The heart-shaped peninsula Istria has been known for centuries as Terra Magica. The peninsula belonged to Italy until WW2 but the atmosphere here is neither Italian nor purely Croatian. Istria has its own uniquely Istrian vibes and diversity. The coastline is rocky in the east and flatter in the west. The trio of extraordinary towns Vrsar, Poreč and Rovinj are stunning romantic getaways. The national park Brijuni consisting of 14 islets with its lush and wild sceneries will probably be a highlight of your trip. Istrian cuisine is enriched with the best olives and truffles. You get a perfect Istrian holiday combining sailing with sightseeing and gourmet pleasures.  

Why Istria? 

Istria has many remarkable specifics. It is home to the most preserved amphitheatre in the world. Not many people know that there is another lean tower (Završje) or that the smallest town on Earth is located right in Istria. Guess which region has been awarded the Best Olive Region in the world. James Joyce´s eloquent English was used in Pula, where he worked as an English teacher. 

Croatia, Istria, city of Pula, panoramic view of ancient Roman arena, historic amphitheater and old town center from drone
Croatia, Istria, city of Pula

The sailing in the area of Istria is relatively easy with no big surprises. Istria is very popular among German and Austrian sailors and the quality of services and sailing infrastructure has risen considerably to meet the expectations. The wind is perfect for steady sailing with a friendly Mistral blowing with force from 2-4 Bft. The western Istrian coastline is sometimes nicknamed the Blue Coast because of the colour of the sea washing the shores.

Savudrija lighthouse and turquoise crystal clear rocky beach aerial view, westernmost point of Croatia
Savudrija lighthouse

In this itinerary, you will sail from Pula to the west and north. Choosing a marina in Pula as the starting point for your weekly sailing trip is a great strategic idea. Either you can set sail to northern Dalmatia to Kvarner islands or you can sail west from Pula. The second option is the route we will present for you - an easy sailing trip along the western coastline of the Istrian peninsula. The route is ideal for those looking forward to not “just” sailing but exploring too. Kids will be excited to ride a bicycle around the Brijuni island while observing zebras, elephants and other exotic species. You can stumble over pieces of history dating back to the era of dinosaurs. History fans are guaranteed to have the time of their lives this week. We recommend a visit to ancient Pula to all kinds of crews. No one should resist the temptation to see the impressive Roman amphitheatre. From Pula, you will continue in the footsteps of the Romans and brave sailors. Last but not least, a sailing week without a gastronomic tasting of excellent Istrian cuisine and wine would not be complete.

When to go for a sailing trip

It is common to start the sailing season already during the Eastern. The calm months (considering the inflow of tourists visiting Croatia) are September and October. Summer is the peak season everywhere in the Mediterranean, but surprisingly late August may be less crowded because many sailors opt for southern regions.  

Sailing conditions

Out of the peak season, Bora, the strong and cold NE wind coming from mountains can be a threat due to its force. In the winter, Bora can last even days with gusts reaching 40-60 knots. In the summer, however, the Bora is quite rare. 

The western part of Istria is ideal for crews with kids and beginners because the ports lie almost next to each other and it's easy to adjust the plan on the go. There are several ACI marinas on the route. 

Suggested sailing itinerary for 7 days

This itinerary covers the Western part of Istria encompassing the “capital” of Istria - Pula, photogenic Rovinj, cosy towns Novigrad, Poreč and Umag, the area of Brijuni Park and other memorable anchorages.  

boat

Dufour 350 | Valencia

4 Poor  |  1 Review
Istria, ACI Marina Pomer
from 77 € /day
boat

Bavaria 30 Cruiser | La Luna

9 Excellent  |  2 Reviews
Istria, Marina Vrsar
from 80 € /day
boat

Jeanneau Cap Camarat 5.5 | WA S2

9.1 Excellent  |  9 Reviews
Istria, Marina Medulin
from 85 € /day

You can also find inspiration in our previous itineraries from Pula and North Dalmatia or from Vrsar for the Eastern holiday.

With this sailing itinerary, you can add approximately 100 - 120 nautical miles (nm) to your logbook.

