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Umag Travel Blog: Things to Do in Umag
Umag is a picturesque town on the Adriatic coast of Croatia located in the North West corner of Istria. The abundance of sunshine and warm temperatures nearly all year around makes it the ideal choice for family holidays, as well as couples and groups. The vibe is laid-back and calm, with stunning natural sights to take in.
Umag’s claim to fame is that it’s the gateway to Europe from Croatia, and the fantastic transport links make it easy to get around and explore.
Anyone who is into history will love Umag. You can still see preserved town walls and towers around the town which date back to the Roman empire. Of course, these days people love Umag for its natural beauty, with stunning beaches and a very famous marina, which prestigiously holds the Blue Flag award. For those of you into tennis, the ATP Croatia Open, the most prestigious tennis tournament in the region, takes place in July and has been running for the last 26 years – this year marks the 27th. Umag has something for everyone, so pack your bags, but don’t forget those travel necessities, and take a holiday in Umag.
Things to see and do in Umag
The Old Town is part of Umag’s major history centre, which dates back to the Middle Ages. Here you will find remains of walls, villas, and the lovely narrow streets are ideal for losing a few hours exploring. The West Tower is the most famous part of the old town, and the Umag Town Museum is a must-visit – here you will find a precious collection of archaeological finds and items from the Roman period found in the town over the years.
Church of St Peregrine
On the pretty Rosazzo promontory, you will find the famous and timeworn Church of St Peregrine. While this church may be small, it has a plentiful history which is intoxicating and interesting to learn about. The locals built the church in order to mark the spot where the patron saint was executed, back in the Diocletian era. The area the church is built in is very picturesque so don’t forget your camera.
The oldest lighthouse on the entire Adriatic Coast is found in Umag, made way back in 1818. The light from the house is visible up to 32km away, and the story which is associated with its past is really quite heart-warming; Count Metternich, a married man, fell in love with a local girl, and despite the fact it was a rather illicit love affair, it was one of true love. The Count was said to have built the lighthouse in recognition of his love for the girl.
There is no doubt that Umag has a rich history, but it also has a lot of natural beauty to explore, and the Sipar Promontory is certainly one of those areas. At low tide you will come across a series of stones which seem to rise majestically from the sea; these stones are the remains of the castle of Sipar, which was built way back in the 5th century. The town around this natural site is also full of remains from houses, villas, and mosaics, dating back to Constantine. The town was plundered by pirates in 876 and completely destroyed.
This luxury villa dates back to Roman times, having had its own private spa and living areas, which were all abundantly and richly decorated with mosaics. You can check out these remains while also heading to the pier which juts out into the sea, where you will find a range of colourful and diverse marine life calling the region home.
Umag is blessed by the fact it is in the heart of wine country, and just 20 minutes’ drive away from Umag you will find Kabola Winery, situated in Momjan. There are regular vineyard tours, and regular tasting session too – enjoy the countryside, learn about the process of making the famous wines of the region, such as Malvasia and Teran varieties, and then taste them for yourself.
Cycle the Parenzana
This route was once a railway line that connected 33 different locations between Istria, Trieste, and Poreč. In the early 1900s, the railway closed after only being in operation for 33 years. However, it has certainly left its mark on the region and today is known for something else. Cyclists have become enamored with the old railway line and follow parts of it as a guide for their biking trail.
Located just off the Istrian Peninsula, though not in Umag, if you are driving to or from Umag via Pula it’s a great chance to see these islands. You will find the 14 beautiful islands of Brijuni, which are one of Croatia’s National Parks. Floating within the glittering Adriatic, Veli Brijun is the largest island, and here you can go on walking tours, checking out the beautiful flora and fauna, as well as the wildlife which calls this region home.
The history here is also plentiful, with Roman Villas and dinosaur relics.
Try Seafood on The Promenade
Umag’s main promenade, which runs along the beachfront, is ideal for tasting some new and exciting seafood. Because Umag is surrounded entirely by the sea, you will find fresh fare caught on a daily basis, and the restaurants which line the promenade are seafood-heavy on their menu. Of course, you could simply have a few drinks and watch the sun go down also, but the beach and harbour area is a pleasant place to rest and relax, before checking out the rest of Umag.
