Walking hiking holidays Croatia
The Istrian interior offers a green landscape with rolling hills and swatches of deciduous woodland, interspersed with vineyards, small farms and old villages. Typically the towns, such as Groznjan, Motovun, Oprtalj and Buje, are perched on hilltops, overlooking the farms below and protected by thick defensive walls and sentry towers. This is a good place to go for a walk and leisurely explore the beauty of the landscape and the rich cultural heritage of the area.
Balini and Opertalj are in the midst of this area and offer great opportunities for hiking, either in the immediate surroundings, or longer walks, that take from a few hours to a whole day. In the mountain range of Cicarija or Ucka, one can even undertake real maintain trips. Do realise that, just a century ago, the local population used these trails to bring agricultural products to the market or to visit friends. Hereunder we will give a few examples of what is possible.
Some indicative examples
If you want to start with a light walk, we may suggest to take a short walk from Balini to Opertalj. Walking partly trough the woods, this trip already offers amazing views. The walk only takes about 50 minutes. When arriving in Oprtalj, in the shadow of trees, you will find an Istrian bar-restaurant on the town square, waiting for you. Its terrace is shaded by large chestnut-trees and offers a magnificent view. Apart from an excellent pint of beer, we can recommend their steaks and pizzas.
The high plateau of Opertalj offers other opportunities for making beautiful walks from Oprtalj to Zrenj, Momjan, Piemonte and Groznjan. A marked path leads you from Opertalj to Groznjan in 4 hours. Groznjan, at the top of a 288 m high hill, has been a place of human settlement since prehistoric times. Today Groznjan is the home of many artists' studios and galleries, open throughout the year. It is also the hometown of the "Jeunesses Musicales International Cultural Centre" (International Youth Musical Centre), which organizes musical concerts almost every night in summer. Take your time to walk to the labyrinth of medieval streets and enjoy the exterior of the old houses and their ornamental details.
The walk to Zrenj (3 hours), also along a marked path, goes truly through unspoiled nature. It offers magnificent views on the Mirna and Bracana river valleys, as well as on the mountain range of the Cicarija. Zrenj itself is located 420 m high above sea level and is an unforgettable experience. There is a saying that from there you can see the highest number of church towers in Istria.
The St Simeon's path, (11.5 km) starts and ends in the municipality of Grasisce. It is one of the oldest footpaths of Central Istria. Starting downhill you will soon reach the ruins of the church of St Simeon. A little further you can see the remains of a water mill. Passing over an old stone bridge, you will arrive at a picturesque waterfall.
The path continues towards a small peak, called Marija Magdalena. There you will find a church and a belvedere having a wide view on the surrounding hills, with its wrinkled landscape so typical for Central Istria and with the Ucka mountain range hanging over it. At the end of the approximately three hours walk it would be a pity not to visit Grasisce itself. This is an interesting medieval town, which contains some of the most beautiful remnants of Gothic architecture in this part of Istria.
Though the highest point in Istria is some 1.400 m high, Istria offers hundreds of kilometres remarkably unspoiled marked footpaths. Especially in the Ucka and Cicarija region you will find many such tracks. From our houses in Oprtalj and Balini, to the Cicarija it takes about half an hour drive. The Cicarija is a karst plateau in witch three mountain chains can be distinguished. There are numerous valleys between these chains with among others a valuable forested region. The flora is diversified and is quiet famous in scientific circles. In Cicarija even wolves are occasionally sighted.
But do not worry, the chances to meet them are near to zero.
For a digital panoramic view on the Cicarija, visit www.mein-kroatien.info/cicarija. Apart from the Cicarija region, you should not miss the climbing of the highest point of Istria, the Vojak (1401 m) in the Ucka region. On a clear day, especially after a Bura (North East Wind), one can oversee the whole of the Istrian penisnsula and the Kvarner Sea, with its islands Cres, Losinj, Unje and Krk. More information about climbing the Ucka you can find on the website www.croatia.hr.
These indicative examples are just a few of the many suggestions that we can make. When you are interested, do not hesitate to call us for advise and information. In any case maps and route descriptions are available in the rented holiday houses.
We can make you a program for a complete walking holiday or give you some suggestions. In any case we will provide you with an emergency number that you can use in case of possible problems during your hike. We offer the possibility to bring you to the start of a walk or to bring you back from a certain point. In that case we will charge 0.50 Euro/km.