  1. day (Saturday): Check-in in a marina in Pula - Marina Polesana or ACI Marina Veruda
  2. day (Sunday): Pula - Vrsar/Poreč (22-26 nm)
  3. day (Monday): Poreč - Umag (16 nm)  
  4. day (Tuesday): Umag - Novigrad -  Rovinj (22 nm)             
  5. day (Wednesday): Rovinj - Brijuni (14 nm)
  6. day (Thursday): Brijuni - Uvala Paltana or Uvala Burle (10 - 17 nm)
  7. day (Friday): Paltana/Burle - Pula (7 - 16 nm)

You can find the route on Google Maps on this link.

sailing itinerary of Pula map

Day 1 (Saturday) - Pula

Pula has been a strategic point for sailors and merchandisers for centuries. The place was familiar to everyone in Roman, medieval, Venetian, Italian, French, and Habsburg times. Traces of every historical period are visible in the city. The most striking feature of this town is the amphitheatre called Arena resembling the Roman Colosseum. Not only is it the world's sixth-largest amphitheatre, but it is also the best preserved of all the existing ones. Today the place serves as a venue for cultural events and especially at night the Arena creates a mesmerizing blend of unique location, port and a spectacular view of the illuminated historical monument.

Amphitheater in Pula, aerial view, Pula, Croatia
Amphitheater in Pula

If you take your sailing boat from the ACI marina, you have all the essential sights to jump out of the pier. The only drawback is the occasional loudness. From the Marina Veruda, you will have to get downtown by taxi. Marina Polesana is a new marina with the highest asset in play - clean amenities. Construction is still ongoing on some parts. 

Marina Polesan aerial view
Marina Polesana

Although the best option to see the city is walking through the alleys, Pula offers a unique opportunity to walk in a pleasant shade underground. The Zerostrasse underground tunnel network will lead you to an elevator that will take you to the fortress. The four long corridors are well-marked. Other points of interest in the city centre are the remains of the ramparts, such as the Triumphal Arch of the Sergievs and Hercules’ Gate.

A humid tunnel with lights turned on connected to the Zerostrasse under the Pula Castle Kastel
Zerostrasse under the Pula Castle Kastel

A hungry crew will surely enjoy a culinary experience in the Veritas Food&Wine restaurant or in Bistro Alighieri. Close to the Veruda Marina, the cosy little venue Villa Margerita is another excellent choice. Don't forget to accompany good food with Malvasia wine - a symbol of Istria.

Day 2 (Sunday): Pula - Vrsar/Poreč (26 nm)

Vrsar and Poreč are like siblings and both coastal towns are worth visiting. Poreč is more energetic and Vrsar rather calm, but their town centres share a similar cuteness enhanced by small cobble-stoned alleys. Porec is lively with more waterfront restaurants and bars. 

What to do and see

On your way to Poreč or Vrsar, you can anchor at several excellent swimming spots. Before reaching Rovinj you can stop close to the two islets Otocic Velika Sestrica. The bottom is sandy and the water is crystal clear. This anchorage is protected only from the south, so in windy weather, the stay will not be a pleasure. In no wind, it's a perfect place to simply dive in the water.

Another option is Uvala Križ - a busy large bay with transparent blue waters calling you to jump in and swim. The bay lies at the entrance to the famous Croatian fjord - Lim or Limski channel, just below Vrsar town. Feel free to enter the narrow channel and enjoy the beautiful scenery on the lush hills. 

The advantage of opting for Vrsar for today's final destination is the view from the hilltop. Unlike in other towns, the city was first built on the hill and just then the port emerged. From the main square and the ancient Church of Saint Anthony you can see Poreč and even Rovinj in nice weather. 

Panoramic drone picture of the Croatian harbor town of Vrsar on the Limski Fjord from the church bell tower during daytime
View on Vrsar and the Limski Fjord

The town centre of Poreč lies on a tiny peninsula and is covered with winding streets, historical buildings and monuments, and of course, restaurants. Foodies in your crew will adore Poreč. There are several taverns with top-class dishes and courses with truffles. For those very keen on these unique fungi one activity sticks out - organized truffle hunting. 

Fantastic white truffles of the Langhe Piedmont Italy, on a typical blue cloth
Explore the charming town of Poreč, known for its historical streets and delightful restaurants. Food lovers will be thrilled with the local truffle dishes, a true speciality of the area.

When in Poreč, the view from the UNESCO-listed basilica is unmissable. The Euphrasian basilica reveals most of its beauty at sunset. Inside you find intriguing frescoes and mosaics.

Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption of Mary is a Roman Catholic basilica in the Istrian town of Poreč, Croatia
A fish mosaic from the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption of Mary in Poreč, Croatia. Even centuries ago, they knew that food presentation was everything.

Before strolling to the basilica you can pay a visit to a small Aquarium Poreč situated downtown. It's a nice place to visit with children, they will surely be excited to marvel at a crocodile or chameleon. 

Capture the essence of Poreč, Croatia, with this stunning sunrise photograph. Focused on the Church of Poreč, the image offers a neutral and captivating perspective.
Poreč old town

Where to stay?

