The coastal roads are quiet so days out can be spent enjoying Porec – don’t miss the Basilica of the Euphrates, a UN World Heritage site. The mosaic work is incredible and every year sees more excavation. It is a lovely town to stroll around, drink a cold beer or a coffee looking out to sea.
Or visit Rovinj – 40 minutes away by car. The old town is full of twisting streets and if you make your way to the cathedral at the top there are fabulous views up and down the coast. You can choose to have lunch at one of the restaurants overlooking the sea or try out one of the charming older ones tucked away in the old town.
There are more frequent ferries to Venice from Rovinj than Pula; the journey takes around three hours and is designed for a day trip. If you stay at the hotel Adriatica, they will give you your breakfast in a bag to enjoy on the ferry, as you need to be on board by 6.30 am.
While on the west coast, try visiting the Lim canal. The restaurants there are good and you can take a boat up the gorge towards the open sea. There will probably be some stalls selling local produce, wine, olive oil, truffles and cheese, all of which you will find cheaper in the local markets.
You could hire bikes and try out the cycle paths – maps showing the routes are available. Or maybe horse riding? The stables at Babar Tone, about a 20-minute drive from the house, are open year round and you can join a trek or have an individual outing. They are very flexible about the riding you can enjoy. Children are well looked after, the prices are reasonable and most importantly the horses are really well cared for.
Inland you can visit the frescoes, Beram is the best known but there are many others to see. Or you could travel the Glagolitic way from Roc to Hum. Glagolitic script is an ancient Slavic script, created at the beginning of the ninth century and used until the early C19 when the Latin alphabet took over – Hum is the world’s smallest city.
Or if you are happy just to let the world go by, Cave Romana has lots of books and plenty of sunny corners to curl up and read in.
Istria was Italian until the end of the Second World War when the Allies gave it to Tito as part of the new Yugoslavia, in recognition of his help in defeating the Fascists. The Italian influence is everywhere and the standards of the restaurants and cafes are immaculate and good.
The local wine can be excellent – look out for Merlot, Malvazia and Teran. Last year we had a great day out at Vinarija Kozlovic near the Slovenian border at Momjan. You should book ahead if you want a tour of the operation; they lay on a tasting and sell directly – with a discount if you buy a case. We found it after having dinner at Lanterna – it’s the wine they recommend.
The House Book lists other restaurants we have tried and tested.
If you fly in to Pula, there are a wide range of car hire companies based at the airport. We have used Uniline regularly as we have found them helpful with a good range of vehicles. Driving is easy although there are more tolls to be paid on the new fast road up to Pazin, Trieste and Opatija.
Taxis are cheap and plentiful. Please note, Croatia has zero tolerance for drivers testing positive for alcohol so if you don’t want to have to pick a designated driver, you can arrange to be collected from the restaurants and bars.
Contact Bruno (email: firstname.lastname@example.org, tel: +385 522 17874) to book bicycles which will be delivered to the house. There are lots of cycle routes around us and it is possible to have a car-free holiday. Please note the last 100 meters to the house are up a steep hill!
The bus station is on the edge of Pula, with free parking close by. From here you can go all over Istria for a few kuna.
Pula Airport is 12 km from the house and is now really well served. We recommend on your incognito screen, checking with www.skyscanner for flights, but also checking directly with Ryanair which does not always come up there.
Car hire is now reasonable, and it might be worth booking through the airline so it is their responsibility if the flight is delayed. Wheels are recommended, and Josip our concierge does some cut price chauffering by arrangement. But you can have bikes delivered for your arrival which is great.Out of season we fly to Trieste in Italy and motor down on motorway,, about 2.5 hours.
Note that flights are much cheaper mid week, so we try to maintain a Tuesday crossover.
PULA AIRPORT is 12 km from the house and Ryanair flies in from the UK from April to September. For more flexibility visitors can use Trieste or Rijeka and visitors from mainland Europe find it an easy drive.