Motovun – The Truffles Capital
Motovun is a small hilltop village located in central Istria. There are luscious vineyards and olive groves all across the area. Motovun has a Venetian heritage which is evident in the architecture and the local traditions.
Motovun is the truffles haven of not only Croatia but even the world. We were so intrigued to know that this region has one of the highest density of truffles in the world. You should visit the area to experience its truffles culinary, spectacular wines and top grade olive oil produce.
How to plan your visit to Motovun?
Motovun is easily accessible from Rovinj and Porec. If you are based in Pula, then it can be a considerable travel to get here.
On a day trip, you can plan to spend about 2-3 hours exploring the old town, grabbing a truffles laden meal and shopping for some great produce. Here are some other suggestions to plan your visit to Motovun based on time on hand:
Day trip to hilltop villages
Plan for a day trip to Motovun. Explore other smaller towns in the area like Grozjnan, Novigrad, Livade. This is possible if you are driving on your own since there are no frequent connections between these places.
Read our post on visit to Grozjnan to find out the best things to do here!
Truffle hunting tours
Book a truffle hunting organized tour. There are several operators offering this tour from various cities in Istria. These tours are very popular with tourists.
Read more about these tour in our next section on top things to do in Motovun.
This part of Istria has a number of famous wineries. So a great way to experience the seasonal truffles is to visit Motovun or Livade for a sumptuous truffle based lunch. From here, plan to visit any of the famous wineries in this area to sample some fantastic wines. You can book a guided tour of any of the wineries or simply visit these to purchase some top quality produce.
Read our post on Wine Tasting – Top Wineries and Tours to plan your visit now!
Attend a festival
If you are visiting Istria during the summer season between July- September then watch out for any ongoing events or festivals. You can plan to attend any of the events and spend a few days here.
Refer the events schedule on Official tourist website of Istria.
How to get to Motovun?
Motovun is located about 50 km from Rovinj. There no direct buses from Rovinj and other cities to these hill towns. So we recommend either renting a car or booking an organized tour which are readily available in all main Istrian cities.
Since we were based in Rovinj, we decided to do a day trip to Motovun driving on our own with a stop over in Grožnjan.
The central square of Motovun is pedestrian with exception only to resident vehicles. You can use either of the two parking areas – one near the old Town and another near the foothill of Motovun.
The center square of Motovun is a small walk up the parking near old town so this is the recommended parking. If you happen to park downhill then it is better to take a bus (about 20kn return) to get to to the old town, since this is a considerable walk uphill. If you are driving down to Motovun in peak season then you must get there early since parking areas can be full and can go upto 10kn per hour.
Travel tip: Once you arrive at the foothill of Motovun, you are required to stop at a counter to enter your details. Enquire about the status of parking near old town here to check for parking availability.
Top things to do in Motovun
Motovun makes for a perfect day trip from Rovinj or Porec. But if you have the time then there are plenty of ways to explore the best of Motovun. Here are some of the options you can consider while planning a trip to this area.
Explore Motovun Old Town
The walled old town houses just about 500 inhabitants and offers small souvenir shops, restaurants and a hotel. Stroll around the old town and check out the monuments and a small museum at the center of old town.
Indulge in tartufi treats
Savoring delicacies of locally sourced truffles (tartufi) is the high point of visiting Motovun. Food in this part of Istria is largely influenced by Italian cuisine. So you can look forward to indulging in pasta, risotto, carpaccio all laden with truffles. These dishes are best paired with Malvazija wines made from indigenous grapes variety of Malvasia so make sure to try these.
Must try restaurants in Motovun
You will find a number of family run restaurants or konoba in and around the old town. All these restaurants serve eclectic truffle based local delicacies. You can try any of these restaurants or check out some of the recommendations we have listed here.
Travel tip: Opt for a restaurant overlooking the valley for great views. Ask the restaurants for the best wine pairing with the dishes that you have ordered.
Overlooking the vast expanse of the valley of luscious farms and vineyards, Fakin was our favorite pick in Motovun. Ask the chef for recommendations on seasonal produce and they will guide you to the must try dishes. Depending on the season, you can indulge in locally sourced black or white truffles.
We tried their classic black truffles omelette and home made pasta with truffle sauce which left us wanting for more. We also tried Fakin wine sourced by the vineyard owned by the family. The wine from this region has a unique mildly salty flavor due to soil conditions and pairs very well with the truffle bases dishes.
Yet another family run restaurant, Mondo is very popular with tourists. The dishes offered are exotic making these worth the slightly exorbitantly price. The beef carpaccio with black truffles is a must try dish.
This restaurant is famous across Croatia and specializes in Istrian cuisine and white truffles preparation. They also have their own olive oil production so do sample these. It is located in Livade which is located a few miles away from Motovun.
Travel tip: Check the road conditions before you planning a trip to Livade. There is a single route from Motovun to Livade which is sometimes obstructed due to frequent construction work.
Explore Olive Oil Tasting tours
The entire northern region of Istrian peninsula boasts of splendid olive plantations and there are several family run production units offering completing organic olive oil. In the old town of Motovun, you will find many souvenir shops selling/ samples these locally produced olive oils. But if you want to sample real taste of virgin olive oil produce from this area then you must try Giancarlo Zigante and Klaudio Ipsa.
Ipsa is a short drive from old town and you can beautiful views of olive plantations as you drive to the estate. Zigante is located in Livade (about 30kms from Motovun) so you can plan to combine your visit to the plantations along a splendid meal at the restaurant. Zigante restaurant offers a exotic menu of truffle based dishes so the prices are on the higher side as compared to other places in Motovun.
Go Souvenir Shopping
A number of small souvenir shops dot the old town of Motovun, where residents sell local treats. And by that we mean, truffles treats of course! You can purchase the in season truffles, truffles infused olive oils, locally produced wines and cheese.
The best ingredient to pick from this area is tartufi paste– which is olive oil infused with a mixture of freshly sourced olives and truffles.
Motovun is the best place to purchase your favorite tartufi because it is locally produced and has a authentic flavor. Also, the cost of truffle based produced is way lesser in Motovun then in other parts of Croatia.
Attend Truffle days and other events
If you are further interested in exploring the local food and traditions of Motovun then you can plan your visit around some of the annual events arranged in this area. One such famous event is Zigante Truffles Days held every year in Livade. This is a gourmet expo where you can sample the best wines and truffles from the region, along with culinary demonstrations and workshops.
You can also check out details of Motovun Film festival and other events here:
Take a Bike Tour
If you have the time in hand, a great way to explore Istria and Motovun is biking or cycling the country roads. The routes offer great views of luscious olive plantations and vineyards.
There are a number of local companies offering bike rentals at a reasonable price. You can opt for group/ custom tours provided by these companies or take recommendation on the best trails and route details in case you wish to explore on your own.
Go for Truffle Hunting tours
One of the most exciting adventures is to head out in the forests of Istria to look for the king of fungi – truffles. Truffle hunting tours are provided by a lot of locals and can vary from 1-2 hours to an all day tour. If you have time in hand, we highly recommend taking one of these tours.
During this tour, you are accompanied by local guides and often their adorable canine partners into forest trails where you can sample and harvest your very own truffles. These guides are well versed with the terrain and provide great trivia about truffle production and their specialties.
There are a number of these tour available locally in Istria and around Motovun. Check out few of the well rated here:
Read the review of these tours on Tripadvisor to book one of these tours.
We strongly feel that no amount of time is enough to soak in the charms of this beautiful country side. But hopefully with this travel guide you can make the best of your visit to Motovun, whether its for a few hours or few days. Do drop us a comment for any suggestions on visiting this area!