Off The Beaten Path – Central Istria, pt. I


Mediterranean climate, hot summer months with a decent amount of sunny hours are certainly reasons why most people decide to visit Istria in the summer. The combination of sun and the sea seems to be the winning combination for choosing this magical peninsula as vacation destination, but we believe that there is so much more than sun&sea to be discovered. Unlike the Istrian coast where pebble beaches are packed with tourists in the peak of the summer season, central Istria’s dreamy green hills are breathing with calmness away from crowds and noise. If you search for Istria off the beaten path – inland should be on your itinerary. Local roads that lead to numerous hilltop towns (of which it is really difficult to choose your favorite), hidden taverns and agrotourisms whose gastronomic offer reflect values of tradition, local winemakers whose year-round hard work can be best tasted through a sip of their wine – all this is Istrian life.  Enjoy part one of central Istria guide.

DRAGUĆ – Istrian Hollywood 

Another hilltop town in Istria, but none less charming when it comes to its surroundings. Draguć, the hidden gem of Istria’s inland, put its nest on a hilltop halfway from Pazin and Buzet. During the last years it served as a coulisse for many movies, that’s why people sometimes refer to it as ‘Hollywood of Istria’. However, Draguć is far more than a location for filming famous movie scenes. After driving through local Istrian roads, arriving to Draguć comes as a reward. What is really worth visiting in Draguć is the House of Frescos –


House of Frescos in Draguć – Learn all about Frescos in Istria

Istrian Frescos are a great cultural phenomenon of the region. On such a small territory, there are more than one hundred localities with preserved fresco paintings and / or fragments. Where to learn about them in one place? House of Frescos in Draguć. Functioning as an experience center, you can learn all about great cultural heritage of frescos through ”innovative and dynamic multimedia interactions, multilingual photographic monographs, brochures and other educational-promotional materials.”

Learn all about more than 100 fresco localities in the Houses of Frescos in Draguć in this multimedia museum!


Get lost in a calming hike through fields of Gologorica area, and recharge your batteries through connecting with mother nature. The wide field at the bottom of Gologorica is called Gologorički dol and contains of few local small villages located on hills. Unlike the coast where summer nights don’t get cooler, the inland has a bit of a fresher air during the season so many people come here to have a good night sleep! Before having lunch at Agroturizam Dol, we recommend exploring the waterfall in Gologorički dol, as it is a wonderful creation of nature and the perfect example of Istrian karst landscape. 


 Agritourism Dol is run by Stojšić family and is a place where you can enjoy traditional Istrian meals made from their own garden vegetables. Surrounded by only nature and hidden deep in central Istria, this is the place where family, love for homeland and tradition meet.


Overlooking at Boljun fields, Paz is another small Istrian hilltop village that was built due to its favorable strategic geographical location.  Since 1374, it was under the rule of the Counts of Pazin, and at the end of 15th century, it was under governance of the Walderstein family.


This castle once was home of the famous noble Walderstein familyAccordingly, the family owned and ruled the whole place of Paz in the 15th century. Once mighty, it is strategically positioned on top of the hill in Paz, guarding the area. However, today is resting in its centennial sleep. Unfortunately, today the area is covered in greenery and abandoned. Entering the castle is nearly impossible, also it’s not recommended. Still, you can recognize the square tower, and the eastern walls of the castle that are leaning towards it. 

CASTLE BELAJ – a winery, a restaurant, a historical site

We always tend to leave the best for the end! Dvorac Belaj, 3 km from Paz is the real hidden gem of the area. The baroque castle Belaj is, besides a highly valuable cultural building, a wine cellar and a restaurant. The castle is surrounded by the vineyard with grape varieties of Malvasia, Chardonnay, Merlot and Pinot Noir, offering visitors of this beautiful complex an almost surreal view of Istrian vineyards that completes the experience of tasting Belaj wines paired with Istrian dishes with a modern twist. Dvorac Belaj is a degustation room, a restaurant, and an interesting historical site, offering history tours. The chapel of the castle is the only one in Istria dedicated do St. Henrik!

Author: Annamaria Gržetić
Founded in 2015, our focus is on contributing to sustainable tourism development in the region of Istria, Croatia, through the work we do. Therefore we are keen on building a travel community to connect travelers with locals of Istria. Off The Beaten Path is a movement that embraces tourism development in a respectful manner while encouraging locals and travelers to involve themselves in a much meaningful way. 
Want to work with us, be featured in our interview or simply have a story to tell? Reach us:
A. Coane 6, 52210 Rovinj
+385 91 600 4278

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1 Comment

  • Reply Marko 21/06/2018 at 1:17 pm

    Postovani mozete mi kroz poruku podlat neke zanimljivosti u vezi pule i rovinja o kijima je tesko nas i u knjigama

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