I have RS book but has anyone stayed at and/or eaten at Hotel Draga di Lovrana with its one star Michelin restaurant? It's secluded, perched up on Mt. Ucka near the Bay of Kvarner. (Heard about it on a tour itinerary focused on food.) Not sure if I should take the time to do it, even if it's only eating dinner there. If I drive from Zagreb to Opatija to see lovely buildings and its coastal promenade, should I drive on that day to Pula or Rovinj? It seems Rovinj would be a nicer place to stay overnight than Pula. But doesn't making a grand circle save time, rather than driving back and forth between Rovinj and Pula as RS suggests? The other option would be to drive from Opatija to Rovinj. Then the next day to Pula, then head directly to Motovun from Pula. I have a total of 3 days before I have to head back to Zagreb on the morning of the 4th day to catch an afternoon flight. Thanks!
We spent 3 nights in Istria in 2017. We stayed in Rovinj, visiting Pula, Motovun, and more. We made a very brief stop in Opatija. I posted a trip report on this forum that might be useful reference to you; scroll down to Part 3: https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/trip-reports/croatia-road-trip-aug-2017-dubrovnik-and-drive-to-split
Thanks, Jeff, for your quick reply! I reviewed your Istria section. I looked for flights and even a ferry from Pula, but I have to drive back to Zagreb for a flight to Sicily. This cuts into my time. Thanks again.
I've spent a night in Opatija and a night in Lovran, bookending a trip to the island of Losinj. I recall reading pretty conflicting reviews of Draga di Lovrana. A safer bet might be Volosko, known for its restaurants. I can't remember where we ate at the moment, but we enjoyed it, and there are several to choose from based on what you like. We walked from Opatija on the lungomare.
Opatija one night and Rovinj for two sounds pretty good, with a stopover in Pula to see the arena, then exploring hill towns the next day.
There are a couple other highly regarded restaurants you might want to check out--Motovun is more truffle focused and of course seafood down near Pula: https://tasteofcroatia.org/en/travels/follow-the-steps-of-anthony-bourdain-in-croatia/
Even if you are not a far of Bourdain, the Taste of Croatia website has lots of good info--enjoy!
Nancy, you are a brave soul.
Once you get off the Zagreb to Rijeka Autoput/Toll Road at Rijeka, drive the winding coastal road south to Opatija, your troubles will melt away. Find a parking spot in Opatija for a coffee break, or just drive on to Pula. Heading south you are on the inside lane, away from the scenic steep drop-off and can enjoy the views. Traffic winds down soon. I would not brave the steep roads up to any restaurant at Lovran when there are Michelin star restaurants Monte and Hotel Grand Park (at least one chef) in Rovinj. Stop in Pula to enjoy the vast amphitheatre and museum underneath, then drive on to Rovinj. Done. Then drive back to Zagreb on the Autoput with memories. An hour in Pula is enough. A lifetime in Rovinj is not enough.
Thank you all for your helpful advice and information!