A brief introduction to Istria
The Croatian region of Istria is located on the largest peninsula in the Adriatic, which bears the same name. The Istrian peninsula is situated between the Gulf of Trieste and the Kvarner Gulf. Istria is a diverse region with a mountainous interior, fertile valleys and a beautifully indented coast. Due to its rich history, heavily influenced by the ancient Romans and later the Venitian Republic, Istria is filled with significant historical landmarks and beautiful architecture. Today, Istria attracts food and culture seeking visitors, looking to experience exquisite local dishes and world-famous wine. Music festivals and concerts organised in bigger cities like Pula, Rovinj or Umag attract lots of visitors from all around Europe each summer. Despite its northern location, Istria still enjoys a Mediterranean climate, and its beautiful coast and islands present an ideal setting for a magical summer vacation.
The best way to get to Istria
The easiest and fastest way to reach the region of Istria is by flying to Pula Airport, located 6 km away from the city centre. Numerous charters fly to Pula from all over Europe, predominantly during the summer. Connecting flights from Zagreb Airport are also available. Several daily bus lines connect Istria with Zagreb and the rest of Croatia. There is a train connection between Ljubljana and Pula during the summer and several ferry lines connecting Venezia and Trieste with Istrian cities of Rovinj, Poreč, Umag and Pula. Istria is connected with the rest of Croatia via the 5.5 km long Učka tunnel, making the peninsula easily reachable by car.
Our Top Istria itinerary option
Istria is an ideal sailing destination for those looking to incorporate some culture into their holiday vacation. As you sail along the beautiful and diverse coastline, each town you visit on your route will dazzle you with its charm and beauty.
Option 1 - Pula to Umag round trip
What to do on this route: For those looking to enjoy the summer activities, there are plenty of spots for swimming, snorkelling and other water sports. Explore the cultural and historical wonders of Istria's coastal towns. Spend the evenings enjoying delicious local food and wine in excellent restaurants and taverns found in the aforementioned towns.
This route is perfect for: Families and groups of friends looking to experience everything one of the most popular tourist destinations in Croatia has to offer. Sailing enthusiasts will enjoy Istria's diverse coast and islands.
Best time to go: From early May until the end of September
Total sail distance: 75 NM
Day 1: Brijuni
The first stop as you set sail from Pula is the breathtaking Brijuni islands. This cluster of 14 islands houses several resorts, botanical gardens, a safari park, as well as several archaeological and cultural sites. The Brijuni islands are also a declared Croatian National Park. Mooring is available at Brijuni Port, located on Veliki Brijun island. Keep in mind that you need the National Park Administration's permission to navigate the waters of the Brijuni National Park.
Day 2: Rovinj
Sail north along the Istrian coast, and you will reach the beautiful coastal town of Rovinj. The town is heavily influenced by its past as it was under Venetian influence for several centuries. Italian and Croatian languages are equally represented which, in combination with the town's architecture, makes visitors easily forget where they are. Rovinj has a vibrant nightlife and offers plenty of bars, restaurants and nightclubs in which to enjoy your summer nights.
Day 3: Vrsar
As you continue north, you will stumble upon Vrsar, a picturesque fishing town with more than 2,000 years of rich historical heritage.
An archipelago consisting of 18 uninhabited islands just opposite the town makes Vrsar a sailor's paradise. The local marina is open all year round and offers 190 berths.
Day 4: Poreč
Poreč is another ancient city on the coast of Istria, with a history spanning over 2,000 years. This former capital of the Istrian region is perfect for a long walk or a bike ride with numerous paths along the coast. A must-see while visiting the city is the 6th-century Euphrasian Basilica, which was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997.
Day 5: Umag
The last stop on the way north along the Istrian coast is the town of Umag. Yet another charming town rich with history, Umag offers plenty to see and do. Umag town walls and the 16th century Church of St. Roche are the most impressive historical landmarks you should visit. The town organises various musical and cultural festivals each summer while each July the ATP Umag tennis tournament takes place which attracts plenty of visitors.
Day 6: Fažana
On your way back south to Pula, stop at the small town of Fažana, located just opposite the National Park Brijuni. Fažana is a little fishing and touristic settlement, famous for its sardines. One of the biggest sardine factories on the Adriatic was located here and every August there is a festival dedicated to the sardines where visitors are offered sardine specialities.
Day 7: Pula
Pula is a short sail away from Fažana, which will leave you with plenty of time to explore this historical city. One can spend the whole day only visiting the impressive Roman remains in the city. The Roman amphitheatre, known as the Pula Arena, is the most popular tourist attraction in the city, and frequently hosts musical concerts. The historical influence of the Romans, Venetians and the French is evident in architecture throughout the city. Round off a day of culture by enjoying some local cuisine in one of the cities' many restaurants.
