Explorer: Cycling Istria

Explorer: Cycling Istria

Cycle on a mixture of paved and gravel surfaces to cross three borders as you travel through Istria, the largest peninsula in the Adriatic Sea. Begin in Trieste Italy, once the most important port of the Austro-Hungarian Empire until it became a part of Italy after WWI. Then cycle along Slovenia's stunning Adriatic coastline and explore well-preserved medieval cities along the way. Get a surprising taste of a verdant landscape reminiscent of Tuscany as you cycle the rolling hills of Istria's interior. Return to the coast and the crystal blue water of the Adriatic Sea but instead of Slovenia you are now in Croatia! Your cycling journey ends with a transfer to Pula, the largest city in Istria and a former Roman outpost featuring cobblestone streets and an incredible Roman Amphitheater.

Learn more about what is included and what to expect on your Explorer tour at the Explorer Tour Style page.

Tour Dates & Prices

Private Room Fee
Sep 5-12, 2020
 Guaranteed to Go!

* We are happy to match solo travelers who would like to share a room with someone of the same gender. If no match exists, due to hotel pricing, we will charge 50% of the private room charge. This charge will be collected at the time of the final payment. If a roommate assignment is available it will be refunded at the conclusion of the tour.

Tour Style: Explorer Book This Trip Now Hold-A-Space/Questions Request Custom Date Download Itinerary Tour Map
  • Trip At-A-Glance
  • Tour Summary
  • Daily Itinerary
  • Travel Information
  • Map
  • Reviews
  • Similar Tours
Trip At-A-Glance

Trip At-A-Glance

  • Length / 8 Days
  • Total Distance / 296 km (184 miles)
  • Avg. Distance / 49 km (30 miles) per riding day
  • Tour Level & Tour Style / 3.0 Explorer
  • Countries / Croatia
  • Begin/End / Trieste, Italy / Group transfer to Pula, Croatia
  • Price / From USD$2795
Tour Summary

Tour Summary

  • Highlights
    Bike through three countries, Mediterranean cuisine, Coastal riding, Porec, Parenzana Trail (Rail to Trail network), Motovun, UNESCO World Heritage Site in Poreč, medieval hilltop towns

    Keep in Mind: We work hard to maintain consistency across all of our tours, but some trips have unique differences. Here are some things to keep in mind about this tour.

    Learn more about what is included and what to expect on your Explorer tour at the Explorer Tour Style page.
  • Includes
    8 days, 7 night's accommodation; all breakfasts, 3 dinners, welcome drink; GPS with pre-loaded tracks; support vehicle; 2 bilingual tour leaders.

    Learn more about what is included and what to expect on your Explorer tour at the Explorer Tour Style page.
  • Arrive / Depart
  • Overall Tour Level
  • Daily Ride Summary




    Day Level


    Test ride
    58km / 860m
    difficulty level 3.5
    47km / 563m
    difficulty level 3.0
    39km / 788m
    difficulty level 3.0
    39km / 337m
    difficulty level 2.5
    53km / 730m
    Rolling hills
    difficulty level 3.0
    63km / 491m
    Rolling hills
    difficulty level 2.0
    Last day

    Tour Level Note: Consider that around 50% of the ride will be on dirt paths and roads sometimes with rocky or rough terrain. Your pace will be slower and the perceived effort will be greater than when you are on pavement.

Terrain Legend

Gently rolling Gently rolling hills

Rolling hills Rolling hills

Hilly Hilly

Very hilly Very hilly

Mountainous Mountainous

Daily Itinerary
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DAY 1:  Buon Giorno Italia – Trieste

Highlights:  Test ride and welcome dinner

Welcome to Trieste! The capital of the Friuli Venezia Giulia region has rich Austro-Hungarian and Slovenian influences, and was an important location in the struggle between the Eastern and Western blocs after WWII. This port-town, sits on the coast of the enchanting Adriatic Sea and is a tiny slice of Italy almost entirely surrounded by Slovenia. We will meet in the afternoon for a bike fitting and test ride before enjoying dinner together in this beautiful and multi-cultural city.

