Parenzana – the Route of Health and Friendship… Under this name is hidden the railway which draws and connects the best tourist destination in Northwestern Istria. Thanks to it, beaches in Poreč and Umag, Euphrasius Basilica and Savudrija Lighthouse, Baredine Cave and the observatory in Višnjan and many other magical medieval towns can be reached and visited.

Main Photo: Administrative Department for Tourism of Istria county

Umag

Photo by: Zoran Burazerović

It is famous and loved among the fans of the bike tourism. Moreover, I would say that is funny and an extraordinary way to see this part of the fabulous Istrian peninsula. If you want to explore Croatia by train – Parenzana is the best choice. At least …I saw it that way.

How did it start?          

Before I get to the funnier part, let me give you a small history lesson. Common… every self-respecting traveler makes an advanced research for its chosen destination.

The Parenzana railway was operating during the period of 1902 and 1935. The main goal of it was to connect the ports of Trieste and Poreč with villages and towns in the inner part of the Istrian peninsula. The route of tiny train was 123 km long, passing and linking 33 towns from Trst to Poreč. Nowadays, the railway passes territory of three countries: Italy – 13 km, Slovenia – 32 km and Croatia – 78 km.

Steam train 

Thanks to it, in only 33 years, the entire area has progressed and developed economically. Apart of passengers, the railway has been transporting treasure coming from the Istrian land - olive oil, wine, salt, the Istrian stone, wood, agricultural product, lime and many others.

Later on, in 2002, the Croatian government decided to give a new life to the railway route, however, this time in a bit different amploa – tourism. This is how the project “Parenzana – the Route of Health and Friendship” was born. Apart from the tourist train attraction, the project included brand new tracks for bike tourism and walking tourism. As a result, people keen in active recreation can enjoy this picture route and get to know better lovely Istria.

However, this time, I have stopped on the railway trip.

Train Parenzana

Photo by: Administrative Department for Tourism of Istria county

Following the whistle of the train…

I would say that a train ride through the magnificent Istrian land should be on the list of every traveler. Why? Imagine, a train journey which leads back to history of the area, to legends of the Medieval towns, surrounded by breathtaking landscapes and richly flavored by typical Croatian food. And this is how I spent my journey…

Istarski prsut

Photo by: Damjan Bistričić

It all started in town of Vižinada. The town was rising above the valley of Mirna river. So, the rest of passengers and I had the opportunity to admire the spectacular view of Istria coloured in green and blue. The next stop of the train was Rakotule – the town representing the agricultural life of Istrian peninsula. It is famous for delicious homemade bread and liquid gold – the olive oil. I would recommend you to taste the authentic Istrian soup. It is prepared of warmed red wine and toasted bread, really good flavoured with olive oil. Honestly, after this lunch I got tipsy.

Enough food tips, let's jump to attractions! You would never guess the main attraction which impressed me the most! Be prepared…

Rakotule has a small zoo of domestic animals. In that zoo elephants and monkeys are not welcomed, but you can see goats, donkeys and other domestic animals. The star of this zoo is the Istrian goat called 'Istrijanka'.

Later on, the trip continued to Karojba and Motovun. Motovun is a charming little town which has preserved the spirit of medieval ages. We admired Romanesque - Gothic bell tower and the 17th-century parish church of St. Stephen. I am not going to bore you with facts about them… Just one think - once you get there ask your guide to tell you the legends about the giants founded the town. I think this would give you a better prospective of the spirit of Motovun.

Motovun

Motovun

Photo by: Zoran Konestabo

More or less, I spent a different and funny day. The whistle of the train led me to a memorable trip among the beauties, colors, history and flavor of Croatia. And I loved it!

So, if you are searching for a different way of traveling and exploring Croatia – take the Parenzana train! I am sure you won’t regret it.

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