Fazana – A Little Istrian Gem
The first time we stumbled across Fazana I did wonder if the overwhelming euphoria I felt for this beautiful little fishing town was partly down to the epic pizza with harbourside views in my current hangry state. It’s possible even Birmingham could’ve been deemed attractive under those circumstances. I was certainly taken from hangry to bedazzled once the first mouthful was in. However, by the time we’d rehydrated with a few sunset cocktails on the harbour walls of Fazana I knew my love was real – this wasn’t just a fleeting infatuation. Fast forward 11 months and there we were again, shackling ourselves to this wonderful Istrian town for a whole week with the family in tow. What on earth made us make a return visit when lord knows there are so many more unknown beauty spots just waiting to be discovered? Let me tell you all about Fazana – what to see and do and where to eat and sleep…
A Quick History Lesson On Fazana, Croatia
I mean, there’s a lot to like about a place with shiny floors. For starters, I find the ‘3-second rule’ goes out of the window in Fazana and any food dropped on the smooth glistening cobblestones is game since the risk of grit contamination has all but disappeared! But perhaps more anthropologically, Fazana’s worn old pavements are just a subtle nod to scenes that this ancient little fishing port has witnessed over the centuries – if only those pavements could speak.
The Istrian peninsula is old, like really old, and important in history too. The Istrian town of Fazana has not only shared in its salient biography but it still comes across as a place that clings on to its ancient identity and traditional ways. At the end of the day, when the visiting tourists have retreated back to their holiday villa’s, it’s locals shouting conversations at each other across the cobblestones as they wind up their awnings and neaten the chairs. Lively chit-chat and neighbours checking in on the days’ gossip. In fact, you notice it a lot in Fazana, that they’re a friendly bunch, all knowing each other well and I couldn’t help but feel honoured that despite this being ‘their home’ they are so happy to be sharing it with the holiday-makers. That’s a dying response in this over-touristed world!
But Fazana has been welcoming holidaymakers for decades and they seem to know just what the punter needs. Ever since the adjacent Brijuni islands managed to clear up their mosquito infestation and become a health resort for those with film-star girlfriends and big bank accounts, Fazana has been cashing in on their local luck. Boat rides to Brijuni have always set sail from Fazana so the towns-folk got in on the act and started feeding and watering the waiting or docking tourists. Eventually, word spread and Fazana became a nice little holiday spot in its own right, regardless of whether you were the president of Yugoslavia or not.
So, What Is There To See And Do In Fazana? – A NUTSHELL GUIDE
Fazana’s Restaurants And Nightlife…
It will take all of half an hour to do a loop of this pretty little Istrian town. But although it might be small, I guarantee you will want to linger. The restaurants have set up shop in either cool courtyards and squares or on the harbour front under tarpaulin’s – either way, eating is important in Fazana and there are plenty of brilliant options. You could waste half an hour reading Trip Advisor reviews to find the best restaurant in Fazana but all it would tell you is that they are all very high quality and you can’t go wrong wherever you choose. Settle down, order yourself a fish platter and some local wine and enjoy the beautiful surroundings. The pace of life is chilled here and there’s no better way to enjoy it than to listen to the gentle waves slapping the sea wall whilst you feast on fresh Croatian dishes.
Things get a little bit more lively in an evening as boat-trippers come ashore. Around the market place you can enjoy a bit of street-food if you’re still a little peckish, or just fancy trying Fazana’s famous sardines. Live music is also a regular feature at the square in front of the church in the Summer months so the three bars surrounding it are great spots after 9pm when it all starts to get quite entertaining. And being as all of Istria once belonged to the Romans, good gelato is everywhere in Fazana and goes perfect with a sunset stroll. Or mid-morning stroll. Or a ‘let’s not move for the next 5 minutes and just watch people whilst we eat our ice creams’ non-stroll. Let’s face it – at €1 a cone, eating world-class gelato all day should surely be the expectation whilst in Fazana, no?
The infoFazana website has more details of festivals and craft markets which take place in this little area during the summer months.
There are basically 2 beaches in Fazana – one to the left of the marina, one to the right! They attract a lot of families holidaying in Istria because they are clean, shallow and perfect for kids. There aren’t many sandy beaches in Istria and I did wonder how the rocky beaches would go down with our kids but the lack of sand just added to everyone’s joy! You do need water shoes though if you want to avoid looking like an absolute tool from your towel to the sea, walking on painful cobbles, but they are sold everywhere and are inexpensive.
