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Croatian Vineyards and Villages of Undiscovered Istria
7 night self guided bike tour in Croatia
There is something magical in Istria, the largest Croatian peninsula, immersed in the blue of the Adriatic. Its green forests, historic hilltop towns, vineyards, olive groves and gentle rivers are a perfect combination of the beauty of nature, history and culture. When you add to this the seductive tastes of excellent Istrian wines, you just know that this is an area which offers you everything you need.
Enjoy an easy bike ride and explore Istria, passing through the hidden medieval towns of Grožnjan, Oprtalj, Motovun, and the former Roman colony of Poreč whose charm will leave you breathless. Passing through a landscape of hills framed by rivers, with forests, vineyards and olive groves, you’ll enjoy every moment. Take a break at the winemakers and taste indigenous wines such as Malvasia and Teran, treat yourself to tasty delicacies and experience all the charms of Istria, this exciting Croatian wine region.
Day 1: Arrival
Arrival in Istria. Info meeting with Fiore representative at 7:00pm at the hotel reception area where we will provide you with the package including hotel vouchers, bicycle with all equipment, maps, and a road book.
Overnight in the Buje area/Brtonigla
Day 2: Buje – Umag – Buje (32 miles/51 km, +1414ft/431m ascent)
This tour starts with easy downhill ride to the coast on the northernmost point of the Istrian peninsula. Nearby is a lighthouse, according to the legend build by count Metternich as his love nest. Savudrija is one of the oldest lighthouses in the Adriatic, built in 1818. It is also the northernmost Istrian lighthouse. Its building is 36 meters tall and there is a keeper living inside it.
The trail continues south to Umag. Little town with about 45 km of the coastline and interesting hinterland integrates special features of the whole region and might be the best introduction into a different experience of the Mediterranean. Umag's history is extremely interesting; it was founded by a Roman nobleman who decided to make it his summer residence. The glamour, magnificence, and glare of the times can beseen today in the Venetian houses of the old town. City walls and fortification are partially preserved as well as some renaissance and baroque buildings and churches. Vineyards and olive groves will create an atmosphere of typical west Istrian landscape. Visit to a wine cellar to taste the Muscat or Malvazija, local sorts of wine.
Overnight in Buje area
Day 3: Buje – Brtonigla – Novigrad – Buje (30 miles/49 km, +1830ft/558m ascent)
From Buje area, you're cycling through Kršete picturesque village and arriving to the small town of Brtonigla. It has churches and monasteries from the 15th century. Further, the trail leads through vineyards and olive groves of Brtonigla area. Wine is very popular from this area (Teran). Across endless vineyard, you'll reach Novigrad where you can visit the olive oil production and taste some of the best oils, in one word taste Istria.
Through Dajla and Karigador villages on the coast you're getting to Lovrečica venetian bishops coastal village. Following the road through Škrinjari, Babići and Buroli village you'll see traditional Istrian houses. Road by the vineyard will take you back to your hotel.
Overnight in Buje area
Day 4: Buje – Motovun (23 miles/38 km, +2670ft/814m ascent)
From Buje, you will continue towards Grožnjan. Typical Istrian medieval town sprout high on top of a hill along the right coast of the river Mirna, Renaissance loggia dating from 1585 and the beautiful St. Vitus and Modesto’s baroque church. If you just occasionally pass along its streets in which almost every door leads to art studios or galleries, and from every direction you'll the sounds of different music genres, from classical to jazz, you’ll understand why Grožnjan is known as "The town of artists."
From Grožnjan, cycle on quiet roads to Oprtalj. In Oprtalj, enjoy the unchanged urban medieval style of building, narrow streets, shops, the beautiful Venetian palaces, portals and covered passages, and particularly the unique view to the Istrian peninsula from the town loggia, according to many the most beautiful of Istria.
From Oprtalj, you are going downhill enjoying the view on Mirna river and eventually arriving in Livade, the truffle center of Istria where you can visit the local truffle shop and taste it in various forms. The truffle is an underground malodorous fungus believed to be an aphrodisiac. On the hill in front of the Livade is Motovun, surely the most famous and attractive Istrian medieval hill-town. Around Livade is the Motovun forest which stretches along Mirna River valley is especially rich with truffles.