DAY 2: Trieste to Buje

Highlights: Cycle through three countries! Coastal bike path

Begin the morning warming up your legs in Italy and soon you'll make your first border crossing of the day into Slovenia. We'll follow a cycling path along a stunning section of the coast as we make our way through the charming seaside towns of Koper, Izola, Piran and Sečovlje Saltpans Natural Park, the largest wetland on the coast and famous for its salt production. We'll then cross into our third country of the day, Croatia. Tonight we sleep in a small agriturismo (farm stay) located near the Slovenian- Croatian border.

Road Surface: Mostly paved.

  • Distance: 58km (36mi)
  • Gain: 860m (2821ft)
  • Terrain: Hilly
  • Day Level: difficulty level 3.5
  • Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

DAY 3: Loop ride to the coast

Highlights: The Adriatic coast, the Parenza trail

Today's loop ride takes us to the Croatian coast, with views overlooking Slovenia and Italy to the west before heading inland to the Istrian Peninsula. We will follow part of the Parenzana trail, once a narrow gauge railway which connected Trieste with Porec. In its short operating period (1902-1935) the railway contributed greatly to the economic progress of Istria, transporting local products including wine, olive oil, salt, stone, lime, coal, wood, and passengers. This area is famous for its culinary specialties; in coastal areas you'll find a plethora of traditional seafood specialties and as you move inland the focus turns to wine and olive oil. Make sure Teran wine and extra virgin olive oil are on your list of things to try.

Road Surface: 24% gravel, 76% paved.

  • Distance: 47km (29mi)
  • Gain: 563m (1847ft)
  • Terrain: Hilly
  • Day Level: difficulty level 3.0
  • Meals: Breakfast

DAY 4: Buje to Motovun

Highlights: Cycling through vineyards, olive groves and medieval villages

Today’s ride features rolling hills, medieval villages and olive groves and it's easy to imagine you've been transported to Tuscany, but with far fewer visitors. First you'll cycle to the medieval village of Momjan - famous for its Muscat. The next stop is Groznjan, a small renaissance town also known as the "City of Artists", where almost every house entrance has a small gallery or art studio. We finish the day in Motovun, a medieval hilltop town. Today’s ride is a perfect sampling of the cultural richness of Istria's interior.

Road Surface: 35% gravel, 65% paved.

  • Distance: 39km (24mi)
  • Gain: 788m (2585ft)
  • Terrain: Hilly
  • Day Level: difficulty level 3.0
  • Meals: Breakfast

DAY 5: Motovun to Poreč

Highlights: UNESCO Poreč

This morning, we leave the verdant interior of Istria behind as we cycle back to the coast. We will finish the day in the town of Poreč, recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its 6th century Euphrasian Basilica featuring gem-studded mosaics. There are also excellent examples of Romanesque and Baroque architecture, and plenty of great cafés and bars to relax and enjoy a beverage or meal.

Road Surface: 64% gravel, 36% paved.

  • Distance: 39km (24mi)
  • Gain: 337m (1105ft)
  • Terrain: Hilly
  • Day Level: difficulty level 2.5
  • Meals: Breakfast

DAY 6: Poreč to Bale

Highlights: Inland istria, two-night stay in Bale

We ride back into Istra's interior today. Along the way you'll find quaint villages, beautiful architecture, cycle through the vineyards of Malvasija, farms and medieval hill towns like Dvigrad, which is dominated by the remains of a Roman basilica. Our destination is Bale, a charming medieval town where we'll stay the next two nights. Take your time as you explore the old town, wander around the narrow, cobbled streets within the fortified city walls.

Road Surface: 45% gravel, 55% paved.

