Undoubtedly there are the hot-spots in Istria and we’ll most likely agree: Rovinj, Motovun and Grožnjan are the first three must-sees of Istria. Poreč, Buzet… yes, there are many more wonderful towns with fully-functioning tourist boards to make sure you about them before even making it to Croatia. BUT there are quite a number of adorably charming, and most likely dilapidated towns along the way that are very much worth the ten minute pull over.
Ask your driver about: Draguć (Drahg-ooch) – it can be on the way to Buzet or Pazin/Rovinj Draguć is tiny, romantic and calm. A one street kind of place. There are probably more cats than people living in this tiny hilltop town but their cemetery, one of the fist things you see, is apparent witness that once upon a time someone lived in Draguć. A movie or two was shot here so locals, if you ever see them, might tell you this is the “Istrian Hollywood.” Draguć has one café that is sometimes open and serves legitimately local food (boasting its free range animal products) and “Favorit” beer from Buzet.
Oprtalji (Oh-prt-ay-e) – near Motovun and Grožnjan. It can be on the way to Poreč and Novigrad. Oprtalji was recently named the city of antiquity and there are a few antique shops boasting of old Italy’s yesteryears. 15 minutes is enough, unless you get momentarily tangled in its cobblestone streets or strike up a convo with an art dealer. Oprtalji is a heart warmer; chalk full of bright colors, stone everything, and a local population of a few.
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