A brief introduction to Kvarner
The Croatian region of Kvarner is a part of the Primorje-Gorski Kotar County, covering the area of the Kvarner Bay and all its accompanying islands. The biggest islands of the Kvarner region are Krk, Cres, Lošinj, Rab and Pag, while the biggest and most important city in the area is the city of Rijeka. Stunning mountains of Učka and Velebit serve as an impressive backdrop to the beautiful coastal scenery. Like the majority of the Croatian coast, Kvarner was under the influence of the Venetian Republic for an extended period, and its influence is visible to this day. Today, islands of the Kvarner region are popular tourist destinations while the city of Rijeka is the biggest Croatian port on the Adriatic.
Best way to get to Kvarner
The fastest way to reach Kvarner is by flying to the Rijeka Airport, located on the island of Krk. The island of Krk is connected with the mainland via a bridge making the rest of Kvarner easily accessible. Other alternatives include flying to the Pula Airport or Zagreb Airport and then travelling by car or bus to your destination. Rijeka is also a train connecting Rijeka and Zagreb, which takes around 3 hours.
Breathtaking Kvarner itinerary option
What to do on this route: For those looking to enjoy the summer activities, there are plenty of spots for swimming, snorkelling and other water sports. Explore the famous islands of the Kvarner Bay and experience the rich history and culture accompanied by some delicious local cuisine.
This route is perfect for: Families and groups of friends looking to spend their days on the beach enjoying warm weather. Sailing enthusiasts will revel in the opportunity to explore the islands in the region and everything they have to offer.
Best time to go: From mid-April until the end of September.
The Kvarner tour: Total sail distance: 120 NM
Day 1: Opatija
Opatija is located 10 NM northwest of the regional capital Rijeka and is one of the oldest and most popular tourist destinations on the Croatian coast. The town was a popular holiday destination for the Austrian elite during the 19th and early 20th century which resulted in stunning villas and summer mansions built throughout the town. Today, the town of Opatija offers a selection of luxury hotels and quality restaurants, all eagerly awaiting visitors.
Day 2: Cres
Somewhat underrated, the island of Cres will greet you with its unspoiled nature and beautiful beaches. The most significant settlement on the island is the town of Cres where you will find the ACI Marina Cres, a medium-sized marina offering everything that you will need. The marina is located in a well-protected bay and offers 460 berths and 70 dry berths. Be sure to take a walk through the town of Cres and visit the town walls, the Venitian tower and the Church of St. Mary, dating back to the 15th century.
Day 3: Lošinj
Sailing down south from Cres, you will pass the Osor bridge where the islands of Cres and Lošinj meet. Towards the southern tip of the island, you will find the village of Mali Lošinj. It is a quaint little fisherman's village which offers several spectacular beaches and some quality restaurants. The village is located in a small well-protected bay, underneath the hill of Sv.Ivan. It is recommended to take the coastal path towards the town of Mali Lošinj for a lovely afternoon walk.
Day 4: Novalja
Sailing from Lošinj to Pag will take most of the day, just in time for a night out in Novalja. Numerous nightclubs located at the nearby Zrće beach have been attracting huge crowds lately, and summer festivals organised there have become world known. If you want to avoid the crowds, Pag has some beautiful secluded beaches. The island of Pag is also famous for its cheese, so make sure to have a tasting.
Day 5: Rab
Continuing on your journey north, you will find the island of Rab. Located on the southern coast of the island, the town of Rab sits on a narrow peninsula, encircled by ancient city walls. The town is most recognisable by the four church towers that make the town resemble the outline of a ship with four masts. The town of Rab offers a charming mixture of old and new, where one can spend the day soaking up the history and culture or simply enjoy summer activities that are aplenty.
Day 6: Krk
The island of Krk is Croatia's biggest and northernmost island. Due to its proximity and good traffic connection, Krk was always a popular tourist destination. Visit the small village of Punat which houses one of the most beautiful marinas on the Adriatic, the Marina Punat. Here you can explore the beautiful surroundings or visit the nearby town of Krk.
Day 7: Rijeka
You should spend the last day exploring the city of Rijeka, the third-largest city in Croatia. Rijeka is a city of beautiful architecture, shifty weather and exciting people. As you stroll through the city, be sure to stop for coffee at one of many cafes at the main city square, the Korzo. Other attractions worth visiting in Rijeka include the Trsat Castle, St. Vitus Cathedral and the Natural History Museum.