Best Beaches in Umag
Laguna Stella Maris Beach
Just 3km drive from the centre of the town you will find Laguna Stella Maris Beach. The beach is surrounded by green trees, so it provides plentiful shade for those visiting with children, or simply those wanting to get out of the sun for a short while. It is also a very private beach because the beach is separated from the main road by a row of trees. The beach holds blue flag status and the Adriatic sea is crystal clear. For those of you looking for more thrills, there are numerous watersports available at the beach to get the blood pumping. This beach is also ideal for families offering all the amenities you need to keep the family happy and entertained.
Just outside the centre of town, you will find another Blue Flag choice, Katoro Beach. The beach is paved, pebbly, and rocky in parts too, and there are showers and facilities to make your beach day go without a hitch. There are bars and restaurants around the beach, so this is a good chance to grab some refreshment in the heat of the day. Watersports are available throughout summer, and being away from the main beach in the centre of town, it is a quieter choice, with less in the way of crowds.
Aurora Beach is a paved beach, which is situated just 2km from the centre of Umag. Again, this beach is Blue Flag, and there are stairs which allow visitors to enter the sea gradually – this is perfect for older people or those with children. The shaded area just above the shore is also a good way to escape the heat of the sun for a few hours. This is a perfect choice for families, and there are plenty of sun lounges for anyone working on their tan.
The fine gravel beach at Kanegra is another Umag Blue Flag beach and is located in a picturesque cove, with trees providing shade from the summer heat. The sea is gradual, so kids can play at the shore without parents worrying about deep inclines into the water; this fact combined with the available shade, and relative quietness of the area, makes it a great choice for a full family beach day. Of course, there are also plentiful campsites nearby, which adds to its appeal.
Best accommodation in Umag
If you’re looking for a hotel in Umag or any other type of Umag accommodation, read ahead as we have selected the best in each category for you to choose from.
Best Hostel in Umag
Hostel Emi San Valentino
Hostel Emi San Valentino is the main hostel in Umag and is upmarket as far as hostels go. They are superbly located making it popular and offer private rooms. If you are looking for budget accommodation but you’re not really in love with the idea of a dormitory style room, Hostel Emi San Valentino a great choice.
Best Apartments in Umag
The four star Apartment Dante offers accommodation for up to three people within its large and spacious rooms. Located just 200m from the Old Town, making it perfectly positioned wanting to be located near the action. Apartment Dante has everything you need for your holidays, such as free Wi-Fi, large TV with satellite channels, a private kitchen with all cooking facilities, and a private bathroom. The apartments are large and bright, offering beautiful views of the town.
If you are looking for a home away from home then you can’t go past Apartment Nika. This is a four-star apartment, which is also located very centrally – just 200m from the Old Town. Even though this apartment is close to everything, it is set within a quiet area, so you can enjoy a chilled out base for your holiday. The apartments sleep up to four people, with a large balcony included, complete with beautiful sea views to wake up to every morning.
Three Star Hotels in Umag
Of all of the 3-star hotels in Umag we’d suggest that you book one of these:
Situated right on the promenade, giving you stunning views every single morning on your doorstep, the Sipar Hotel is a B&B or half board option, with plentiful attractions nearby. The hotel has an indoor and outdoor swimming pool, Wi-Fi in public areas, and a gym available. This hotel is a great budget option for those who want amenities but don’t want to spend a fortune on their base for their holiday.
Tourist Settlement Savudrija
Considering the price, this is a fantastic option, especially for families or those wanting a more private setting to their accommodation, whilst still having the safety blanket of a hotel base. Situated near the lighthouse, just 200m from the beach and 2km to the centre of Umag, this is almost like a holiday village, with bungalow-style rooms set across the gardens. The kids club means adults can chill out for a while and relax, and the on-site entertainment options mean you won’t need to wander too far in the evening.
Four Star hotels in Umag
If you want to spend a little more, go 4-star and book one of these:
Sol Aurora All Inclusive Hotel
All inclusive is without a doubt the way to go for families, and this particular choice not only ticks that box, but also offers a fantastic setting – right on the beach! There is a large outdoor swimming pool, which also has a separate pool for children, as well as a playground where your little ones can roam free. The on-site kids club also means entertainment all-around, with several restaurants and bars across the hotel setting.
For a half-board option, the Maestral Hotel offers B&B and half board options. Located just a short walk from the centre of town, and just 100m from the nearest pebble beach, this hotel is decorated in a traditional yet modern style, with large and bright rooms to get cosy in. The two on-site restaurants mean you don’t have to wander too far for your culinary needs, and there is also a large swimming pool, so you have the convenience of taking a dip just metres from your room.
Five Star Hotels in Umag
Lash out and luxury at these 5-star hotels.
