Hike among Istria’s stunningly serene land and seascapes
Start in medieval Motovun, rising like a fairy tale from its green surroundings
Discover the charming hamlet of Hum, the world’s smallest town
Enjoy incredible views over Istria and the Adriatic from Mount Učka
Savour the local cuisine of fragrant truffles, fresh seafood, homemade pasta, and zesty wines
Hiking in green Istria
Self-guided walking holiday on Northern Croatia’s Istrian Peninsula
On this week-long walking holiday, you will hike from the ancient hilltop village of Motovun, in the heart of green Istria, to Opatija an elegant 19th century coastal resort on the stunning Adriatic coast.
The turbulent history of this part of Croatia is reflected in the wide variety of monuments, architectural styles, cuisine and even the language. But the strong Italian influence of nearby Venice is unmistakable throughout. The undulating hills and medieval hilltop villages are reminiscent of central Italy 30 years ago. Walk through small vineyards and olive groves and watch the early morning truffle hunters with their dogs as they sniff their way through the ancient oak forests. Stay in a variety of small friendly inns and hotels in well-preserved walled hamlets, where you can taste traditional local food and wine.
|7 DAYS / 6 NIGHTS||From €650 per person sharing*
*Discounts available for triple rooms. Please enquire for prices.
||You will stay in comfortable hotels in Motovun and Opatija, friendly ‘agriturizm’ (farmhouse) in Sovinjak, and a small B&B in Hum. All accomodations are carefully selected because of their location, atmosphere and/or unique services. All rooms are en-suite.
You can find below the standard hotels of this trip. If a hotel is fully booked, then we will book a similar one for you and inform you about the alternative booked.
You can book additional night(s) at any of the accommodations along the way.
|MEALS||A good breakfast is included each morning. The trip is on a bed and breakfast basis with 3 dinners and 3 picnic lunches (day 3 to 6). You will have opportunities throughout the trip to taste both the outstanding local cuisine and regional wines.|
|AVAILABILITY||You can start on any day of the week, subject to availability, between April 1st and October 31st.|
|DIFFICULTY / TERRAIN||The difficulty level of this trip is moderate overall. The walks are along vineyards, uneven footpaths, mule tracks and small gravel roads. The trails through the vineyards can get slippery, muddy and heavy-going when wet or after heavy rain.
The trails do not always have markings, but you will be provided with detailed route notes, maps and GPS tracks.
Day 1: Arrive in Motovun
Arrival in the captivating medieval walled town of Motovun, perched dramatically on a hilltop in the heart of Istria. The hotel is on the central square at the highest point of the town and from the garden you can enjoy splendid views over the verdant valley below. The town was fortified by the Venetians in the 14th century and the buildings within its walls are an appealing mix of Romanesque and Gothic styles. The afternoon is free to relax by the pool and/or take a stroll among the ancient, cobbled streets.
Day 2: Loop walk in the Kaldir valley
Distance: 17.5 km | Ascent: 638 m | Descent: 627 m | Time: 6 hrs approx.
Your first hike takes you on a lovely route through the verdant Kaldir valley, at the foot of Motovun. You will walk through orchards of apples, peaches, cherries and plums. Along the way you will pass several national shrines and walk through small remote hamlets. As you make your way along the upper ridge, you will have great views of Mount Ucka and the dazzling Adriatic Sea on the other side. We recommend finding a nice picnic spot among the olive trees – look out for honey buzzards and listen to the hammering of the lesser spotted woodpecker. At the end of the walk a steep climb takes you back to your hotel in Motovun.
Day 3: From Motovun to Sovinjak
Distance: 14 km | Ascent: 429 m | Descent: 361 m | Time: 4½ hrs approx.
