Tourism is a multi-million-euro industry in Istria, accounting for more than 40 percent of all tourist overnight stays in Croatia. It’s no wonder that Istria County has its own efficient tourist association, with information offices in almost every town from Pula on the coast to Grožnjan in the interior highlands. The Istria Tourist Board maintains an exceptionally helpful and complete website (www.istra.hr) where you can find information ranging from maps of the region’s olive oil roads to an up-to-date schedule of festivals and events in cities throughout Istria. The board also publishes a huge number of brochures, maps, CDs, and guides, some for special-interest travelers such as wine aficionados and spelunkers. Local tourist offices in most Istrian towns are staffed with knowledgeable people who will give you maps, brochures, and even advice on where to go to dinner.
By Plane -- Istria’s only major airport is at Pula, about 5km (3 miles) northwest of the center of town. It is served by Croatia Airlines (www.croatiaairlines.hr) as well as various European budget airlines in summer. Shuttle buses (30kn) and taxis run between Pula’s airport and the town center, where you can connect to other major Istrian towns via bus.
By Boat -- In summer, Venezia Lines (www.venezialines.com; tel. 052/422-8960) runs regular catamarans from Venice to Poreč, Rovinj, and Pula.
By Bus -- Autotrans (www.autotrans.hr) runs four daily buses from both Rijeka and Zagreb to Pula, and has other lines to major cities such as Umag and Rovinj on the coast. Most interior towns are connected to the coastal cities by at least one bus per day, but travel by bus to inland Istria can be inconvenient and time-consuming.
By Train -- There are train connections between Zagreb and Pula, but these are very slow (7 hrs. on average) and may involve several changes. Locals agree that the easiest and most comfortable way to arrive in Istria is either by bus or car. For details on Croatian Railways (www.hzpp.hr; tel. 060/333-444).
By Car -- Auto travel is by far the most flexible way to see Istria, and the only sensible way to see the interior. There are car-rental agencies in most of the major population centers.
By Car -- Parking limitations in Istria’s pedestrian-only old towns notwithstanding, access to your own car is the only way to explore the peninsula’s side roads that lead to tiny wineries, picturesque villages, and hidden treasures.
By Bus -- Regular and frequent bus service links Istria’s coastal cities, but service to inland villages is much less convenient for travelers who want to see a lot in a limited amount of time, or who are reluctant to walk a mile or more from a bus stop to get to a site. For information on bus travel in Istria, the best bus company is Autotrans (www.autotrans.hr).
By Train -- Croatian Railways (www.hzpp.hr; tel. 060/333-444) has a scanty network of trains in Istria. There is no time-efficient way to explore the interior—or even the coast—by train because schedules are not geared to touring.
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.