Because when I hear Istria, I think of rolling hills, picturesque villages, but most of all olive oil, wine and truffles, I had to collaborate with my kids on this post. My kids inform me the best of Istria for kids should include more than that. Like the beach. So, here is our attempt at providing a fun time in one of the prettiest regions in Croatia for the whole family.
Let’s get some facts straight
We are in the car, driving down some road after we crossed the border and entered Croatia. I lean towards the windshield and squeal with joy at the sights I see. Like a small kid, you are wondering? No, my kids don’t that. I do it.
I can’t reign in my enthusiasm as I spot the town of Motovun straight ahead and the sun gently caressing it on its way down. And I say: “Isn’t Istria beautiful!” Then turn around to see if my words had any effect on the kids.
Yes. But the look on their faces is one of utter confusion. “Istria? What is Istria.”
“This is Istria.”
“Isn’t this Croatia?”
Face palm. I have brought this upon myself, but now I go into professor mode and explain. “Istria is the largest peninsula in the beautiful Adriatic Sea. It is actually divided between three countries – Slovenia, Croatia and Italy. But largest part belongs to Croatia. It is full of beautiful towns like this one in front of us Motovun, places like we’ll visit tomorrow such as Višnjan, Hum, Rovinj, Poreč, Buzet, Lim bay…”
A moment of quiet. Just when I think they’ve got it.
“Aren’t we going to the beach? You said we are going to the beach.”
“Yes, well there are beautiful beaches in Istria too. And we’ll see it all.”
best places in istria for kids
When the weekend was over I asked my kids to rate their favorite places and tell me what they liked about Istria and what would they tell their friends. Here is what I got.
The pool at Lone hotel
We all have nothing but words of praise for the lovely Lone hotel in the you-will-fall-in-love-with-this-town-the-second-you-see-it Rovinj. The hotel is perfectly located to allow you the chance to explore the whole region. Everything is just a short ride away, while Rovinj is within the walking distance.
But as you can see, it will also be hard to beat when it comes to your kids favorite places – or yours in Istria. I am in perfect agreement with my kids here.
Still, it’s worth making an effort and leaving the hotel to see what is beyond its lovely walls.
We are talking about the amazing beach right smack in front of Lone hotel. Though knowing my kids any beach goes and Istria has plenty of them.
Just give the kids time to throw the stones into the sea, maybe waddle in the shallows if the weather permits and they are happy.
At number three is food of course. My kids aren’t really picky eaters, but there are somethings they like more than others. Pasta is one of their favorites.
We found this lovely restaurant in Višnjan called Borgonja. The kids were in 7th Heaven once they got their food. We ordered a type of pasta famous in this region called fusi. You can have it with many things – even truffles this region is also known for. The kids had it with veal goulash and it was delicious. Even the two of us couldn’t resist helping.
What makes this place extra special is a lovely garden and courtyard outside. The kids loved the chickens and geese that were running around, right next to a pair of swings.
Observatory in Višnjan
My husband was always interested in Space and many times we talked about visiting an observatory. In the small town of Višnjan our wish finally came true. Or to be precise a few kilometers away from Višnjan.
We had a chance and a great pleasure to tour the observatory, learn about the work they do there and gaze at the almost full moon. You can visit them on Saturdays from May to September from eight in the evening. They also organize really interesting workshops for kids of all ages as well as adults. Find more on their website.
No matter how spectacular the observatory was, my girls chose this as number four because of the once in the life time experience of holding a falling star in their hands.
Talk about a reality check – they look so romantic cutting through the night sky, but for real they could easily be mistaken for a scrap of old iron.
Amphitheater in Pula
I love history hence and I get so excited with all the historical sights. And then I want to excite the kids, but I think I sound slightly unhinged as I recite the facts and I always say something they don’t understand. Then I have to spend another fifteen minutes explaining that.
My husband has better luck at making history sound as fun as I think it is. At the centuries old Roman Amphitetheater in Pula he made them try and fight like the gladiators, then he asked them to pretend they are the emperors and with the move of the thumb they getto decide who lives and who dies…
No wonder they loved the visit.
Right next to the amphitheater is a small playground in the local park. The kids took a break from learning about the Romans and just had fun.
We love Poreč. It is one of our favorite day trips, which always includes a walk down the path squeezed between the tall pine trees on one side and the rocks and sea on the other. After stopping to play at the beach we continue to the huge playground just a few minutes away.
The smallest town in the world Hum
What’s not to like. It’s the smallest town in the whole world. Period.
The girls visited Lim bay, a 10 kilometer long estuary with my parents. They loved it because they got to eat fusi at the restaurant in the bay.
And they probably had the chance to throw stones in the sea – so that helped too.
It’s a beautiful town, especially if you have a chance to see it at sunset. Just walking the cobbled streets of the old part and chasing around the old buildings and small squares was enough for Rovinj to make the list of top places in Istria for kids. Walking while eating ice cream makes it even better.
My older daughter visited this cool – her words – water park with my brother and she has nothing but words of praise for it. And my brother who took her there. We plan on visiting the pools with slides on the first chance we get.