The Kvarner region is home to the most unspoilt, lush islands on the Adriatic Sea. The region offers sea lovers a treat with rich diving where you might come face-to-face with a dolphin. Land lovers (never fear) you’ll find hiking and cycling trails that meander across islands for hundreds of kilometres.
Kvarner’s four main islands; Krk, Cres, Losinj and Rab were once outposts of both Roman and Venetian rule and lovers of architecture won’t be disappointed. The medieval towns of Cres Town, Rab Town and Krk Town come complete with ancient palaces, fortresses and bell towers, perfect for exploring.
It’s fair to say that with Kvarner’s proximity to Zagreb and bustling ferry and catamaran services out of Rijeka linking the islands, these towns draw the tourist numbers. That said you can sometimes find yourself on a secluded beach cove like those at Lubenice and Valun or medieval village Osor and feel like you have the place all to yourself.
Smaller islands in the Bay of Kvarner like sandy Susak cater to those wanting to get away from the world. And yes, unlike the other beaches that boost sand, Susak really is sandy! Fine, powdery sand.
You can get to Susak by ferry service from the spectacular Mali Losinj with those pastel coloured harbor terraces or neighbour Veli Losinj. If you’re looking at give up some of your time in honour of a worthy cause try the Blue World Institute at Veli Losinj. Blue World work to protect the Kvarner Dolphin and Sea Turtle population. If you can’t spare the time – adopt a dolphin.
Want to party into the night? This is the region to do it. Every town has its own festival or carnival, including the Rijeka Carnival which is the biggest in the country.
Rijeka – the capital of the region – boosts some of the best Austro-Hungarian architecture in the country with a stroll down the buzzing Korzo a must. From here you can take the stairs up to Trsat Castle-Fortress. And take your time with a day trip to Ucka Nature Park.
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To get your fix of luxury and all things Austro-Hungarian Empire it’s a short drive to the ‘Queen of the Adriatic’ – Opatija.
Famed as a climatic resort town when the first Austro-Hungarian royalty started arriving here to heal their weary bones. Those former pastel-coloured palaces and villas are now 5-star hotels scrubbed and maintained to their former glory.
You can enjoy the Belle Époque architecture of the villas and guesthouses. In addition, monuments like Opatija’s The Girl with the Seagull, and memorial plaques all help to tell the illustrious story.
Whilst strolling, enjoy the shade offered by palms, fragrant laurel and evergreen oaks. Above all take advantage of the many seaside benches to stop and take it all in.
You can always trust a Croatian folk song. So to take a line from an Istrian folk song, ‘a lipo je u Istriji bit’ – it’s beautiful to be in Istria.
In this heart shaped peninsula, where continental Croatia meets the Adriatic, visitors will find some of the world’s best pieces of Roman architecture. Moreover, the red earth produces some of the finest olives and white truffles in the world.
The first thing you’ll probably notice are the bilingual street signs in Croatian and Italian language. Once an outpost of the Roman Empire, fast forward to the end of WWI when the Austro-Hungarian Empire fell and the Italians moved in to take over the region.
Thousands of Italians arrived and thousands of Croats left because authorities banned Croatian speech and cultural activities. Italy held on until WWII, when the region became Yugoslavian property. Hence, as an ode to the former ownership, Croatia has authorised the bilingual street signs.
Blue Istria covers the Adriatic coastal towns and cities. On the tip of the peninsula, you’ll find the region’s largest city, Pula, with the Roman Amphitheater, known as ‘the Arena’ by locals, along with the Triumphal Arch of Sergius and the Forum.
For water lovers, there are hundreds of beaches scattered along the coast with quiet coves perfect for anchoring a boat while you explore land. Nature lovers should give Kamenjak a try with its hiking trails and diving spots.
Green Istria in my opinion is what makes Istria so special. The green hinterland of the region is spectacular. The Mirna and Rasa rivers flow through the rolling, green valleys making the perfect escape from the hordes of tourists crowding the coast.
The fortified interior towns of Motovun and Hum are must-see attractions, while the Pazin Chasm will keep everyone’s adventurous spirit satisfied. And those creepy contents of the Church of Saint Blaise at Vodnjan are bound to get lovers of the macabre excited.
The region is known for being the culinary capital of the country and along the coast you’ll find spectacular seafood dishes.
In the interior it’s all about the earth. Some of the world’s best white truffles are in Buzet. The tuber is shaved onto everything from pastas, pizzas and even used to make truffle cheese. In addition, enjoy the delicious olive oils, the asparagus and marinated Istrian olives. Above all, don’t miss the spectacular white wine, Malvasija.
