Dotted with quaint, unspoiled hilltop villages and underdeveloped spots on the coast, Istria perfectly suits the visitor happy to wander with no major sight or activity in mind. Each day may be bookended by renowned regional gastronomy, as well as an Italian heritage, these rural communities share a love of fine cuisine.
A lovely fishing village within easy reach of Pula, Fažana is the jumping-off point for boats to the unique national park of Brijuni. Often overlooked for this reason, this favoured retreat of Roman aristocracy contains enough traditional taverns and seaside fun to keep the visitor happily occupied for a couple of days, relieved of any major sightseeing duties.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
Raša is a curio, a historical anomaly, and a treat for fans of pre-war Italian architecture. Originally a mining community where striking workers protested against their Italian overlords in 1921, Raša was chosen by Mussolini as a model of 1930s urban planning. Il Duce had architect Gustavo Pulitzer-Finali create a functionalist new town of arcades and symbolic buildings. Even the church was fashioned in the shaped of an upturned coal wagon. Today Raša lies almost empty, the mines long closed and Mussolini long gone. You’ll find it four kilometres (2.5 miles) west of Labin on Istria’s east coast.
Known as ‘The Town of Artists’, Grožnjan was revived by the local cultural community from the 1970s onwards. Galleries and boutiques gradually opened and the community, the only one in Istria with an ethnic Italian majority, began to thrive. Today, with its summer jazz festival, Grožnjan is a busy village of some 700 inhabitants, with a significant influx of weekend visitors from over the border in Italy.
At the centre of the Istrian peninsula, Žminj sits at the crossroads of the main roads to both coasts and into the interior, making it a handy place to base yourself. It’s also an attractive destination in its own right, with a number of historic churches decorated with bright frescoes. Hiking, cycling and agrotourism typify its tourist offering.
Close to Croatia’s border with Slovenia, Buzet is more than just an administrative centre – although its supermarkets and petrol stations prove invaluable during any rural stay. Comprising a historic hilltop settlement of narrow cobbled streets and modern-day community below, Buzet springs to life during the truffle season from mid-September onwards.
Capital of Istria, Pazin is best known for its castle, used by Jules Verne for his adventure story Mathias Sandorf. Although the French writer never visited Pazin, relying on local contacts to send him information, the town is happy to trade on the connection. Pazin Castle remains a dramatic sight, back-dropped by a gorge and housing the Istrian Ethnographic Museum. The town even has that wonderful rarity for Istria, a railway station, although the bus service is more frequent and convenient.
Even Croatia has few settings as dramatic as the Limski kanal. A deep estuary 10 kilometres (six miles) long that cuts into the west coast of Istria just north of Rovinj, the Limski kanal resembles a Norwegian fjord. British cinematographer Jack Cardiff chose to film his Viking drama The Long Ships here in 1964. Today tourist boats, booked in Rovinj, glide along its green waters and locals sell fresh oysters, for which Limski is also famous, near the shore.
Overlooking the truffle-rich forest of the same name, Motovun hosts Croatia’s best-loved film festival – part Glastonbury, part Sundance – but is equally revered for the views it offers from its Venetian fortifications. Since being revived by the local artistic community, the town has seen a steady opening of studios, boutiques and galleries, a thriving trade reflected in the number of local cafés and restaurants.
Višnjan is a typically hilltopped Istrian village of a few hundred souls whose attractions would be extremely modest were it not for its renowned observatory. More than 100 minor planets, two comets and 1,400-plus asteroids have been discovered here. On Saturday evenings from May to September, the public can take part in Astro Nights, two hours of observations, children’s workshops and a tour. Explanations in English are provided.
A waterside retreat without the crowds of nearby Rovinj or Poreč, Vrsar is today best known for the sprawling sculpture park that lies just outside it. It’s also handy for boat cruises along the nearby Limski kanal. Croatia’s first nudist colony still operates here, set up when they were considered quite risqué.
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Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.