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Castles to Coast Walk

from $2,199.00

Explore the beautifully unspoilt province of Istria and discover a timeless world of Venetian castles and Renaissance palaces set amidst lush valleys. Orchards, artist villages and vineyards predominate inland, with delightful bays and marinas along the coast.

  • Reviews 56 Reviews
    5/5
  • Vacation Style Holiday Type
    Self-guided
  • Activity Level Moderate
    5/8
All about the Castles to Coast Walk.

This walking holiday opens up a timeless world that in the oldest towns takes you back 2000 years. The coastline sparkles with bays and inlets, while inland, castles and palaces in hilltop villages float in the early morning like stone battleships on a swirling sea of valley mist.
You begin in Motovun where walks follow high ridges and an abandoned railway offers panoramic views over truffle-rich valleys of oak and fruit orchards, and emerald ranks of vines. From Motovun you walk above the Mirna River valley to the fortified hill town of Buzet. You then head east to the bright lights of the Adriatic Riviera, summiting Istria’s highest peak Mt Vojak (1401m) for incredible 360 views as far as the Dolomites and Switzerland. Your final two nights are spent in Opatija, once the playground of the wealthy classes in the 19th century. Impressive villas line the shore, shops and cafes cluster around 17th century churches, and fishermen land their catch just outside bustling local restaurants on crowded marinas. there are swimming opportunities every day.
You’ll spend three nights in hilltop Motovun in a converted 17th century palace with a stunning spa and indoor pool. In Buzet, your accommodation for two nights is a beautiful converted townhouse with indoor pool, set within the original 18th century Venetian battlements. Finally in Opatija your 5 star luxury waterfront hotel dates back to 1886 and offers beautiful rooms with period furniture. Dining options are excellent and varied so you are free to enjoy local restaurants.

The tour package inclusions and exclusions at a glance
What is included in this tour?Items that are included in the cost of tour price.
  • All continental breakfasts
  • 7 Nights Accommodation, hotel-to-hotel
  • Route directions and maps
  • Luggage transfers
What is not included in this tour?
  • Flights
  • Arrival & departure transfers (available on request, inquire for supplement)
  • Single Accommodation (available on request, inquire for supplement)

Highlights

  • Croatia’s Istrian peninsula: Venetian castles, Renaissance palaces, hilltop villages, Adriatic Riviera
  • Diverse regional cuisine: local wines, homemade pasta, truffles and fresh fish
  • Panoramic walking paths, ghost villages, lush orchards
  • Natural bounty: bee and green-winged orchid, orange fire lily, amethyst sea holly, truffle-rich woods
  • Charming hotels: a converted palace, beautiful townhouse and C19 villa
  1. Day 1 Day 1: Arrive in Motovun

    Arrive at your hotel in hilltop Motovun.

  2. Day 2 Day 2: At Motovun - Circular Walk 17km/11mi/5hr

    The Kaldir Valley below Motovun is well known locally for fruit, and your ascent through orchards of apples, peaches, cherries and plums passes country shrines and tiny hamlets. A high ridge affords excellent views east to Mt Vojak and west to the sea. Picnic amid olive groves; look out for honey buzzards and listen to lesser spotted woodpecker rattling the pines as you descend back into the valley. Stroll along the castle sentry’s walkway around the ancient city walls before dining out in the village.

  3. Day 3 Day 3: At Motovun - Motovun to Groznjan 20km/12.5mi/5hr or 25km/16mi/6hr

    Today’s shorter option starts with a transfer (10 mins) to Livade; the longer option departs from the hotel with a steady descent through vines before reaching Livade from where a panoramic walking track (originally a railway abandoned in 1935) leads over aqueducts and bridges. Then it’s on through apple orchards and smreka bushes – the berries are used to make local raki – to reach the artists’ village of Groznjan. Time to relax, soak up the atmosphere and enjoy the views as far as Slovenia’s Julian Alps and Venice whilst waiting for your transfer back to Motovun (20 mins).

  4. Day 4 Day 4: Motovun to Buzet 14km/9mi/4.5hr

    After a transfer (10 mins) to the ghost village of Bentonici, a winding ascent on a forest trail sprinkled with green-winged orchid leads you high above the clear Mirna River. Church bells chime across valleys of beech from pointed steeples that crown every hilltop. Blue rock thrush flit between branches as you ascend an amazing stone-slab trail used since the Middle Ages by traders and travellers, before descending to Buzet, a Roman settlement on a hilltop with intact 18th century Venetian fortifications.

  5. Day 5 Day 5: At Buzet - Circular Walk 12km/7.5mi/4.5hr

    High above Buzet, a limestone escarpment runs east to west above shady oak woods peppered with smallholdings. Chickens scatter as you pass through villages leading up onto the ridge for uninterrupted views back to Motovun. You follow the escarpment edge across wind-scoured limestone as Buzet floats on a blanket of cloud below, and paragliders launch themselves into the sky. A descent past country churches and tumbledown villages leads back to the hotel.

