National park Brioni (Brijuni)
The Brijuni island group that lies off the southwest coast of Istria in the vicinity of Pula, was once the meeting place of the European and world jet set. As the only national park in Istria, Brijuni with its 14 islands covering an area of 736 square hectares presents a unique play of nature that brings together remarkable animal species and rare and rich flora all at one place. It ranks as one of the loveliest archipelagos in the Mediterranean.
Day by day the long forgotten splendour of the past from the beginning of the 20th century is slowly returning to Brijuni which is once again becoming the elite meeting place of the business world. Each guest knows that on this small, yet unique area there is a chance to enjoy the simple and often forgotten charms of nature – clean air, crystal-clear sea and untouched Mediterranean vegetation.
The islands can be reached by boat departing daily from the nearby fishing village of Fazana. Registration at the reception of the Brijuni National Park is required. Sightseeing tours of the archipelago by boats start as well from the Pula waterfront with longer or shorter stops in the Brijuni Islands waters.
Cape Kamenjak and the Medulin Islands
The unusually indented southernmost cape of the Peninsula is equally interesting viewed from land, air or sea. It is one of the last oases of the coastal region that has preserved its original appearance – a mosaic of cultivated fields, pastures and green groves immersed in the deep blue sea. Resembling at first glance scorched land of the southernmost tip of Istria, Cape Kamenjak conceals great secrets of nature.
Lovely coves and beaches, as well as crystal-clear sea make this area a particularly attractive destination. Although camping is not allowed in this area, there are various other opportunities for visitors to enjoy the beauties of Kamenjak. One of the marked Istrian bike tracks passes here, and since it is not demanding, everyone can enjoy the easy ride and magnificent views. Or one can also spend the entire day walking and discovering the beauties of Kamenjak.
This protruding peninsula offers numerous possibilities for summer sports. Due to the extremely strong sea currents that meet here, diving is allowed only for professionals, but always accompanied by experienced and certified divers. Favourable winds offer great possibilities for windsurfing, however one should be careful and first check the weather forecast, because sudden changes of weather conditions, wind and sea currents on the southernmost tip of Istria are nothing unusual at any time of the year.
Protected geomorphologic natural monument
Meet the mystical world of nature which has been developing for thousand of years, far away from the light of the day and the human eye. Visit the underworld the Baredine Cave. This cave is a treasure chest of stalagmites and stalactites, underworld sculptures created through time by the patient work of water. Such shapes have been created, some of which are exceptional, such as the 10 meter long and high curtains, a very realistic sculpture of Our Lady, the body of a milkmaid called Milka, the leaning tower of Pisa and snowman the torchbearer-who has become the trade mark of our cave.
In one of the atriums you will pass a crater that is 4m wide and 66 m deep which goes down to the underground lakes. And so through five halls, five galleries of abstract and realistic sculptures, a pleasant 40 minute walk, accompanied by our guide and custodian. The excitement of this adventure is also meeting the animals of the underworld. You will see the human fish an endemic animal that lives only in this environment.
Cave Baredine is situated near the place Nova Vas, in the vicinity of the towns Poreč, Višnjan and Tar-Torre.
The depth of the cave is 132 meters with underground lakes whose depth sometimes reaches 30 meters. Temperature in the cave is non-varying and lies at 14ºC.
Some twenty minutes’ drive north of Rovinj-Rovigno lies a flooded canyon valley – Lim Channel, also known as Lim Bay or Lim Fjord. Lim Channel is part of the 35 km long Limska draga hollow that stretches almost to the town of Pazin-Pisino in the very heart of Istria. The channel itself is over 10 km long and surrounded on both sides by steep hills that can reach up to 100 m in height.
Učka Nature Park and Vela draga
Located in one of the northernmost spots of the Mediterranean area, Mount Učka visually dominates the Istrian peninsula and the Bay of Kvarner. The Nature Park covers an area of 160 km2.
To experience one of the most stunning panoramas in this part of Europe, climb the highest peak of Učka – Vojak (1401 m). Its stone tower offers a breathtaking 360-degree-panorama of the Istrian peninsula, northern Adriatic islands, mountains in the Gorski kotar region, and all the way to Venice and the Alps.
Učka is the only place in the world where you can take a photograph of the Učka (Tommasini) bellflower, and one of the last European sites where you can watch griffon vultures or golden eagles. Apart enjoying good vibrations, here you can also taste sweet local dishes made of chestnuts, asparagus and other specialities of the healthy traditional cuisine.
Učka Nature Park includes two educational trails (the Plas that passes over the top ridge of Mount Učka, and the 2-km-kong Vela draga) and the Slap hiking path.
Vela draga below Učka
Vela or Vranjska draga, the vast valley at the foot of Učka’s north-western slopes is well known to mountaineers and nature lovers, although it still remains distant and unknown to many. Its eastern edges precipitate below the viaduct at the very entrance to Učka Tunnel, from where it meanders through Draga canyon down towards Boljun field. Draga is dominated by high and sheer rocks, where two towers šoplja and čoplja stand out, thus creating a unique and characteristic karst phenomenon in Istria.
Although Plitvice Lakes are not in Istria region, distance is only 250 km from Jursici village.
Plitvice Lakes is the oldest and largest national park in the Republic of Croatia. The park is situated in the mountainous region of Croatia, between the Mala Kapela mountain range in the west and northwest, and the Lička Plješivica mountain range to the southeast. With its exceptional natural beauty, this area has always attracted nature lovers, and already on 8 April 1949, it was proclaimed Croatia’s first national park. The process of tufa formation, which results in the building of the tufa, or travertine, barriers and resulted in the creation of the lakes, is the outstanding universal value, for which the Plitvice Lakes were internationally recognised on 26 October 1979 with their inscription onto the UNESCO World Heritage List. In 1997, the boundaries of the national park were expanded, and today it covers an area just under 300 km2.
The park is primarily covered in forest vegetation, with smaller areas under grasslands. The most attractive part of the park – the lakes – cover just under 1% of the total park area.
The lake system is comprised of 16 named and several smaller unnamed lakes, cascading one into the next. Due to the geological substrate and characteristic hydrogeological conditions, the lake system has been divided into the Upper and Lower lakes. The twelve lakes forming the Upper Lakes are: Prošćansko jezero, Ciginovac, Okrugljak, Batinovac, Veliko jezero, Malo jezero, Vir, Galovac, Milino jezero, Gradinsko jezero, Burgeti and Kozjak. These lakes were formed on impermeable dolomite rock, and are larger, with more indented and gentler shores than the Lower Lakes. The lakes end in the impressive waterfalls Sastavci, with the Korana River springing under the base of the falls.