The marina in Poreč is small, cosy and clean, run by friendly staff. Features that most of the sailors search. The closeness to the centre makes this marina popular so book the berth by call. The only drawback is the limited space for manoeuvring when mooring. For fresh seafood and the best truffles go to Konoba Abe. We recommend making a reservation in advance. Dining options in Poreč are of good quality and density, finding the right place will be easy.

Day 3 - Poreč - Červat Porat - Umag (16 nm)

Umag is a lively port town and recreational resort with gorgeous beaches in the neighbourhood. Before setting up the course in that direction, stop by Červat Porat to immerse in clear waters.

What to see?

Today will be about beach hunting and beach fun. The very first stop after leaving Poreč is Červat Porat, a small seaside town with a long stretch of beach with crystal clear sea water and pine trees providing shade. If you don't have enough and the weather is not too windy, drop anchor at Uvala Lovrečica, just three miles from Umag. You can throw the anchor to 5 meters depth on the sandy bottom. The local fast-food bar Happy Food with big tasty burgers and hot dogs will make your crew more than happy. 

When swimming time is over, head to Umag. The town offers something for fun-seekers as well as for history enthusiasts. The enchanting old centre is full of typical cobblestone alleys with decorated balconies, little squares with welcoming cafés and ancient buildings hiding shops with antiquities. From time to time you can see remnants of the old castle wall. Umag is a sports centre as well - if you are a tennis aficionado, you can choose from more than 60 tennis courts.

Umag. Aerial view of historic landmarks in town of Umag, Istria region of Croatia
Umag

Where to stay?

When stopping in the area of Červat Porat, anchor at the beginning of the bay at the anchorage referred to as Schaukel. Watch out for the relatively steep bottom and stay closer to the shore. The place is quiet with a pebble beach ashore.

ACI Marina Umag is a good idea to choose your overnight berth. The attentive staff helps you with mooring and the overall atmosphere is pleasant. The distance to sanitary is pretty long since the marina is considerably vast and scattered. You can get to the city center by bus stopping 200 meters from the marina. 

Another option is to moor at the town quay opposite of the ACI marina across the bay and right in front of the square Trg Slobode. You will be at the heart of the town with all the pluses and minuses (e.g. loud music) that come with this choice. Dinner at the family-run restaurant Konoba Kaleta will give you an excellent mouthwatering experience. 

Day 4 - Umag - Novigrad - Rovinj

Pearl of the Adriatic. That’s not a movie name, but a description referring to the charming town of Rovinj with a vibrant history. Before admiring the pearl, have a lunch break at one of the bays facing the fishing town Novigrad.

What to see?

Anchorage in front of the Karpinjan beach is a pleasant lunch break spot with a nice city view of the delightful town of Novigrad. You can grab a buoy and enjoy having fun in the water. The fee is usually collected in the evening, so chances are that you won’t have to pay at all for a short break. The bay is protected from all directions, however, the occasional swell can be annoying. Novigrad is worth visiting too. The town maintains its romantic charm of an old fishing village. The beauty of Novigrad is made up of a well-decorated historic centre surrounded by preserved city walls. 

Turquoise stone beach in Rovinj aerial view, pine trees archipelago
Turquoise stone beach in Rovinj

Carrying on with the romantic vibes you will sail south to Rovinj. Rovinj is one of the most iconic attractions of Croatia. The colourful houses lined up next to each other on a small islet with a church on the hilltop will serve you as a guide when approaching the marina. The picturesque historical town is best to be explored while getting lost in its narrow cobbled walkways. Walk up to the Euphemia church tower and let your feet lead you in this captivating maze full of stone stairs, nooks and alleys. For the sporty ones - climb the 189 wooden stairs and marvel at the breathtaking 360-degree view on terracotta roofs, turquoise Adriatic sea and green cypress trees.

Rovinj old town aerial panoramic view, tourist destination in Istria region of Croatia
Rovinj old town

Rovinj is generally pretty touristic. For a whole week in the middle of June, it gets dancy too - there is a world’s famous Latin dance festival luring in international dancers from all corners.

Where to stay?

The most comfortable option for an overnight stay is ACI Marina Rovinj, lying 1 kilometre from the downtown. The town quay is usually fully occupied and is not well-protected from waves. The approach to ACI marina is easy, the staff is helpful, amenities are clean. That comes with a higher price tag too, even when compared to other ACI marines. Since you will not have a view of the enchanting old town, spend as much time as possible downtown. Combine the visit with culinary experience. Those craving Michelin quality can make a reservation in the first Croatian restaurant awarded with a Michelin star - Monte. Alongside a cozy street named Trevisol, you can choose Mali raj and Buffet Trevisol. 

