Istria by e-bike
Steep terrain makes the northern region of Istria challenging for cyclists, but Saddle Skedaddle is offering a guided holiday on electric, pedal-assisted mountain bikes with full-suspension. It is based in a seaside hotel in Rabac and highlights include a long descent in the Ucka mountains, cycling the Parenzana, a converted railtrack linking the rural villages of Groznjan, Motovun and Vizinada and a backroad tour of the Skitaca peninsula.
Quiet roads, coastal views and inland landscapes peppered with vineyards and hilltop villages make Istria an ideal region for touring by car too. Regent Holidays has a circular fly-drive from historic Pula, with time to admire its Roman amphitheatre and forum before heading to Porec with its 6th-century Byzantine mosaics. Includes car ferry trips to the islands of Cres, Mali Losinj and Krk and time back on the mainland in Rijeka, a port with a lively cultural scene.
Northwest of Dubrovnik, the Elaphiti islands are – with the exception of Sipan, Lopud and Kolocep – largely uninhabited, which makes them wonderful to visit. The archipelago is the focus for a week with Artisan Travel, including paddleboarding, sea kayaking, hiking, snorkelling and a three-day catamaran trip to tranquil coves and beaches. Excursions to castles and monasteries are on offer, plus a day trip to Dubrovnik by ferry.
Elegant Belle Époque villas and summer homes that belonged to the Austro-Hungarian elite in Opatija’s 19th-century heyday have been converted into grand hotels overlooking the Kvarner Gulf. Chic bars, stylish restaurants, flower-filled gardens and hillside walks lie behind a long, tree-lined seafront promenade. The resort makes a good base for exploring the lively port of Rijeka with a hilltop castle, 17th-century cathedral and buzzing shopping streets.
Around 200 species of spectacularly colourful butterflies are native to Croatia, including the small and rare Dalmatian ringlet, the exotic tiger blue and distinctive Balkan marbled white. Naturetrek leads a small group tour through the limestone gorges of Plitvice and Paklenica national parks to seek them out. The tour also takes in the Velebit Nature Park, a Unesco biosphere reserve. home to the luminously orange Balkan copper.