Bale, Istria – Croatia best-kept secret

Traveling, not only in Croatia but also visiting other parts of the world, I always try to find places that have preserved their climate and former character as far as possible. Hidden gems that are not destroyed by mass tourism and commerce. The small town of Bale (in Italian called Valle), which we discovered during our trip on the Croatian peninsula Istria, turned out to be exactly such a place.

Bale-Valle, a hidden gem in Istria, Croatia - Epepa Travel Blog

Bale-Valle, the hidden gem of Istria

Bale is a place that does not appear in most travel guides about Istria. This small town is located on the western shore of the peninsula, only 15 km from Rovinj, which is considered to be one of the most beautiful cities in Croatia and is visited by many tourists. Rovinj was the place where we stayed during our weekend in Istria (read more: Rovinj, one of the best cities to visit in Croatia), and the town of Bale we discovered one Sunday morning, quite by chance to be honest.

Balle Valle, Croatia contemporary art - from travel blog
Bale, Istria, Croatia - from travel blog

Spring in Bale-Valle, Istria, Croatia - from travel blog

The sky was cloudy and it was raining in the morning, but it seemed that the weather would be better soon, so we decided to go on a trip. We got to the car, took the map and went in the direction of Pula and Cape Kamenjak. We were passing green fields and olive groves until we reached the town of Bale-Valle.

Spring in Bale-Valle, a hidden gem of Istria - from travel blog
Bale Valle, Croatia - from travel blog

The name was quite intriguing, so we decided to stop the car and check if there is anything interesting. That is how, by chance, we discovered a small town that enchanted us with its magnificent medieval architecture and narrow, cobbled streets.

Bale-Valle, a hidden gem of Istria - Epepa Travel Blog

Bale, Istria - Croatian hidden gem
Charming cobblestone streets of Bale-Valle, a hidden gem of Istria - from travel blog:

When you are passing the town of Bale driving the road from Rovinj to Pula, this place does not seem to be interesting at all. At first glance, Bale is a place like many and probably that is why most tourists pass it, not realizing that it is a real gem of Istria.

The Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Bale, Croatia - from travel blog
Croatian village Bale Valle,a hidden gem of Istria - from travel blog

Bale-Valle, a place where time stood still

The small town of Bale-Valle has enchanted us with its atmosphere. On this Sunday morning, we were the only tourists who visited it. Medieval streets lined with 14th and 15th-century houses in a circle around the hill, ancient churches and the bohemian, artistic vibe of this place – all this makes Bale unique and full of atmosphere. It is one of the few towns in Istria, which still retains its character.

Bale Valle, a hidden gem of Istria, Croatia - from travel blog

Delving into the labyrinth of narrow, cobbled streets I felt like I was traveling in time. This was probably what most of the Croatian towns looked like before they were converted into tourist resorts. Due to the fact that the town of Bale is a bit further from the sea and seen from the road, it looks quite ordinary, it is now one of the few places where you can still feel the real Istria. I would recommend visiting Bale to anyone who, just like us, likes to explore off the beaten path places.

The town of Bale, Istria, Croatia - from travel blog
A town of Bale-Valle in Istria, Croatia - from travel blog

If you would like to read more about Croatia hidden gems, the posts about the secret beaches of Hvar or Sumartin, an underrated place in Croatia might also interest you.

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  25 comments for “Bale, Istria – Croatia best-kept secret

  1. April 4, 2018 at 11:10 am

    i have never heard of this place Bale, Istria but looks really amazing..these cobbed strrets are so beautiul..
    greta to came across some Croatia post that is not all about game of thrones location :)..would love to visit this place someday

    • April 4, 2018 at 2:16 pm

      There are many such beautiful towns in Istria. I highly recommend going there to all who like me like to look for hidden treasures and wander away from the busy trails 🙂

  2. April 4, 2018 at 12:25 pm

    Beautiful! You definitely found a gem off the beaten path. The streets are so charming and authentic. Love it.

    • April 4, 2018 at 2:13 pm

      Yes, this town is a real hidden treasure. I would be happy to come back there 🙂

  3. April 4, 2018 at 1:52 pm

    I hope you had a great time and that you enjoyed! Istria is one of my favourite parts. I’m Croatian I’m the happiest when I can explore around my country, but also when I see posts like this one. If you need any tips about Croatia in the future, feel free to contact me!

    • April 4, 2018 at 2:12 pm

      Good to know! 🙂 I’ve been to Croatia three times (Dalmatia and Istria) and I’d like to see more. I am looking for other interesting places. I loved Istria, especially the city of Rovinj, where we stayed for a few days and Cape Kamenjak. I will write about these places on the blog soon 🙂

  4. April 4, 2018 at 8:12 pm

    What a charming village! It’s very similar to our villages in Italy where time stands still, full of charm and beauty! And you captured all of this perfectly with your pictures!

    • April 9, 2018 at 3:29 pm

      It used to be an Italian town, hence probably similarity. I would be happy to go to Italy and see how it is there 🙂

  5. April 5, 2018 at 9:32 am

    Ah Croaitia, somewhere I’ve yet to visit, but desperately want to. I love cute, charming little villages like this 🙂 those blue details look so eye-popping against the bare brick x

    • April 9, 2018 at 3:32 pm

      Croatia is beautiful. I’ve been there three times and would be happy to go again. I discover something new every time. I love historic towns, beautiful hidden beaches, crystal clear sea … You would definitely like it there.

