Take seven steps in any direction in Istria and you will not struggle not to think: it’s a fairy tale. Some will tell you that the best season here is the summer, when Istria is teeming with life, sun and tourists; but those who prefer peace, nature and historical routes swear that fall is the best time to visit the biggest Croatian peninsula! Decorated with a rich range of fall tones, Istria and its neighbors offer rich fruits and interesting dishes, and invite you to take a walk, consider the long ago times, and with some luck and good weather, invite you to go swimming in the same places that ancient heroes, Romans and even dinosaurs used to inhabit.
A walk along the Rječina
Rijeka is known as the most important Adriatic port fought over by Italians, Austrians and Hungarians even before the time of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Today it is also known in Croatia as well as abroad for being a hub of contemporary urban music and a vital element of alternative culture. Because of this, few people imagine Rijeka as the ideal setting for a scenic walk through the fantastic natural attractions of the north coast of the Adriatic.
Yet the maintained trail which starts on Trsat, the most famous hill in Rijeka, is precisely that: it will take you on a unique walk around the city of Rijeka and the natural scenery of the Rječina canyon, and finish at the source of this river. The karstone canyon was declared a protected monument of nature exactly thirty years ago, and fall is the best season to visit it. Take a stroll through the fluid and colorful world before the start of the rains!
Northwest of Trieste there is a relatively small mountain easily recognizable from the sea because of its closely arranged hilltops. Although most known as a part of the beautiful scenery one sees when arriving in Trieste by boat, history lovers also recognize it for being the site of the Austro-Hungarian defense line in World War I. In addition to the fantastic view of Trieste and the Adriatic Sea and the stunning natural beauty, it is also famous for the interesting outdoor Mt. Ermada Museum.
The system of caves used by the army as a stronghold and shelter is today a part of two maintained trails which will take you around the mountain and deep into history. Some of the caves were only discovered in mid 20th century, such as the one that shares its name with the mountain. Real treasures have been found in these caves, left over by Austro-Hungarian soldiers, such as the metal poles with porcelain insulators – a sure sign that the caves were once supplied with electricity. A walk in the nature will take you into the past and delight you with its tales as well as its beauty.
The sounds of the sea, the buzzing of the bees and the scent of the herbs create a very special atmosphere in the southernmost point of Istria, where 100 million years ago dinosaurs were the ones who used to enjoy the local sea, stones and sun. Kamenjak is an area rich in fossilized remains of these creatures so popular among children, and Grakalovac peninsula is a special treat for children, as a maintained trail will guide you to see the dinosaur footprints.
With a bit of spirit of adventure, you will also find a great spot for swimming, and should you happen to have a little biologist in the family in addition to the paleontologist, Kamenjak will prove to be a true haven! Namely, Kamenjak is the biotope for some very rare species, such as the Ophioglossum lusitanicum, the Anthemis tomentosa, and the endangered Citaurium maritimum, which only grows in this magical area.
Beautiful Natural Scenery in the Vicinity of Northwest Istria
Škocjan Caves, Rilke Trail and Šijana Forest
Special ornithological reserve Palud, Romuald’s Cave and the river Soča
Bale, Zarečki krov and Kotli Fall