Camper Road Trip Through the National Parks in Istria
Author: Annika Ziehen
Croatia is an absolute paradise for nature lovers, film buffs, and foodies, and perfect for an extended holiday with the camper for the whole family. There are numerous national parks to discover in Croatia, such as the Plitvice Lakes, Krka National Park, Mljet National Park, and Brijuni, the national park of Istria.
Istria, not an island but a peninsula over northern Dalmatia, is one of the most beautiful regions in the country. It has a total area of almost 3,000 km². In our small travel guide, you will find insider tips for your road trip to the sea, the most beautiful cities, and the best travel destinations in the Istrian region.
What is there to explore in Istria?
Brijuni National Park
Brijuni is the national park of Istria and a great destination for the whole family. It is an archipelago of 14 islands and islets. Unfortunately, its location off the west coast of Istria means that you have to leave your roadsurfer on the mainland as vehicles are not allowed on the archipelago.
Leave your camper in Fažana and take the boat from here to the largest of the islands, Veliki Brijun. You can either buy a ticket on the spot or book beforehand, online and choose between a fare that includes a guided tour or a pocket guide app with information about the nature reserve. Depending on what you choose, a ticket costs between €30 and €36 for adults in high season, and the boat crossing to the island takes about 15 minutes.
Once you arrive, there is a lot to explore. The national park is home to dinosaur footprints, a safari park, and the Byzantine Castrum, an ancient villa. In addition, you can expect beautiful beaches, species-rich vegetation, numerous hiking trails in the untouched landscape, and delicious restaurants. And if you want to extend your stay, there are several hotels to choose from.
Once you’ve had your fill of sunshine, we recommend going caving in the Istria Nature Park. Although the caves and grottos are well explored, they are definitely worth a visit.
In the Festinsko kraljevstvo, the natural wonder of the subterranean ponds of stalactite water awaits you. Can you spot the bat’s wing and the Tower of Babylon? The Baredine Cave has amazing stalagmites and stalactites to admire, including its meter-long “curtains”. Whilst the Mramornica cave shimmers in snow-white to red and is also home to a wine cellar.
There are also numerous small species to discover in the caves, such as the cave olm, bats, and dormice. The best thing to do is to take part in a guided tour, which is offered in most caves.
Our tip: You should bring sturdy shoes and a jumper because it rarely gets warmer than 15 degrees in the caves, even in the summer.
If you fancy a bit of city life after so much nature, visit places like beautiful Pula. The largest and oldest city in Istria has a lot to offer, both in terms of culture and cuisine.
Fans of ancient Rome should check out the Arena of Pula because it was built at the same time as the Colosseum in Rome. Fortunately, today there are concerts instead of gladiator fights.
After you have taken a stroll through the ancient old town, you should definitely take a look at the Shining Giants in the evening. Cranes in the harbour are transformed into a real work of art with a light show by Croatian lighting designer Dean Skira.
Poreč is like an open-air museum with its historic town centre. A special highlight is the Euphrasius Basilica, which dates back to the 6th century and is decorated with beautiful mosaics.
The cityscape is characterised by romantic alleyways and a magnificent view of the coast. In the immediate vicinity, you will find a total of 21 beaches that have been awarded the Blue Flag and promise a wonderful bathing experience.
Rovinj is no less picturesque. Take a stroll along the waterfront or lose yourself in the winding streets of the old town, reminiscent of the city’s Venetian era.
On the Rovinj Riviera, you will find other beautiful beaches where you can choose to laze on the sand or enjoy the many water sports on offer.
The Golden Cape Nature Park is considered the most beautiful in the Istrian National Park. Located only 15 minutes from the city centre, you can hike, cycle or cool off in the blue waters of the pretty little bays.
Our tip: Don’t forget your camera because the beauty of Rovinj is very popular with photographers.
Tips for your Trip to National Park Istrien
A Mediterranean climate awaits you in Istria. This means warm summers and mild winters – a great destination for winter camping because it is considered one of the sunniest areas in Europe. However, it can rain quite a lot on the peninsula even in the summer months. An umbrella and a waterproof jacket should definitely be on your camping packing list!
As in the rest of Croatia, you will find many well-equipped campsites in Istria. Our recommendation is the roadsurfer Vita Mia Camp which is our first exclusive roadsurfer spot. Vita Mia Camp is located in the heart of Istria and is equipped with sanitary facilities, Wi-Fi, washrooms, and a kitchen for travelers, as well as a swimming pool and playground for children.
Vita Mia Camp
More campsites in Istrien