Bale in Istria is a very sweet and smart little town, located about 15km inland from Rovinj. Also known as Valle in Italian (the town is official bilingual), Bale is certainly worth a visit as a day trip if you’re exploring the inland area of Istria. There’s a number of fine sights, not least the castle (see below!) and you can also sample Istria olive oil and wine in and near to the town.

Getting to Bale

If you’ve got your own set of wheels, Bale is an easy drive from Istrian towns such as Rovinj, Pula or Porec – it should take you only about 30 – 40 minutes.

Otherwise, the town is easy to get to by bus. There are regular buses from elsewhere in Istria, most of which are run by the bus companies Arriva or Brioni.

Bale Istria street
A pretty cobbled street in Bale

What to See and Do in Bale

One of the best things to do in Bale is to take a walk around the picturesque cobbled old town, gazing up at the stone houses, and perhaps popping in a shop or two to check out some of the beautiful handcrafted wares or local produce.

In the heart of Bale, you will fine the Soardo-Bembo Castle. It was built in the 16th century and originally owned by the Soardo family, before the Bembo family became its owners. The castle was completed renovated in 2012 and is a wonder to look at its Gothic-Renaissance exterior; for a small fee, you can also go inside.

Bale Istria Soardo-Bembo Castle
One of the towers (and entrance) of the Soardo-Bembo Castle

The Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary was built in 1880 on the site of a basilica from the 9th century. In the Church’s crypt, some fragments from that original basilica are kept.

Bale and the surrounding area has a long connection with producing olive oil, so tastings are a must! Pop into Bembo to sample their award winning oils.

This part of Istria is of course home to a number of wineries, and sampling some of the locally produced wines is an absolute must. The closest wineries to Bale are either the Meneghetti Winery or the San Tommaso Winery.

Keen bird watched may be intersted in the Palud Ornithological Reserve a little outside of town.

Events in Bale

The Last Minute Jazz Festival takes place over four days every August at Kamene Price. Jazz musicians from around the world take part.

There are often live concerts held in the town’s main square, outside the Soardo-Bembo Castle.

Eating and Drinking in Bale

One of the top choices for dining (or just drinking!) in this town is Kamene Price. A very cool and laid back place that’s part trattoria and part jazz bar. (They organise the above mentioned Jazz Fest every August.) Sip a glass of cold something in the pretty courtyard.

Bale Istria Kamene Price
A courtyard at Kamene Price

If you’re not staying there (see below), the Restaurant La Grisia would be a top choice for a special meal whilst in Bale. Sample their fine pasta and meat/fish dishes, with vegetables and salads organically grown in their garden.

Konoba Istra and Kod Cancelira are good medium priced choices, especially if you’re looking for a relaxed meal.

Accommodation in Bale

Bale has some very fine accommodation choices indeed. The 4* Hotel La Grisia is a small hotel that offers smart and modern rooms. It also has a small indoor pool, two saunas and a fitness centre. The hotel also features a wonderful restaurant that is also open to non-hotel guests. Hotel La Grisia was name “best small and family hotel in Croatia” in 2015.

A little out of town you’ll find the 4* Meneghetti Wine Hotel and Winery. Set in beautiful countryside, the hotel’s spacious four rooms are housed in a white stone mansion. There’s a lovely outdoor pool that you can relax beside (and an indoor pool too), or you can enjoy strolling through the hotel’s grounds, vineyards and olive groves. The onsite restaurant is also part of the experience – it aims to source as much of its food as possible from within a 50km radius.

There are also a number of villas in the region, and private rooms and apartments can also be found in Bale. See Accommodation in Bale for more options.

Bale Istria street

More Info on Bale Istria

More on Bale, Istria can be found on the Bale Tourist Office website.