The Brijuni islands, reachable via a 15-minute boat ride from Fažana, near Pula, make a great day trip from Opatija.

Brijuni Islands National Park – Istria Region

Accessible from Pula is the Brijuni Islands National Park, a cluster of 14 islands off the Istrian west coast, with a host of archaeological and cultural sites, a safari park, a 1,700-year-old olive tree and Croatia’s first golf course. Only 6 km from the west coast, daily boats transfer visitors across the 12-metre deep Fažana Channel.

Archeological sites of interest include Roman villa rusticae, the Byzanzime castrum providing insights from Roman right through to the Venetian period and St Mary’s Basilica of the Knights Templar.

The safari park is home to a number of exotic animals, such as an elephant, zebras, llamas, ostriches and a sacred Indian cow – many gifted to the Brijuni by various heads of state – along with native Istrian species of Boškarin ox, Pramenka sheep, donkeys and goats.

Fascinatingly, 125-million-year-old dinosaur footprints, numbering more than 200, have been discovered on the islands.  A Mediterranean Garden with over 169 flora species can be enjoyed today thanks to landscaping commenced in the late 1800s.

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