It would be next to impossible as Brijuni has scheduled departures. Pula needs a day or half at the very least. If you took Brijuni from the equation it would be more doable. You can see several hilltowns in a day, though. I would really try to see Grožnjan if at all possible as it is quainter than Motovun. You can see the caves in a day, though. If you are going in July or August, there may be many tour buses in Motovun, too. It is a lovely town - just keep it in mind. This still would be rushed and I am afraid you may not experience Istria in a relaxed, take-it-in pace and really enjoy it.
It would not be possible to include Brijuni NP in your day trip. Agree with chef in that the rest is just about doable but doubtful it would be enjoyable. As far as Pula is concerned you might have to waste precious time finding a parking spot,especially if it's high season.
Here is the Slovenian and Croatian part of my itinerary:
5/14 - arrive in Ljubljana. See Ljubljana.
5/15 - day trip to Bled
5/16 - Ljubljana-Rovinj (maybe stopping by Postojna and Skocjan on the way, if I rent a car in Ljubljana)
5/17 - Rovinj - free day
5/19 - Motovun (Skocjan and Postojna caves). Sleep in Motovun
5/20 - Rovinj - free day
5/22 - Rovinj-Venice
Brijuni, along with Bale, is our main priority on that day. I was planning to do Brijuni on my own, I suppose you're refering to the boat schedule, right? Pula is not a priority, I could skip it. But since it is so close to Fazana I thought it would be doable to go there just to see the amphitheatre. Dvigrad is not a priority either.
You could possibly do Pula and Brijuni comfortably in one day. You could go to Pula in the morning (parking shouldn't be too bad in May) and then on to Fazana to pick up the ferry, say at 13.30 and return on either the 17.30 or 18.30 ferrly. Tickets can be booked, or bought, from the Brijuni office on the harbour. It is an Excursion and quite costly, around 182 Kunas. Have a look at the details of the Excursion on the following website www.croatiatraveller.com and go to the Brijuni page.
Brijuni is truly beautiful.
Hope this is of some help.
What about just Bale and Brijuni Park, do you think it is doable?
I just saw the following warning:
"The entrance to Brijuni used to be free, as you could just go there by local boat, but times have changed, so now you have to join one of the official excursions (see under excursions) arranged by the park or local tourist agencies."
Is that true? Can't I enjoy it on my own anymore? I'm fine about paying the entrance fee, just want to be free to go where I want to go, not following an excursion.
Yes, Bale and Brijuni is possible. Bale a.m. Brijuni p.m. Bale old town is charming with it's castle and Venetian palazzas. It is noted in the area for its jazz and people from Pula and surrounding area regulary visit. There is a pub open almost all day where you can listen to Jazz. There is a lovely small boutique hotel called La Grisa with restaurant and where you can take coffe situated on Grisa Ulica.
Brijuni: Yes, you can enjoy it on your own with certain restrictions but I don't know what you hope to see on Brijuni. I don't know where you got the information "The entrance to Brijuni used to be free". I have stayed there for the past 20 years and it has never been free. It is only free if you are staying on the island. What is relatively new is the expensive excursions. You don't have to go on the excursions you can go independantly by going to the Fazana Office to get a ticket but you will still have to pay the Excursion price.
Here is what you do if you don't want to join the Excursion.
When the ferry docks you will see guides holding up plackards saying English, German, French etc. who will gather the tourists from the ferry to a small train to take them around the island. Ignore them and once embarked on the pier take the left turn in front of the Hotel Neptun away from the tourists.
Because you are not part of the excursion this means that you will see very little of the Island. There are no cars on the island the only way to explore is by hiring a bike or a golf buggy. You can do this at the office just up from the Hotel Neptun. I doubt you will want to hire a golf buggy because the price is ridiculous, c. 260 Kuna an hour. If you don't wish to hire a bike then you are confined to areas around the harbour area. Here are some suggestions that you can walk to.
Have a coffee or drinks or cake on the terrace of the Hotel Neptun and feed the fish in the harbour - they will almost feed from your hand. See the Tito museum. See the 1,000 year old olive tree, still producing fruit; have a look at Koki,Tito's cockatoo who is very vocal; take a lovely walk (my favourite) past Hotel Neptun under pine trees with the sea to the left and the wood on your right - often you will see wild deer, well camouflaged, in the wood. You will pass two beaches to your left. The second beach has a lovely beach cafe/bar serving good food. Walk on further and you will see the FKK (nudist) wild beaches and if you veer to the right you will come across the amazing Roman Villa at Verige.
It all depends on what you are interested in. If you have further questions please get back to me.
Wow, this is more than I could have expected! Thank you for your reply!
We intend to rent a bike then explore on our own.
This is where I saw the information about Brijuni Park entrance being free in the past:
Chrono: Glad to be of help. I've had a look at the link you gave me and I can only say this is not an official site. It's run by Morten Smalby who is Danish and is at present residing in Split and appears to be involved in the travel industry. He may know about Split and its environs but he is well out of date with Istria and specifically Brijuni NP. Some of the things he says are just not true. I have been on the Island every year for 20 years and was last there in June. It's best if you go to an official site like www.istra.hr/en/regions and towns and choose Pula and Medulin then click on Brijuni
I have some further thoughts about the advice I gave you. First I'm so glad you are thinking of hiring bikes to go round the island. The very idea of taking the little train with hundreds of tourists crammed together and not allowed to stop at places that interest them is my idea of Hell. However, do ask at the Brijuni Office in Fazana if they have a map of the island and if not go to Reception at Hotel Neptun to ask for one. The island is not well signposted and there have been people in the past that have got lost and search parties have had to be sent out! The maps are not great, they're schematic but better than nothing. If you were hoping to see dinasaur footprints don't be upset if you don't find them. It took us numerous years before we found them. Signs are not one of Croatia's skills.
The second thing,I mentioned the very good beach cafe/bar at Saluga. I now realise that you will be there in May which means that it won't/unlikely to be open. The season as far as Brijuni is concerned doesn't begin until mid June. Unless you are in a large resort they think the Season doesn't begin until mid June. This is a great irritation to most travelers. At this time of year the Hotel Neptun hosts conferences and they are fed in the hotel. You can however get cold snacks on the hotel terrace or there is a snack bar where the tourist train ends. There is also a place where you can get drinks at the golf club house and at the Safari Park. If you need to eat a meal at any point then I would suggest The Feral, Marina or the Plavi on the harbour front in Fazana.
I've just looked up Bale to see why it might be a main priority for you and Pula isn't. I have to admit rather sheepishly that I knew nothing about Bale although we spent a week very near there 2 summers ago (incl Dvigrad, but not Brijuni).
Unless it is for the dinosaurs I am still a bit mystified, as for the rest it looks to me not unlike many other small towns in Istria, some of which are on your itinerary. Pula is different, not just because it's bigger and with a life beyond tourism: you have the Roman remains, the Austro-Hungarian buildings, the Main Post Office (the staircase is amazing). the Medulin peninsula is also worth a look
That's good to know, thank you for that warnings.
Like you, I always try to avoid being shepherded, or going to very crowded places, unless they are very unique places and I have no choice but facing the crowds, like Prague.
Thank you for your insights. My priorities in Istria are towns, not cities, that's why I left out Porec and maybe Pula as well. Anyway, I may change my mind when I'm there and take your good suggestions.