Along the border of Slovenia in the northwestern corner of Croatia lies the Istrian Peninsula. Known for its beach resorts, hilltop villages, and uniquely serene wine country, Istria has emerged as a top vacation destination for all sun-seeking Europeans. The rugged coastlines can be crowded with resorts, leaving little sand for some quiet R+R; however, outside of the main summer months the Istrian Peninsula can be more tolerable. The roads are generally in good shape but the highways along the coastline can get crowded in the summer months.
The main city of Pula in the south is where most of the action is, and where most tours will be based. It is a wonderfully intriguing city full of chic city life and ancient Roman ruins. The Roman amphitheater is one of the best preserved in the world, and the city center is a bustling commercial hub of bars, restaurants, and shops that are worth the time exploring. Istria is Croatia's most important, and most visited, tourist region and is well suited to cycle tours and adventures.
You don’t have to venture far from the touristy coastline to find some sanctuary and solace in the more authentic interior as the craggy coast quickly gives way to rolling hills and quaint villages. The agri-industry is heavily focused on the production of quality wines and olives which makes for some delicious cycle touring! Many of the small villages have begun to capitalize on agritourism by offering hotels, sightseeing tours, and opportunities to interact directly with the farmers and residents of the interior; luckily, this development has done little to change their rustic charm. In particular the hilltop villages of Motovun and Groznjan are well set up for tourists, yet can still take you back in time to a simpler era of farming and a laid back, off the grid lifestyle.
Istria is a manageable size and topography for most cyclists; a week's worth of riding out of Pula will allow you to see most of what the peninsula has to offer. For those looking for more, Istria is easily tied into larger tours of both northern Italy, and the wonderfully beautiful Dalmatian coastline of mainland Croatia.