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Relaxing Beach Town for 5 Nights in Istria?

Hello all,

Thinking about a very last-minute trip to Croatia, based on cheap airfare from July 4-9th. This is a vacation from our last vacation of driving a boat. We want way more relaxation than activity.

If everything lined up perfectly, we'd find a nice but not fancy apartment with at least a kitchenette. no more than a 10 minute walk from a swimming beach (closer is better, sand is not required, I have great watershoes), walking distance to at least a smallish town with a few restaurants and pubs. A bigger town is fine, too. Access to nice coastal walking/hiking a major plus. We're open to renting a car but it would be even better if we just took a bus to the area and didn't have to deal with it, maybe using one day to take a tour to a hill town or winery but otherwise spending much of our time beaching, reading, eating delicious food and drinking delicious wine.

We'd be flying into Pula so it would be ideal if this magical place reachable within 2 hours of that airport. I've been looking at apartments and hotels in the usual suspects - Rovinj, Pula, even Rab island but if anyone has their own special spot or at least think you can point me in the right direction, I'd love to hear it. Thanks!

Posted by
148 posts

You will find everything you want in Premantura/Medulin area just outside Pula. Only 30 minutes from the airport, the beaches are some of the best in Istria, there is a winery there and the bus service to Pula if needed.

Posted by
4073 posts

Kamenjak is one of my favorite places on earth and has good coastal walks. Rovinj will be jammed, but it has good wooded areas as well for walking on to the south. Personally, I really like Novigrad and Fazana. All of Istria is well under 2 hours drive from the Pula Airport. It is a small area.

All of this said, Cres has a special place in my heart and might be worth considering.

Posted by
2873 posts

Thanks for the advice everyone!

I nearly booked a place in Novigrad - it looks lovely - but ended up going with a flat just south of Rovinj which seems to be a popular area for beaching but not within the tourist crush of Rovinj proper. Was very tempted by the areas near Pula and Kamenjac but it all kind of came down to getting a flat that was well-reviewed for a good price where we'd have the option of foregoing a rental car if we want (we're still undecided on that).

Thanks for everyone's help! And if you have restaurant recommendations in or near Rovinj I'd love to hear 'em!

Posted by
4073 posts

This website is my bible for eating out in Istria - https://www.frankaboutcroatia.com/best-restaurants-in-istria/

Rovinj is really the worst place in Istria for good food. It attracts lots of tourists so there is place after place advertising “Grill, Fish, Pizza, Pasta.” Avoid these like the plague. Rovinj is great for cocktail bars and sundowners, but not food.

Also, please rent a car. You’ll miss so much without one.

Posted by
2873 posts

Emily - thanks for the advice about a car. My husband had already agreed (he's the only one who can drive stick) but I was still on the fence but it seems to make sense. We've got 5 nights, but for the cost/time of getting from Pula to our flat alone, plus husband wants to see the amphitheater in Pula, even counting a couple do nothing beach days, we'll probably want the car to tool around.

Posted by
55 posts

We visited Pula, Rovinj and Opatija. Rovinj was beautiful but very touristy. I highly recommend seeing this ancient city but I don't know if I would want to stay there. Pula was nice but it didn't seem that there wasn't much to see other than the Colosseum. We loved Opatija. Its called the Austrian Riviera because it was once part of Austria. We hired a guide in Opatija. He told us that his Great Grandfather was Venetian, his grandfather was Austrian, his father was Yugoslavian and he is Croatian... and they all were born and raised in the same house. Lots of history. We were told that the real Captain Von Trapp from the sound of music fame was stationed in Opatija and that is where he met his wife. It's a very beautiful place with lots of restaurants and hotels overlooking the water.

Posted by
120 posts

Jumping in here as we will have a car and have 3 days on the Istrian peninsula in mid Sept. Looked at booking in Porec as a base and daytrip from there. Has anyone stayed in that area?

Posted by
2873 posts

We based in Rovinj but would absolutely consider Porec for a return trip - and I think we may return as flights were cheap to Pula, driving was relatively easy, and we really loved the west coast of Istria. I wrote a trip report if you want more detailed info!

Posted by
503 posts

I second the recommendation for Porec. It's a lovely town, very walkable, good restaurants and a very nice beach. From there you can take the ferries for a day trip to Venice. Quite nice.