When we visited Istria in Croatia this summer, the joys of lying by the pool were wearing a bit thin after the first day (for me anyway) so we decided to hire some bikes.
I’d picked up a map showing all the marked cycle trails that would be ideal for a day out – I imagined myself cycling through the olive groves and vineyards and perhaps stopping at the odd winery for a tasting of the local Croatian wine. The children, however, imagined themselves enjoying the pool and the shade of the sun-umbrella at our hotel for a just a little longer.
In the event we were short of time and our proposed day out turned into an afternoon bike ride. We picked up the bikes after lunch and decided to follow the path that ran beside the sea, past the many different rocky coves and swimming places. We could have gone towards the town of Poreč in where many of the trails begin, but decided to go in the opposite direction, hoping to find some interesting places to swim in the sea.
The path is as much for people walking to the sea, as it is for cyclists, so we had to dodge quite a few people en route, but it was interesting to notice all the different swimming locations. Some were bays with waterbound inflatables to slide down and pedalos, ideal for families, then there were quieter spots where you could indulge in a private bit of naturist sunbathing. Then we passed the equivalent of a beach club (although no beach, only rocks) with smart daybeds and a DJ playing , for the hip young crowd. Then past a campsite we decided we’d cycled far enough to deserve a cooling dip and a beer or ice cream (that’s ice cream for me, beer for the kids – only joking).
We were able to go down the ladder from a jetty but we saw a few people wincing as they walked into the sea on the pebbly bottom – it’s definitely worth investing in those water shoes when you swim in Croatia. The sea was emerald and refreshing, and every so often a boat would pass by, creating an unexpected gulp of salty sea water.
There’s loads of fun to be had cycling in Istria in Croatia – there’s a big mountain bike thing going on and I thought the cycle routes looked interesting, especially if you were there in the spring or autumn when it would be cooler. Take a look at www.istria-bike.com for more information on trails to follow, accomodation along the way and specialist cycling holidays. Or pick up a map of the marked trails from your hotel, tourist office or cycle shop when you get there. Next time, I’m definitely doing that trail through the vineyards and olive groves.
Just to let you know that I travelled to Istria in Croatia as a guest of the Istria Tourist Board, who asked me to blog about the things I enjoyed (which wasn’t hard).