Buje is a small but pretty town in the inland part of northwestern Istria, an area well known for its wineries and olive oil production. The town is only about 8km south of the border with Slovenia and 13km east of the coastal resort town of Umag.
You’ll likely be in this part of Croatia to do a wine tour or two, and there are a number of fine hotels and other accommodation options to choose from here. Buje and the surrounding region is a very pleasant place to base yourself in.
Getting to Buje
The nearest airport to the town is Pula Airport. If you’re utilising public transport, once you land take the airport shuttle bus to the main bus station in Pula, and then take another bus from here to Buje.
A very suitable alternative airport to fly to is Trieste Airport – it is 86km away from Buje compared to the 77km away that Pula Airport is. Again, transfer from the airport to the main bus station in Trieste. There is a daily 11am bus with Nomago from Trieste to Buje that takes just 55 minutes – and you won’t even have to navigate any borders during the bus journey as Croatia is now in the Schengen Zone.
If you’re travelling from elsewhere in Istria and Croatia, Arriva Autotrans have bus connections from other Istrian towns such as Umag, Porec, Rovinj and Pula to Buje. It’s only around 20 minutes from Umag to Buje; from Pula to Buje it is over 2 hours.
What to See and Do in Buje
The Parenzana trail is a path suitable for cyclists or hikers that exists on the track of a former narrow gauge railway that operated in Istria from 1902 to 1935. Part of trail goes through Buje, and this – as well as the wider Parenzana trail – is an absolute must for keen cyclists; it’s a wonderful opportunity to cycle along a dedicated trail in the beautiful Istrian countryside.
Buje Ethnographic Museum is home to items showing typical rural life and trades – agriculture and crafts – from the town and the surrounding area, with an old Istrian house’s kitchen and bedrooms reconstructed on certain levels of the museum.
The 18th-century St Servulus Church is located on the main square in town, and its bell tower is one of the town’s most iconic sights. It is possible to climb the bell tower and, with clear conditions, not only can you see far over much of the county of Istria but also to Slovenia, Italy and even Austria!
The Church of St Mary of Mercy was built in 1587 and is home to a wooden sculpture of Our Lady of Mercy.
The famous Istrian restaurant Zigante Tartufi (see further below under Eating and Drinking…) has a shop in the town; stopping by is a must. Come here to stock up on delicious truffle-based products such as oils, spices, spreads, chocolate and much more.
We’ve mentioned wineries are a big deal in this part of Croatia, and paying at least one a visit is an absolute must. There are many wineries to choose from such as Clai, Veralda, Cattunar, Gambaletto and Kabola.
Hop over the border to Slovenia
Buje is but a 10-minute drive to Slovenia, so if you have your own car, spending an afternoon or day exploring the Slovenian Istria would be very pleasant indeed. The Adriatic resort town of Portoroz is a very suitable place for a day trip as is the very pretty Piran which is ever so slightly further.
However, an unusual but recommended place to visit is Secovlje Salina Nature Park. The northern part of the park is dedicated to salt harvesting which is done so using traditional methods; the salt harvested is world-renowned. The rest of the park is interesting to explore for its wild birds.
The area is also home to Thalasso Spa Lepa Vida which uses the salt for spa treatments – salt pan mud wraps, sea salt scrubs, brine baths and more.
Eating and Drinking in and around Buje
Ostarija Rondo is located right in the centre of town and serves a great selection of tasty dishes. The restaurant is owned by the same family behind Frankovic Wines, so if you dine here you also have the perfect opportunity to sample some of their wine – go for their Malvazija.
San Leonardo is a popular pizza restaurant also located right in the centre of Buje.
The very well-known Restaurant Zigante is located in the small town of Livade, about a 20-minute drive away from Buje. The first restaurant in the whole country to specialise in truffles (the owner – Giancarlo Zigante – once found a truffle weighing in at 1.31kg, at the time a world record) this is a celebrated place and absolutely the spot to come to for a special occasion. There’s a special tasting menu with a wine pairing option, or enjoy items from the a la carte menu such as tagliatelle and risotto dishes, or meat or fish options.
San Servolo Steakhouse (part of the San Servolo resort – see below) is a great choice for tasty meat dishes such as steak, lamb chops and Dalmatinska pasticada (beef stew). San Servolo is also a craft brewery, so be sure to taste one (or some) of their expertly brewed beers.
Accommodation in Buje
There is a wealth of rather wonderful hotels in and around Buje, and staying in any of these would make your holiday very special indeed.
The five-star San Canzian Village & Hotel is situated on the site of a former 14th-century Venetian fortress. With just 24 contemporary rooms in beautifully architecturally designed buildings in stunning countryside, this place is absolutely the ideal destination for a holiday with oodles of splendour. The hotel has a pool with breathtaking views, a spa and Luciano Restaurant serving culinary excellence.
The five-star Mulino Luxury Boutique Hotel – in fact, located very close to the border with Slovenia – is housed in a very grand building that is also home to a casino. The hotel also has its own very fine restaurant, plus an indoor pool and a wellness centre.
The four-star San Servolo Wellness Resort is the place to come for luxury and relaxation. This adults-only resort is set in a beautiful location in the Istrian countryside with perfectly put-together rooms with a touch of class. Given this place is a wellness resort, there is an outdoor pool, saunas, a fitness centre and a spa. One of the highlights of the spa is a beer bath – literally as it sounds! (Don’t worry – there is a benefit to bathing in hops!) If that’s not quite your cup of…ahem, beer…then you might like the rose petal bath instead. The hotel also has a steakhouse and a pizzeria.
The same resort also offers San Servolo Wellness Camping in well-appointed mobile homes with their own kitchen facilities…and some with hot tubs too.
Another top choice in the area is Monte Piccolo B&B which is not your average B&B! Modern, stylish rooms are set in a small building with its own pool.
There is also a handful of private accommodation options – take a look at what’s available for Accommodation in Buje on Booking.com.
Events in Buje
The Sparogada asparagus festival takes place in nearby Kastel over a weekend in April each year.
The olive oil fair Oleum Olivarum takes place in May each year – come to taste locally produced oils as well as other food offerings.
Colours of Istria is dedicated to tourism in the northwestern part of Istria, and it’s where you can learn more about the charming town of Buje.
The Visit Buje Buie Facebook page has useful information about the latest events taking place in the town.