  • Distance: 53km (33mi)
  • Gain: 730m (2394ft)
  • Terrain: Rolling hills
  • Day Level: difficulty level 3.0
  • Meals: Breakfast

DAY 7: Loop ride to Rovinj

Highlights: Rovinj, the coast

Enjoy another ride to the Istrian coast – as we cycle to the Venetian city of Rovinj. Explore the charming old center, beautiful fishing port and the majestic bell tower of the Euphemia Church built on the highest point in Rovinj. Certainly the city's most distinctive feature, and a coastal landmark, the bell tower commands your attention no matter which direction you approach the city. Tonight we'll celebrate our cycling adventure with a special dinner together.

Road Surface: 60% gravel, 40% paved.

  • Distance: 63km (39mi)
  • Gain: 491m (1610ft)
  • Terrain: Rolling hills
  • Day Level: difficulty level 2.0
  • Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
  • Lodging:

DAY 8: Transfer to Pula – tour end

Highlights: Pula

Our tour ends today with a group transfer to Istria's largest city, Pula. We recommend you plan at least one night here to explore the charming cobblestone streets of this well-preserved Roman outpost. Don't miss the Roman amphitheater in the heart of the city and the nearby pristine beaches!

  • Meals: Breakfast
Travel Information

Travel Information

Day 1: Arrival Information

 Buon Giorno Italia – Trieste

Lodging: Hotel NH Trieste

Meeting time 2 p.m. - on Day 1, meet your fellow cyclists and Tour Leaders at the Day 1 Hotel specified on the itinerary.

As you are planning, remember that the hotels listed in our itineraries are our primary hotels and are - in rare cases - subject to change. Before you make arrangements, check with us if your tour departure is guaranteed. If your tour departure is out further than 6 months, please also check with us as there might be slight changes to the itinerary.

The below information will help you plan your arrival. For more tips or other routes, you might like Rome2Rio. The fare and timing information listed below is approximate.

We recommend flying into the Trieste Airport (TRS).

How to get to the Day 1 Hotel:

  1. Train from Trieste Airport to Trieste Centrale (30 min/EUR 4-5, no pre-booking necessary)
  2. Walk 3 minutes to the hotel ( click here for map).

Look up Italian train schedules at Trenitalia.com or Trainline.eu. Questions? See our information on taking trains in Europe here.

Day 8: Departure Information

Transfer to Pula – tour end

Your tour ends on the final day with a complimentary ExperiencePlus! shuttle drop-off at the Pula Airport (PUY), arriving at 10 a.m. (1-hour shuttle) Reservations are required. Please make your shuttle reservation by emailing us no later than 30 days prior to your tour start date. 

If you do not join the shuttle, you will be responsible for your own transportation. 

You may also choose to depart from Venice or Trieste, both about 4 hours away ( https://venezialines.com/ ).

What's Included

For a full list of what's included before, during and after your bike tour, visit our What's Included page.

Keep in Mind

We work hard to maintain consistency across all of our tours, but some trips have unique differences. Here are some things to keep in mind about this tour.

Learn more about what is included and what to expect on your Explorer tour at the Explorer Tour Style page.

Pre-Trip Planning Checklist

To do right after you booked!

6 to 3 Months Prior to Tour Start Date

  • Check the online itinerary of your trip and review the arrival and departure information under the "Travel Information" tab to see meeting place and time, if a reservation on a complimentary ExperiencePlus! Shuttle (if applicable) is required, and other important information to help you plan your arrival and departure.
  • Reserve your flights after you know you have a confirmed tour departure. Please check with our office if you do not know if your trip is confirmed.
  • Book your pre and post-tour hotel nights.
  • Begin your chosen training program.
  • Final payment is due 90 days (120 days for Bike &Barge/Boat tours) prior to the tour start. Please refer to your Invoice and the Final Payment Reminder e-mail you have received for detailed instructions.

6 to 2 Weeks Prior to Tour Start Date

Day of Your Flight

Get as much sleep on the plane as you can. Pack your one day of cycling gear in your carry-on. See you soon!

