Fažana To Do

The best things to do in Fažana

Discover the best things to do in Fažana with our insider’s tips on sightseeing, dining and drinking

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Close to Pula, the fishing settlement of Fažana is usually visited as it’s the jumping-off point for boats to the Brijuni Islands, a national park and historical curiosity. Spend time here on the mainland, though, and you’ll find a few decent restaurants – Fažana is also known for its sardines, there’s even a festival dedicated to them every August – and a scattering of sights and beaches. 

The best things to do in Fažana

Sample sardines at Konoba Batana
© Eunika Sopotnicka

Sample sardines at Konoba Batana

Where better to sample Fažana’s famed sardines than here at Konoba Batana, named after the flat-bottomed boats fishermen still take out to sea. You’re also right on the waterfront, close to the taxi boat for Brijuni. Sardines can be enjoyed as a cold starter, as part of the fisherman’s salad, integral to the fish platter for two or, quite simply, grilled with divine olive oil, sprinkled with lemon and served ten to a plate. There are plenty of other options, of course, such as white fish with greens and classic Balkan carnivorous favourite pljeskavica, a hulking meat patty served with ajvar.

Explore a World War I German submarine
© Hippocampus diving center

Explore a World War I German submarine

Fažana’s main diving centre, Hippocampus takes divers of varying abilities to several interesting wrecks within easy reach of this part of the coast. Close to Pula, the so-called Submarine 82 was sunk by the Germans themselves towards the end of World War I. At a depth of some 36 metres, it lies close to Stoja beach, its stern open, allowing divers to peek in and see what’s left of the military equipment a century later. Other nearby wrecks include an Italian minesweeper, a Yugoslav tugboat and Italian cargo ship that sank in 1915. Hippocampus also offers scuba-diving courses for adults and children, minimum age ten.

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Visit a church from the 6th century
© Istria Tourist Board

Visit a church from the 6th century

A few hundred metres from the modest centre of Fažana stands Sv Elizeja, a simple church the size and shape of a small house. There’s little by way of decoration – in fact, there’s little by way of any glass at all – although early Christian symbols and graves have been found alongside. Like the church itself, they dated back some 1,500 years, shortly after the Romans left Croatia. Sv Elizeja is still in use today – a concert takes place here on World Music Day in June.

Cycle the St Elyseus route
© Istria Tourist Board

Cycle the St Elyseus route

Taking its name from the 6th-century church you’ll pass on the way, the St Elyseus route is ideal for first-time visitors who would like to see what Fažana has to offer but aren’t looking for too much of a challenge when they take to the saddle. Starting at Fažana car park near the jetty, the trail runs along the riviera, heads down to the BiVillage Holiday Centre at Valbandon, cuts up past vineyards and olive groves, then takes you past Sv Elizeja Church. Past the pines, you are treated to fine views of the Brijuni Islands just offshore. The entire 11-kilometre journey is on asphalt or tarmac, and should take you an hour – ideal before you finish back at the car park and hop onto your boat for Brijuni. Ask at the nearby Fažana Tourist Office (Titova Riva 2, infofazana.hr) about cycle hire.

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Frolic on the beach
© KatarzynaTyl

Frolic on the beach

Fažana is lined with beaches. From the simple purity of Stara (‘Old’) Fažana in the north to the main public beach with tiki-style sunshades, to San Lorenzo with its popular seafront bar, a stroll along the waterfront all the way to Valbandon brings you to the BiVillage Holiday Centre. Part of this all-in-one complex of pools, an adventure park, villas, apartments and a campsite, is the Beach BiVillage, kept pristine for holidaymakers. A little further along, the Sunset Beach Bar Valbandon is where you can rent out sun loungers, sunshades and order cold beers at your leisure.

Pay your respects to Mate Parlov

Pay your respects to Mate Parlov

On a patch of greenery tucked in from the Fažana seafront, a bronze statue of a boxer in action is complemented by two simple words below the plinth: Mate Parlov. No mention of Parlov’s Olympic gold at Munich in 1972, no mention of his world and European amateur title wins, no mention of his achievements as a boxing coach when he led Yugoslavia to their best results at an Olympic Games, in 1984. But then again, many older Croats know these things anyway – the Split-born pugilist was eight times champion of Yugoslavia. In his later years, Parlov retired to run a bar in Pula and spend time out of the limelight here in Fažana, taking in the sunset here on the waterfront, the rays now catching his statue at the most photogenic time of day.

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Echoing Fažana’s fishing heritage, the red-fronted Konoba Feral just in from the seafront has as wide a choice of fish and seafood as you’ll find anywhere on this part of the Istrian coast. Lobster, Jacob’s mussels, shrimp buzara-style, scorpion fish, all kinds of white fish and, of course, sardines – all go well with the affordable house wine and can be enjoyed in the traditional interior or on the Roman-style terrace alongside. There are Istrian specialities, too, pršut ham, sausage, ombolo pork loin and maneštra soup. If you’re going to have one meal in Fažana, this would be a wise choice.

Admire the wildlife of Valbandon
© Ranko

Admire the wildlife of Valbandon

Just south of Fažana, the Valbandon estuary is where seawater and freshwater mingle. The varied plant life here – sea lavender, alkali grass, sea aster – makes it attractive to all kinds of birds and insects. Dragonflies, coots, egrets, kingfishers and herons are fairly common sights. At night, bats fill the skies, enjoying the rich pickings of insects. Ask for further details about what to see, and which times of the year, at the Fažana Tourist Office (Titova Riva 2, infofazana.hr) by the jetty.

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Discover Brijuni
© Brijuni National Park

Discover Brijuni

There’s nothing quite like Brijuni. One of Croatia’s most popular attractions, it’s accessed by regular taxi boat from Fažana. This takes you to Veliki (‘Great’) Brijun, the only one of the 14 islands in the archipelago catering to tourists. Brijuni made its name when post-war leader of Yugoslavia, Tito, made it his base at certain times of the year, inviting film stars and leaders of other countries not aligned to the USA or USSR. This, in turn, led to the heads of African and Asian nations bringing Tito gifts – elephants, zebras and other exotic creatures that formed a safari park here. Some can still be seen, if you hop aboard the little tourist train that chugs round the island. Have a look out, too, for the Roman remains and authentic dinosaur footprints, when Brijuni really was an animal kingdom. All is explained on the map you’ll see as you disembark onto the island.

Drink and dine surrounded by greenery
© Igor Manasteriotti

Drink and dine surrounded by greenery

The Arboretum Pub is just that – a pub where you can sample the latest Croatian craft beer and sink your teeth into a burger, surrounded by greenery cultivated for educational or scientific interest. Giving new meaning to the concept of a beer garden, the Arboretum Pub puts on events such as beer yoga, jazz weeks and screenings of major football tournaments. Eminently child- and dog-friendly.

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