Discover the stunning northern Croatian coast from the comfort of your own four wheels. Pick up your hire car to tour the pretty towns and scenic countryside of the Istrian Peninsula, before crossing the sparkling waters to discover some of the beautiful islands that dot the Adriatic in the Kvarner region.
Explore the natural beauty and intriguing history of the region, uncovering medieval and Roman towns, bustling harbours and coastal coves, wine districts and wild landscapes.
This suggested itinerary is based on staying in 3/4* hotels with a VW Golf sized car. Ask a Regent Croatia Specialist about altering the route to suit you, upgrading hotels, or alternative car options.
Fly to Pula on Croatia’s Istrian Peninsula. Pick up the hire car and head into the city. Spend three nights in Pula .
Enjoy a day exploring the city. Once the Roman administrative headquarters, Pula boasts an impressive Roman Amphitheatre that now hosts concerts throughout the summer. History is scattered throughout the town and at its centre is the Forum containing the Temple of Augustus. (B)
Take the boat out to visit the olive and pine tree strewn Brijuni Islands, 15 minutes off the coast of Fazana. The islands are home to the former summer residence of President Tito – from where he entertained the rich and famous. The islands are now a national park and home to an ethno safari park with a variety of different animals including many indigenous species of ox, sheep and deer. You can also find the remains of the Temple of Venus at Verige Bay, a splendid Roman villa rustica. (B)
Drive from Istria’s southern tip up the western coast, stopping in the quaint medieval town of Rovinj. Reminiscent of Venice, Rovinj is traversed by a network of winding lanes, flanked by colourful buildings leading to a bustling working harbour. Continue driving north on the local road past the Lim Channel; a steep sided sea inlet reminiscent of a fjord. Stop at one of the viewpoints for some stunning views. Continue on to Porec for a 3 night stay. (B)
Explore Porec today – a town which has retained the original grid layout of a Roman garrison town. The highlight is its Byzantine Euphrasius Basilica and remarkable 6th-century Byzantine mosaics. (B)
Head inland to the beautiful Istrian interior, dotted with hilltop villages, the most scenic of these being Motovun. Walk around the town walls and admire views of the vineyards and forests below which harbour Istria’s famous wine and truffles. Another picturesque hilltop town to visit is Groznjan. Situated high above the Mirna river valley, this 14th Century Venetian fortress was colonised by artists and musicians in the 1960s and today a summer school for musicians means you will often find an impromptu concert taking place. (B)
Hop over to the islands today, making your way across the peninsula to the port at Brestova. Take the 20 minute ferry ride to Porozina on the island of Cres-Losinj archipelago and head south through the wild landscape to Italianate Cres town, featuring many well preserved Venetian elements. Continue down to Losinj for two nights in the town of Mali Losinj. (B)
The island of Losinj, dubbed the ‘The island of vitality', has been popular since the Austro-Hungarian reign when aristocrats would seek out its unique micro-climate. The island remains littered with fine homes and villas from this period of its history. Stroll around the town of Mali Losinj, soaking up its relaxed atmosphere and stop in one of the quayside cafes that line the waterfront. Alternatively, seek out some of Croatia’s most unspoiled beaches, all of which offer clear turquoise water and the chance to spot dolphins leaping in the waves. (B)
Drive to the port at Merag for the 25 minute ferry across to Valbiska on Krk island- the largest of Croatia’s islands. Explore the striking onion-domed Campanile of old town Krk, before heading to the old stone hilltop village and wine cellars of Vrbnik, which produce the famous Zlatina white wine, for a tipple or two. Krk is also home to some fantastic beaches. Overnight at a hotel in Punat. (B)
Cross the toll bridge, on the north of the island, to the mainland and head up to Opatija. This is just a short drive of approx 1 hour so make it a leisurely one and stop along the way in the pretty town of Malinska or for some hiking in the islands rugged interior. Spend 2 nights in the Opatija area. (B)
Opatija boasts a wide seafront promenade lined with grand Austro- Hungarian and Hapsburg villas, a reminder of the town’s popularity in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Walk along the Lungomare coastal walkway to discover the secluded rocky coves leading along to the small town of Lovran. (B)
Make your way to Pula airport via the picturesque town of Labin. Return to the UK. (B)