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Best things to do in Istria

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Where in the world: Europe  /  Croatia  /  Istria

Top 15 things to do in Istria

1. Kamenjak National Park, Premantura

Enjoy some downtime from city life in a beautiful natural setting at Kamenjak National Park. Discover many rare and native species of Istrian plants and animals. Walk the path of fossilized dinosaur footsteps and visit the farm to learn about Istrian family farming and agro-tourism. Explore the coast on a bike, or swim or scuba dive in one of the many hidden coves. You'll also find running paths, hiking trails, a sports center, and a windsurf station in the park.
Suggested duration: 8 hours
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2. Church of St. Euphemia, Rovinj

At Church of St. Euphemia see the painted sarcophagus and relics of St. Euphemia, the patron saint of the town. The Baroque church was built in 1736 over the remains of an older church dedicated to St. George. The statue of St. Euphemia, which serves as a weather vane, greets you from the 60 m (197ft) high bell tower. Enter the church, go to the right and find the altar of St. Euphemia. Look behind it to see the sarcophagus painted with scenes of the martyrdom of the saint. Climb the bell tower, which resembles the tower of St Mark's Basilica in Venice. On a clear day you can see the Alps.
Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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3. Parish Of The Assumption Of The Blessed Virgin Mary Cathedral, Poreč

Visit Parish Of The Assumption Of The Blessed Virgin Mary Cathedral to see one of the best-preserved early Christian cathedral complexes in the world. The 6th century bishop Euphrasius ordered the construction of the church, which is now a World Heritage Site. Walk along the two rows of marble columns with richly sculpted Byzantine and Romanesque capitals. Admire the only surviving depiction of the Mother of God in an early-Christian western basilica. Look for the mosaic of Mary and child sitting on the heavenly throne in the vault over the apse. Don't miss the marble ciborium, modeled on the one in St. Mark's in Venice. Climb up to the steeple and take in views of Porec and its surroundings.
Suggested duration: 1 hour
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4. Port of Rovinj, Rovinj

Watch boats come and go and fishermen fix their nets while sitting on harbor walls at Port of Rovinj. The port features historic and natural marvels, including the Lemme Channel, a Mediterranean fiord. Stroll through the narrow lanes and soak up the atmosphere of one of the last true Mediterranean fishing ports. Sit in one of the many cafes and enjoy views of the water on one side and Old Town on the other. See Santa Eufemia Cathedral, which welcomes sailors from the headland. You'll also find bathing areas as you explore.
Suggested duration: 2h 30 min
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5. Old Town, Rovinj

Walk the main street of Old Town and browse the many independent shops and art galleries. The area is the keeper of Illyrian, Roman, Byzantine, and Venetian heritage. Enter the narrow, cobbled alleyways, and step into the small squares full of medieval, Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque buildings and terraces. Small churches, monuments, old doors, and arches are tucked behind every corner. You may hear residents still speaking Istriot, a Romance language once widely used in this area. Head to the northern side of town to see the remains of the protective walls. Once you've worked up an appetite, enjoy a meal at one of the many restaurants.
Suggested duration: 2h 30 min
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6. Pula Arena, Pula

Sit on the stone tiers of Pula Arena, and imagine how gladiators fought wild animals and each other in the central area. The arena was built in the 1st century CE during the reign of Emperor Vespasian, at the same time as the Roman Colosseum. Walk the underground passages, once used by the gladiators, and see the exhibition of age-old viticulture and olive growing in Istria. Check out the reconstructions of ancient mills and presses, and amphorae used for storing olive oil and wine. The venue was also a site of knights' tournaments and fairs in the Middle Ages. Today it hosts summer performances--a film festival, an equestrian festival, operas, and concerts.
Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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7. Brijuni National Park, Brijuni

