Motovun

Five beautiful hilltop towns in Istria

Experience the high life at one of these picturesque hilltop towns

Advertising

Croatia has anything you could want from a beach holiday – culture, sun and sea. But turn inland, and you’ll be surprised at just how beautiful upcountry Croatia can be. Medieval stone villages rise from the hilltops, overlooking patchworks of farms, vineyards and olive groves. Pedal a bicycle through the Istrian peninsula and you’ll discover clusters of stone houses huddling above billowing fields – some encircled by ancient defensive walls. Here are just five of our favourites.

Five picturesque hilltop towns in Croatia

Buzet
© Grad Buzet

Buzet

Buzet claims a flourishing local economy and as a result, modern dwellings encroach on the traditional settlement at the foot of the hill. But at the top of the hill, tightly-crammed old houses and ancient walls await. On the far side of the town, the views of the countryside below are uninterrupted by modern development. Sights to see include its old well, a winery and the town's music and food festivals. The local celebration of truffles Buzetska Subotina is one of the best.

Grožnjan
© Fabrice Florin

Grožnjan

Located in the far north-west of the Istrian peninsula, Grožnjan is the only town in Croatia to have an Italian majority. Although it only has about 200 permanent residents living in the centre, the town has 20 galleries displaying art including painting and sculpture. Accommodation options are somewhat limited, so it's better to visit as a day trip - but it's worth it for its narrow, ancient streets and splendid views. From here, your eyes trace the olive groves and vineyards as they stretch down to the Mirna Valley, the Učka mountain rising and the Adriatic visible in the far distance.

Advertising
Motovun

Motovun

Motovun – Montona to the Romans – is one of the most beautiful and best preserved of Istria’s medieval hilltop settlements. These days it’s best known for its film festival, which transforms this otherwise sleepy town into a cultural and party hub for one week every summer. It’s on the summit of a 277-metre (910-foot) hill in the middle of the Mirna Valley, surrounded by truffle-rich forest.

Livade
© Foodista

Livade

Close to Motovun, the streets of this small village overflow with restaurants where you can try meals containing the local speciality, truffles. Istria is the home of truffles in Croatia and Livade has a special connection to the fungus, offering visitors a year-round opportunity to sample the locally found black truffles as well as the much rarer and more expensive white truffles. Livade is also the home of Istarske Toplice, a natural thermal spa and relaxation centre.

Advertising
Momjan
© Fraxinus Croat

Momjan

The ancient town of Momjan was originally the site of a fortress. This quaint village is a joy to meander through, and provides a pleasant stop-off on the way to Slovenia. The remains of a 13th-century castle and local wineries provide more inducement to visit.

Recommended
    You may also like
      Advertising