Brijuni National Park
Just as visiting the Eiffel Tower appears an obvious choice when you are in Paris, the Brijuni National park is a must-see when you are in Croatia.
Located on the Brijuni archipelago, which consists of fourteen islands and islets, the national park is home to not merely a rich history but an equally vivid, antique, and exotic show of flora and fauna.
When around the Brijuni National Park, you can enjoy Croatias very own Safari ride, a guided train tour through the island, a full-sized golf course, and an Olive tree that is more than 1600 years old.
While your days can be spent staring at the horizon across the stunning Adriatic Sea, your evenings will be glazed with one scrumptious meal after another at the Polidor campsite restaurant.
But that is not all! From a 45-year-old Indian Elephant and Zebras that roam in and around their enclosures with ease to a Mediterranean garden, the island has a lot to offer to anyone who decides to grace its soil.
But of course, as goes with any holiday you plan, it is essential to have your facts straightened out and your schedule somewhat predetermined if you wish to avoid common pitfalls and inconveniences that may stem from spending an impromptu week in a foreign land.
Here is almost everything you may need to ensure that you get to have a lovely time in Brijuni. Let make sure you return with memories that are worth reminiscing, not dreading, shall we?
About the Brijuni islands, Croatia.
Since 1983, the Brijuni island has been protected as a national park. The park and island are often associated with antiquity.
The reason behind such a status can be reasonably explained and understood only after you have given the history of the island a good look.
Well, here is a quick tour for you.
The islands have spent time under the rule of the Romans, Ostrogoths, the Byzantine Empire, Venetian Empire, etc. at some point then it was converted into an exclusive beach resort in 1893.
It housed some fascinating casinos, resorts, restaurants, hotels, and harbours during the early 1900s.
Till date, tourists stumble upon the remnants of the lavish and posh life standards that Brijuni represented over a hundred years ago.
However, a big part of Brijuni antiquity comes from the time it spent under Josip Broz Tito, the President Marshal of Yugoslavia in 1953. Since the islands served as Titos special States Summer Residence, it was often frequented by the head of other states who came bearing lavish, often exotic, gifts from their lands.
For instance, former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi donated two elephants, Sony and Lanka, to the Brijuni Safari Park, one of which is still alive and 45 years old.
Places Worth Visiting on Brijuni islands
Its situated on Brijunis western coast, along Verige Bay. Built with large stone blocks, the complex houses a summer residence on one side. Its littered with the remains of ancient temples for Neptune, Venus, and other deities across its width. And, it tells the stories of around 17 Roman emperors who once ruled the area.
Brijuni Cretaceous Park
Dinosaur footprints as old as 145 million years were discovered over time at four sites in and around Veli Brijun.
The Ancient Olive Tree
The six-metre tall and 1600 years old (carbon dating verified) Olive Tree still bears fruit and stands as evidence of Brijunis fascinating landscape.
Located inside the Safari Park, the Ethno area contains the native species of the Istrian landscape. These include the Istrian Ox, Donkeys, sheep, and goats.
Saline Bird Reserve
It lies in the deep southern cove, behind Cape Gromace, in Veli Brijun. Developed on what used to be salt pans in the medieval times, Saline is filled with swampy plants, chirping birds, and three small lakes. And, if you plan ahead of time, you can book the straw hut by a small secluded island around the largest lake in Saline where you get to dine in the arms of nature with the birds singing in the background.
With a vehicle route that spans nine hectares, this Croatian Safari ride offers you a close peek into the lives and habitats of several exotic animals including the Istrian natives and imported species.
Llamas, Mountain Zebra, Steppe, the Indian Holy Cattle, otherwise called as Zebu, and elephants, the Safari ride will get you closer to all such animals and more.
The Local Brijuni Seas
This marine park offers a peek into the typical marine organisms native to the Northern Adriatic. Its also an important hatching ground. From observing turtles and dolphins to collecting pen shells and date shells, theres a lot to do around the Brijuni waters.
The marine park is also the home of endemic species like black tang, the tunicate, and Jadranski ciganin. The seabed can be observed for sponges, urchins, shellfish, and fishes like black umber and conger eels.
The Brijuni Flora Famous for its manicured vegetation, the Brijuni landscape is full of typical Mediterranean species like Macchia, Holm Oak, and conifers. You can also find certain endangered grass species, marine poppy, and wild cucumbers, etc. thriving in abundance on the islands.
Tourist Information- Prices, Tickets, and Permissions You will Need
Tickets and Entrance Fees
The entrance to Brijuni used to be free. That, however, is no more the case. You will need to join a local excursion and pay the appropriate fee for the package you choose.
The excursion is essentially a sightseeing tour which includes:
- A ride on the tourist train
- A trip to the Roman Villa Rustica remains
- The Safari Park ride
- A trip to the Church of St. Germain
The excursion package comes with a guide, and you can choose between English, Russian, German, Croatian, and Italian as the preferred language for the tour. The price list for the excursion changes according to seasons and are usually highest during Christmas and the New Year Eve.
There are other places to visit in Brijuni than the ones mentioned here, like the underwater sightseeing, the Boathouse display about the cultural, natural, and historical heritage of the island, and archaeological sites like St. Marys Basilica, etc.
The tickets for the excursion can be bought from the official Brijuni travel shop. You may find other outlets selling the same. But, bear it in mind that they may not have the permission or the authority to take you around the entire island.
Accommodation on Brijuni Islands
The island houses two hotels and five villas at present. You can go for sea-view rooms, park-view rooms, as well as suites.
The villas can house around 4-8 people at once. Breakfast, a chambermaid, flowers for the rooms, transport facilities to pick you up when you arrive and drop you off when you depart, an electric car, a bike per guest, and one guided tour of the island comes complimentary with the villa bookings.
You will have to pay extra for a waiter, cook, and around-the-clock maid services.
With a string of contemporary resorts, a dash of dazzle and glamour, and a menu that is filled with rich, palette evoking delicacies, you will find few but quite outstanding options for fine dining on the Brijuni island.
While the hotel offers restaurants inside its complex, with a collective seating capacity over 200 and a salon facility as well, you can also find standalone restaurants to eat on the island.
The restaurant Plaza is situated at the seaside, lies in the shadow of pines over a hundred years old, and offers a fascinating view of the Istrian mainland. The restaurant Skoljka, located between the Kastel-citadel and St. German Church, is perfect for a mid-day meal as well as a quiet dinner date.
But, above all, its the outdoor restaurants that offer the most authentic island meal feels to every visitor on the Brijuni landscape. They present a customised yet pleasant setting, and you have the freedom to choose to dine by the sunset, looking over the Brijuni harbour, or basking in candlelight by the largest lake in the Saline bird reserve.
How Can You Get to Brijuni National Park?
Pula is the nearest terminal to Brijuni. You can reach Pula via road, rail, boat, or bus. From there, you will need to take a ride to Fazana which is 10 kilometres away and is the primary boat connection to Brijuni.
You may catch a bus ride that will cost you around 30 minutes. Or, you may take a car and pay for it to be parked on the pier. The parking lies about 100 metres from the dock. Fazana is a fifteen-minute long boat ride away from the island.
If you have opted for a guided tour of the island by boat, make sure you have the timings figured out lest you miss your ride. You can contact the park administrations to buy a ticket on the boat to the main island of Brijuni, Veli Brijuni.
However, without the excursion ticket, you would still need to buy an entrance ticket which will give you access to the safari park, museum, and the island train. If you wish to take a private boat to the island, make sure it has the permissions needed to navigate the island as you desire.