You could spend a full day at the beaches in Fazana with ease – you’re walking distance to cafe’s and bars, there is shade beneath the pines if you want it and there are plenty of activities for families. We paid for the children to use the giant inflatables in the sea and they couldn’t have been happier – it’s money well spent and definitely wears them out! You can also play beach volleyball, hire pedalo’s and my kids tell me the snorkelling was good too, plenty to see. There are also sun loungers and umbrella’s to hire if you’re wanting a more comfortable set up.
Fazana Boat Trips…
One of the main reasons people visit Fazana is to take a boat ride to the Brijuni National Park. There are all sorts of ways you can do this and any of the touts at the harbour can tell you the options. Everyone speaks good English and the locals are so friendly and not pushy at all. We took a sunset boat trip to see some dolphins and by booking a few days ahead of time we managed to secure a bit of discount.
The Brijuni Islands are an archipelago of over a dozen islands, big and small, sitting in the Fazana channel. Many of them don’t take visitors as they are conserved for plant and animal life. They are known locally as the Paradise Islands because of their beautiful landscapes and in the middle of the 20th century attracted the attention of President Tito of former Yugoslavia. He lived there for over 25 years and entertained many heads of state from all over the world. You can still stay on Brijuni but the hotels are exclusive and very expensive. From a boat trip you will see the old hotel where regals like the Queen of England stayed.
One of the options of boat trips from Fazana is to dock at the largest island, Veliki Brijun, take a tourist train around the island and visit the Safari Park, archaeological ruins and landscaped gardens there. Alternatively, you could choose a boat trip which circles the Brijuni National Park and allows a couple of stops for sea swimming and an opportunity to see some beautiful coves. Or, do like we did and cut out the opportunity for a swim and take a later trip at 6.30pm for a chance to see dolphins swimming way out to sea. Whatever, no trip to Fazana is complete without a boat ride around the beautiful islands of Brijuni – it’s a bucket-list item and was definitely one of our highlights.
The Best Sunsets In Istria
Being on the west coast of Croatia you can just imagine the sunsets! But the islands of Brijuni over the water make it all the more impressive and Fazana is the perfect place to watch that big yellow ball dip with grace to the ocean. You won’t be alone on the Fazana pier as several families gather to share this marvel together.
Where To Stay In Fazana
Fazana makes for a great base to explore Istria further; you are only a half hour from Rovinj and 20 minutes from the Pula Colosseum – 2 of Istria’s main tourist attractions. Equally, its chilled out vibe and amenities for families makes Fazana the perfect place to hire a villa for the week with the kids. Here are our two favourite options…
Honestly, we cannot fault this amazing villa. Villa Sonja was the perfect location for us in Fazana, only 500 yards from the beach. You can hire either the whole house or the two floors separately which makes it ideal for small or large families (up to 10 people). The pool area is the piece-de-resistance, set in a landscaped garden of olive trees and rose bushes. We practically lived outside it was so beautiful and well equipped! The outside seating area comes with a BBQ, hob and fridge freezer. Inside is equally kitted out to a high quality and the air conditioning was a dream! Our kids loved using the bikes with the property too. The owner Ivan could not do enough to help and spoke perfect English. We searched a long time for the perfect Fazana villa and I do believe we have found it! For the best deals at this Fazana villa click here.
Alternatively, if you would prefer a hotel, try the Fazana Apartments Villa Nina. Officially they’re apartments but as well as having your own cooking facilities you also get a breakfast included in a communal dining area. The hotel/apartments also have other handy amenities too like a laundry service and airport shuttle. This was our second choice of accommodation options in Fazana as the location was great and the apartment rooms modern and stylish. We visited the hotel whilst we were in Fazana and the pool area looked great too.
Day Trips In Istria
Fazana is a great location for some very special day trips. The amphitheatre at Pula is a must-see tourist attraction as is the very popular port town of Rovinj. For further afield be sure to check out our blog post : The Complete Istria Travel Guide for more day trip ideas. Or have a look at our photo-diary post for some more visual inspiration. There is also the beautiful Austro-Hungarian town of Opatija on the east coast of the Istrian peninsula that we recommend you visit too. Go on, get out there and explore – Fazana was only one of our many highlights!
So, there you have it – our guide to Fazana in Istria. We hope you have found it helpful and if you have any questions, send us a message and we will endeavor to answer them all.
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