The Istrian coast is a true magnet for everyone who wants to be at the centre of events. But the region’s heart, without the slightest doubt, beats in the green hills and fields of central Istria. If you head deep into the Istrian hinterland, you will soon discover why Istria bears the name terra magica. You will be drawn in by landscapes woven of hills covered in vineyards and olive groves, and you will discover charming mediaeval hilltop towns that are just perfect for day trips.
Romantics and art lovers mustn’t miss Grožnjan, which is inhabited today by numerous artists whose works you can admire in its charming galleries. Make sure to visit nearby Motovun and climb up the longest stairway in Croatia to the beautiful walled old city, where you will be treated to a spectacular view of the Mirna river valley. Your journey will then take you to Buzet, the town of truffles, where you can sample dishes made with this aromatic mushroom. Nearby you will also find Roč and magical Hum – the smallest town in the world – which were once centres of Glagolitic liturgy. Find an adrenaline-filled adventure to remember in Pazin, the seat of Istria County, where you can take a zipline across the Pazin cave or a rope jump into the cave itself. Head south towards Svetvinčenat, which might be hard to pronounce, but whose mediaeval castle is certainly easy to fall in love with. There, you can play an original escape game and discover if you can conquer the 7 knightly ordeals.
In addition to its picturesque towns, while travelling through central Istria you will find numerous wine, honey and olive oil routes that will lead you to hardworking Istrian winemakers, honey producers, olive growers and their delicious products. Each of the farmhouse restaurants scattered about the Istrian landscape is a story for itself. From the scent of homemade bread that will take you back to your childhood, to handmade pasta, sauces and local desserts, you won’t know what to pick first.
Interested in truffle hunting? Picking olives? Cycling along a former rail line? All this awaits you in central Istria, which offers completely different activities than the Istrian coast. Lovers of paragliding, running, cycling, kayaking, hiking, and spelunking will feel right at home, and the majority of attractions can be found in the central part of the peninsula.
If we had to choose what central Istria has that can’t be found elsewhere, it would be its warm, friendly people. As there are far fewer tourists here than on the coast, Istrians from the hinterland will usually stay a bit longer to chat with you and offer you a glass of wine or homemade biska brandy. You will love their genuine kindness and directness, just as you will love the products crafted by the hands of these hardworking people. As they extend their hand to you in friendship, you can be sure you will meet again – because whosoever falls in love with central Istria and its people is sure to come back.