Whatever your interest, Istria offers a mix of Roman archaeology, jewel-colored waters, hilltop towns and hamlets perfect for exploring. And after all that exploring who wouldn’t like a truffle pasta with the chilled glass of Istrian Malvasija?
Cheers and let’s live!
The best time to visit Kvarner and Istria is when the weather is best, which is between April and September.
Like Dalmatia, the high season typically starts between mid-June to the end of August.
Keep in mind that high season means accommodation prices are at their peak.
Because of it’s proximity to Italy, you will have to deal with thousands of Italians that descend on the region in August for the Italian annual summer vacation period, known as Ferragosto.
In September and probably most of October, the weather is still warm but without the heat and humidity of July and August.
These shoulder season months are a great time to visit because they are also a lot quieter.
While accommodation prices fluctuate, costs for transportation generally remains stable despite the tourist crowds.
The great thing about visiting in April through to the end of June and from September to October is that off-season accommodation prices are available even if the weather is warm.
Pula can be visited during winter, but accommodation options can be scare. Opatija on the other hand, because of its mild climate can be visited year round.
January 1st: New Year’s Day
January 6th: Feast of the Epiphany
May 1st: Labour Day
June 4th: Feast of Corpus Christi
June 22nd: Anti-Fascist Resistance Day
June 25: Statehood Day
August 5th: Victory & Homeland Thanksgiving Day
August 15th: Feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary
October 8th: Independence Day
November 1st: All Saints’ Day
December 25th: Christmas Day
December 26th: St. Stephen’s Day
Prices often fluctuate dynamically depending on capacity, seasonality and deals. We donât want to lead you astray by quoting exact prices that quickly become wrong. To give you a rough idea for budgetary planning purposes, though, we have indicated general price ranges for all points of interest.
Price ranges are quoted in €.
See & Do
N/A => Not applicable
€ => Tickets less than €15 per person
€€ => Tickets €15- €30 per person
€€€ => Tickets €30 per person
Sleep — Out of town/rural
€ => Rooms less than €60 for a double
€€ => Rooms €60 – €100 for a double
€€€ => Rooms €100 for a double
Sleep — Large Cities
€ => Rooms less than €100 for a double
€€ => Rooms €100 – €150 for a double
€€€ => Rooms €150 for a double
€=> €5- €10 per person for a meal (without alcohol, tax, tip)
€€ => €10 – €25 per person for a meal (without alcohol, tax, tip)
€€€ => €25 per person for a meal (without alcohol, tax, tip)
N/A => Not applicable
€ => Tickets less than €25 per person
€€ => Tickets €25 – €50 per person
€€€ => Tickets €50 per person
Getting around Kvarner and Istria is relatively easy.
You can fly in and out of Istria via the main airport at Pula.
Kvarner offers a main airport at Rijeka and also has two airfields – one on the island of Losinj, the other at Grobnik, in Rijeka’s hinterland.
There are coach services available from the airport taking you to the city, and usually there is no need to wait as coaches are timed with the arrival of aircraft.
Once in Istria or Kvarner, getting you around the coast and interior are coach buses.
Try to book ahead and keep in mind that to get to the smaller into towns you will need to take an all stops service, which will take longer.
Apart from the ticket, you will need to pay for stowing your luggage in the hold. Usually the cost is about 2USD per piece.
If you’ll be traveling back in the same direction, buy a return ticket as the price is usually only slightly higher than a one way ticket.
While most towns in Istria and Kvarner are easily walk-able, you might need to take a local bus to get around Pula or Rijeka, especially to get to the beaches.
In Pula, you’ll find the main bus stop outside the Triumphal Arch of Sergius or in front of the green grocers market. Rijeka’s is at the Korzo with buses running through the city centre (Zone 1) and suburban routes (Zone 2, 3 and 4).
Bus tickets can be purchased at kiosks or on board. A single bus ticket is valid for two bus rides.
The ticket is validated using an automated machine upon entering the bus.
If you don’t know where to get off, ask the driver. Most speak English, or you can try your best Croatian.
A one way ticket will set you back about 3USD.
Croatia’s largest ferry service company is Jadrolinja.
Ferries will take you around the Kvarner islands from Rijeka and Pula. From Pula or Rovinj, you can also get a ferry to Venice and other Italian ports on it’s Eastern side.
Buy tickets at Jadrolinja offices, as you can not purchase a ticket on board.
For catamaran services try Krilo, which offers a great service that stops at Rijeka-Cres-Martinscica-Unije-Susak-Ilovik-Mali Losinj.
In high season, the cues at these offices can be extremely long. Even if you book your ticket online, you still need to pick it up at the office, so leave plenty of time.
Pick up a timetable at a tourist office.
In winter, ferry services are minimal.