Because northwest Istria loves the winters too! We bring you the top 5 locations that any nature lover should visit, regardless of the season. Winter, I’m sure you’ll agree, has its charms, and it is precisely those charms that we will be putting a spotlight on in the following locations. Enjoy!
1. The estuary of river Mirna
We start this winter’s tale at the estuary of river Mirna, which together with the bay of Tar vala forms an area the size of 465 hectares, and is home to a rich world of flora and fauna, with hundreds of species of birds, amphibians, reptiles and mammals.
Besides being the key location in the migration of birds, as well as a breeding and wintering grounds for those species of birds that breed on water, the estuary of Mirna is also a beautiful destination and a must for any nature lover out there. The idyllic winter scenery and the glorious peace and quiet lend this area an extra something that fulfills and calms, while at the same time overwhelming one with its beauty.
We would also be remiss to leave out the fact that the swamp area of the estuary is one of the few remaining on the Mediterranean, and with the whole area soon to become a special ornithological reservation, the importance of maintaining the diversity of bird species that reside there is becoming more and more obvious.
2. The forest of Motovun
You think Motovun is in only while the film festival there is on? With all due respect to the movies, Motovun and its surrounding areas have a whole lot more to offer in winter time. The natural charms of the Istrian Peninsula and the rest of the Croatian coast, which have stood proudly for over two millennia, are more than sufficient reasons to make the forest of Motovun your top winter destination.
Although it used to be twice the size that it is today, with its area of almost a thousand hectares, every guest is guaranteed to be smitten by its beauty and untouched nature. This is the largest preserved indigenous alluvial hardwood forest in Croatia, and it has been protected as a special reservation of forest vegetation since 1949.
3. The south side of Umag and the ride along the sea
Another reason why I fell in love with northwest Istria is precisely its love towards cyclists. Here’s a fun fact: this destination has more than 500 kilometers of cycling paths! Whether in winter or in summer times, the joy of riding them is unique.
Riding down the Parenzana path is a priceless experience for sure, yet I am still partial to the ride along the sea. On one side you’ve got the cold water just waiting for the summer months and on the other the frightening, bitter cold – still amazing in its own unique way. The cycling route along the south side of Umag, and the ride along the sea in the course of 30 kilometers will afford you a fantastic adventure and a gastronomic thrill.
4. The Novigrad – Dajla walking trail
While there are excellent and well-kept cycling paths in the area surrounding Novigrad, you can get around the town itself on foot. But if you’re looking for some adventure outside the town, I would definitely recommend the walking path that starts at the Novigrad Peninsula and leads all the way to the little town of Dajla. It follows the coastline faithfully, passing through the village of Mareda, and in a few kilometers gives you a unique chance to experience the wonders of nature on land as well as on sea.
5. Buje, Grožnjan
Why these two towns? Grožnjan, the town with around twenty galleries and art studios, surrounded by picturesque hills, is most definitely a must-see, regardless of the season. The winter will just give it that extra touch to emphasize the beauty of this town of artists.
Buje, on the other hand, is quite a different story. Set approximately 222 meters above sea level, the town grabs your attention with its bell towers, cultural heritage monuments, castles, churches and statues. If you visit Buje in the winter, you will experience a sort of mystic calm that will lead you on a journey through its rich history.