Modern and luxury Grand Park Hotel and ACI Marina in Rovinj - Rovigno, low drone shot, Istria, Croatia
ACI Marina in Rovinj

Tip: There are several nice marinas between Vrsar and Umag. Directly in Novigrad is the marina Nautica situated directly in the old port. Parentium and Funtana are other marinas a few miles south of Novigrad. 

Day 5 - Rovinj - Brijuni

Go for an early morning walk to the downtown to buy some fresh local groceries at the market. After the first half of the week visiting mainly towns and villages, it will be good to explore some peace of nature for a change. The unique national park Brijuni is spread across several islands, making Veli and Mali Brijuni stick out. 

Top aerial view of small desert fish shaped island Gaz in Brijuni islands, Croatia.
Island Gaz in Brijuni islands

What to see?

We recommend getting a berth on the Veli Brijuni island with several stunning attractions. The Veli Brijuni offers a perfect mix of nice nature, historical parts and wildlife. Together with a berth you receive entrance tickets to the national park that are valid until 2 pm. The best way to get to know this beautiful island is by bike. Just follow well-marked paths and take a leisurely bike ride around the island. You will be surrounded by lush vegetation and pristine nature. 

Aerial view of Brijuni islands, Croatia
Aerial view of Brijuni islands, Croatia

The biggest highlight is the Safari Park, home to zebras, monkeys, alpacas, elephants and other exotic species. During the leisurely bike tour, you can set foot upon ancient ruins from the Roman and Byzantine eras. The cycling loop leads through parks, forests, war bunkers, dinosaur footprints or Tito’s old residence. The park used to be a summer getaway for the ex-Yugoslavian president Tito and was closed to the public until the 80s. Today the park is largely visited during the season by hordes of tourists coming there for a few hours by tourist boats leaving the same day. When you sleep on this island, you will have a chance to observe a wonderful sunset. The visit to the national park will create an everlasting memory.

zebra in the shade of a tree in the zoo pastures in the Brijuni islands in Croatia
Safari Park in Brijuni

Where to stay?

The Port Veli Brijuni located in front of the Hotel Neptun is the best and most reasonable option for an overnight stay. It is forbidden to drop anchors elsewhere once you are in a national park. For the check-in and check-out use the reception at the hotel. 

The price for a berth is high and don’t expect to get any upgrade services in return. On the other hand, the small marina is a convenient starting point for your island adventure, tickets to the national park are included and you can get some discount for bike rental. Your berth can be too far away from the power so you will end up relying on your own battery. 

There are no shops around to purchase groceries and the supply of restaurants on the island is low. This is a place where you come to admire nature and not to search for culinary pleasures. 

Day 6 - Brijuni - Uvala Paltana/Uvala Burle 

You have time until 14:00 to explore the island’s fauna and flora. There are several cycling loops to choose from, so today you will have enough time to visit all the planned sights. After the bike tour, head further south towards Medulin. 

The bay Burle lies in front of the Medulin town and provides a good shelter during most of wind’s types except from the very west. The town itself has little to offer but those keen on walking can take a dinghy to the Vižula peninsula. Here you can stroll to an archaeological site with Roman fort remains. 

Another option is a bay closer to Pula - Uvala Paltana situated right opposite of the town Banjole. The anchorage is very well-sheltered, with a good bottom holding your anchor firmly and there are no swells. You can find a couple of restaurants ashore to choose from. Our secret tip is to leave your dinghy at the unspoiled part of the Paltana (right to the entrance to the Uvala Paltana) with a small unspoiled lagoon. 

Day 7 - Uvala Burle/Banjole - Pula

Time to return to the mecca of sailors in Istria - Pula. On your way back you can enjoy your last swimming breaks at several anchorages - we suggest places such as Uvala Valmizeja located before the Premantura/Kamenjak peninsula, Otok Fenoliga on the south end of Kamenjak or Uvala Portič on the west coast of this natural park. All these mentioned bays are outstanding places for swimming and relaxing.

Imagine how thousands of sailors have made a similar route while coming back to Pula. Make sure you soak up the wonderful coastal scenery. This itinerary allowed you to discover the best of the western Istrian coastline, often referred to as the Blue Coast. No matter which anchorages and towns you incorporate into your travel plan, always plan the trip based on weather conditions and crew abilities. We can only wish you one last thing - fair winds.

boat

Dufour 350 | Valencia

4 Poor  |  1 Review
Istria, ACI Marina Pomer
from 77 € /day
boat

Bavaria 30 Cruiser | La Luna

9 Excellent  |  2 Reviews
Istria, Marina Vrsar
from 80 € /day
boat

Jeanneau Cap Camarat 5.5 | WA S2

9.1 Excellent  |  9 Reviews
Istria, Marina Medulin
from 85 € /day


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