You descend once more from Motovun into the valley below. A winding ascent then takes you along forest paths surrounded by wildflowers, the perfect tranquillity only broken by the sound of church bells ringing around the valleys. You may catch glimpses of the blue rock thrush flitting amongst the branches as you climb on a stony path used by merchants and travellers since the Middle Ages. You will pass through several small villages perched high above the Mrna river, before finally reaching your accommodation in the beautiful little hamlet of Sovinjak, which has only 29 inhabitants.
Day 4: Sovinjak Loop to Istarske Toplice
Distance: 10 km | Ascent: 468 m | Descent: 456 m | Time: 3½ hrs approx.
Today’s walk takes you to the ancient thermal baths of Istarske Toplice, where you can opt for a visit to the baths or just relax with a cool drink at the bar. The warm thermal waters contain many healing minerals and have been used by the locals since ancient times. Follow a narrow path along the 14 stations of the Cross to climb the impressive 85-meter-high rocky outcrop which rises steeply above the baths. From the top you have a beautiful view of the surroundings. The route back to Sovinjak takes you along quiet paths through charming Istrian villages.
Day 5: Walk from Sovinjak to Hum
Distance: 15 km | Ascent: 516 m | Descent: 431 m | Time: 5 hrs approx.
The first 3 km today is along a quiet country road to the town of Sveti Donat. From here on you will follow rural walking trails. In Kozari you can make a stop at the local konoba (restaurant) before continuing through the woods. After a steep descent you reach a well-marked trail that leads to Hum, officially the smallest town in the world! Within its medieval town walls, there are only two streets and legend has it that the town was built by giants with stones left over from other towns in the Mirna valley. Hum is famous for its biska, a traditional brandy spiced with mistletoe and made the same way for 2000 years.
Along today’s route you will also pass the picturesque hamlet of Kotli, which has a grand total of one permanent resident – you can stop at the tiny bar, when open!
Day 6: Descend from Mount Učka to Opatija
Distance: 7 km | Ascent: 532 m | Descent: 538 m | Time: 4 hrs approx.
Distance: 11 km | Ascent: 532 m | Descent: 538 m | Time: 7 hrs approx.
Your final walk takes you from Istria’s highest peak all the way down to the Adriatic Sea.
The day begins with a transfer to Poklon Pass (922m) in the Učka National Park. In good weather conditions you can hike up to the Vojak peak on Mount Učka (Istria’s highest peak, at 1401m) for stunning 360° views. On a clear day, it is possible to see the Italian Alps, and even Venice!
At Poklon you start the long descent to the Adriatic Sea, first on narrow, sometimes steep paths through the beech woods, later between buildings as you get closer to the coast. On your descent, you will enjoy wonderful views across the glistening Adriatic and its many islands. Once at sea level you follow a coastal footpath lined with small coves, inviting terraces and magnificent classical-style villas, built for wealthy Austrians and Hungarians who would winter here during the days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In the evening you can try one of the many excellent local restaurants near the marina.
Day 7: Departure
Your Istria walking holiday comes to an end after breakfast this morning, unless you have booked any additional services with us. We would be happy to arrange extra nights in Opatija. Please enquire at the time of booking.
Getting to Motovun
Departure from Opatija
|/||You can take a bus to Pula, which takes about 2 hrs and costs €10 – €12 approx. See timetables and price info here.
From Pula, you can take a shuttle bus or taxi to the airport (10 – 15 mins).
There are twice daily buses from Opatija to Trieste (1 hr 30 mins), from where you can find onward connections to Venice or other locations in Italy. See Rome2Rio for info.
We ended our 3 weeks in Croatia with this delightful and challenging walking tour among the hilltop villages of Istria. Wild Rover communicated well and planned everything seamlessly. With a local agency they provided great maps you download into a navigation app, and route notes that work with it. You do need to be a bit savvy with route finding, and be prepared for rocky roads and trails with plenty of steep hills (these are perched villages after all!) and lots of sun exposure. The accommodations along the way are lovely: luxurious hotels at the beginning and end, and sweet quiet guesthouses along the way. Plenty of black truffle to eat and fantastic wildflowers (many orchids) in May.
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