Dreamlike nature, almost mythical landscapes and spectacular medieval towns of central Istria will stir up within you that primal, deep, true pleasure! Central Istria is one of few Mediterranean regions characterized by the quality of unspoiled natural landscapes and rich heritage. Numerous coves and hills have connected and divided many magic-like settlements creating almost surreal scenery.
All main roads from the east, west and south Istrian coast will take you to Pazin, an administrative centre of the Istrian County, situated at the very center of the Istrian peninsula. Pazin's fortification Kaštel was once the governing centre of the Pazin County, the feud of the Austrian Habsburgs. Kaštel today is the home of the Ethnographic Museum of Istria and the Museum of the Town of Pazin. There is also a famous beekeepers' association which organizes the bee school and traditional Honey Days. In the vicinity of Pazin there is the Gortan's Hill with its Educational and Gastronomic Centre of Istria which teaches about traditional and modern Istrian gastronomy by organizing culinary workshops. Let us not forget about Beram, one of the most important centres of medieval Glagolitic literacy, and Tinjan, known for its symbols: the stone dry wall and pools, Istrian traditional tools (kosir and rankun), folk tales and legends as well as for proclaiming itself the Municipality of Istrian Prosciutto in 2006.
Rovinj is the romantic Mediterranean, a destination for all those longing for the sentimental atmosphere of the irreversibly past times. Rovinj had started its romantic life on an island, which narrow space conditioned the construction of closely-built houses, narrow streets and small squares, even today untouched by modern urbanism. Built on its rich fishing tradition, Rovinj has become recognizable by its unique batana fishing boat, bitinada folk songs as well as the spacio, a local tavern or a wine cellar used by the inhabitants of Rovinj for storing, tasting and selling wine.
Some of the best Istrian restaurants, the Lim Channel with its oyster farm and the Stancija which is a member of Relais & Chateaux, the international association of exclusive hotels and restaurants, are located in Rovinj and its surroundings. Neighbouring Bale offering the authentic Istrian tradition and architecture is characteristic for its almost virgin beauty. Let us not forget that this municipality is crossed by the 45th parallel, which makes the Bale location the most ideal – half way between the Equator and the North Pole. Nearby Žminj, a crossing point of almost all Istrian roads, is the host of Bartulja, the biggest folk festivity….
The biggest city on the Istrian peninsula offers numerous attractions to culture enthusiasts. The rich itinerary of the three century old history of Pula, seen on every step taken in the old city core, starts and ends with the Roman Amphitheatre. The walk across Pula will take you to numerous Roman architectural monuments: the Arch of the Sergi from 1st century BC, Hercules Door, the Twin Gates, the Temple of Augustus, and the Small Roman Theatre in the city centre.
The experience of taking a breather on the main city square, the Forum, is special as this site has preserved its function of gathering people from the time of Emperor Augustus. Meetings today take place in taverns around Pula offering a variety of menus: from snipe and boar to the European conger pâté and raw scampi. The area around Pula is as inspiring: from Cape Kamenjak as the southernmost part of the Istrian peninsula with the biggest number of crabs caught in its waters; Medulin as one of the major tourist city centres on the Penisnula; Fažana with sardines as its symbol; the National Park Brijuni as a unique harmony between a man, flora and fauna; Vodnjan as once an important urban centre and today becoming increasingly interesting to art and culture fans as well as virgin olive oil lovers; to the undiscovered and attractive seashore of Marčana or Barban, once a master of the valley and the bridge over the Raša River and today famous for its knight game 'The Race for the Ring', the wine feast and the fig festival.
Numerous entries and literature call Poreč the city of mosaics due to its culture arising from the Euphrasian Basilica, which value has been recognized by the UNESCO as a world heritage site. However, mosaic tiles of this beautiful city do not only consist of the Basilica's historic heritage but also of the entire city centre with its regular geometric street layout, the 13th century Romanesque house, the Baroque interior of the Istrian Assembly Hall etc.
The mosaic of the city's surrounding area is not complete without Tar with its singular fishing in the Tar Bay and cheese production nearby, the Višnjan Observatory and the Istrian ox (boškarin), the Vrsar List of important guests led by Giacomo Casanova, the Lim Channel as a protected natural reserve and the oyster farm. Vižinada provides one of the most beautiful views in Istria, here you can enjoy along the renovated Parenzana railway tracks which used to be a railway link between Poreč and Trieste. You will also enjoy in regional wines and the biggest Istrian wine cellar as well as boutique cellars introducing excellent Malvasia and Teran wines, orange and sparkling wines, supreme brandies including mistletoe (biska) and honey (medica) ones…
Where the green hills of the Istrian east meet the sea intertwining the nature and the heritage, there is the artistic haven of Labin and Rabac. The old medieval town of Labin is a birth town of Matija Vlačić, a reformer and an associate of Martin Luther, filled with numerous studios providing its guests a unique feeling of being in art. Having taken a walk along the little streets of the Old Town, visit the Town Museum with its archaeological and ethnological collection and a model of the mine unique in this part of Europe, tour the memorial collection of Matija Vlačić Ilirik, take a peek at artistic studios, enjoy in a magnificent view from the town's Fortica of Rabac, Cres and the Labin area, and go shopping in small, elegant stores.
Today known as a tourist resort, the mid 19th century Rabac was a small fishing village with some ten house numbers. Its beautiful bay and tame landscape has soon attracted the first tourists. Tourism in Rabac started developing faster in the 1960s, when this small town was given a flattering name of the Pearl of Kvarner due to its natural beauties. The Labin area is not visited today solely by art and natural beauty fans: small Nedešćina is the growing site of increasingly more famous Istrian saffron; Kršan is a traditional venue of the Wild Plants Festival; Rabac is the centre of the most awarded Istrian oil producer, while the entire Labin area is proud of its traditional krafi - boiled or fried ravioli stuffed with a sweet young cow cheese, raisin, sugar, lemon crust and egg filling.
Colours of Istria is a brand of Northwest Istria symbolized by a recognizable four colour fan: blue represents wellness offer and sea beauties; orange is sport; green indicates a rich offer of natural features and awarded camps; while purple invites you to enjoy in regional supreme food and wine.
To complete Upper Istria as a destination, we have added Buzet – the town of truffles, Grožnjan – the town of artists, and Motovun – a picturesque hilltop town crowned by cinema fame to this luxurious range.
You will meet the region with excellent restaurants and authentic taverns, the location of the first Istrian wine roads, olive tree growers and olive oil producers who became known worldwide for their virgin olive oils, festivals organized in honour of squids, seashells, sole fish, wild asparagus, truffles…