A magical underwater world, good winds and idyllic nature make for an unforgettable adventure in Ližnjan on Croatia’s Istria peninsula.
Do you want to dive to a sunken scout cruiser, ride along 70 km of bike trails by the sea, go horseback riding through fragrant meadows with a view of the Kvarner islands or kitesurf in a bay of big waves? These are just some of the many activities that make the southeast of Istria an excellent choice for those who love untouched nature, sports and recreation
Cyclists, surfers, divers, lovers of horseback riding, kitesurfing, sailing, kayaking and many other sports and recreational activities will find here a peaceful green and blue oasis, free from the tourist hustle and bustle with many possibilities for active holidays.
The beauty of untouched nature and the underwater makes the southeast of Istria one of the most attractive locations for diving and surfing, while cycling enthusiasts, as well as hikers, can enjoy its idyllic landscapes on numerous bike trails stretching along the shoreline. An impressive view of the Kvarner islands is complemented by holm oak forests, pastures and grasslands full of aromatic plants as well as the long rocky coast skirted by the crystal clear sea.
In terms of biological diversity, the marine ecosystem of the municipality does not lag behind the terrestrial one. The blue depths hide biocenoses waiting to be discovered; the coralligenous communities on the underwater walls abound in red algae, multicoloured sponges, crustaceans and soft corals. Semi-dark caves and passages invite you into their labyrinths of tunnels and underwater chambers.
There are also green meadows of well-preserved seagrass Posidonia (Posidonia oceanica), a Mediterranean endemic species. Its meadows represent the lungs of the sea, because they enrich the sea with the oxygen they produce. Several hundred species of algae and animals live, breed, hunt and hide in them. With its long leaves, it mitigates the onslaught of waves and prevents the erosion of the shore, while its roots bind the sediment and prevent its removal.
The biggest underwater attraction of Ližnjan’s seabed is the wreck of “Cesare Rossarol”, an Italian scout cruiser that attracts many technical divers. 85 m long and 8 m wide, today she lies at a depth of 50 m near Cape Munat Veliki. She sank in 1918 after running into a moored mine whose powerful explosion halved her in two.
On the south side of the passage to the bay of Kuje, you’ll find Cape Uljeva (Punta Uliva), and in front of it a spacious rocky area with countless rocks that rise from the depth of 5 m almost up to the sea surface. These dangerous shoals were the cause of stranding of many a merchant ship dating back to Roman times.
Today, the site abounds with fragmented remains of Roman amphorae that have slept for centuries in ravines and holes between the rocks. It is important to note that these remains are on the List of Preventively Protected Cultural Goods of the Republic of Croatia. Divers often go in search of the remains of the ancient villa of Giulia Frontona, which is believed to have existed in this place.
Best dive sites: Cape Cuf, Cape Sv. Stipan, Sika Rock, Marlera Lighthouse, Cape Uljeva, Cesare Rossarol wreck. They can be visited through excursions organized by the local diving centre Bura Bora.
Very interesting cycling routes wind their way all along the coast of Ližnjan. Whether macadam or forest paths, these bike trails are a good reason to visit this area at any time of year. In the area of the Municipality of Ližnjan there are almost 70 km of marked bike trails and promenades. While riding or walking along these trails, visitors can discover the natural and cultural heritage that needs to be preserved through caring for the environment. The natural beauties follow one after another, so that visitors can feast their eyes on one of the largest and best-preserved holm oak forests in the Mediterranean, enjoy dry eumediterranean pastures and grasslands full of aromatic herbs such as immortelle, sage and broom. The relaxing beauty of nature is intertwined with numerous traces of the past, which makes the ride even more interesting.
In order to assist cyclists with their technical difficulties, there are two self-service bike repair stands in front of the school in Ližnjan, where a board with marked bike trails has been put up, as well as on Monte Madonna (Svetica) hill in Šišan. The stands provide all the necessary tools for repairing, changing and inflating tires and can be used free of charge.
Recommendation for cyclists: A particularly interesting part of the bike trail is 333, which runs east from Ušićevi Dvori, down to the sea and continues along the coast to Marlera.
Rent a Bike: B.R.B. Sport, Šišan
Kayaking offers the opportunity to change the perspective and get to know the coast of Ližnjan in detail from the sea, but also the picturesque island of Levan, an unavoidable drop of land of exquisite beauty. Discovering secluded beaches, enjoying the salty sea air and the opportunity to take fantastic photos, is an experience not to be missed.
