Motovun, a small town in heart or Istria, one is of it star locations and an unbelievable attractive medieval city. It is situated on a hilltop, so if you are not fascinated by the view on the city itself, you will certainly be once you climb up to the hill. As I already mentioned in 36 hours in Istria post, we had only a couple of hours to spend in Motovun and it was not nearly enough. Motovun and its surroundings can offer you days of fun and active vacation or lazy days spent in spa or luxury villas, depends on what are you looking for. Mirna river valley, vineyards, Istrian spa and Motovun forest are only some of the locations you can visit during your stay.
13 GREAT IDEAS HOW TO SPEND 3 DAYS IN MOTOVUN
(or weeks, if you wish)
Tour Around Medieval Hilltop City
To climb up to Motovun hill, you can use public transportation, car (you need to pay the fee before starting to climb) or walk. Once you reach the top, you can walk around the city – and I mean literally around since you can walk right next to the fortification system – in half an hour. You can enjoy different views to Mirna’s valley, admire the Istrian stone architecture and discover various gardens. If you are in the mood, you can pay a visit to a bell tower and church and get ready for new adventures.
Go Truffle Hunting in Motovun Forest
Istrian truffles are well known gastronomic delight. Since they were discovered in Motovun Forest around 80 years ago, they are absolutely adored. Various restaurants began to use them as they wished to make their regular dishes more sensational. Gourmands recognized the value and creativity, so Istria became an absolute gastronomical hit. In October and November, you can visit Truffles Festival in nearby village Livade. If you wish, you can go truffle hunting yourself. There are different tours organized (for more info check here) and you would be accompanied by the guide and dogs trained to search for truffles (even pigs do that sometimes). Besides you are going to experience something completely new, you can also learn about the dogs, their training, and truffles themselves.
Ride Down the Aphrodisiac Bike Trail
If you are in good physical shape, you should rent a bike and ride down the aphrodisiac bike trail. It got names after the truffle, which is believed to have aphrodisiac characteristics, and it celebrates gourmets and romance. The trail will take you to picturesque towns and villages in Motovun’s surroundings (Oprtalj, Livade, Istrian Spa). While riding, you can also enjoy different activities and visit restaurants and spas, or just bike along the calm Mirna river.
Take Advantage of Free Tastings Offered in the City
Right after it was taken out of the ground, the truffle is used as a food additive or it is processed into different high-quality products (cheese with truffles, oil, spreads, sweets and so on). Do not forget truffles are not cheap and definitely not easy to sell. All around the city, you can notice boards offering free tastings of the products sold by local people. You can try different cheeses, all kinds of truffles, wines, oils and other local products. Take advantage of it! Try as much as you wish, just do not forget to thank for seller’s kindness and buy at least one product. Unfortunately, we did not buy any truffles, homemade olive oil or regional wine, but I managed to grab one packing of Istrian traditional pasta – fuži.
Discover Charming Local Restaurants (konoba)
Do not be fooled by its size – Motovun has few really nice restaurants. If we count the ones around the city as well, there is plenty of charming local restaurants (locally called konoba) where you can enjoy all that wonderful food I’ve been talking about for weeks already. You must try at least one dish with truffles (for example traditional pasta with truffles or steak)! If you feel a bit more adventurous, you can go for a dessert with truffles – ice cream or different cakes. I tried a pannacotta with truffles and I had mixed feeling about it.
If your budget allows it, treat yourself to a meal in probably the most famous Istrian restaurant – Restaurant Zigante in Livade. Mr. Zigante has been known for founding the biggest truffle ever in Motovun Forest. It was the white truffle and with 1.31 kg of weight it ended up like u Guinness record holder!
Go Wine Tasting
Vineyards around Motovun are known for excellent Malvazija, the white wine, or Teran, the red one. And many others. Excellent food goes with excellent wines and you should try them. All! Book a wine tasting tour and next time you will know how to pair it with this delicious food.
Try Hot Balloon Rides or Paragliding
Imagine this. A hilly land full of small colorful villages, beautiful blue Adriatic sea in the distance and you flying over in a hot air balloon. You can see all the beauty once more, but this time from the air. If you are feeling braver, there are opportunities for paragliding as well. Since the weather is so nice, you can fly all year round and take some really stunning photos.
Enjoy Parenžana Train Scenic Ride
This recently revived route will take you from Motovun to Vižinara, a hilly town above Mirna river and it will return to life old legends. People say in this area lived many giants who were poisoned by little people and turned into their servants. One of them was Veli Jože, a giant who was not treated well by people of Motovun and he became the main character of (famous writer) Vladimir Nazor’s novel. The trip lasts 1:40 h and there are five departures each day if you wish to be a part of fairy tale Istrian midlands.
Relax at Istrian Spa
For some Motovun is not so attractive because it is not on the coast. Do not let that discourage you – Motovun is only an hour away from the first beaches and only 10 – 15 minutes away from the Istrian thermal resort! Croatia is known for hot springs and several of them can be found in Istria as well. After a busy week exploring Motovun, you truly need some good relaxation. A day spent in a pool or having a massage is a great way to treat yourself a bit.
Catch the sunset
People say the most beautiful sunsets are in Croatia. True or false? Come, catch the sunset from the top of Motovun hill and let me know.
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