What to Expect on Tour


Your bike will be equipped with: a men's or women's saddle, a quick release style seat post adjustment, rear rack and expandable pack, pump, patch kit, spare tube, cable lock, cyclometer, rear lights, a water bottle cage (or two), one water bottle , and a bell. If you would like to bring your own pedals and shoes we recommend doing so—your tour leaders will install them during the bike fitting. We have flat pedals with or without cages available. For safety and hygiene reasons you are responsible for bringing a helmet.


Each day you'll receive a daysheet with information on the day's activities, meals and ride. These also include Tour Leader phone numbers, hotel information and interesting historical and cultural information about sites that you may want to stop and see along the route. Your Tour Leaders will also post daily announcements in the hotel lobby with information about sightseeing in town or restaurant recommendations for dinners on your own as well as important information about breakfast, luggage down and "arrows down" time.

Navigating on Tour

Each day we will provide you with a route map with the day's ride highlighted route. Of course, we also mark the route every day with our signature chalk dust arrows. Our arrows make navigating very easy—you may never need to look at the map! The arrows also allow you to ride at your own pace. There is no need to "keep up" with the group—this is your ride!

But what if it rains? What happens to the arrows? In a light rain, the arrows actually "set up" and become more permanent. In a heavy rain, they do wash away. If that happens, we'll re-group to cycle together for those who want to continue cycling while those who prefer to stay dry can shuttle.

For the tech-loving riders out there we offer the opportunity to download GPS tracks of most tour routes to your personal GPS device using RideWithGPS.com.

Van Support

The van carries luggage and supports cyclists. It also has water, fruit and snacks. Though the van has snacks, we encourage you to stop and enjoy markets and find your own favorite local specialty.


We have carefully chosen all of our accommodations for their charm and location. They are typically small, family run hotels that offer you a glimpse into the local culture.

We prefer hotels near interesting sites in the center of town located along the best cycling route in the area. Because many of the hotels are small not all of the rooms will be exactly the same. We keep this in mind and do our best to distribute rooms fairly by the end of the tour. Our itinerary lists our primary hotels. On rare occasions, listed hotels are subject to change.

Meals and Restaurants

Breakfasts: we work hard to arrange complete breakfasts but some hotels still serve continental style breakfasts; cycling is energy intensive so we do recommend you plan for a morning or mid-morning snack on the road at a local café or market.

Water is OK in almost all hotels and in country fountains; if there is a problem, we will advise you.

We'll recommend lunch locations en route and most itineraries include a few group picnics. We limit the number of picnics so you don't feel pressured to be at a certain place in the middle of your ride.

Dinners together are often pre-planned and pre-ordered. We'll ask you prior to your trip if you have special dietary requirements. Preplanned meals allow us to provide a variety of regional specialties and facilitate efficient service. Water, wine and beer are included.

Tipping Your Tour Leader Team

If you feel your tour leader team has demonstrated great expertise and service, common practice within the travel industry is to tip. Tipping is voluntary and greatly appreciated, and gratuity amounts vary widely. Should you decide to leave a tip, as a guideline, we suggest 5% of the tour cost per traveler – this for the entire tour leader team, not each Tour Leader. If you’d like to show your gratitude for your Tour Leaders’ excellent service you can give the tip to any member of the tour leader team, as they share it evenly. In order to avoid social tensions, we encourage you to tip as individuals and not as a group. If you feel your Tour Leaders did not quite meet your expectations, then we would like to know about it. You will also have the opportunity to leave your comments in our evaluation survey which we email to you after your trip.


By reserving space on tour, you agree that ExperiencePlus! Bicycle Tours may use, re-use and reproduce any images, photos or videos that you send to us, or that are taken by our guides and/or other travelers of you individually or in a group, in any medium, including but not limited to print, electronic media, or Internet, free of charge and without your right to inspection, for promoting and publicizing our travel products and services worldwide. If you do not want us to use any images of you that are taken by us or other participants during the tour, you must inform us or your tour leader in writing at the start of the tour.





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