You can go on a kayaking adventure on your own or join one of the guided tours and experience Ližnjan from the sea in the best possible way. These tours reveal beautiful coves and provide you with the opportunity to get to know the flora and fauna of the underwater world by swimming, diving and snorkelling, as well as capture all the beautiful scenes with underwater cameras.
Locations suitable for kayaking: the coast of Marlera and the island of Levan
Kayak rental and private tours: Puls Events (Kayak tours Ližnjan)
WINDSURFING AND KITESURFING
The area of Ližnjan is widely known for its bora wind, a northeast wind that attracts many windsurfers and kiters throughout the year. Strong wind and big waves are the main reasons why many kiters and windsurfers from Croatia and abroad flock to the bay of Kuje. Its closed shape and deep sandy bottom provide safety during falls and extreme jumps. As waves become bigger and winds stronger, the adrenaline of kiters and windsurfers grows, their spectacular stunts leaving many spectators breathless.
These sports do not require strength, but an understanding of the principles of controlling the kite or the sail attached to the surfer’s waist by a harness. Failure to understand the principles of kite and wind operation can be very dangerous and lead to injury. It is important to point out that it is by no means recommended to practice kitesurfing and windsurfing without prior training and a good instructor.
Locations suitable for kite and windsurfing: Kuje Bay and Marlera
Location suitable for surfing (surfing on the waves without the use of wind): Marlera
Only a kilometre away from the sea, near the centre of Ližnjan, there are tennis courts of the Ližnjan Tennis Club. Those who wish to practice this sport on their holiday in the Municipality of Ližnjan have four clay courts at their disposal, and those who enjoy night sessions will be able to play on two lighted courts. Ližnjan Tennis Club organizes tennis schools for beginners and various tournaments and meetings. The club area offers locker rooms and showers, as well as the possibility to relax on the terrace with a barbecue area.
Tennis court rental: Ližnjan Tennis Club
1. In the Municipality of Ližnjan-Lisignano there is an area of the ecological network Luka Budava – Istra. The area is an integral part of the largest preserved network of natural areas in the European Union, and these 1,237 ha are protected thanks to well-preserved holm oak forests (Quercus ilex L.). They stretch along the coastline of the municipality in the length of 17.5 km, i.e. they occupy 56% of the total municipality’s coastline.
2. The configuration of Ližnjan’s landscapes is ideal for adventure cycling.
3. The yellow flowers of the Spanish broom adorn Ližnjan’s landscape. The people of Ližnjan talk about broom with a lot of respect and love, so it is not surprising that it has found its place in the coat of arms of the municipality.
4. Kayaking enthusiasts will be especially delighted by the picturesque island of Levan, which boasts one of the most beautiful sandy beaches in Istria.
5. The original bell from the wreck of “Cesare Rossarol”, the only surviving object from the sunken scout cruiser, is kept in the Historical and Maritime Museum of Istria in Pula. It is 33 cm tall and 30 cm wide.
6. Bird watchers will not be disappointed in the Municipality of Ližnjan, and especially not those who, during the summer months, come across the bee-eater Merops apiaster, a very rare colourful bird.
7. In the area of the Municipality of Ližnjan, you can engage in hunting and fishing, but also trekking, beach volley and paintball.
A landscape of idyllic beauty inhabited by strictly protected plant species
The diversity of Ližnjan’s vegetation is a colourful and fragrant invitation to all cyclists and hikers to discover endemic, rare and protected floral species of this area. The flowers of 17 species of orchids, three of which endemic (Ophrys tommasinii, Orchis zinsmeisteri, Serapias istriaca), are embroidered on the fine fabric of eumediterranean pastures. Once you get to know these strictly protected and endemic species, let the path lead you to the yellow horned poppy (Glaucium flavum), a strictly protected species that loves the pebble shore of Kala Cove or look for the plants on the rocky shore to discover an endemic and strictly protected species of sea lavender (Limonium cancellatum).
Of course, you can enjoy these beautiful plants only by watching them, so as to allow them to welcome you again next year in the same place, in their natural preserved habitat, in full splendour of colours and a great variety of shapes.
The magical giants of holm oak trees have been guarding the coastline of this protected area for centuries. These 20 metre tall faithful guards entice you and invite you to step into their mystical forest, which is considered to be one of the best preserved holm oak forests in the Mediterranean. The most beautiful specimens hide in the area of the bay of Paviri.