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8 Days Sightseeing, Wine Tasting, and Cycling Holiday in Istria, Croatia

Incredible Cycling Holiday Croatia

Immersed in the blue of the Adriatic Sea, there is something magical about Istria, the largest and most northerly of the Croatian peninsulas. If you are looking for a leisurely cycling holiday, with a stunning mix of landscape, culture, delicious food, and excellent wines, this holiday is one to consider. Croatia is the perfect place for a leisurely cycling holiday.

Key information

  • Trip type: Self-guided
  • Lodging: Point to point
  • Terrain: Flat, paved, and hilly terrains
  • Starts in: Buje
  • Ends in: Pula
  • Difficulty level: Challenging (cyclist needs to have high level of fitness, must be an active rider, the terrain includes really challenging climbs/or 46-80 or more miles per day)
  • Total Distance: 251 kilometers / 158 miles
  • Bike types: Road bike, hybrid bike, touring bike, E-bike,
  • Hybrid bike rental: 90 EUR per person per tour
  • E-bike rental: 60 EUR per person per tour

Highlights

  • Scenic cycling adventure
  • Chance to visit to an olive oil mill
  • Wine tasting of the best local wines
  • Exploration and visits to famous attractions
  • Delicious breakfast, lunch, and dinner
  • 7 nights accommodation
  • Minivan support

Skill level

  • Advanced

Styles


6 cycling days in English
Spoken languages: English
The maximum participants in the group is 16
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Accommodation

You will be provided seven nights of accommodation in this holiday. On the first and second nights, accommodation options will be at the Guesthouse Casa La Parenzana, at the Guesthouse Lovac, or in a similar accommodation in Buje area, while on the third night, accommodation options will be at the Hotel Villa Borgo, Kaštel, or Motovun.

The fourth and fifth nights will be spent at the Hotel Porec or in a similar accommodation, and the sixth night will be spent at the Guesthouse Baron Gautsch, Hotel Villa Lili, Rovinj, or in a similar accommodation. On the seventh night, accommodation options will be at the Hotel Amfiteatar, Pula, or in a similar accommodation.

Program

You will start your exploration at Buje, close to Croatia’s northern border with Slovenia, and then you will head south slowly, picking out all of the highlights of this delightful corner of Europe.

From the lighthouse at Savudrija to the medieval settlements such as Groznjan, you will ride on country roads, and then for the next two days, you will ride on the delightful dismantled railway track of the Parenzana through the rolling hills of the “Croatian Tuscany”. Spending time in the coastal towns of Porec, Rovinj, and Pula, you will be able to appreciate their beauty while at the same time learning a little of their rich histories.

Bike information

Road bike (Brand FELT, model Z85)

With the perfect blend of comfort and performance, the Z85 is just the bike to see you through your first century or gran fondo. Its Endurance Road Flite Custom-Butted aluminum frame will surprise you as much for its nimble-handling as its comfort. To make sure it performs flawlessly under shifting on the hills or in a sprint, it uses Shimano’s 11-speed 105 shifters and derailleurs.

With its compact crank and wide-spaced cassette, this bike will take you up hills and mountains and get you back down with confidence.

  • Available sizes: 51, 54, 56, 58, 61 centimeters
  • Rental cost: 140 EUR for one week

Hybrid touring custom-built bikes

These hybrid bikes are custom built and designed for several day touring. All of these hybrid bikes have adjustable stem and come in six different sizes, male and female frame, so they will be able to make perfect fit for you.

Hybrid bikes are built from lightweight aluminum, and have wide gear range; triple chairing, and nine-speed cassette, comfortable Selle Royal Freccia saddle, 28-inch wheels, fenders, integrated rear rack, and dynamo powered lights.

  • Available sizes: 52, 55, 58, and 61 centimeters for men's size, and 43, 48, and 53 centimeters for women's size
  • Bike rental: 90 EUR per week

Cube Analog 29-inches Hardtail Bike

This 27-gear hardtail MTBs of the brand Cube are equipped with an ergonomic formed 6061 aluminium frame, front suspension 100 millimeters, 29-inch wheels with 2,25 Schwalbe tires, skid proof handlebar, a high quality 3 x 9 Shimano drive train front Alivio or rear Deore, Cube Active saddle, and Shimano hydraulic disc brakes.

