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If You Have 3 Days
There is so much to see in Istria that three days is a must, though it may seem like a rush if that's all the time you have. Start in Pula, as suggested below, if you are coming from Zagreb; if from the north (from Slovenia or Italy), start with Rovinj instead. Either way, by all means do visit Rovinj. If you are interested in Istria's ecclesiastical heritage, you may want to prioritize Porec over Pula; if Roman ruins are more your thing, by all means focus on Pula, whose architecture also gives you more of a sense of Istria's Austro-Hungarian past. On the first day, start off in Pula. Visit the Arena and at least take a stroll to the Forum. By all means spend the night here. A short drive or bus ride toward the Verudela or Stoja resort area gets you to eminently swimmable, if rocky, stretches of shoreline. The next morning, head off to Rovinj. Visit the 18th-century baroque Crkva Sv Eufemije, and just revel in strolling about the most beautiful town on the Istrian coast. On the third day, spend some more time in or around Rovinj, whether strolling the Old Town or taking a dip in the sea. If you're up to it, particularly if you have a car, move on to Porec to see the Eufrazijeva Basilica.
If You Have 5 Days
Spend your first day as above, but consider adding an excursion from Pula to Vodnjan or Brijuni National Park, depending on whether you're more interested in Vodnjan's countryside, medieval atmosphere, mummies, and food, or in Brijuni's natural splendors and luxurious, seaside ambience. Move on to Rovinj by the evening of Day 2 or the morning of Day 3, spending at least a full day or more there. On Day 4, it's on to Porec. Perhaps go inland and spend the night in Motovun. On Day 5, if you're driving, take a look at Grozjnan as well before heading back. If you're getting around by bus, it's time to head back to a major town on the coast. Indeed, why not spend a few more hours in Rovinj or Pula before bidding adieu to Istria?
If You Have 7 Days
Spend your first five days as above, but be sure to supplement your time in Rovinj, Pula, and Porec with a lunch in Labin, on the east coast of Istria; if you're driving from Zagreb do it on the way to the more important towns; if you're driving through the countryside that takes you through both Motovun and Groznjan, spend a night in or near Motovun. Before going inland, you may want to pay a visit to Vrsar and the Limski kanal or, instead, Baradine Cave. If you have a car, you can do so as you go inland or on your way back to the coast; if traveling by bus, you can get to these places most easily on a group excursion from Porec or Rovinj. You may want to visit Novigrad, too, especially if you're driving, but save Umag for a 10-day trip. Spend Day 6 in Groznjan then go back to Porec or, better yet, Rovinj for the night. On Day 7, proceed to Pula, with a stop in Labin if you haven't been there yet and will be going farther east. Perhaps spend your final night in Labin as well.
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