Istria – the
heart-shaped, Italian-esque peninsula on Croatia’s western coast – has become known as the country’s best kept secret. While its nightlife may not be as rampant as some of its neighboring cities, its incredible wine bars, world-class nightclubs and gorgeous views are must-sees. Here are the top 10 Istrian bars to check out.
While bars and clubs here may not be as widespread as in other major Croatian cities, places like Byblos makes nightlife in Istria worth the visit. Located at the tourist resort Zelena Laguna in Poreč, Byblos hosts a wide variety of concerts and party music to dance to in their indoor and outdoor areas, and is one of the most popular nightclubs and bars around. Some well-known artists who have performed at this world-class venue in the past include Afrojack, Fatboy Slim, Martin Solveig and Paul Oakenfold.
Opening hours: 11pm – 6am Mon-Sat; closed Sun
Watch out for: performances by world-renowned artists
Address & telephone number: Zelena Iaguna 1, Poreč, Croatia; +385 52 635 281
Artsy and eclectic
Just a little over a mile south of the Veruda center, Cabahia is an artsy, dimly lit hideaway with a cozy and eclectic interior. Filled with vintage décor, this spot has a boasts a bit of South American flair and a beautiful garden terrace perfect for mingling out back. Known to host both concerts and shows in its space, Cabahia tends to get packed to the brim with locals and tourists on the weekends. Just don’t forget to stop at an ATM on your way – this place’s cash only.
Opening hours: 8am – 12am Mon-Sat; 10 am – 12am Sun
Watch out for: a broad range of beers on tap
Address & telephone number: Širolina 4 Veruda, Pula, Croatia; +385 98 937 2595
Relaxing and low-key
If Cabahia gets too loud and packed, you can always head across the street to its neighboring bar, Bass. A laid-back spot for those looking to get away from the crowd a bit, Bass offers a slew of beers, decently priced cocktails, sangria, and many types of Croatia’s most popular spirit, rakija. Relax with friends and enjoy your drinks on the covered outdoor terrace.
Opening hours: 8am – 12am Mon-Thur; 8am – 1am Fri-Sat; 10am – 12am Sun
Watch out for: DJs spinning funk rock on Fridays
Address & telephone number: Širolina 3, Pula, Croatia; +385 99 831 9051
For the late-nighters
Perfect for the night owls and sundowners, Pietas Julia is a chic and trendy bar open until 4 a.m. on weekends. Sitting right on the harbor, this lounge and disco bar has a lengthy list of both classic and specialty cocktails like the Freddy Kruger and the Zombie, and an extensive menu of pizzas, pastas and paninis when it’s time to soak up the booze. Make sure to check out their Facebook page for upcoming events, shows and parties.
Price: Low to Mid-range
Opening hours: 8am – 12am Mon-Thurs, Sun; 8am – 4am Fri-Sat
Watch out for: late-night weekend hours
Address & telephone number: Riva 20, Pula, Croatia; +385 91 181 1855
Best known for its stunning locale, which overlooks the St. Andrea beach in Rabac, Movie Bar provides guests with a relaxing atmosphere, day and night. On sunny afternoons, it’s the perfect place to lay back with friends and enjoy a fresh smoothie or coffee beachside, but at night, expect a more energetic, nightclub vibe with live music and deejays.
Opening hours: 9am – 1am Mon-Sun
Watch out for: a gorgeous beach view
Address & telephone number: Ulica Maršala Tita, Rabac, Istarska, Croatia; +385 99 851 5164
Classy and contemporary
If you’re looking to see and be seen, Valentino is the place for you. A high-class cocktail and champagne bar, it sits directly on the water and is arguably one of the most romantic bars on the Adriatic coast with its underwater lighting and perfect views of the sunset. The bar, which also overlooks the water, is set on a small, rocky area, which has been cleverly transformed into a modern, chic bar with cushions on the rocks for seating.
Opening hours: 4pm – 12am daily
Watch out for: a breathtaking view of the sunset
Address & telephone number: Santa Croce 28, Rovinj, Croatia; +385 52 830 683
Intimate and romantic
A stylish little wine bar with an intimate and romantic setting – Piassa Granda sits in Veli trg, which was Rovinj’s main square while it was an island. Wooden beams and red walls lined with shelves of 150 different wines create a cozy and welcoming atmosphere. The staff is friendly and knowledgeable about wines, and the bar offers a small menu with local cheeses, bruschetta and crostini, and other appetizers.
Opening hours: summer 10am – 1am daily; winter 10am – 11pm daily
Watch out for: 130 Istrian wines, which can be sampled on site
Address & telephone number: Veli trg 1, Rovinj, Croatia; +385 52 811 374
Best view of the city
A café and cocktail bar with a medieval vibe, Torre Rotonda is situated on the southern part of Poreč’s peninsula right next to the public square. The tower, which was built in 1474 under the Venetian government, was once used as a fort to defend the town from the Turkish government. Today, it has been transformed into one of the most attractive bars in the area, with seating atop the tower itself, overlooking the city and sea below.
Opening hours: 8am – 2am daily
Watch out for: a gorgeous view atop a historical tower overlooking the city
Address & telephone number: Narodni trg 3a, Poreč, Croatia; +385 98 255 731
A dive bar with personality
Scandal Express is a tiny and smoky dive bar where the locals are known to hang out. This Istrian drinking spot may be small, but what it lacks for in size, it makes up for in character. Its old train-carriage feel attracts a bohemian and artsy crowd, and the place often gets packed quickly, causing regulars to spill out onto the narrow street.
Opening hours: 7am – 12am Mon-Fri, 7am – 2pm & 6pm – 12 am Sat & Sun
Watch out for: pašareta, a local Istrian soda
Address & telephone number: Ciscuttijeva 15, Pula, Croatia; + 385 52 212 106
Enjoy the best wines
Because Wine Enthusiast rated Istria as one of the top 10 best wine travel destinations for 2015, a trip here would not be complete without a pit stop at Bacchus Vinoteka, a sweet little wine shop down a side street. Customers can try local wines on tap from 9KN per glass, while they snack on some traditional Istrian plates. A treasure for wine-lovers, Bacchus Vinoteka is a cozy spot whether you’re with friends or traveling solo.
Watch out for: Istrian wines
Address & telephone number: Eufrazijeva 10, Poreč, Croatia
By Julianna Roche