Europe's Secret Hot Spots
The Istrian Peninsula is the best of Tuscany and Venice rolled into one languid destination. Hillsides nurture vineyards, preservation-minded towns lie just steps from the beach, and Croatians live off the same land their great-great-grandparents did. Though some towns are overhyped (see Porec and Pula), the most built-up of Istrian tourist destinations can actually be its most atmospheric—if you time it right. During the off-season, the crenellated town of Rovinj feels like a quiet Siena writ small, its 18th-century bell tower of the Church of St. Euphemy standing guard above the spartan cobblestoned streets below. Try the local vintages at the romantic Wine Vault restaurant, then spend the night in the region’s first design hotel, The Lone, whose swooping nautical shape commands prime real estate in a deep forest beside the Adriatic.