Croatia’s Istrian Peninsula
Experience the Old World in one of Europe’s hottest new destinations
Italy’s neighbor to the East, Croatia offers idyllic cycling through a medieval landscape of castles and vineyards, all with a beautiful view of the Adriatic Sea.
Trieste, located at the head of the Gulf of Trieste, has been influenced by its location at the crossroads of Germanic, Latin and Slavic cultures. In the 19th century it was the most important port of the Austro-Hungarian Empire until the union to Italy after WWI.
Istria was part of the province of Trieste until WWII. It is the largest Croatian peninsula and is considered the most popular new destination by the Croatian National Tourist Board. It is a magnificent landmass that has been etched away over the years by the Adriatic Sea, which has sprinkled its jagged coastline with a thousand lagoons and islands. The hilly interior, along with mountainous terrain to the northeast, is replete with rich forests.
In addition to the historical landmarks, including medieval villages and fantastic Byzantine cathedrals, the natural beauty of the Northern Adriatic Coast is astounding. Bright blue waters line a coast littered with architectural wonders, against a backdrop of deep green, truffle-filled forests. The terrain on this peninsula’s coast is perfect for the cyclist who wants to combine slightly rolling and hilly terrain with images of Croatia’s history and unspoiled beauty. This bike tour in Croatia is not to be missed.
- Ride on peaceful roads linking historic, hilltop villages and picturesque seaside towns
- Discover Trieste, where Germanic, Latin and Slavic cultures converge
- Admire the beauty of the coast with a boat transfer and enjoy the blue and pristine Adriatic sea on the Croatian side
- Explore the coastal towns of Rovinj, Umag and Pula
- Discover the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Porec and its Byzantine Basilica
- Learn about Croatia’s growing wine industry & taste the latest vintages
- Visit the unspoiled Brijuni National Park — once the vacation spot for aristocrats of centuries past
- Enjoy the gastronomic delights of Valsabbion in Pula
Day by Day
We begin our tour in Trieste, a city that has for centuries been the natural gateway to Eastern Europe. Rich in Jewish history, Trieste is the biggest city and capitol of the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region. We meet at 1 pm in the lobby of our hotel for lunch and greetings, followed by a bike fitting and warm-up ride.
Today we leave Italy, cross through a small part of Slovenia, the medieval port of Koper (known for its Venetian architecture), and then enter Croatia. Our Croatian cycling experience starts with us riding near the sea and then reaches the nice coastal summer resort town of Umag - famous also for its Roman remnants and the Croatia Open ATP tennis tournament. Another highlight of the day includes cycling the bike path along the beautiful ancient salt pond of Sicciole.
Umag loop to Groznjan
Today we bike to Groznjan, a veritable magnet for Istrian artists and musicians. Many claim this village – atop a large hill – to be the most beautiful medieval town in Istria. The Mirna River flows below the hill, and across the river, are thick green forests, rich with white truffles. This mysterious forest makes many appearances in Croatian folklore as the home to monsters and giants. The finest Istrian white wines hail from vineyards in this area. Here we'll discover and savor the local Moscato in Kozlovic, visiting one of the leaders among Istrian wine makers.
Umag to Rovinj
Our ride today leaves the quiet and hilly mainland for the flat and warm shores of the “Istrian Riviera”. On our way we’ll visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Porec and its Byzantine Basilica. It is possible to stop at every bend of the road for a glimpse of the ocean as we cycle towards Rovinj. This Istrian village is a popular tourist resort due to its exceptionally agreeable climate, and its exuberant Mediterranean greenery will amaze your eyes! Our arrival into town will be quite unique and scenic as it will be by boat through the Limsky Kanal.
Loop around Rovinj
Today take note of the rich blues and greens of our surroundings, heading east and leaving the Venetian city of Rovinj. This city’s majestic bell tower is reminiscent of the famous San Marco Square in Venice and provides a coastal landmark. Cycling around Dvigrad (Two Castles) is worth it! Visit beautiful Bale, and “earn” lunch. Take advantage of the town center’s winding cobblestone lanes – they’re reserved for pedestrians only -- as we take a walking tour. Enjoy the afternoon here before returning to Rovinj. Another highlight of today's bike ride is discovering the village of Barat, the authentic and rural area of the Istrian Peninsula.
The Capital: Pula
Today we ride inland from Rovinj to Pula. In the morning we visit the well-preserved medieval village of Svetvinchenat which features the famous Grimaldi Castle, named after the Venetian family that bought it and renovated it in the 16th century. Pula is situated near the point of the peninsula, is the largest city in Istria, and is often considered the capital of the area. Pula is home to a large and elegant Roman amphitheater. A glorious 17th century Venetian castle provides another lovely attraction. Boasting some of the Adriatic’s finest beaches, Pula is replete with breathtaking, colorful views that you will never forget. As with all the Adriatic cities, Pula is home to some spectacular seafood restaurants. We will spend two nights in this unique and exciting coastal city.
The Brijuni Island National Park
Today we cycle back up the coast and catch a ferry to the Brijuni Islands, a hot spot for celebrity summer homes. Two large and twelve small islands comprise the Brijuni National Park and Marshal Tito’s museum. The largest island is home to a national park. Lush green forests and parks accentuate the clear water of the surrounding Adriatic Sea. Many exotic animals roam the national park, including herds of deer and wild peacocks. This evening we will return to Pula for our final dinner celebration.
At around 9am, after breakfast, we’ll provide a 2.5-hour transfer back to the train station in Trieste, Italy. Why not stay in Croatia? Spend a bit more time in Pula, take a flight to Dubrovnik, or explore the many gorgeous islands of the Adriatic Sea.
- Carbon bike rental equipped with Garmin Edge Touring GPS
- Informative tour leaders throughout the program
- Ciclismo jersey and water bottle
- Group shuttle at the end of the tour
On The Tour
- Van support
- Ferry ride to Brijuni National Park
- Guided walking tour of Pula
- 1 wine tasting
Accommodations & Meals
- All accommodations
- All breakfasts
- 2 lunches
- 6 dinners
Here’s a sampling of some of the amazing places you’ll stay on your journey.
For a full listing, request a detailed itinerary!
This elegant and sophisticated hotel is by the sea and is a perfect starting point for discovering the beauties of Umag and Istria. It's a peaceful place and was awarded the city’s best wellness center in Croatia in 2009.
View their website
This 5-star boutique luxury hotel in Rovinj succeeds in combining natural materials and comfort with elegant design, offering the modern traveller a sanctuary accommodation for relief and relaxation in Istria.
View their website
Offering first class service and luxurious accommodation, the Hotel Valsabbion makes an excellent choice for visitors to Pula. The recently created spa and wellness program offers a wide range of facilities and treatments.
View their website