Kempinski Hotel Adriatic
This particular hotel offers room only, B&B or half board options, and is located right on the beach, close to the famous lighthouse and Portoroz Beach. The on-site coffee shop will cater for your cup of java needs, as well as the beach bar, lounge, and poolside bar.
Every morning you will find a complimentary buffet breakfast on offer, as well as a world-class on-site wellness spa, with massages and treatments. Wedding services are also offered, so this could be a great base for those wanting a honeymoon in the beautiful town of Umag. Free wifi is on offer, as is an indoor and outdoor pool.
Kempinski Hotel Adriatic
Luxurious Spa Accommodation
If you are looking for luxury, then look no further than the Melia Coral. This hotel is aimed at guests aged 16+, and its facilities scream total rest and relaxation. With some of the rooms having breathtaking sea views. Located right on the beach, the indoor and outdoor pool allows you to swim in any weather, and the on-site spa, Asian themed, gives treatments and massages all day long. There are many restaurants which boasts over 200 different types of wine. On the beach you will also find plentiful watersports and entertainment, such as beach volleyball and football.
Best Places to Eat and Drink in Umag
This is one of those cliché restaurants which has something for everyone, and if you’re travelling with a fussy eater, this is a great option to go for. The restaurant itself is like a bright dining room, which kids will love, and the staff are friendly too. Food on offer includes Mediterranean options, pizza, pasta, salads, and grilled meats. Cheap and cheerful sums this up, but quality too, with a laid-back and chilled out feel to the whole restaurant.
Now, Bistro Jolly might look expensive, but it isn’t, not if you make smart menu choices. A little like an old fashioned pub, this is a friendly place, with equally as friendly staff. The food on offer is again Mediterranean in origin, and you can pick from countless chicken dishes, as well as good old fashioned pizza, and lots of pasta dishes. A couple dining here won’t spend a fortune unless they go for steak dishes, and the restaurant has a very misleadingly expensive feel to it! If you want to fool your stomach into thinking it’s eating something expensive, go here!
For something mid-range, give Ma-Ni a try. We mentioned earlier in our guide that many of the beach front and promenade restaurants serve lots of different seafood dishes on their menus, and this is one of them. You will find some types of seafood you might not have tried, and it is all set in a charming and quite traditional setting. The restaurant itself is small, but there are friendly staff on hand to help you make your choices. If you don’t fancy seafood, or perhaps you have someone in your party who is a little picky with what they eat, the menu also includes lots of pizzas, grills dishes, and salads too – basically, classically Mediterranean.
When visitors return time and time again to a restaurant then you know you’re onto something special, and that is certainly the case with Taverna Bruno. Considering this is a middle of the road restaurant in terms of price range, you certainly get quality. The staff are friendly, and the menu is large. Again, seafood is mostly favoured here, as well as traditional Croatian dishes to give a try whilst you’re visiting the country. You may need to book a table during peak season, as this small restaurant does get rather busy!
Special occasions deserve special restaurants, and Konoba Buscina is certainly that. Serving Mediterranean and Croatian dishes, this is a rustic and charming restaurant, which is always full – certainly book ahead of time to avoid disappointment. There are countless different types of wine on offer too, and the staff will be happy to make a recommendation. Food is cooked over a traditional open fire, and the style overall is typically Istrian. Visitors tend to stay in the restaurant for the evening, eating and drinking having a true dining experience.
Taverna Bachus is a top class seafood restaurant, which is set down a cobbled street in the Old Town. The staff are highly trained in helping you pick your ideal dish from the very large menu; fish baked in salt is a very popular choice and one which is delicious too. The downside is that the restaurant has a tendency to get very busy, but head there early to avoid disappointment.
Best Coffee Bars in Umag
A local favourite, Café Tondo is set just steps away from the sea and is open from first thing in the morning until around 2am. This is a popular choice with locals and visitors alike, and sells all kinds of cakes, pastries, sandwiches, toasties, coffees, and teas. You can easily sit with a latte and relax, with a wonderful view of the sea.
Another one where you will find locals mingling amongst visitors, Gustolato Umag is the go-to for coffee and ice cream. The friendly staff welcome you to this centrally located café, which has a slightly Starbucks-type feel to it, however slightly more charming and rustic than the large scale chain we all know and love.
Bars in Umag
Visitors to Umag love American Bar, simply because it has a fantastic atmosphere to enjoy. Drinks are affordable, there is entertainment on every night, and music is recognisable the world over. During peak summer season this bar is packed all night. Resident DJs spin the decks, and there are regular shows too, such as tribute acts and general entertainment. The bar is located within central Umag, so you don’t have too far to stumble back to your accommodation after your night, out!
