Truffles, tranquil beaches and terracotta rooftops: a hidden gem on Croatia’s northern coast

Shared by Croatia, Italy and Slovenia, Istria is the very best of sunkissed southern Europe in miniature. Reaching out into the sparkling waters of the Adriatic Sea, this neat little peninsula has everything you need for a getaway – without racking up a huge mileage. Take in ancient ruins, rolling hills, cool cities and sleepy mountain villages, as well as some of southern Europe’s most delicious food and drink. 


Things To Do

Roman, Byzantine, Venetian, Mediterranean. Istria is a real fusion of different cultural influences – so it’s bursting with fascinating sites. Start with Poreč’s 6th-century Euphrasian Basilica, or, if you’re in the south, Pula’s Roman amphitheatre. Many of the region’s pastel-coloured cities are harbours or ports, with atmospheric old towns perfect for evening strolls. Try Rovinj: its stunning hilltop church, St. Euphemia, dominates the skyline.  

With its beautifully varied coastline, Istria certainly isn’t short on beaches. Sandy, pebbled, or rugged and rocky, with pine and cypress trees for shade, they’re perfect for lazy days between sightseeing. Highlights include the tucked-away Radovica, the wild and remote Cape Kamenjak in the south, and the shallow waters of Kastanija – great if you have little ones in tow.

Stop on an empty country road in Istria and you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d landed in Italy. Lush farmland jostles for position with olive groves and vineyards, where some of the region’s best-known wines are made. But the comparisons don’t stop there. Black and white truffles take centre stage here, as does Istria’s olive oil, hearty homemade pasta dishes, pršut (ham) and goat’s cheese. If you’re near the coast, tuck into everything from freshly-caught sardines to oysters – and finish with fritule, Istria’s answer to sugar-dusted doughnuts. 

Top Tip from SLH

Take a break from the mainland and visit the Brijuni Islands, an archipelago of 14 islets – and a National Park – off Istria’s west coast.