The city of Poreč is most widely known for the 6th-century Euphrasian Basilica, one of the several UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Croatia. But, there are several other sights in the historic center of Poreč that are worth a visit. The inevitable Mediterranean architecture and traditional Istrian restaurants and souvenir shops are yours to be explored!
Why visit Poreč?
Istria is the largest Croatian peninsula and the largest peninsula in the Adriatic Sea. It is known as Little Italy because, for many years, Istria was under Italian rule. This left a great mark on the architecture of the peninsula, as well as on the people of Istria. Along with the rich history and beautiful sea and nature, Istria is full of lovely little towns built in stone.
The most well-known cities of Istria are those on the coast – Pula, Rovinj, and Poreč. But there are also several lovely towns located in the inland of the peninsula. These are the acropolis towns such as Grožnjan, Motovun, or Hum, which is also known as the smallest town in the world.
Poreč is a place of rich cultural heritage. The former Roman colony reached its peak during the Byzantine reign. The most notable record of this era is the magnificent Euphrasian Basilica, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here, you can also enjoy the sights of Romanesque and Gothic architecture. The original orthogonal set of streets, with beautiful Venetian palaces, has been preserved until today. The town’s historic center is full of cultural events and artsy souvenir shops, as well as lovely shops with local products.
years of history
km of coastline
Blue Flag beaches
What to see in Poreč
Inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1997, the Euphrasian Basilica is the most valuable cultural monument in Poreč. The basilica complex is the best-preserved complex of early-Christian architecture in the world. The complex includes atrium, baptistery, bishop’s palace, Byzantine mosaics, and remains of sacral buildings dating from the 3rd to the 4th centuries. The basilica was named after Euphrasius, Bishop of Poreč. He built the complex in the 6th century, on the site of an earlier church. At that time, Bishop Euphrasius was serving under Roman Emperor Justinian. And, what is now known as Poreč, was in the 6th century the Roman city of Parentium.
The Euphrasius’ mosaics which decorate the facade and the interior of the cathedral attract the most attention. They are considered a valuable example of Byzantine art. The bishop’s initials inscribed in many of the mosaics have made him immortal. Euphrasius brought the spirit of Byzantium to Poreč and thus gave the town new political and cultural orientation. Over the years, this has turned the provincial little town into a recognizable and popular destination.
The Euphrasian Basilica is very much worth a visit. Not only will you witness a rare example of the preserved Byzantine art and architecture, but you will also see later modifications and influences that have affected the basilica and the town of Poreč. For an entrance fee of 50 HRK and a discount for children, the basilica is a must for everyone visiting this lovely town.
Poreč Old Town
Apart from the Euphrasian Basilica, the old town of Poreč has much more to offer. Located on a small peninsula, the town’s center is a witness to the history of the city, the rulers who passed through it, and the influences they left behind. These influences are reflected in different styles in architecture and art.
Roman influence is visible in the symmetrical placement of the streets. Poreč has preserved this appearance to date. The main streets Cardo and Decumanus are still in the original place, as well as the centrally located Forum (main square). Euphrasian Basilica reflects early-Christian and Byzantine architecture. The Venetian Republic, which ruled the city for five hundred years, left some beautiful palaces. The Romanesque, gothic, and baroque palaces can be seen along the peninsula. In the more recent history, the town was part of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, which also left its mark on the town’s appearance.
One of the most significant cultural monuments that you can visit is the Romanesque House. The house from the mid-13th century is the oldest preserved house in Poreč. Today it serves as a souvenir shop and houses the Ethnographic Heritage Collection. Next, there’s the 15th century Gothic Palace. This is one of several preserved Venetian palaces along the Decumanus street. The Baroque Palace, built in the 18th century, is nowadays used as the Heritage Museum of the Poreč Region. Poreč also has preserved town walls and gates, as well as several towers. All these are remains of a former medieval defense system.
What to do in Poreč
The coast of Poreč and its islands is 37 km long. The area counts with 21 beaches with the Blue Flag, an international symbol of clean sea, and an indication that a certain beach meets high environmental and quality standards. The town of Poreč and its archipelago hold the highest number of blue flags in Croatia. Whether you are a fan of sandy and pebble beaches, or you prefer a rocky beach, you’re bound to find something to your liking! Another good news is that the sea temperature can reach 28 degrees during the summer, which means that even the most demanding can enjoy a nice swim.
