There are lots of things to see and do and many ways to spend your rest day or just a nice afternoon.
Slovenia and Croatia are famous for their beautiful unspoilt nature. They are leading countries in Europe by Natura 2000 protection areas. Most of the crags and the surrounding areas are perfect for walking in the nature and we have prepared the best of those relaxing walks just perfect for active recovery. They range from discovering Strunjan saltpans by the sea to geomorphological wonders of Vela Draga, waterfalls in Val Rosandra, vistas of the seaside and some scattered cultural heritage too. Accompanied by the stories of history of these places.
Karst is the type of terrain that's riddled with caves, sinkholes, collapsed caverns and such. And this region in Slovenia gave it its name! There are too many caves to list, but we can mention the magnificent world-famous Postojna cave, the beautiful Vilenica, the deep chasm of Grotta Gigante and last, but not least the huge and peculiar UNESCO protected Škocjan cave. At least one trip underground is a must if you're visiting this part of the world. Maybe you'll be able to meet the myterious human fish that looks like a baby dragon.
Where there's history, there are castles. Unlike churches, which stand on every hill, the castles are not so common, but the ones that remain, are all very special and unique. From lavish 19th century Miramare, built by Austrian Archduke, that includes huge park and over the top rooms; to earlier, Renaissance wonder of Predjama castle – the largest cave castle in the world and the home of the legend of rebellious knight. And we didn’t even mention the epic Pazin or Duino castle. Of course there are also stories and expositions.
Discover why Romans chose the Gulf of Trieste and the Istrian peninsula to build their ports. Pula is proud owner of one of the biggest Roman remains in the world and the only amfitheater with four side towers and all three Roman architectural orders. Aquilea in Italy was the most wealthy Roman city and is today under the protection of UNESCO. Another Italian town hides many Roman remains in its center – Trieste. Small town on Slovenian coast, Izola, is where Romans chose to build their maritime villa. Today you can visit archeological park here.
Tucked between the coast and hills of Istria lie many hidden charms. Hum, the smallest town on Earth and hometown of schnapps Biska. Mysterious church of Holy Trinity with even more mysterious fresco of The Dance of the Dead (Danse Macabre) in Hrastovlje. Črni kal with remains of a 11th century castle and its leaning tower and Podpeč with a watch tower from the time of Venetian Republic. There’s also Roč and many similar small villages with cobbled streets, in which times seems to have stopped.
Medieval hilltop towns
The rolling hills of Istria are famous for their atmosphere and rural appeal. The olive groves and vineyards are dominated by old fortified towns on hilltops. A town of truffels, Buzet lies on a hill above the longest Croatian river in Istria. Grožnjan is known as the cultural and artistic center of Istria. Enjoy a coffee in a local café with a view of surrounding vineyards where the best wine in region is produced, while a local painter sketches your portrait. Motovun, known to movie stars across the world as one of the best places to have a film festival lies just couple minutes drive from Grožnjan.
Charming coastal cities
From mainland we can quickly get to the coast where the cities are even more laid back. Get lost in narrow cobbled streets of Piran, one of the cutest cities on the beach which all turn back to their fishing roots outside the summer season. Take a romantic stroll along Opatija's coastal promenade, where 160 years ago kings and queens were walking hand in hand. Visit one of many art galleries on your way to the church of St. Evfemija in Rovinj. Find out why Vrsar is known as the most romantic city of Croatian Istria, so romantic that even famous womanizer Casanova came for a visit.
A region this large and interesting is sure to have many museums and although it’s better to spend our days outside, some quick informative tours may come as a nice break from all the activities. Or maybe you can learn something about this part of the world if we get a rare rainy day. There are interesting expositions about railways, ethnography, history, fishing and naval activities, aquariums, salt production, nature and architecture. Maybe we can visit some of the more unusual places, like underground tunnels of Pula, Karst exposition in Postojna or Childhood museum in Rijeka.
We didn’t forget about the smell and taste, too. We can kick back and enjoy one of the many luxuries of the slow, joie-de-vivre Mediterranean living, like having an espresso coffee in Trieste, hunt for truffles around Buzet, taste the wines, cheeses and cold cuts in one of many small wine cellars of Slovenia, search for the best olive oils in the world, get some ice cream on one of perfect secluded beaches or make a small picnic on the meadow in an orchard. The big cities can offer some fun too. From karting to bowling, from long ziplines to bustling markets and piers. And, last but not least, the vibrant nightlife with parties and concerts.