Things to do in Motovun, Croatia
The captivating landscapes of Istria are often compared to Italy’s Tuscany, with small hilltop towns dotted across the region. The beautiful historic architecture, incredible views, and delicious cuisine make Motovun a great addition to your journey through Croatia.
Witness it for a day, strolling through the medieval alleys and eating good food, or stay the night to experience the village at its quietest.
Tip: The cobbled streets have become quite slippery over the years, so make sure to wear good shoes when exploring Motovun.
1. Walk along the Castle Walls
Motovun has made an impressive stronghold throughout history as it sits enthroned on top of a hill, peering out over the neighboring landscapes. Legend even says that the town was built by giants. The village boasts two rings of fortress walls around the old center, a testament to its past and the perfect spot to soak up the incredible panoramic views.
Take some time to tread the ramparts, looking out over lush vineyards as you listen to the crickets and town noises. These historical walls make up one of the best-preserved fortresses in Istria, with the citadel at the very top being the oldest (12th century).
2. Explore the Village
One of the best things to do in Motovun is lazily roaming through the small medieval town without a destination in mind. The old center is incredible, full of history and clunked-together houses along narrow stone streets typical of the region. The buildings here are covered in stunning details and wall art, asking for a picture at every corner.
Amidst the charming medieval alleys, you’ll find the town square. Linger in one of the small gardens or enjoy a cup of coffee on one of the terraces with views over the valley. St. Stephen’s Church stands here as well, a landmark of the town tucked between Venetian-style houses. You can climb up the bell tower of the 13th-century church and enjoy some stunning views over the roofs of the old town.
If you’re a lover of all things truffle, then truffle-paradise Motovun is for you! Famous for its delicious local food and fantastic wines, the old town offers some excellent restaurants and shops that put the earthy mushroom on center stage. You’ll find them on almost every menu, as they’re cultivated in the beautiful surrounding forests of the town.
After roaming around Motovun, drop into a restaurant along the city walls and try some of the local delicacies, such as the Istrian pasta fuzi. You can also join a truffle-hunting tour if you’d like to learn more about how they find this pungent ingredient. This experience offers a unique and immersive look at what’s needed to unearth these prized treasures.
4. Visit Hum
Tucked away in the surrounding green hills, about 40 minutes from Motovun, lies the world’s smallest village, Hum. Its petite charm unfolds through just two streets, each lined with cobblestones and a few cute shops. Decorative bicycles stand out front, contrasting with the beautiful green leaves that cover the village’s houses.
Though it only takes 20 minutes to see the whole village, Hum’s quaint medieval atmosphere makes it one of the best things to do in the region. Enjoy a refreshing drink and a little cheese platter at AurA, or grab lunch with a view at Humska Konoba.
5. Visit Groznjan
Groznjan is another charming village close to Motovun worth visiting on a half-day trip. Though it remains a small medieval gem hidden in the hinterland of Istria, it’s become a haven for artists, with countless art galleries, studios, and small boutiques. Stroll through the romantic winding stone alleys as you soak up the town’s unique charm.
You’ll find rustic cafes and great konobas tucked in between, perfect for a break. Go for lunch or dinner at Restaurant aModoMio, which has a lovely terrace at the back overlooking the green rolling hills – perfect during sunset!
6. Kotli Watermill
Cool off at the hidden gem in Kotli, where an old watermill cradles a pristine river. This idyllic retreat makes the perfect spot for a refreshing summertime dip, with vivid blue water and a small waterfall that gracefully falls over the smooth rocks.
Park your car at the nearby bridge and walk about two minutes to where you can hop in the water. The small natural pools lie between the lush greenery of Istria, which you can pair with a visit to the nearby village of Hum. Note that when the summer wanes, the river’s flow fades. Nevertheless, it makes a great location to visit on your Croatia itinerary.
7. Visit a Winery
Central Istria’s undulating landscapes are covered in vineyards, showcasing the region’s rich wine culture. For nearly 2000 years, since the days of Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius brought the first vine to the peninsula, wines like Teran, Merlot, and Muscat have thrived here.
Dive into this history by visiting one of the vineyards around Motovun. From tours across the property and cellars to wine tastings with incredible views, all offer a glimpse into the rich cultural heritage the surrounding landscapes hold. Many of the businesses here are also family-run and have existed for generations.
You’ll find many wineries nearby, such as:
Where to Stay
The medieval town in the Istria region of Croatia makes a great daytrip destination. However, in the old town of Motovun and in its lush surroundings, you’ll also find many incredible accommodation options.
From full apartments with wine-valley views, BnBs, or boutique hotels with a pool, it’s here. Because of this, it’s worth spending the night when road-tripping through the country. We stayed here one night and visited other nearby spots like Hum and the Kotli Watermill.
Best Restaurants & Cafes in Motovun
In Motovun, cobblestone streets lead you to some of the coziest eateries, often with some of the most incredible views over the surrounding green fields. Immerse yourself in truffle-infused dishes, velvety pasta, and grilled seafood paired with a delicious local wine. Food definitely adds to the charm of the village. Some of our favorite cafes and restaurants are:
- Konoba Mondo
- Konoba Fakin
- Pod Voltom
- Cafe Gallery Artipolis (coffee with a view)
Motovun really is all about truffles, making it the perfect place to go to if you’d like to try them. There’s also one tiny supermarket in town, which is perfect to get your breakfast.
How to Visit Motovun, Croatia
Motovun lies amidst the rolling hills of Istria in the north of Croatia. To get there, there are a few options.
The easiest way to visit Motovun would be with your own car. Renting a car in Croatia allows you to make up your own schedule and see many gems in Istria. From Zagreb, it’s 3 hours driving, 1 hour 15 minutes from Rijeka, and just 1 hour from Pula.
Note, however, that you can’t enter the inner town of Motovun by car unless your accommodation lets you in through the gates. Generally, you need to be a resident to drive through the small archway. Luckily, there are two public parking lots near the entrance. One lies at the bottom of the hill, and one halfway up (in blue lines). The one at the top is more expensive and fills up quickly, so we recommend parking at the bottom and taking the shuttle up.
By Public Transport
There are also a few buses that go to Motovun, though they’re limited, so make sure to ask locally for the timetable. Most depart from Porec, Rovinj, or the town of Pazin.
By Organized Tour
While most visitors come to Motovun independently, there’s also the option to join an organized day trip from neighboring towns. Whether it’s cycling between the lush green fields towards the hilltop town or joining a guided tour with transportation included, there are plenty of options to get to Motovun.