Walk of the Week: Istria Vineyards & Villages
To the east of Italy across the Adriatic Sea sits the largest peninsula in the Adriatic, the region of Istria which straddles Slovenia and Croatia. This region of Croatia boasts superb ingredients, a fantastic (but busy) coastline, as-well-as beautifully preserved Roman and Byzantine era architecture. Istria is also home to one of our most aesthetically pleasing self guided walking trips, Istria: Vineyards & Villages.
In a NutshellA 91km walk from the interior to the coast. Starting in the charming hilltop town of Buje you will walk through seemingly endless olive groves and vineyards, picturesque towns and villages perched atop hilltops until you come to the Ucka mountain range and the coastline opens up before your eyes.
GradingModerate. Although the terrain presents little technical difficulty, this trip does involve some longer days of walking - around 4-5 hours. The daily ascents vary ranging from a minimum of 400m to 800m. The summer heat, particularly in the months of July and August can make the walking gruelling, for some, however there are plenty of opportunities for eating, drinking, and resting along the way.
Why Walk Here?2016 has been a record breaking year for Istria. The Istrian tourist board reports that the first two weeks of August saw 150,000 more visitors in comparison to the same period last year. The wisdom of crowds at work? Of course, it is great to see a region prospering thanks to tourism but here at Macs we are always wary of that tipping point where a destination moves from cheerfully popular to commercially overcrowded. The really good news is that the vast majority of this demand is centred on the coastal towns of Rovinj, Poreč, and Medulin leaving the interior and its Vineyards & Villages to be explored in relative peace, not quite hidden Istria but certainly (thankfully?) overlooked by many. To be clear, the Istrian coast is stunning and well worth a visit. The beaches are clean and the Roman amphitheatre in Pula is astonishing, however we believe that the real Istria is to be found inland. This fertile area of the country is the perfect place to immerse yourself in Croatia's remarkable cuisine and, as the name alludes to, the Vineyards & Villages trip is particularly suited to 'foodies'. After visiting Istria and Croatia at large chef and travel writer Anthony Bourdain noted, "if you like food and you haven't been to Croatia, you're missing out." The Mediterranean climate combined with centuries of expertise in wine production has led to some of the finest Croatian wines coming from Istria and this trip offers plenty of opportunities to try said wine. We recommend Degrassi Malvazija Bomarchese a white that goes very well with oysters and olive oil and the Roxanich Superistrian. The Italian influence on the food is noticeable however the produce is distinctively Croatian, those who choose to walk in Istria will come home carrying a few bottles of wine and raving about the olive oil, the white truffles, the cheeses, the fish and the all-around quality of the eating.
Planning Your TripThis trip is available from early April up until the end of October. Those travelling by air should note that Pula is the regional airport and flights are available from Zagreb. Alternatively there are direct flights from the UK and major European cities to Trieste. For detailed information on this trip see the tour page on our website or if you would like to chat to one of our destination specialists please get in touch with us on firstname.lastname@example.org
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