  • Available sizes: 17, 19, 21 ,23 inches
  • Bike rental: 120 EUR per week

E-bike Kalkhoff

These e-bikes of the brand Kalkhoff are equipped efficient mid-drive Impulse 2.0 motor system, center-mounted lithium-ion battery pack, battery range minimum of 89 kilometers and maximum of 201 kilometers, advances pedal assist drive mode, dynamo powered lights, full-length fenders, integrated rear rack, suspension fork, 8-speed 1 x 8 Shimano Nexus gearing, adjustable stem, 28-inch wheels, and unisex frame impulse V2 Alloy.

  • Available sizes: Unisex
  • Bike rental: 160 EUR per week

Bike equipment

Each bike is equipped with saddle bag containing tire levers, spare tube, tools and patch kit, hand pump, cycle computer, water bottle holder, lock, and rear rack. Pedals are flat, toe cage, or clipless pedals (SPD). Available equipment with supplement charge are 20-liter waterproof side panier Ortlieb, handlebar bag, map holder, helmets, GPS device, and child seat.

Daily itinerary

Day 1: Arrival

You will meet with the group in a hotel in Buje. Depending on your arrival time, you may have time to explore. The town of Buje is a three to four-kilometer walk away along the old rail track of the Parenzana. In the afternoon, you will pick up your bikes, and the guide will be on hand to help with this.

Your guide will answer any questions you might have about the week ahead and will also join the group for a welcome dinner at the hotel. Accommodation options will be at the Guesthouse Casa La Parenzana, at the Guesthouse Lovac, or in a similar accommodation in Buje area. Welcome dinner at the hotel is included on this day.

Day 2: Buje, Umag, Savudrija (52 kilometers / 32 miles)

On this day, you will have a day ride from Buje to the coastal town of Umag and the Savudrija Lighthouse, including wine tasting.

You will start your first day's ride on a quiet backroad which will take you down to the coast through olive groves and vineyards.

Arriving at the sea at Lovrecica, you will head north, passing a couple of small bays en-route to the colorful harbor and town at Umag, which you will reach after 23 kilometers of cycling. Umag provides a great introduction to Croatia's Mediterranean aspect and is a place where you can explore among renaissance and baroque buildings and churches.

You can also take the opportunity for a cafe stop and a spot of people watching. Heading north again, you will pass a number of low-key resorts and after a further eight kilometers, you will reach the north-eastern tip of the Istrian Peninsula. Here, you will see the oldest lighthouse in the Adriatic, the 36-meter tall Savudrija, still in use and still manned.

Protecting the southern approaches to the Gulf of Trieste, the lighthouse was Italian-financed, its construction beginning in 1817. From here, you will cycle back inland and alongside Croatia's northern border with Slovenia. This part of the ride is very gradually uphill. During the final 20 kilometers of cycling, you will gain around 200 meters of elevation.

You will be ending the ride at a vineyard and wine cellar close to Momjan. Muscat, Malvasia, and Teran are just three of the local wines worth sampling. After wine tasting, you will have a short transfer back to your hotel outside Buje.

Accommodation options will be at the Guesthouse Casa La Parenzana, Guesthouse Lovac, or in a similar accommodation in Buje area. Breakfast, picnic lunch, refreshments during biking, wine tasting, and dinner are included, as well as a support van during biking.

  • Total ascent: +490 meters
  • Total descent: -400 meters

Day 3: Parenzana, Groznjan, and Livade (30 kilometers / 19 miles)

You will be cycling on the old railway track of the Parenzana to Groznjan and onto the truffle center of Livade. For the next two days, you will be cycling on the old railway track of the Parenzana, and you will change over to using mountain bikes which will provide you with a more comfortable ride.

You will head inland on this easy gravel cycle path, through tunnels and over old bridges, into the heart of rural Istria (known as the Croatian Tuscany). Known as the wine railway, the Parenzana was and was built to link Porec with Trieste and was operational between 1905 and 1935.

The first stop on the route is the pretty, medieval hill-top settlement of Groznjan which overlooks the valley of the Mirna River. Dating from around the year 1100, Grojnan is today known as a center for artists and artisans. You will explore its timeless streets on foot, where it seems every doorway leads to an artist's studio.

Once again, you will be in no hurry, and it will be hard to resist the attraction of one of the town's pavement cafes. This part of the peninsula is known as Istria County. You will continue the ride eastwards through rolling countryside above the Mirna River and onto the truffle center of Livade, where you will visit a truffle shop and have the chance to taste this much sought-after fungal growth.

