The Istrian peninsula is without doubt the jewel in the crown of cycling in Croatia and one of the few places where road cycling is more popular than trail cycling and you will actually see other cyclists in Lycra sharing the road with you.
The whole peninsula has a different feel and atmosphere to the rest of Croatia which probably has something to do with being inextricably linked to Italy.
Since road cyclists are a common sight in this area, the main roads tend to be a bit safer than those in the rest of Croatia.
This route begins and ends in Rovijn, an unbelievably charming town that juts out into the Adriatic Sea and has the feeling of being designed by a painter. The place exudes small-town charm but the food is big in flavour. Any cyclist would do well to make this place their base for exploring Istria.
The route heads north towards another beautiful coastal town, Porec. From here we head inland towards the hilltop village of Motovun. Getting up here will literally and figuratively take your breath away.
From here the ride meanders on a mixture of quiet roads and even some white gravel roads that recall Strade Bianche to drop back in Rovijn for some much needed local wine and food.
The faded grandeur of Rovijn, an excellent base for exploring Istria by bike.
The route profile below gives an indication that this is going to be a tough day in the saddle, gaining 2011m as you go. The climb up to Motovun is epic and finishes on the cobbled stones through the gate of this most charming of villages.
Starting at the roundabout in Rovijn just on on the edge of the old town the route starts by heading east on the 303 road which, depending on the time of year, could be relatively busy with traffic. The first 10km or so will have you gradually climbing until you turn left and can finally give your legs a bit of a rest after a tough warm up. At the base of this descent you could take a quick detour off to the left where there is a nice restaurant set on the side of the river but remember that should you decide to stop then you will be climbing to get back onto the route.
You can decide to take a detour for a quick coffee beside the river but after only 15km you will probably want to keep those fresh legs turning
After that quick descent your legs will then be asked to get you up a short and steep little climb called Limska. Once you crest this hill you will be glad to know that it is all downhill to Porec.
The route swings away from the main road at Flengi onto a single track road that is more pleasant to ride on. You could continue on the coastal road but it doesn't offer any epic views to make up for the busier traffic. It does however pass the Dinopark Funtana if that is your sort of thing...
As you get closer to Porec and back onto the main roads the traffic will obviously get a bit busier. The route doesn't take you into the heart of Porec but it is certainly worth a detour to the main square for a coffee and a slice of cake.
Follow the route out of Porec and before long you will be back on good, sealed, single lane roads taking you through fertile farm lands with rick red soil but you will be steadily climbing. Around 40km the route rejoins a main road for a while but as before, the drivers here are generally used to seeing cyclists on the roads and give plenty of space. After Vizinada (55km) the route sharply descends to the river valley and what is essentially the only properly flat part of the route. If you have the legs then this is a good section to get aero and push on a good steady pace to earn that lunch at Motovun, the village at the top of the hill coming towards you on this section of the road.
At the time of writing Primoz Roglic holds the Strava KOM for the iconic climb up to Motovun so there is no shame in missing out on this KOM.
The official Strava segment finishes at the car park but it is worth continuing right into Motovun itself and find yourself cycling on the cobbles through the city gate.
Looking down on where you came from...
After a suitable rest, double back through the village to the car park and although it would seem natural for the road to descend back to the valley floor, following the route back to Rovijn will have you climbing again but at least now you should have some lunch to give you the much needed energy.
Just after Skropeti (82km), take a right off the main road and onto the quieter country lanes for the next 35km as you make your way back to Rovijn. These quiet farm roads are generally in good condition even take you past the abandoned medieval town of Dvigrad (116km) and a nice Strava section to attack if you still have the legs.
Once you get to the top of this climb then the route turns back onto the main road for a downhill ride all the way back to Rovijn.
We can create custom routes if this one does not exactly match your needs or perhaps you want something a bit longer. If that is the case then drop us an email and we will create a custom route complete with map files and an information booklet to get the most out of your time in the saddle.
Cycle through the stone gate at Motovun and grab a much deserved coffee and cake
The Church of St. Euphemia dominates the view of Rovijn
The whole of Istria offers outstanding food and none more so that the ham