Once a lavish residence of Yugoslavian president Tito, Brijuni National Park offer nature trails with exotic imported plants, archeological finds, and lots of history. See remnants of Bronze Age settlements that date back to the 14th century BCE, and encounter former Byzantine, Roman, and Templar structures. Tour the site to learn about its vibrant transformation from a poor, malaria-infested settlement in the 19th century to one of the world's most valued resorts of the 20th century. Visit Tito's property and browse his personal effects. Outdoor buffs and would-be paleontologists can explore hundreds of dinosaur footprints that have been discovered throughout the islands.
Suggested duration: 8 hours
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8. Temple Of Augustus, Pula

See the ancient Temple Of Augustus, dedicated to Caesar himself some two millennia ago. Initially utilized for pagan rituals, through time the site evolved into a church, granary, and museum, but was nearly destroyed during World War II. See the well-preserved remnants of this temple at the former Roman forum. Observe its architectural style, which includes Corinthian columns and a richly decorated frieze, typical of the era. Step inside the temple to view its collection of ancient stone and bronze sculptures.
Suggested duration: 2h 30 min
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10. Jama - Grotta Baredine, Poreč

Take a guided tour of Jama - Grotta Baredine, an underground cave filled with sculptures, lakes, and odd little creatures called "human fish," found only in this part of the world. Due to millennia of complete darkness and seclusion, this cave has developed a world of its own--the temperature inside is constantly around 14 C (57 F), the walls are moist, and the ornaments otherworldly. The "human fish" are actually aquatic salamanders that are white to pinkish in color and blind. Walk the 300 m (1,000 ft) long pathway, visit five chambers, and hear facts about the cave.
Suggested duration: 2h 30 min
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11. Porec Old Town, Poreč

See how a variety of cultural influences shaped Porec Old Town over the course of nearly 2,000 years. Illyrians, Romans, Franks, Venetians, Austro-Hungarians, French, Italians, and Slavs took turns governing the city. Take in remnants of the Roman period in the main streets and in the central Forum. Explore the town's rich heritage in museums and galleries, hosted in private houses and palaces. At the Euphrasian Basilica, admire the mosaics, which are some of the finest examples of Byzantine art in the world. Look for the Marafor, the fragments of an ancient church built on the alleged spot of Saint Maurus's martyrdom.
Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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13. Aquarium Pula, Pula

Housed in a historical, Austro-Hungarian fortress, Aquarium Pula hosts an array of local aquatic wildlife, a sea turtle rescue center, and a series of related exhibits. Visit the complex on a peninsula, and explore its two floors of underwater habitats from the Mediterranean and Adriatic seas. In addition to European flora and fauna, the aquarium also features exotic and tropical fish from around the globe. Stop by the sea turtle center to learn more about the rehabilitation program for injured reptiles before they're returned to the wild. Continue through the complex to see the evolutionary development through fossil displays. Be sure to stop by the special section dedicated to Croatia's and the Balkan region's population of freshwater river and lake creatures.
Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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14. Chiavalon Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Vodnjan

Opg Chiavalon ia a specialized farm for growing olives and producing top quality extra virgin olive oil. Currently we cultivate 25 hectars of olive groves with more than 7.000 olive trees. Our olive oil "Ex albis" is the most awarded Croatian olive oil and recognized like one of the TOP 15 olive oil in the world by Flos Olei, the Italian "Bible" for olive oil producers. Apart for quality our Olive oil is awarded all over the Globe for the design of its packaging.
Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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15. Arch of the Sergi, Pula

Built to celebrate one of Rome's most pivotal battles, Arch of the Sergi showcases the remnants of some of the city's imposing walls. Visit the arch, constructed in 27 BCE, to see its ornate decorations consisting of Corinthian columns, intricate reliefs, and extensive facade carvings. Look closer, and you'll find that depictions include war chariots, soldiers, and the names of the Romans it commemorates and whose powerful families funded the construction. Wander the area surrounding the former gate, explore the nearby shops, or stop into a cafe overlooking the structure.
Suggested duration: 30 minutes
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