Historic town of Umag and harbor breakwater aerial view
© xbrchx

Top 10 things to do in Umag

Discover Umag, one of the sportiest cities on the coast

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Written by
Lara Rasin
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One of the Istrian peninsula’s many gems is the delightful coastal town of Umag. The town’s rich history, dating back to Roman times, is revealed in its amazing architecture and cultural heritage. Umag also offers top-notch Mediterranean cuisine, gorgeous beaches and sports activities galore – it’s especially known for the annual Croatia Open Umag, the country’s oldest and most famous tennis tournament.

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The Museum of Umag sits at the very tip of the town’s pretty peninsula. It’s housed in the 14th-century Bishop’s Tower which was once a used as a fortress to defend Umag from seafront attacks. The museum opened in 1976 with a small collection of stone monuments and artworks. Today, after purchasing private collections and expanding, it’s a well-established cultural and research institution. Fine art and temporary exhibitions are displayed on the first floor; the second floor has a permanent exhibition. Don’t miss ancient gravestone epigraphs and the coat of arms of the town’s former Venetian leaders.

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If you’re in town during the summer, see one of Croatia’s best sporting events: the Croatia Open Umag, an ATP tennis tournament. Famous champions of the event since its beginnings in 1990 include Goran Prpić and Marin Čilić. The tournament is held annually in a seashell-shaped stadium named after Goran Ivanišević, one of Croatia’s (and the world’s) most celebrated tennis players. The usually weeklong event offers more than just a sporting spectacle: its Party & Gourmet programme includes concerts and parties along with fantastic food and refreshment stands.

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Umag is the perfect base for exploring the surrounding seas and sights. Take a ferry or rent a boat (with a skipper or, for the more experienced, without one) to many beautiful nearby locations. Visit Savudrija lighthouse, the oldest in Croatia, located one to two hours away by boat; it has striking vistas of the Adriatic and the coast. Bonus: by visiting the lighthouse you’ll reach Croatia’s westernmost point, the namesake Cape Savudrija. Another option is an excursion to Venice; the short ferry ride from one amazing Mediterranean city to another lasts just between two and three hours.

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The Church of St. Roche, located right at the entrance of Umag’s old town, was built in the 16th century following devastating plagues in the region. Today, the church is an important historical landmark in which you can see oil paintings adorning a wooden ceiling from the 18th century. Another art trove from the 16th century is the Parish Church of Annunciation, sitting on the town’s central Freedom square. Inside, you’ll find five 17th-century marble altars built in the Venetian style, relics sacred to the church and reliefs dating back to the 18th century.

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As many as 600 cycling, hiking and walking trails cross through or surround Umag. More experienced bikers can make a 30-kilometre loop around the tip of the Istrian peninsula; the first stretch is coastal, from Umag to Savudrija to Kanegra, and the final stretch is an inland crossing from Kanegra to Umag. Walkers and runners can enjoy the peaceful streets of old town Umag or make their way through the forested paths that surround the city. Whichever trail you choose, vineyards, olive groves, sea views and medieval towns are bound to wow you along the way.

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Seaside bars and clubs dot Umag’s coastal areas and its old town, offering dance-till-the-morning parties all summer long. Those looking for dance music and cold drinks can head to Ray Bar, while rockers can try American Bar and its solid selection of beer. If you’d like to dance not only alongside music, but also with lady luck, a high-end casino is just 15 minutes away by car. Casino Hotel Mulino is situated in the nearby town of Buje right next to the Croatia-Slovenia border. Mulino’s gambling and entertainment centre features 20 tables and 260 slot machines.

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Umag’s Subaquatic Dive Centre offers one of the longest diving seasons in the entire Mediterranean. Through the centre you can explore the best of Istria’s underwater world: see everything from wrecks and ancient artefacts to lobsters, fish and coral. The expert instructors offer classes that range from beginner to professional in difficulty, as well as freediving certifications. Whichever you choose, Umag’s waters are crystal-clear and unpolluted, and will make for the perfect scuba spot.

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Cuisine all across Istria is well-known for its quality and deliciousness, and Umag is no exception. From truffles and homemade pastas to prosciutto and seafood, there’s something for everyone. For seafood specialties such as octopus pod pekom (cooked under a bell), head to seafront restaurant Lido; don’t miss their homemade pasta, either. At Mundoaka, you can try homemade tagliatelle with shrimps and black Istrian truffles, paired with the best Istrian wines like Malvasia. Nono Tavern serves homemade Istrian prosciutto and dishes with boškarin, the famous Istrian cattle. Don’t miss a tour of the onsite family farm.

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Umag boasts over 40 kilometres of pristine Adriatic coastline and a variety of marvellous beaches. Just 3 kilometres from the centre of Umag, and right next to the ATP Stadium Goran Ivanišević, is Laguna Stella Maris. Flanked by pine trees, this 327-metre-long pebble beach has lounge chair and umbrella rentals. Next to the Laguna, you’ll find the sandy Osmica beach, with an outdoor seawater swimming pool. Umag’s main town beach sits 1.5 kilometres from the centre and offers sandy, paved and grassy areas along with restaurants and sports amenities. All three beaches are family-friendly, with easy water access and long stretches of shallow sea.

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Opened in 1997, Gallery Marin is a modern art champion that actively organises workshops and exhibitions. Owned by local artist Slavica Marin, who occasionally makes the space her own atelier, Gallery Marin hosts a bevy of creative events during the high summer season. Marin herself is an acclaimed artist who won over 12 international awards. The gallery’s impressive past exhibits have included works by renowned painters like Edo Murtić and sculptor Dušan Džamonja. You’ll always fine exciting new artists from Croatia and beyond on display.

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