  6. April 5, 2018 at 10:33 am

    This looks like an amazing place to be 🙂 Not only to visit, but also to live there. I would love to walk downs those cobbled streets. I literally fell in love with this town, based on your photos alone!! Safe travels!

    • April 9, 2018 at 3:34 pm

      True, the town is one of a kind. I just do not know if I could live there. I think it would be too quiet after all. But it is always nice to see such a beautiful place, stroll through the streets, feel its atmosphere.

  7. April 5, 2018 at 3:12 pm

    That is truly a well-kept secret. Never heard os these streets.
    But why are they so empty? Is there any life there?

    • April 5, 2018 at 3:31 pm

      I was there early in the morning. It was raining slightly, so I guess people were sitting in their homes. Nevertheless, it seems to me that this is not a very popular place and is rarely visited by tourists…

  8. April 5, 2018 at 5:40 pm

    True, it is best kept secret. Never heard of this place before. Added to my bucket list. The pictures are so beautiful of this little sleepy town.

    • April 9, 2018 at 3:36 pm

      I also did not hear about this place before I visited them by accident. I love discovering such hidden treasures 🙂

  9. Followingtherivera
    April 6, 2018 at 9:44 am

    Wow I can see why this is Croatia’s best kept secret. Really beautiful photos, I’d love to see it for myself!

    • April 9, 2018 at 3:37 pm

      There are many such small, hidden towns in Croatia. That’s what I love this country for.

  10. April 6, 2018 at 2:32 pm

    Now that you wrote about it, it’s not a secret anymore! All your pics are perfect for Instagram! Thanks for this useful information. I’ll definitely go here when I visit Croatia.

    • April 9, 2018 at 3:38 pm

      Thank you Karla. If you’re in Istria, be sure to go to Bale-Valle, because it’s worth it 🙂

  11. April 6, 2018 at 4:15 pm

    I’ve been to Croatia, but had never been here, so thanks so much for the heads up. Croatia is certainly one of those nations that I need to head back to soon!

    • April 9, 2018 at 3:39 pm

      There is something so unusual in this country that if you go there once, you want to come back again and again 🙂

  12. Jocelyn
    March 3, 2019 at 12:20 am

    Since you are Croatian would love your advice on where to stay as a base to explore off- the- beaten- path places for an authentic less touristy 2-3 wk trip this August to Istria with my hubbie and twin 15 yr old boys? Do you recommend Bale as a base? Unsure whether to stay on one of the islands such as Vis or Korcula OR Bale or another coastal or inland town.

    We ENJOY:
    -biking or exploring by by foot
    -connecting with locals; bohemian vibe
    We are NOT:
    – good drivers; don’t know how difficult it is to navigate from town to town but both of us are not good with directions & prefer scenic routes though cannot drive on winding roads/high cliffs/ roads that go in both directions/on left side( we are from Manhattan & don’t own a car) as it would make us nervous not being savvy drivers
    – into seeing a million “sights;” rather talk to a local over wine or see a dance performance than look at a famous church or statue
    – rich; traveling with teenagers is expensive; as artists we are on limited budget

    Trying to make it fun for our teenagers too! Read about zip-lining in Pazin but hey wont go there just for that.
    Read Bale’s nearest beach is 3 miles away…accessible by a rented scooter or bus or public transportation that comes frequently?

    Up to my eyeballs in research…couldn’t figure out how if you’re able to see my email to answer questions so….You can contact me at [email protected]….I am NOT on facebook

    Many thanks

    • March 4, 2019 at 9:03 pm

      I’m not from Croatia, I’m Polish. I spent less than 7 days in Istria so I’m not an expert. Bale-Valle is a tiny town that you can walk around for 5 minutes. I do not know your preferences but for me, it probably would be too small for a longer stay. I do not know how the road to the sea looks like, so I can not give you any advice because I do not want to mislead you.

      I decided to stay in Rovinj and in my opinion, it was a great decision. The city is beautiful, romantic, with narrow streets and is right by the sea which is very important to me. In Rovinj, there is also a forest park Zlatni Rt (Punta Corrente), which would be an ideal place for you to ride a bike. Check out my blog article about Rovinj, you might like this place:

      As for other destinations, my number one is the island of Hvar. There is a good wine there (check out Plavac Mali, Bugdanusa), secret beaches, charming Croatian towns: Stari Grad, Hvar, Vrboska. I stayed in Zavala on the south side of the island and it’s a really beautiful place, but if you do not like steep roads, unfortunately, it’s not something for you.

      An interesting place I have been to is also the island of Losinj. They call it an island of vitality and it is still a little undiscovered destination in Croatia. Soon I will write about this island on my blog, for now, you can check the article about the island of Susak which is part of the Losinj Archipelago:

      If you are looking for a place with hippie vibes I have heard that Komiża on the island of Vis is like this. You can also check the Peljesac peninsula from where it is easy to get to the island of Korcula.

      I wish you all the best and I hope that, like me and many others, you will fall in love with Croatia.