Croatia has long been a tourism darling, drawing people in droves to its sun-drenched beaches and picture-perfect towns. Visitors have, for the most part, congregated along the Dalmatian coast, hitting hot spots like Split and Dubrovnik. While the south was getting most of the travel love, the region of Istria, the largest peninsula in the Adriatic and across the sea from Venice, began experiencing its own tourism shift, but without all the fanfare. A mostly European crowd (heavily comprised of Italians and Germans) have made Istria their vacation destination of choice.

Pula, Istria’s largest city and former Roman site, is the regional hub though small towns bursting with charm are only a stone’s throw away. It’s a unique place where you can experience Roman ruins (including an exceptional arena), the warm waters of the Adriatic, expanses of nature, and local food and wine at refreshingly low prices. Most travellers arrive via regional flight into Pula or by ferry from Venice, while renting a car is an excellent way to explore more of the region.

All of this aside, Istria’s years of existing under the radar appear to be coming to an end. Named one of the top places to visit in 2017 by the New York Times and featured by a host of UK media outlets, the pace of tourism will undoubtedly rise. Though a boom for the local tourism industry and economy, it’s unclear whether it will be sustainable in the longer term. And herein lies the paradox that all travel writers face, though that’s a conversation for another day.

I leave you with a round-up of photographs giving a first hand look at Istria Croatia, which may motivate you to include the up and coming region in your travel plans.

A Photo Travel Guide to Istria Croatia

Istria Croatia photos by James Barth