Since Istraturist Umag, partner of Melia Hotels International, was first to recognize my idea for the “First triathlon friendly hotels & resorts in Croatia” project, I decided to come to our meeting from Varaždin to Umag, by what other mean of transportation than by bike, proving once and for all that Istria is the perfect Croatian region for triathlon.
From Varaždin to Umag and back
I cycled a total of 395 km from Varaždin to Umag, spending a little under 20 hours on my bike, losing 2 kg of body mass due to extreme physical stress. I found the return trip much more strenuous because I trained every day of my 2-week stay in Umag, cycling over 60 km a day to get to know entire Istria.
Stay and trainings in Umag
Following an exciting and exhausting cycling adventure from Varaždin to Umag, I stayed in the Village Sol Garden Istra Hotel for two weeks. Umag is small enough for everything athletes need to be close at hand, yet big enough to prevent them from feeling completely isolated during their preps.
In spite of the extent of my everyday training, riding kilometre after kilometre on my bike to get to know Istria as best I could, I easily replenished all those lost calories with the excellent hotel cuisine and original Istrian specialties ideal for athletes. I’ve had the opportunity to come to Fernetići near Brtonigla, and visit the Capo vinery and see how Umagoio olive oil is produced. In Northwest Istria you definitely mustn’t miss visiting Grožnjan, Motovun and Buje, Istrian olive oil roads, biking through Brtonigla and sipping coffee in the renowned family hotel San Rocco.
When cycling from Umag towards Novigrad, you simply must take a detour and pass through Lovrečica (San Lorenzo) or ride from Motovun to Oprtalj via Livade. You should also wake up at dawn and run on the bicycle trails through Umag, in direction of Zambratija, Savudrija and Crveni vrh or have a swim at sunset on one of the beaches in Katoro or Stella Maris resorts in Umag.
It soon became apparent that Northwest Istria is an ideal destination for sports preparations of triathletes from around the world, and I will even venture to say that you can’t call yourself a true triathlon lover if you hadn’t trained, swam, ridden a bike and ran in Istria – the Croatian Tuscany, at least once.
Umag and Istria as new triathlon destinations
Northwest Istria became an attractive destination for active holidays owing to numerous investments into sports facilities and events. Umag was the first in Croatia to recognize the idea of a triathlon-friendly town. With the new “Istriathlon” project, Istria, and especially Umag, are beginning to position themselves on the tourist market as a new triathlon destination.