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Istria is the heart shaped peninsula at the westernmost point of Croatia, jutting out with its beautiful riviera coastline into the Adriatic. It's just south of Trieste, Italy, and has been part of a number of nations, the Venetian Empire included, so Istria has a continental feel and a rich culture drawn from many places. Choosing the best places to stay in Istria depends on what you're here for. 'Blue Istira', which is what the rocky, crenellated coastal region is called (Rovinj is the ideal base for exploring here), is for sun and sea lovers, while 'Green Istria' refers to the quiet, verdant interior with its undulating hills, hilltop villages and rich cuisine.
The beaches of the Istrian peninsula aren't sandy, they're pebbled, or else the sea meets the shore in stunning rocky coves and sheer cliffs, but the water is super clear and there's plenty of sunshine. These conditions also appeal to sailors, and the addition of white sails in the marina adds glamour to the resort towns.
There's a good mix of European tourists, it's popular with German, French and relatively local Italians, and that adds to the cosmopolitan culture.
The interior, in contrast, is peaceful and unspoiled, with historic towns perching on hilltops overlooking lush fields. This is where much of the region's reputation for delicious cuisine comes from. Especially during truffle season.
Istria also has a number of vineyards. The Istrian interior is also a wonderful playground for walkers and cyclists.
This is a popular region during the peak summer months. So if you want to bag a bed in one of the best places to stay in Istria during July or August, get organised and book early.
- The Wine Hotel & Restaurant Meneghetti is a wonderful restaurant, vineyard and wine cellar with rooms, surrounded by stunning views of the Istrian countryside. The hotel itself has been converted from a stone farmhouse, and there are indoor and outdoor pools and the choice of several dining areas, all serving impeccable Mediterranean cuisine.
For a riviera break
- The Hotel Monte Mulini in Rovinj is a relatively swanky affair in a great spot on the beautiful Croatian Riviera. The decor is modern, and makes excellent use of the spectacular views, and there are two excellent restaurants, four tennis courts and a top of the range spa.
Still not sure? Browse through our list of all the best places to stay in Istria, or contact one of our friendly Gurus for advice. Alternatively widen the net and check out all our recommendations in Croatia.
Best Hotels in Istria
Villa Stefanija 7 rooms from $125Istria
Nestled in untouched hills with breathtaking views of the Adriatic Sea, the hotel's sun terrace, infinity pool & spa provide the ultimate romantic and relaxing experience. Rooms are airy and spacious, some with private balconies. Fab restaurant serves delicious Croatian dishes and local wines.Hideaway - A stunning rural location with breathtaking views out to sea make this the perfect summer hideaway.Views - Stunning views over the Kvarner Gulf and its islandsGreat walks - Great walks from the hotelSights nearby - Roman town of Pula
Wine Hotel & Restaurant Meneghetti 2 rooms from $143Pula
A beautiful stone farmhouse with its own vineyards and olive groves in the heart of Istria. Romantic rustic rooms and suites have wooden floors and pastel furnishings. Stunning views, Mediterranean cuisine, indoor and outdoor pools, and dining areas dotted around. Utterly romantic and rural.Foodies - Healthy and fragrant Mediterranean cuisine.Romantic BreakSwimming Pool - Indoor and Outdoor PoolsGreat walks - Good for walkers.Recommended by - Relais & Chateaux
Hotel Monte Mulini 99 rooms from $668Rovinj
A superbly swanky hotel on the Croatian Riviera. Large slick modern design throughout rooms and suites, private balconies with stunning bay views, and all the mod cons. Two excellent restaurants, top of the range spa, four tennis courts nearby. A sophisticated spot for a beach holiday.Views - Wonderful views over the bay.Spa breaksRomantic BreakChic