  6. Day 6 Day 6: Buzet to Opatija 10km/6.5mi/4hr

    Mt Vojak, Istria’s highest peak, towers 1401m over the east coast in Ucka Nature Park, a haven for many protected flowers and plants. After a transfer (40 mins), you zigzag to the summit for 360 views of Croatia’s islands and Alpine peaks in Slovenia, Italy and Switzerland. Look out for orange fire lily, amethyst sea holly and bee orchids on the descent. It’s then a short transfer (20 mins) to Opatija, where your waterfront hotel in a converted 19th century villa awaits. Dine in one of the local restaurants near the marina.

  7. Day 7 Day 7: At Opatija 6km/4mi/2hr or 12km/7.5mi/4hr

    The Adriatic Riviera was a playground for the social elite in the 19th century. Impressive villas with opulent gardens rich in local and exotic plants line the waterfront with views over to the Velebit mountains. A panoramic walkway leads along the sea between yachting marinas and swimming platforms, pretty coves, sea cliffs and azure bays for 6km into Lovran. Enjoy lunch (payable locally) on the waterside with a view over to Cres Island, then either catch the local bus back or stroll home above the waves.

  8. Day 8 Day 8: Leave Opatija
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Where you stay
Hotel Kastel
Hotel Kastel is within the castle walls of Motovun, right at the very top of the hill. It is a converted family palace dating from the 16th century. There is a shady terrace with great views. Warrens of alleyways lined with artist studios and shops selling local produce surround the central square. It has some lovely outdoor gardens, a state of the art spa with pool and massage suites. Rooms are modern and spacious, with views either onto the square or of the surrounding hills.
Hotel Vela Vrata
Hotel Vela Vrata is enclosed within the city walls of the ancient part of Buzet, set on a hilltop at a bend in the Mirna River Valley. The hotel is a series of 4 converted townhouses that have been beautifully renovated, even including an indoor pool. It has a terrace out the front on the street with views of the hills across the city walls, while inside, still life paintings on the walls and period furniture in the public rooms on the ground floor create an old world atmosphere. Bedrooms are very modern and classy, with state of the art bathrooms. Much of the main (more modern) town of Buzet is a short walk downhill from hotel.
Hotel Sveti Jakov
The Hotel Sveti Jakov is superbly located in the heart of Opatija right next to the park and just across from the Church of St. James. It is also just over 100m from the nearest beach. Built in 1886 in the style of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the hotel is a former aristocratic villa and was known as the long-time residence of the Viennese physician and scientist Julius Glax (born in Vienna in 1846). So fond was he of Opatija that, having moved here, he stayed for the rest of his life. The historically-styled rooms feature elegant parquet flooring, rich fabrics and period furniture along with views of either the city or the gardens. Additionally, you can enjoys views of St. James’ Park and the famous Helios and Selene fountain designed by Austrian sculptor Hans Rathausky.
Eating and Drinking

All continental breakfasts.

Classification: Self-Guided
Activity Level: 1 (Leisurely/Moderate)

You begin in Motovun where walks follow high ridges and an abandoned railway offers panoramic views over truffle-rich valleys of oak and fruit orchards, and emerald ranks of vines. From Motovun you walk above the Mirna River valley to the fortified hill town of Buzet. You then head east to the bright lights of the Adriatic Riviera, summiting Istria’s highest peak Mt Vojak (1401m) for incredible 360°ree; views as far as the Dolomites and Switzerland. Your final two nights are spent in Opatija, once the playground of the wealthy classes in the C19. Impressive villas line the shore, shops and cafes cluster around C17 churches, and fishermen land their catch just outside bustling local restaurants on crowded marinas. there are swimming opportunities every day.

Overall Rating
5/5
Reviewed On 30/09/2019
5/5

Mr Lumsden

Walking was very challenging but we felt real achievement completing the routes - especially up the escarpment! Overall it was excellent walking - scenery - lack of other walkers - very good instructions (as the maps were not recommended). Hotels were very suitable but the Jakov restaurant was extremely expensive (it was pouring with rain so we had to eat in). Overall it was another successful Headwater holiday and we are already planning our next one!

Reviewed On 08/07/2019
4/5

Mr Huddlestone

Despite the record June temperatures for Croatia, which proved very challenging to complete the walks, the holiday proved to be a great success with some lovely relaxed evenings after such strenuous exercise with excellent meals in these great hotel locations in this lovely country.

Reviewed On 23/11/2018
5/5

Mrs Pizzoni

Istrian Peninsula in Croatia is like stepping back in time. Friendly people, unspoilt countryside and abundance of flora and fauna. Beautiful contrasts of hills and coastal walks and well worth visiting.

Reviewed On 01/11/2018
5/5

Mrs Togher

Istria was a wonderfully unspoiled area, excellent for walking or cycling. Headwater’s walking instructions were clear and easy to follow. Would definitely holiday with Headwater again.

Reviewed On 05/10/2018
5/5

Dr Smith

Glorious holiday

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Package Confirmed Dates Trip Status Trip Status Price (PP) Excluding Flights Price (PP) Including Flights  
May 5, 2020
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$2,199.00
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May 13, 2020
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May 20, 2020
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$2,249.00
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$2,279.00
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September 1, 2020
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September 20, 2020
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$2,279.00
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