Many hotels have their private beaches, but there’s plenty of public beaches with all the necessary facilities. Poreč city beach is the closest one to the city center. The beach extends south of the old town and has a rich entertainment and recreational facilities with good gastronomic service. Thanks to the shade of the pine trees it is ideal for all who want to spend the entire day at the beach. In the Poreč area, you will also find special separate beaches for pets, as well as nudist beaches and beaches for adults only.
Istria is home to the Aquapark Aquacolors Poreč, the largest Croatian water park. The aquapark is located just outside Poreč. It extends on over 100.000 m2 and offers plenty of amusement and adrenalin rides for people of all ages and profiles. Aquacolors Poreč gathers the biggest number of water attractions in one place. Steep toboggans and ultra-fast water slides, pools, a 500-meter long lazy river, and many other attractions are at your disposal. Other services available in the park, such as restaurants, bars, and shops, allow you to enjoy your time and spend the entire day having fun. The price of the daily ticket is 25 euro, with an extra discount for children, students, and families.
Only 30 minutes drive from Poreč, you will find Aquapark Istralandia. Istralandia is a magical water world ideal for families with children. The parks offer includes workshops, tournaments, dance courses, concerts, sports events, and other activities, with plenty of pools and slides that guarantee the best water entertainment. The full price ticket is just below 30 euros, but the reduced price is available for children and the elderly.
When to visit Poreč?
As the city is located on the coast, tourists usually visit Poreč during the summer. Due to its rich cultural heritage, there’s plenty to see and do for the rest of the year, as well. The perfect timing would be early spring when the weather is nice and not so many tourists are in town. But, if you are planning on swimming and sunbathing, summer is the best time to visit.
How to get to Poreč
Poreč is accessible by car, bus, boat, or plane. Car and bus are the most practical options, available all year round. But, if you decide to take a boat, the closest ports are Pula, Rijeka, and Kopar (Slovenia). The boat lines that connect Italy with Istria are Adriatic Lines, Liberty Lines, and Venezia Lines. The ferry is available in the port of Rijeka, just 90 km from Poreč.
How to get to Poreč from Pula airport
When leaving the Pula airport, turn left and follow the road until you reach the roundabout. Then, continue straight. Follow the instruction on the road and get on the motorway A9/E71 towards Slovenia/Austria/Rijeka/Umag. When reaching the Baderna junction, keep right and take the exit 5 (direction Baderna/Pazin/Poreč Centar). Leave the motorway, turn right, and continue straight until you reach the town’s center.
How to get to Poreč from Zagreb
You will need approximately 3 hours to reach Poreč from Zagreb. First, get on the motorway A1 and follow it until you reach the Bosiljevo junction. Keep right to continue on A6/E65 in direction of Pula/Rijeka. When reaching Rijeka, keep left to continue on E65. Stay in the middle lane to join A7/E61 towards Austria/Italy/Slovenia/Pula. Next, take the exit Pula/Pazin/Opatija and continue on E751. At the Rogovići toll station, keep right and follow the instructions for Poreč. Continue to the roundabout and take the 3rd exit. On the next roundabout do the same and just follow the road straight to the Poreč center.
How to get to Poreč from Split
The ride from Split to Poreč takes approximately 5 hours. Please note that in summer months it could take you a bit longer, due to the increased traffic on Croatian motorways. After leaving Split, take the highway A1, direction Zagreb/Rijeka. Follow A1 to Bosiljevo and, next, get on A6, following the instructions for Rijeka/Pula. After passing Rijeka take the exit for Pula/Pazin/Opatija. Keep following the road. At the Rogovići toll station, keep right and follow the instructions for Poreč. Continue to the roundabout and take the 3rd exit. On the next roundabout do the same and just follow the road straight to the center of Poreč.
How to get to Poreč from Venice
When driving from Venice to Poreč, you will need about 3 hours. Please note that you will be passing the border, so prepare the passports by your side. First, take the motorway A57/E65. Stay right to continue on E70 (later RA13). Take the exit towards Muggia/Capodistria/Koper and continue to the Slovenian border. Next, continue on H5 towards Pulj/Pula/HR. Take the exit Pulj/Pula/Pola/HR and follow the instructions until reaching the border crossing Dragonja. Then continue straight on E751 and follow the instructions in direction of Poreč.
You won’t need a car to enjoy Poreč. The town’s center is ideal to be explored on foot and all the beaches are reachable by bike!