The overnight hotel is now just a couple of kilometers’ ride away, in the beautiful hill-top village of Motovun on the opposite (south) bank of the river. Accommodation options will be at the Hotel Villa Borgo, Kaštel, or Motovun. Breakfast, picnic lunch, and refreshments during biking are included, as well as a support van during biking.

  • Total ascent: +460 meters
  • Total descent: -600 meters

Day 4: Visnjan to Porec (39 kilometers / 25 miles)

Still on the Parenzana, you will cycle out to the coast via Visnjan to Porec. From Motovun, you will cycle back towards the coast, again following the old track of the Parenzana. You will drop down out of the village and follow the track through a 200-meter tunnel, emerging to find views across the Mirna Valley as you leave Motovun behind.

You will stop for a coffee in Vizinada after an hour or so, and then you will continue towards the coast. At times, although you will still be following the route of the Parenzana, you will find yourself cycling on the bare, red Istrian soil, as you pass on farm tracks amongst pretty vineyards and olive groves.

You will stop for lunch in Visnjan, a hilltop village notable for its architecture and for its astronomical observatory. From the village square, at an elevation of around 250 meters, you can actually see the sea.

After lunch, you will have an enjoyable 15-kilometer ride out to the coast, passing the last of the old Parenzana railway stations just before you reach Porec, a town famous for its UNESCO listed basilica and charming old quarter. You will finish the day cycling around the wall that surrounds the old town of Porec to reach the hotel. Accommodation options will be at the Hotel Poreč or in a similar accommodation. Breakfast, picnic lunch, and refreshments during biking are included, as well as support van during biking.

  • Total ascent: +400 meters
  • Total descent: -570 meters

Day 5: Porec (48 kilometers / 30 miles)

On this day, you will have a day ride from Porec and have some free time sightseeing in this town which dates back to Roman times. There will be no need to pack your bags this morning, as you will be staying another night at your Porec hotel. Hence, after breakfast, you will start your scenic ride with a visit to the sixth century cathedral of the Euphrasiana, the most important monument in Porec.

The interior of the cathedral is very impressive and well worth the admission charge. Leaving Porec, you will then head inland on quiet roads to the village of Bacva, the highest point of the day's ride and a good place for a cafe stop. After break at Bacva, you will head southwards and back down to the coastal village of Vrsar.

Strategically located, with a commanding view of the coast, Vrsar was fortified in the 12th century as a part of the Istrian Peninsula's coastal defense system. You will take the opportunity to visit the remains of the castle and enjoy the sea views, before cycling northwards to the fishing village of Funtana. Now heading back to your hotel in Porec, you will cycle through the resort areas of Zelena and Plava Laguna.

Accommodation options will be at the Hotel Porec or in a similar accommodation. Breakfast, picnic lunch, and refreshments during biking are included, as well as a support van during biking.

  • Total ascent: +470 meters
  • Total descent: -470 meters

Day 6: Kanfanar, Rovinj, and Bale (35 kilometers / 22 miles)

You will be cycling from Kanfanar to Rovinj, with sightseeing and olive oil tasting at Bale. This morning's leisurely ride starts from Kanfanar after a short transfer. However, anyone feeling energetic can choose to make an early start and cycle an additional 20 kilometers, accompanied by the cycling guide.

Kanfanar is a small inland town above the Lim Valley, and the ride on this day is the flattest of the tour. The route will take you back through the Bale region. At Svetvincenat, you will be able to explore the imposing Morosini-Grimani fortress and relax in its renaissance town square surrounded by cypress trees.

This is another very attractive Istrian settlement, although one with a checkered history, including a 17th century witchcraft trial. At the pretty village of Bale, you can make a stop to visit the Soardo-Bembo Palace, a very distinctive 15th century Venetian Gothic building. Here, too, you can visit a famous olive oil producer, where you can learn about the trees, the harvest, and the processing of the oil.

Arriving at your hotel in Rovinj, you will have time to look around this pearl of Adriatic, with its colorful houses, distinctive church, and bell-tower. Fresh fish (combined with a glass of Malvasia) is a popular choice at dinner this evening.

Accommodation options will be at the Guesthouse Baron Gautsch, Hotel Villa Lili, Rovinj, or in a similar accommodation. Breakfast, picnic lunch, and refreshments during biking are included, as well as olive oil tasting and support van during biking.