Overnight near Motovun
Day 5: Motovun – Poreč (24 miles/39 km, +1505ft/459m ascent)
This part of the trail goes inland to the coast. It follows the road to Višnjan where you will pass by an observatory. The road continues to the town of Višnjan which has 246m altitude and from there you'll be able to catch a view on west Istrian coast and the coastal town of Poreč. In Višnjan surroundings is possible to visit many wine cellars with wine from Poreč area, especially Malvasia.
The tour continues to Tar, a little town on the hill above the sea and to Nova Vas village by the famous cave (which you can visit). After passing a few more villages the trail reaches Poreč.
Overnight in Poreč
Day 6: Poreč – Vrsar – Poreč (27 miles/44 km, +1774ft/541m ascent)
From Poreč the trail starts with sightseeing the Euphrasiana, the most valuable monument in Poreč, a church build in the 6th century. Follow the road until you reach the village of Bačva village. Bačva is the highest point of this stage and there is a local restaurant with traditional dishes where you can enjoy local food. It continues to southern villages and it comes down to the coast in the town of Vrsar.
With a commanding view of the coast, it was natural for Vrsar to become a defended fortress. Only parts of the fortification system, built in the 12th century, have been preserved but the fortress-castle used as the summer residence of the Poreč bishops, is well worth a look. After Vrsar, the trail passes Funtana fishing village, Zelena, and Plava Laguna touristic villages are the south doorstep of Poreč.
Overnight in Poreč
Day 7: Poreč – Kanfanar – Rovinj (19 miles/31 km, +590ft/180m ascent)
After breakfast you can choose to be transferred to Kanfanar or reach it on your own (optional additional 21 miles/34 km cycling, +2231ft/680m ascent). Kanfanar is a small town above the Lim valley. From Kanfanar starts the flattest ride of all in this tour. Passing by Istrian inland villages you will see traditional Istrian tool-houses (kažun).
After reaching Bale you can visit the Bebmbo palace, city square, and museum. Continue to Rovinj and on the way, you'll see "Palud" an ornithological reserve in which you can cycle around. After the village Kokuletovica you can turn in Monkodonja. Monkodonja is a prehistoric hill-town inhabited about 1800-1200 BC during the Bronze Age. After Monkodonja you will reach Rovinj, your goal of this tour, the "Pearl of Adriatic."
With its church and bell tower on the hill by the sea it is very recognizable from all sides. Also called Istrian Venice, old town which was once an island and then connected with land, famous for its traditional boats called batana. Restaurants with fresh fish combined with malvasia will complete this week's atmosphere. It will fascinate you. Everybody can enjoy Rovinj, its charm and magic.
Overnight in Rovinj
Day 8: Departure
After breakfast, it's time for departure.
Surface and terrain
The tour route is on quiet roads about 55% of the time, and roads shared with traffic 40% of the time. About 5% of the time the route is on dedicated bike paths. You will find the program follows rolling hills and some days with longer ascents.
These are sample hotels and may vary based on availability.
Category A: 4-star hotels
HeritageHotel San Rocco, Brtonigla/Buje area
Wine & Heritage Hotel Roxanich, Motovun
Hotel Palazzo, Porec
Hotel Vila Tuttorotto, Rovinj
Category B: 3 and 4-star hotels
Casa la Parenzana, Buje area
Hotel Kastel, Motovun
Hotel Palazzo, Porec
Hotel Vila Tuttorotto, Rovinj
Interested in visiting other areas before or after your tour? Visit our hotels page to learn more about lodging options.
How to get there
Nearest airport: Venice Giulia (TRS) in Trieste, Italy
Nearest bus station: Buje
Nearest airport: Pula (PUY)
Nearest bus station: Pula
The tour company can arrange various transfers for travel between numerous locations and the starting and ending cities. The most common transfers are listed on the "Dates and prices" tab. Alternative transfer requests may be made at time of booking.