Daylight Cocktail Bar
During the day this is a chilled out beach bar. Somewhere to sit and have a cocktail in the sun. During the evening hours however, this place transforms into party central, with beach parties, clubbing music, and a chill out area too. Open all day, until 4am into the small hours, this place is again packed during the peak summer months.
Key Festivals and Events in Umag
Croatia Open ATP Tennis Tournament
This is a staple on the ATP calendar, and one where the top players in tennis come together to compete for the prized title. Usually taking place in mid-July, this also coincides with one of the most popular times to visit the resort, which means crowds and a great atmosphere. If, you love tennis, this is a must do, however it’s a great tournament to attend even if you’re a neutral fan. The tournament is played on red clay, and pits the best of the business against each other.
This summer Umag has a surprise for young soccer enthusiasts. For the first time ever Umag will play host to the FC Barcelona Escola Soccer Camp from June 26th till July 1st 2016. More information about the summer camp you can find here.
Days of Asparagus
This might sound like, an odd kind of festival to attend, however it’s also one of the most traditional in the region! Basically, Istrian wild asparagus has been a staple on menus and in traditional cooking for years, and during the months of March to May, this festival will incorporate it even more so into tourist restaurants around the north-western Istria region; this means that visitors to the region can try something traditional, probably without even realising it!
Traveling to Umag
How to Get to Umag From Zagreb
- Air. In order to get from Zagreb to Umag by air you will need to fly into Pula airport – it’s a 50-minute flight. From there it is around one hour to drive from Pula to Umag.
- Bus. The bus from Zagreb to Umag takes you around 4 hours. If you get one of the non-direct buses which have numerous stops the trip can take up to 8 hours so make sure you catch the right bus!
- Car. A road trip from Zagreb to Umag is surprisingly quick, and will only take you around 3 hours. Of course, you can stop a few times along the way if you so wish, and because you’re travelling by road, and not in a coastal region, you can see more in the way of traditional towns and villages.
How to Get to Umag From Dubrovnik
- Air. Dubrovnik is a fair distance from Umag, so flying is probably the most sensible option, unless you want to embark on a road trip. Your option here involves flying into Pula, which requires a stop via Zagreb as there are no direct flights.
- Bus. The bus from Dubrovnik to Umag is a lengthy affair, but it is one which will take you through some stunning scenery en-route. There is no direct bus however you will need to catch the bus to Rijeka and then jump on the Dubrovnik bus. The bus journey takes around 15 hours, however, the bus network and companies which do the long distance routes in Croatia are very comfortable, and because this route is a well-travelled one, you will stop several times along the way.
- Car – Of course, you could hire a car and take a road trip, and, in this case, you can pick your journey. Driving yourself takes much less time than going by bus, and you can tailor-make your journey. Generally speaking, the overall route will take you around 9 hours.
How to get to Split from Umag
- Air. You have two flying options from Split to Umag – once again you need to get to fly into Pula via Zagreb or alternatively you can take a seaplane from Pula which flys directly to Split with European Coastal Airlines.
- Bus. Heading from Split to Umag entirely by bus takes around 9 hours and stops in Rijeka. Again, this is lengthy but you will see plenty as you travel.
- Car. To hire a car and drive to Umag from Split will take you around 6 hours, and because you are heading down the coast, you will see some jaw-dropping scenery. If you stop along the way, it will obviously take you longer.
We recommend you use RentalCars.com for your car hire like us.
Traveling to Pula
The nearest airport to Umag is Pula, and this is also a great city to visit in its own right. Pula is located around 83km away from Umag, and this takes around an hour, and the journey can be done by car or bus. Hiring a car is a fantastic way to see the passing countryside between the two cities, however, the bus network is quite easy to use too. The bus takes double the time it takes to drive, however, this is the usual case with most forms of public transport; despite that fact, it is quite cheap.
The bus stops three times along the way, including Novigrad, Porec, and Rovinj, so you’re sure to see some beautiful sights as you head south.
I know that was a massive post of info regarding things to do in Umag – where to go – what to eat and places to sleep, but that’s not ALL Umag has to offer. So, if I’ve missed one of your Umag highlights let me know below
We want you to know: This post contains affiliate links, which means at no extra cost to you if you make a booking, I receive a commission – each one helps keep this blog free. Main photo credit: Toni Krasnic.