The grand slam of holidays in Istria

Nine days of swings, sights and seafood.
Written by
Lara Rasin

Everything is coming up aces: with a Swing Through Rovinj tennis retreat, all you have to do for nine days is serve and be served in Istria's most dazzling and deluxe locales. Your holiday home will be Rovinj, an oval peninsula strewn with narrow cobbled streets and topped with the 18th-century Baroque church of St. Euphemia. Experience a fusion of intriguing inclinations in this coastal city. On one hand, Rovinj still lives and breathes as it has for centuries past: fishermen faithfully head off to sea each dawn and laundry flutters overhead on clotheslines hung between Venetian-era buildings. On the other, the peninsula has become a muse to modern creatives whose galleries and ateliers are now engraved both into the city’s streets and soul.

Rovinj's resplendent Grand Park Hotel is where you'll rest your head between exploring local culture, enjoying expert-led tennis sessions and savouring succulent seafood. Read on for our breakdown of this idyllic nine-day itinerary by Sporty Adventure.

After arriving to Venice’s Marco Polo Airport, glide to ravishing Rovinj via luxury Mercedes V-Class van. Your home base, the elegant Grand Park Hotel, was designed by the renowned Croatian architects of 3LHD Studio, with interiors by coveted Italian designer Piero. Sitting between Rovinj’s postcard-perfect old town, pine forests and the Adriatic Sea overlooking the island of St. Catherine, the hotel, surrounded by sweeping vistas, has no bad angle. The pebbled Mulini beach, 416 metres long, is just a 20-minute walk away. The in-house Àlbaro Spa&Wellness Centre (Istria’s largest) is the perfect place to loosen your muscles after your action-packed days; treatments include a deep-tissue massage with an ancient Istrian healing olive oil balm infused with Saint John’s wort.

Wake each morning with a buffet breakfast at Grand Park Hotel’s Laurel and Barry restaurant, featuring a fusion of world-class Istrian and Mediterranean cuisine – and a view of old town Rovinj. Polish off your made-to-order omelette (and consider going easy on the included champagne), because next up is a trainer-led workout or yoga class on Istra’s Golden Cape in Forest Park Punta. Designated a nature park in 1961, the area is webbed with imported and Mediterranean plants, from Lebanese cedars and Douglas firs to holm oaks. Tennis classes at the seaside Eden Tennis Centre’s 12 outdoor red clay courts and four indoor faux grass courts follow. Post-tennis rejuvenation awaits at a family-owned konoba (tavern), where traditional seafood specialties are paired with superb house wine (Istria has topped the world’s best wine region lists for years).

Each evening in Istria brings a new adventure. One evening, spark some romance with old town Rovinj as you flit through its stony streets. Rovinj was an island before 1763, when a canal was built to connect it with the mainland; it still feels worlds apart from the rest of the world, in the best of ways. Another evening, embark on a sunset boat ride through the 20-island Rovinj archipelago; keep an eye out for dolphins, if you get lucky, before gorging on fresh oysters as you overlook the stretch of sea where they were farmed. Your nine-day itinerary also includes visits to the walled 14th-century town of Motovun, surrounded by truffle-rich forests, and the former Venetian fortress town of Grožnjan, poised among endless olive groves and vineyards.

Realize your Rovinj reverie: sign up by March 15 to get in on this all-inclusive retreat slated for May 8–16. Game, set, match.

    You may also like