Where to eat in Poreč
Istrian cuisine is as good as Istria is beautiful! Although they are both a variation of the Mediterranean cuisine, the traditional food of Istria differs from the Dalmatian cuisine. Fish, squid, asparagus, truffles, pasta, and Istrian pršut (prosciutto) are just some of the traditional dishes of Istria.
Tradizione is a family restaurant serving traditional local cuisine. On its menu, you will find seafood, fish, meat dishes, grilled dishes, etc. The restaurant is a bit secluded, which means it is not located in the very center. This gives you more privacy while you enjoy your meal. The nice ambiance and good sized portions are all the more reason to visit the restaurant.
Konoba Aba is a traditional local tavern serving Istrian and Mediterranean cuisine. The tavern offer includes seafood and fish dishes, but there’s plenty of traditional meat dishes on the menu, as well. Centrally located, the restaurant is a perfect choice to stop for a good meal while exploring the streets of the town’s center. The restaurant’s traditional interior will make you enjoy the food even more.
Bacchus is the perfect place to try the best of the local products. Here you can try Istrian wines and brandy, olives and olive oil, products made out of truffle, Istrian prosciutto and bacon, goat cheese, octopus salad, steak tartare, and other traditional snacks. Bacchus is a good choice for a brunch or a dinner, or as an alternative to a bar. Here, you can even purchase some of the products you’ve tried earlier.
What to visit near Poreč
Dinopark Funtana is located at a 10-minute drive from the Poreč old town. The park is a great place to spend a day with the entire family. The beautiful Istrian forest hides a wooden trail walk among the real-sized dinosaurs. This prehistoric adventure also includes several family rides and rollercoasters. You can ride a dinosaur, feed and play with animals, explore a pirate ship, play paintball, jump on a trampoline, and watch acrobats and stuntmen in a thrilling show. A visit to the park is also educational, children can learn everything there is to know about the giant prehistoric creatures!
Escape the summer heat and visit the mystical underground world of the Baredine Cave. The cave has a pleasant temperature of 14˚C. The cave is a natural phenomenon full of stalagmites and stalactites, underground sculptures created over many years by drops of water. The cave also includes the encounter with the underground animals, such as the cave olm (Proteus anguinus), endemic of the Dinaric karst area. The Baredine Cave is situated in the western part of Istria, 8km from Poreč. The cave tour lasts 40 minutes and includes a visit to five beautifully decorated chambers.
The city of Rovinj is one of the most beautiful cities in the Adriatic Sea. The old town, which is nowadays a popular tourist destination and a monument of culture, was first situated on an island, which as later connected to the mainland and turned into a peninsula. The old town of Rovinj is a typical Mediterranean town, crowded with narrow stone houses, narrow streets and small squares, all of which make it a lovely and picturesque town it is today. The Church of St. Euphemia dominates the peninsula, along with its bell tower, as it rises above the houses and the roofs.
The town of Hum, located in the interior of the peninsula, is known as the smallest town in the world. Hum is, in fact, one of the rare examples of a medieval town that hasn’t spread outside the city walls. The appearance it has today, this acropolis town got back in the 11th century. The town of Hum consists of only three sets of houses and you don’t need more than 20 minutes to see the entire town. But there is still something magical here that attracts tourists to visit it and to love it.
Motovun is one of many acropolis towns scattered throughout the Istrian peninsula. It is also the most famous and most visited Istrian acropolis, due to the Motovun Film Festival that takes place in the beautiful scenery of the town every summer. The medieval fort of Motovun, along with the city walls, hides many surprises. Apart from the unique architecture, the town offers an incredible panoramic view of the green Istrian inland. The town is a great place to visit if taking a tour through the peninsula, or as a site for a lunch break.
From the town of Fažana (45 minutes from Poreč) sails out the boat to one of the most beautiful sites in Croatia – the Brijuni National Park. The Brijuni is a group of islands famous for its natural beauty and for being the Summer Residence of President Marshal Tito. Today, the Brijuni National Park houses several hotels, a safari park with exotic animals, several archeological sites from different historical periods, a museum and an educational center. The ticket for the national park includes a boat ride, touristic train, and a local guide.
Pula is the largest, and, architectonically speaking, the most interesting town in Istria. The city of Pula is one of the oldest Croatian cities on the coast. Inhabited ever since the prehistoric times, Pula became an important Roman colony and port on the Adriatic Sea at the time of the Roman Empire. Until this day, the historical center of Pula houses several Roman buildings, all in perfect condition. Some of those are even among the best examples of Roman architecture in the world, such as the famous Arena Pula, a beautiful Roman amphitheater.