Tips on getting to and from your tour
Daily: Mar 1 - Nov 30, 2022
Low season: Mar 01, 2022 - Apr 19, 2022
Mid season: Apr 20, 2022 - Jun 19, 2022, Sep 20, 2022 - Nov 30, 2022
High season: Jun 20, 2022 - Sep 19, 2022
Category A: 4-star hotels
Per person, double occupancy € 1060 Mid season surcharge € 270 High season surcharge € 330 Single room surcharge (1 person/1 room) Low season € 490 Mid season € 490 High season € 580 Solo traveler surcharge (in addition to single room) Low season € 590 Mid season € 590 High season € 680
Category B: 3- and 4-star hotels
Per person, double occupancy € 690 Mid season surcharge € 50 High season surcharge € 100 Single room surcharge (1 person/1 room) Low season € 180 Mid season € 180 High season € 200 Solo traveler surcharge (in addition to single room) Low season € 280 Mid season € 280 High season € 300
Road bike € 180 Hybrid/trekking bike € 120 Electrically assisted bike € 200 GPS unit € 50 SPD pedals € 10
Between Trieste Airport and Buje, one way (1-3 passengers) € 130 Between Trieste Airport and Rovinj, one way (1-3 passengers) € 180 Between Pula Airport and Rovinj, one way (1-3 passengers) € 65 Between Trieste train/bus station and Rovinj, one way (1-3 passengers) € 140 Between Trieste train/bus station and Buje, one way (1-3 passengers) € 100 Between Pula Airport and Buje, one way (1-3 passengers) € 80
- 7 nights accommodations in booked hotel category
- Luggage transport between accommodations
- Information package including detailed route description (map and road book) and vouchers
- 24-hour hotline service in case of problems or questions
- Welcome meeting
- GPS units are available to rent (reserve at time of booking)
Bikes available to rent (reserved in advance at time of booking) include:
- Road bike: Felt, Model Z85. Available in sizes 51, 54, 56, 58, 61cm
- Hybrid/trekking bike: Custom built, Musing brand. Available in Men's sizes 49, 52, 55, 58, 61cm and Women's sizes 43, 48, 53cm
- Electrically-assisted bike: Custom built, Musing brand, Pyrit E model. Available in Unisex, S or M size*
*More about electrically-assisted bikes >
Equipment provided with bike rentals:
- Saddle bag and rear rack (no rear rack on road bike)
- Handlebar bag or map holder (not on road bike)
- Tire lever and tools
- Spare tube and patch kit
- Hand pump
- Cycle computer
- Water bottle holder
Helmets are available upon request (in advance at time of booking). However, for safety and hygiene purposes, we recommend that you bring your own helmet or plan to purchase one upon arrival.
Available pedals: flat (included), SPD clipless (€10 surcharge per week).
Maps are for information purposes only and reflect typical routes between overnight locations. They may not reflect your actual route.
★★★★★ carlye5 July 2, 2017
Beautiful country sides!
We had done a 4 week trip to Croatia and surrounding countries, and our bike trip was the last week of 4. It was beautiful weather and we had a great time!
Biketours.com did a great job organizing everything for us, and taking care of our needs.
The third party tour company fiore tours was only average. We still had a great time, but there was plenty to improve on. The tour company gave us very poor instructions as to where we were meeting for the tour, and the emails given to us were incorrect. It was an adventure to get to the starting hotel to say the least. But we rented road bikes and they were great bikes. Very light, and the company offered many pedal types.
My only other concern was that the "itinerary" listed on the site mentions all these great things, but in reality you have to do a lot of work researching and planning where to stop each day. Many of the options they give us are only open in the afternoons, and are very close to where we were starting, so even if we started around 10am which was rather late, many wineries were still closed. After the first two days of being disappointed by not being able to find the suggested stops, and then finding them closed, we realized we had to do some leg work as far as finding stops along the route. Then the tour improved immensely.
My boyfriend and I are 23 and 25 and fit people, although not big cyclists. We chose an "easier" route so that we wouldn't be exhausted after each day. However, we were complete toast every single day. So if you aren't in good physical condition, I do not recommend this. Most of the route was rather hilly, especially day 3.
- What was the date of your tour?
- Mid June 2017
- How many tours have you completed?
- only this one.
- Difficulty (actual vs. expected)?
- Much harder
- Who is this tour suitable for?
- First-time bike tourists, Families with teens
- Do you recommend this tour?
BikeTours.com staff reply from Jim Johnson July 3, 2017
Thanks very much for this feedback. We'll address all of your points with Fiore in hopes of improving the experience for future travelers.