The Istrian peninsula may be small, but it’s packed full of beautiful coastal towns, such as Pula, Rovinj and Porec, child friendly beaches with clear, blue water and campsites for the perfect holiday. Behind the beaches, you’ll find a hilly, woody interior famous for its wine, olive oil, ham and truffles.
Once under Italian rule, Istria has a legacy left by the Romans with many well-preserved historical attractions. In high summer, Istria is synonymous with festivals of all kinds and attracts one-third of Croatia’s tourists. This means that it’s a fantastic place to holiday with the family – there’s plenty to do and masses to keep everyone entertained.
Pula is the main airport for the region and is home to one of the world’s best surviving Roman amphitheatres – still used for concerts and film festivals nearly 2000 years after it was built. While you’re in the town, take a trip to the Aquarium Pula, which sits inside an old Austro-Hungarian fortress and showcases fish and plant life from the Adriatic Sea.
Many of Istria’s beaches are pebble and rock, but still have shallow waters perfect for little ones and caves ripe for exploring. 10km south of Pula you’ll find a lovely sandy beach – Bijeca. Or take a trip to the Brijuni Islands – a 30-minute ferry journey from the fishing port of Fazana. Here you’ll find plenty of places to swim, remnants of a Roman villa and a small safari park.
There’s some beautiful countryside in Istria and one of the nicest ways to explore it is on horseback. Valley of Horses riding school offers several rides to choose from, including 10-minute pony rides for children priced at only 5 euros. Active families will enjoy the treetop obstacle course at Glavani Park. There are three courses, catering to different ages and confidence levels, so there’s something for young children as well as the rest of the family.
Istria is blessed with wonderfully clear skies and Višnjan Observatory offers Astro Nights on Thursday evenings, which combine engaging lectures with the chance to gaze into the night sky through the observatory’s telescope. Or take a trip to Dinopark – a theme park centred around an impressive collection of animatronic dinosaurs. There’s also a circus with acrobats and funfair rides.
Ryanair, Jet2 and Thomson Airways offer direct flights to Pula. Once in Istria the region has a good bus service along the coast and several motorways if you prefer to hire a car. Regional roads have also been upgraded over the last few years.
Family friendly campsites