Istria Motovun

Croatia: Walks in Istria for Orchids and Mediaeval Frescos

Istria, the large heart-shaped peninsula at the head of the Adriatic, is divided between Croatia, Slovenia and Italy. Roman, Venetian and Italian for much of its history, it is a delightful discovery, offering ancient ports and fishing villages along the coast and mediaeval hilltop villages and fresco-filled churches inland. The naturalists will appreciate the region’s diverse habitats, ranging from dry Mediterranean grassland and maquis to karst upland covered by beech and oak forests.

Gastronomy features highly in the Istrian lifestyle. Special dishes make the best of fresh fish and seafood. Truffles, both black and white, grow in the forests. Croatia’s most innovative wine makers are found in Istria and every farmer makes his or her own sheep’s cheeses, olive oil and pršut (the distinctive local version of prosciutto).

Istria fresco
Istria ophrys
Istria Cape Kamenjak
Istria Rovinj
Istria Nesactium
D included

From the airport we transfer to the southern part of the peninsula and our small seafront 4-star hotel in the village of Fažana, one of the favourite haunts of the former president of Yugoslavia, Josip Tito.

B, L, D included

In Nesactium, the home of the King of the Histri conquered by the Romans in 177 BC, we learn about this local tribe, which gave the peninsula its name. Cape Kamenjak is the southern-most point of Istria and the narrow headland is a nature reserve protecting over 20 species of orchids. We explore the area on foot, looking for species such as Pink Butterfly Orchid, Bertoloni’s, Dark or Bumble Bee Ophrys. After a lunch of farm produce, a short drive takes us to Pula, Istria’s largest city and a major port, where we visit the 1st century BC Pula Arena, the best preserved Roman amphitheatre in the world.

B, L, D included

Our walk (2 hrs) this morning follows a wide track at the bottom of the Lim Canyon, starting from the ruins of the mediaeval fortified town of Dvigrad. While the south facing side of the valley is covered by evergreen vegetation, the north facing walls have a cover of oaks and ashes. In nearby Rovinj, a Venetian port for centuries, we explore the picturesque harbour and the cobbled lanes of the old town leading to the hilltop church of St. Eufemia.

B, L, D included

Moving into the interior of the Istrian peninsula, we follow a woodland path (2.5 hrs) to the Chapel of our Lady of the Rocks near Beram, where the frescoes, dating from 1475, vividly depict the Adoration of the Magi. After sampling a typical Balkan grill for lunch, we continue to Poreč to visit the fine 6th century Euphrasian Basilica. Our ultimate destination today is the hilltop town of Motovun. We walk round the Venetian 14th century battlements on arrival, settle into our comfortable 3-star hotel (a reconstructed mediaeval palazzo) on the chestnut tree-filled square and look forward to tasting truffles at dinner.

B, L, D included

A morning’s walk (2.5 hrs) on a marvellous ridge across the heart of Istria leads us to the splendidly sited mediaeval village of Draguć, where we see the frescoes in the little chapel of St. Roche. After a rustic lunch in a village perched at 500 m, with views for miles, the afternoon is free to explore Motovun’s mediaeval charms, including the parish church to a design by Andrea Palladio, buy presents to take home in the truffle shops or relax in the indoor pool of our hotel.

B, L, D included

Paths through vineyards and beech woods (2.5 hrs) bring us to the frescoed Romanesque Church of St. Barnabas in Vižinada. We drive to the village of Oprtalj to see more beautifully preserved frescoes in the 15th century St. Mary’s church, then proceed on foot (1.5 hrs) to the picturesque hilltop village of Grožnjan, well known for its artists and Summer Music School.

B, L, D included

We drive to the fortified village of Roč to see early fresco fragments in the chapel of St Roche, before walking a section of the ‘Glagolitic Way’, celebrating an ancient Slavonic script, to the village of Hum, officially the smallest ‘town’ in the world. 17 inhabitants of Hum enjoy a 1,000-year architectural and civic heritage and the church of St. Hieronymous contains interesting 12th century Byzantine frescoes. Leaving Istria behind, we head for the Kvarner Gulf and the village of Lovran. We follow the coastal path leading past the botanical gardens and fin-de-siècle villas to Opatija, once the favoured Adriatic resort of the Austro-Hungarian Emperor Franz Joseph, and our 4-star hotel.

B included

A morning transfer to the airport concludes our holiday.

Per person sharing: 
TBC deposit per person
TBC single room supplement

Please note that the single room supplement is imposed by the hotels and not by Kudu Travel. If you are willing to share but no other suitable guest books on the trip, we regret that the supplement will be payable. We shall endeavour to obtain double rooms for single occupancy whenever possible.

Price Includes

  • Accommodation for Days 1 through 8, on a twin shared basis
  • All meals (with wine at dinners and restaurant lunches) as listed in the daily notation
  • All land transportation in a private vehicle, as described except during free periods
  • All entrance and sightseeing fees, except during free periods
  • Gratuities for restaurant and hotel staff (appreciation for tour guides is at your discretion)
Price Includes

  • Flights to Zagreb airport
  • Trip cancellation, medical or other insurance
  • Immunisations, prescriptions or other medical requirements
  • Passport, visa and health documentation
  • Personal expenses (laundry, alcohol besides wine with group lunches and dinners, free time activities, etc.)
  • Meals noted as excepted in the daily notation
  • Transport and transfer of excess baggage

On Kudu trips, you will only need money for postcards, presents to take home, the odd G & T or an irresistible ice cream. Festival and opera tickets, museum and gallery entrances, National Park fees, all meals (with a very few exceptions specified in individual itineraries), wine with lunch and dinner, access to specialist books carried by the guides, gratuities for porters and hotel and restaurant staff, boat rides, train trips, internal flights, wine tastings, 4WDs with drivers, the services of skilled local guides and trackers etc are ALL INCLUDED in the cost of your holiday.

We are confident that, like previous very satisfied guests, you will discover that our tours give you excellent value for money.

  • 3 nights in a small seafront 4-star hotel in Fažana
  • 3 nights in a comfortable 3-star hotel, a reconstructed mediaeval palazzo, in Motovun
  • 1 night in a 4 star hotel in Opatija
Visa and Health Requirements

Visitors from the EU and USA currently require a valid passport, but not a visa, for entry to Croatia. If you are a national of any other country, please check visa regulations with your nearest Embassy of Croatia.

At present, there are no specific and compulsory health requirements for entry to Croatia. You may also wish to check the advice given to travellers by the Department of Health and the FCO.

It is essential, and a condition of booking, that you protect yourself with a suitable travel insurance policy as soon as you book a trip. We can arrange comprehensive cover for UK residents. Follow this link for a quote for a policy available to UK residents.

Size of Party
This trip will run with a minimum of 4 and a maximum of 14 guests.