian Malvasia.
7. Explore the old town
I also loved wandering the streets of Motovun discover the small details and houses.
It’s a tiny town, but you can still find beautiful street art on the walls and cute shops.
8. Join a festival
Motovun is perhaps best known for its Film Festival, which takes place in July.
The Motovun Film Festival is a unique experience with music, art installations, and awesome films from all over the world.
You can also join the Motovun Truffle Days festival in October, so even if it’s a small village, there are a few fun festivals worth visiting.
9. Join a truffle hunting tour
If there’s another thing Motovun is famous for, it’s the truffles.
The world’s largest white truffle was found here in 1999, and you can go hunting for your own black truffles all year round (white truffle season is in the winter only)
On a truffle hunting tour in Motovun you’ll be guided by expert hunters and their skilled truffle-hunting dogs. It’s often followed by a lovely local meal where you’ll eat your truffles. 👉 This tour is the best on the market – check availability here.
10. Enjoy local food
When you visit Motovun, make sure to try the amazing Istrian food. Truffles are an absolute must.
I’ve had dinner at most restaurants in Motovun and still haven’t had a mediocre meal so whichever you choose, it will be good.
11. Do the Parenzana
The Parenzana is a popular hiking and biking route that covers about 78 miles (123 kilometers), starting in Trieste, Italy, and ending in Poreč, Croatia.
You can rent a bike or walk the route between the charming towns of Motovun, Buje, and Grožnjan in Istria’s hilltop landscape.
12. Stroll through the protected natural forest
At the foot of Motovun is the forest! This is where you can go truffle hunting or just take a walk if you’d like to be closer to nature.
13. Go for honey in Livade
Also at the foot of Motovun is Medea Jankovic tasting room and shop in the city of Livade.
I love this little shop. It sells all sorts of flavoured honeys and acacia, linden-tree, forest and meadow herbs infused honey.
I’ve bought some honey based cosmetic products as well. I highly recommend visiting.
14. Discover the best Motovun viewpoint
There are so many good viewpoints around Motovun.
The best place is near Tomasz winery where you can see Motovun on the hill with beautiful vineyards spreading out in front.
From the opposite side of Motovun, you can also get a great view with the river in front.
15. Visit Hum
Did you know that the world’s smallest town is a short drive from Motovun?
That’s right. Hum is one of the most charming towns in Croatia with its two cobblestone streets, filled with charming houses covered in vibrant flowers.
Make sure to have lunch at Humska konoba. It’s the only restaurant in town and the food is amazing.
FAQ about Motovun
What is Motovun known for?
Motovun is known for its medieval architecture, impressive hilltop views, the annual Motovun Film Festival, and truffle hunting in nearby forests.
The world’s largest white truffle, weighing 1,310 grams, was found in Motovun Forest, Livade village in 1999. This earned Motovun a place in the Guinness World Records.
Also, Mario Andretti, the 1978 F1 Drivers’ Championship winner, was born in Motovun.
Why visit Motovun?
You should visit Motovun because it’s stunning. The views from Motovun and of the hilltop town from below are truly unique.
Also, you should visit because of the great truffles and olive oil.
Motovun is a cosy and quiet town, perfect for a relaxed countryside getaway.
Is Motovun in Croatia or Italy?
Motovun is in Croatia.
What is the elevation of Motovun?
Motovun is located at a elevation of 277 meters / 909 feet.
Where to park when visiting Motovun?
Car access in Motovun is for residents only, but there are two public parking lots close to the city gates for visitors.
One is at the base of the hill and the other one is halfway up. Also, some hotels and guesthouses in Motovun offer pickup services.
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