We’ve already pointed out some of the best coastal towns in the Istria region where you must stop on your next luxury yacht charter, but what about some of the gems that sit inland or the smaller coastal towns you might otherwise skip?
The Istrian peninsula in the northeastern Adriatic is where the Mediterranean meets the foot of the Alps. It is a region divided into Blue and Green parts, where its seaside towns have made it famous among yachters. However, the gems of its inland territory are recognized worldwide for award-winning cuisine and culture.
Today, we’re sharing the bits of your Istria yacht charter you might easily miss.
Istria is considered the most prominent green oasis of the Northern Adriatic, a region with a complex history shaped by the influence of many civilizations and cultures that have inhabited the area over the centuries.
The region was first inhabited by the Illyrians in ancient times and was later conquered by the Romans. The Byzantine Empire also had control over Istria, followed by the Franks, the Venetians, and the Habsburgs.
During World War II, Istria was divided between Italy and Nazi Germany and became a disputed territory between Italy and Yugoslavia after the war, resulting in a long and complicated period of political tension and violence.
When Croatia finally declared independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, Istria became part of the newly-formed Croatian state. While it sits in three countries, the most significant portion lies in Croatia (89%) today.
Modern travelers know Istria for its captivating coastline, cultural heritage, and internationally-recognized cuisine. The region's vibrant history is visible in its architecture, art, and traditions, which reflect the cultures and civilizations that have left their mark on this region over time.
Which towns should you visit?
Your luxury yacht charter should not miss Umag, a small seaside town located on the western coast of Istria, known for its beaches and cultural heritage. It’s easy for yachters to visit, too, thanks to its ACI marina in the northern part of the city's harbor. Not only did this marina win the "Tourist flower - quality for Croatia" award, but it also boasts a Blue Flag! With roots dating back to Roman times, Umag’s old town is one of its main attractions, situated on a small peninsula where narrow streets meet stone houses and 10th-century churches. If you’re a tennis lover, you’ll be happy to know that Umag also hosts an ATP tennis tournament in summer with some of the world's top players!
And then there is Novigrad, another coastal town founded in the 7th century with traces of its various rulers, from the Romans to the Venetians and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Today, Novigrad is a popular tourist destination with a historic old town marked by its famous bell tower, parish churches, palaces, and modern museums. A go-to for anyone looking for water sports and outdoor activities, the town’s modern first-category Marina Nautica Novigrad makes it easy to visit on your luxury yacht charter.
After exploring the Istrian coast, it’s time to move inland to Motovun, a majestic hilltop town in central Istria, where medieval architecture mixes with its picturesque countryside. Motovun has roots back to the Roman era, and its history permeates through its well-preserved town walls and cobblestone streets. Some of the town’s standout sites include the 13th-century Romanesque church of St. Stephen and the Renaissance-style Motovun Palace. Motovun is also famous for its annual film festival, which attracts international filmmakers and movie enthusiasts from around the world during the peak season.
And then there is Brtonigla, offering the best of inland Istria, from natural parks and caves to lush hills and preserved churches and chapels. Where vineyards and olive groves envelop its trails that lead deep into its natural core, Brtonglia also delights with old-school family cellars that hide the best wine and olive oil.
And where to eat?
Once you’re in Brtonigla, you must stop at San Rocco, one of Istria's most popular boutique hotels. San Rocco’s Michelin-recommended fine dining bistro mixes the regional staples of Italy and northern Croatia, from homemade pasta to Roman pizza, Istrian beef, truffles, and local olive oil. And you’ll love dining outdoors on the garden-wrapped terrace!
Just 15 minutes from Brtonigla is Istria’s truffle haven - Zigante. Located in the sleepy town of Livade, Zigante offers Mediterranean cuisine designed with the finest Istrian ingredients. While truffles rule this menu, you can also enjoy vegetarian meals and, of course, truffle-free dishes.
And if you want to head inland after exploring Rovinj’s coast, there is no better stop than Meneghetti in Bale. The luxury Meneghetti estate is an off-the-beaten-path inland experience with the Meneghetti Wine Hotel & Winery as its focal point. Their Michelin-recommended restaurant fuses traditional Istrian cuisine with modern interpretations using seasonal and local ingredients.
Exploring the Istria region
As wineries and vineyards carpet Istria’s hills, it’s impossible to explore this region without wine tasting. Rovinj, Pula, Poreč, and Buje are the most popular wine stops in western Istria, while Buzet and Pazin should not be missed in central Istria and the Labin area if you’re exploring the east. Wine roads lead from one family-owned winery to the next, where you can taste the golden yellow Istrian Malvasia, Momjan Muskat dessert wine, and the unforgettable red Teran.
But did you know that Istria has olive oil roads, too? Istrian olive oil is of the highest quality in the world and has been considered the best since Roman times. This tradition continues today as the Istrian region has been named the world’s best for olive oil multiple times in the Italian olive oil bible “Flos Olei.” You can taste this liquid gold by following olive oil roads (Ceste Maslinova ulja) that highlight oil mills and cellars of Istrian olive growers. Chiavalon is among the most famous.
Istria’s most original activity is truffle hunting, an event that uses specially-trained dogs with a fine sense of smell to hunt out these decadent morsels. This activity takes place in the Istrian woods during hunting season when these dogs have a hunting license. Not only is this experience an exciting outdoor adventure, but it’s also an edible one, with most tours proceeding with a tasting of truffle products in stunning forest surroundings.
And perhaps the easiest thing to enjoy in the Istrian region? The great outdoors! Istria is a paradise for anyone looking to explore Istria’s intact nature, with many authentic adventures made for families or anyone after an adrenaline rush. Some of the region’s most popular activities include cycling, trekking, and hiking, while windsurfing, diving, and kayaking are most attractive at sea. Horseback riding is one of the best ways to uncover the Istrian countryside, while several adrenaline parks offer ziplining and action-packed activities from tremendous heights!
Whether you dive into Istria’s Blue or head inland into Istria’s Green, your discovery of this region is full of possibilities, and your luxury yacht charter in Istria is limitless.
Contact us with your wishes and inquiries and we will tailor your luxury yacht charter itinerary according to your preferences!