Istria is the westernmost county of Croatia and the largest peninsula in the Adriatic Sea. The capital of Croatia is Zagreb and the largest city of Istria is Pula. The Istrian county is bordering with Italy and Slovenia, has 210.000 inhabitants and more than 500 km of the coastline. Istria got its original name Histria after the ancient tribe of Histri but it got famous during the Roman empire under the name terra magica, the magical land. The Istrian coat of arms presents its prevailing colors, blue for the sea and the sky, green for its abundant nature and the golden goat symbolizes the rich history. Out of top the 10 most visited Croatian destinations, 7 of them are in Istria.
The very pleasant climate in Istria is mostly Mediterranean. With 2400 hours of sunshine per year, long warm summer and short and mild winter its climate is enjoyable in every season. The main winds are the dry bora, bringing the freshness from the north, and moist jugo, the southern wind that brings the waves and the rain. The famous maestral is known as the good fairy, a summer wind that lowers the heat, cools the vineyards and helps the seafarers.
Istria is divided into 3 colours, following the shades of its soil – Red, on its western coast with the particular red soil called crljenica, Grey, presenting fertile lands of central Istria and White, who`s white rocky soil may be found on the eastern coast and the Učka mountain. The long coast has countless and various beaches, from sandy to rocky ones, underwater caves and colorful sea life while the hinterland takes pride of its abundant greenery, rivers, lakes, waterfalls, caves and rolling hills.
Istria is a bilingual region with the two official languages, Croatian and Italian. Almost all the road signs and town names are written in both languages. Most Istrians speak at least another foreign language, usually English or German.
Currency and payment
The official currency in Istria is Croatian kuna (HRK) and it is the only currency accepted in all Croatia. 1 kuna equals 100 lipas. Foreign currencies may be exchanged in banks, exchange offices and post offices. Exchange rates may be always checked on the official page of the Croatian National Bank. Most shops, restaurants and bars in Istria accept credit cards. ATMs are available in many place in the whole county.
Transportation – getting around
Istria is excellently intertwined with the state, county and local roads connecting every Istrian destination in a relatively short drive. Also, it is well-connected with the rest of Croatia, Italy, Slovenia, and the rest of Europe through the motorways. For its specific shape, wherever in Istria you currently are, you may reach the farthest destination within an hour drive. As in most of the countries, you are required to drive on the right hand side of the road, carry a valid driver’s license, registration documents, and insurance documents. Regarding the young drivers, according to the Croatian law, you must be at least 21 years old and have held your license for three years in able to drive. The main motorway is called Istrian Y, due to its shape, and its toll fee may be paid in cash, as well as by credit card or using ENC. We highly recommend to take the local scenic roads and discover all Istrian colours.
Renting a car is easy and it can be arranged on the site or a few weeks or days before you arrive. Bear in mind that cars rented in Croatia have the manual transmission.
Information about the traffic may be easily found through the popular traffic apps or on the HAK webpage.
There are various companies offering taxi services, including the Uber, but the most popular and usually the cheapest is Cammeo. You can contact any of them by phone or using the app.
Istria is easily reached by plane through the Pula Airport or you may choose to land in Trieste, Venice, Ljubljana or Zagreb and drive your way down. Pula Airport is well-connected with daily flights to many European and Croatian destinations.
Boat and ferry
Istria has several ports which connect it with other Croatian coastal destinations and islands. The western coast of Istria is connected with Venice by catamarans in summer on a daily basis. You will discover numerous boat trips offered online and directly on towns promenade which offer fun and relaxing excursions.
For the moment, Istria is not offering great train rides and isn’t directly connected with other European destinations. However, you may travel by train up to Buzet or take the summer joy ride to Ljubljana. Is fair to say that the offered train rides are not fast but they have their charm.
Important phone numbers
(+385) 112 – general emergency number
(+385) 192 – police
(+385) 193 – fire brigade
(+385) 194 – ambulance
(+385) 195 – search and rescue at the sea
(+385) 1987 – road assistance (HAK)
Istria’s telephone area code is (0)52
In case of a medical emergency, depending on your current location you may visit county hospitals in Pula and Rijeka or one of the ER’s in other towns, medical tourist clinics and any of the dental clinics. The pharmacies are found in every town. The only 0-24 working pharmacy is located in Pula.
Almost every town in Istria has veterinarian clinics which may be easily found online. Several of them are on duty 0-24 for any emergency your loving pet may have.
In Croatia, electrical supply is 230V, 50Hz AC, with the standard European (round-pronged) plugs. So if your device doesn’t run on 230 volts you’ll need a power converter which may be easily bought in one of the shops.
Among other things, Croatia is well-known for being the third-largest source of water in Europe. The tap water in Istria is sparkling clean and safe to drink. The public water supply systems are controlled regularly so feel free to enjoy in it as the locals do.
As a very popular destination, Istria is also a well-known shopping spot. Larger towns have numerous shopping malls with famous brands but also many specialised places selling Istria`s best products, from olive oil, wine, prosciutto, truffles to original art of its distinguished authors.
The grocery shopping will take you on a whole new level offering the fresh fruit and vegetables on the beautiful greenmarkets under the blue sky or the fishmarkets with their daily fresh offer. Every larger town has supermarkets, like the local Konzum and Plodine, or the known European chains like Kaufland, Lidl or Spar which are opened every day of the week. The smaller places have local grocery shops with a decent offer. Driving around you will find many colourful stands selling fruit, vegetables, honey or some other local products.
Istria is generally considered a very safe place. The locals are a friendly hardworking lot which will gladly assist you with any problem you may have. Still, like in any popular destination be aware of pickpocketing and petty theft, especially in the high summer season, and don’t leave your bags, phones or wallets on a visible place in the car.
Croatia is part of the EU which means that citizens of the EU countries, the UK, the U.S., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand do not need visas. Visitors can stay up to 90 days in any 180 days period.
For other countries, please check the website of Croatian Ministry of Foreign Affairs or contact your embassy.
To enter Croatia you will need a valid passport or an ID card if you are a citizen of the EU.
Travel Istria is wishing you a pleasant stay!