While some destinations seem to maintain a bright sunny reputation, the kind of reputation that would get you an instant loan if you walked into a bank with it, others are left forever scarred by an image that the best PR company in the world can’t quite fully change. There are places on this planet filled with more beauty and intrigue than Travel + Leisure’s top locations to visit in 2016, and yet they don’t get the credit and they certainly don’t get the tourism dollars they should.
One prime example is Istria, the most western peninsula region of Croatia. It holds so much beauty it’s bursting, but it’s a well-kept secret for those that vacation there. Now, normally I’m all for keeping some places a secret. I believe it helps keep them small and amazing for those who are in on the secret, but there are some destinations I believe everyone should know about and visit at least once; the latter is the case with Istria. Millions of tourists flood Italy every year not realizing that right next door they can get everything they seek in Italy and more. It is also much lighter on your budget and everyone loves that!
Painfully beautiful buildings with sparks of color, centuries old amphitheaters and Roman architecture, rolling green hills, pristine coastline, and so much more is waiting for you in Istria.
What holds travelers back from this spectacular place? I believe it’s the negative headlines from decades ago, misinformation, and lack of understanding. Most adults were around to know Croatia as a war torn and conflicted country, and that’s a reputation that, even many years after the fact, can be hard to shake. However, Croatia is now stable, safe, and thriving, and Istria was never even a point of direct conflict.
We have been to some places where safety was a concern, but I can testify to how completely safe Istria is. While there I felt secure, safe, and the people were welcoming and amazingly friendly. While in other European cities, you have to be keenly aware of pickpocketing and other petty crimes, but these are far less prevalent in Istria. There are some destinations where, if a crime were committed against you, you feel confident that people would go out of their way to help you. I felt this way in Japan and I now feel this way about Istria.
So let’s dive not into the messy past, but rather into the present and what Istria holds for you today, I could go on and on about everything I experienced, but pictures can express it so much better than my words ever will. Here is just a small piece of what you will find in Istria:
Skip the crowds of Italy this summer and head to Istria instead. It will be one of the best vacations you have ever experienced. I can’t wait to take my kids to see Istria as soon as possible!