  • Total ascent: +160 meters
  • Total descent: -420 meters

Day 7: Zminj and Pula (47 kilometers / 30 miles)

On this day, you will transfer inland to Zminj and cycle south through the pretty countryside to Pula. After breakfast, you will have a 20-minute transfer to the medieval town of Zminj, before setting off on the last ride of the trip, southwards to Pula. Cycling through a distinctly rural region, you will see lots of traditional drystone toolsheds, known locally as “kazuni”.

These are similar to the “trulli” found in Puglia and the “bories” in Provence. You will pass through the pretty countryside with several small villages and an obvious lunch stop is in the colorful town of Vodnjan.

Finally, you will cycle into Pula, the largest town on the peninsula with a population of almost 60,000. Located on a superb natural harbor, Pula has been occupied, destroyed, and rebuilt on numerous occasions since Roman times. You will finish the day with a sightseeing tour of the old part of the city, where the triumphal Arch of the Sergil and the great amphitheater of the Pula Arena are the standout attractions.

Overnight stay will be at the Pula hotel, and you will have a final celebratory dinner at a local restaurant. Accommodation options will be at the Hotel Amfiteatar, Pula, or in a similar accommodation. Breakfast, picnic lunch, and refreshments during biking are included, as well as a farewell dinner and a support van during biking.

  • Total ascent: +210 meters
  • Total descent: -560 meters

Day 8: Departure day

After breakfast, you will depart to your onward flight home.

Included excursions

  • Explore amongst renaissance and baroque buildings and churches
  • Visit to a vineyard and wine cellar close to Momjan, with wine tasting included
  • Explore the timeless streets of Grojnan
  • Visit to the sixth century cathedral of the Euphrasiana, the most important monument in Porec
  • Visit to the remains of the castle and enjoy the sea views in Vrsar
  • Sightseeing and olive oil tasting in Bale
  • Explore the imposing Morosini-Grimani fortress
  • Relax in the renaissance town square of Svetvincenat
  • Visit the Soardo-Bembo Palace, a very distinctive 15th century Venetian Gothic building
  • Have a sightseeing tour of the old part of the city Pula

Location

This cycling holiday will be held in Istria, Croatia. The coastal strip, known locally as Blue Istria, is popular with sunseekers during the summer months, while the interior, or Green Istria, is another story entirely. Here, you will find a world of shading forest, historic hilltop towns, vineyards, olive groves, and picturesque rivers.

The tour will cover places, such as Buje, Umag, Savudrija, Parenzana, Groznjan, Livade, Porec, Kanfanar, Rovinj, Bale, Zminj, Pula, Lovrecica, Motovun, Vrsar, Funtana, Visnjan, and Svetvincenat.

Food

The packages include seven breakfasts, six picnic lunches, and three dinners. Refreshments during biking will be provided as well. You will also visit wine cellars to sample some of the local favorites, such as Malvasia and Teran, as well as taking every opportunity to chill out in pavement cafes overlooking the rolling Istrian countryside and to enjoy local Istrian culinary specialties.

Breakfasts are generally buffets that take your active program into consideration with a variety of low-fat and high-nutrition choices. Lunch is generally on your own, although some group tours decide to pool funds on some days and enjoy picnics en-route. Dinners are usually included with guided tours, and dinner packages (half pension) are a frequent option with self-guided tours.

Expect either a fixed menu or a few choices. If you have any allergies, restrictions or strong preferences, please let the organizer know as far in advance as possible. Hence, aside from the charms of culture and the beauty of nature, you will also enjoy the richness of flavors of local Istrian cuisine, excellent Istrian wines, and olive oil.

The following meals are included:

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
  • Drinks

The following dietary requirement(s) are served and/or catered for:

  • Regular (typically includes meat and fish)
If you have special dietary requirements it's a good idea to communicate it to the organiser when making a reservation

What's included

  • All cycling tours
  • 7 nights accommodation
  • 7 breakfasts
  • Support minivan
  • Luggage transport between accommodations
  • Services of an English-speaking tour guide
  • 6 picnic lunches
  • Refreshments during biking
  • 3 dinners
  • Visit to a wine cellar with tasting
  • Visit to an olive oil mill with tasting

What's not included

  • Travel and bike insurance
  • Transfer from airport to hotel and re-tour
  • Lunches, dinners, and drinks not listed in the itinerary

Cancellation Policy

  • A reservation requires a deposit of 30% of the total price.
  • The deposit is fully refundable if the booking is cancelled up to 60 days before the arrival date.
  • The rest of the payment should be paid 30 days before arrival.
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