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The 14 islands and islets of the Brijuni Archipelago, northwest of Pula, were mostly used as quarries until Austrian steel magnate Paul Kupelweiser bought the entire area in the late 19th century and cleaned it up in order to build a luxury health resort. After World War II, Marshal Tito chose the islands as the site for his private residence and official retreat. For three decades, Tito spent six months of the year receiving world leaders and celebrities amid Brijuni’s natural wonders. Today, Brijuni is a national park and an official state residence and consequently only two of the islands—Veliki Brijuni and Mali Brijuni—are open to visitors, who must arrive via organized tours unless they’re staying at one of Brijuni’s hotels.

Essentials

Visitor Information --  The Brijuni National Park Tourist Office(www.brijuni.hr; tel. 052/525-888) is at Brijunska 10 in Fažana, on the mainland, 7km (4 miles) northwest of Pula. National park boats depart from Fažana for a standard tour of Brijuni; reservations are essential. Tickets are sold at Fažana (Jul–Aug 210kn; Jun and Sep 200kn; Apr–May and Oct 170kn; Nov–Mar 125kn). In addition, many tourist agencies on Istria’s west coast offer day trips to Brijuni. How much you will be able to see will depend on the excursion program of the agency concerned. Make sure that the tour you book allows you to disembark on the islands—some tours merely cruise around Brijuni without docking.

Getting There & Getting Around -- You don’t need more than a day to see the accessible parts of Brijuni, and it is easy to book an excursion. Tours leave from the dock at Fažana (a 30-minute drive from Pula, also accessible by the no. 21 Pula bus) several times per day, depending on the season. The boat ride to Brijuni from Fažana takes about 15 minutes and the guided land tour takes about 4 hrs., including breaks and waits for the boat back to shore.

Once you land on Veliki Brijuni,you’ll be escorted by an English-speaking guide through the park both on foot and on an environmentally friendly tram. The guided tour takes about 4 hrs. and hits the island’s safari park (housing exotic animals given to Tito by various world leaders, today including an elephant, zebras, holy cows, and ostriches), a 1st-century Roman villa complexat Verige Bay, the ruins of a Byzantine fortress, and the outskirts of Tito’s White Villa. Other points of interest are the “Old Lady,” a 1,600-year-old olive tree in the running for oldest tree in Croatia; a small archaeological museum, Church of St. Germaine,with copies of the Baška Tablet and Dance of the Dead Fresco from Beram; and the Josip Broz Tito Memorial Museum, a natural history museum with a collection of taxidermic animals on the ground floor, and a photo exhibit titled "Tito on Brijuni" on the second floor. The photos document Tito’s activities on the island, providing context on his style of leadership. Each image shows Tito shaking hands or dining with a different head of state or celebrity, proof of his ability to use his strong personality to advantage for his country.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.