839 episodes

Simon Calder is the Independent’s travel correspondent, the UK’s leading travel journalist. From news updates to discussions with experts, Simon Calder's Independent Travel Podcast will bring you all you need to know from the world of travel. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.

Simon Calder's Independent Travel Podcast The Independent

  • Society & Culture
  • 3.7 • 360 Ratings
  • 27 MAY 2024

May 27th - How to handle allergies on planes

Everybody has the same rights to travel... don't they? For those with severe food allergies, travel risks being complicated, expensive and even deadly. Just last week a 12-year-old girl with a peanut allergy and her family were thrown off a SunExpress flight from Gatwick to Dalaman, Turkey after the captain refused to ask other passengers not to eat nuts. Travel can be a tricky for those with such allergies. Here's my advice. This podcast is free, as is my weekly newsletter. Sign up here. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.

  • 24 MAY 2024

May 24th - Seoul-searching in linear parks

Today I'm looking at linear parks – effectively, old road or rail lines that are now green vectors for hikers and bikers. Some, like my location today, are in the middle of busy cities: I am in Seoul, South Korea, on a 1970s flyover that was threatened with demolition yet rescued and turned into a leafy, elevated walkway above the tumult of the city. New York has a similar option, the High Line, which has taken over a former elevated freight line in Manhattan. Two rail links now turned into cycle/walkways that I particularly like: Singapore's Rail Trail and the Great Western Greenway between Westport, Co Mayo and Achill Island in the west of Ireland. This podcast is free, as is my weekly newsletter. Sign up here. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.

  • 23 MAY 2024

May 23rd - Travelection!

What effect will the general election have on travel? It's Thursday, the 23rd of May, meaning that we are six weeks away from the next general election. What on earth has this got to do with the general election? Well, I will be studying the party's manifestos to see what they are going to do about, for example, airports and sustainable travel. This podcast is free, as is my weekly newsletter. Sign up here. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.

  • 22 MAY 2024

May 22nd - What could change following the tragic result of turbulence to Singapore Airlines flight SQ321?

Yesterday, the world was shocked by the news that a passenger had died following extreme turbulence on Singapore Airlines flight SQ321. The very sad episode was a reminder of the threat that turbulence can unfortunately have upon all flights - but can airlines do anything to mitigate the effects of such events? I take a look at what the industry guidelines currently are, and what may have to change to improve safety during moments of turbulence. This podcast is free, as is my weekly newsletter. Sign up here. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.

  • 21 MAY 2024

March 21st - This Metro is good for the Seoul

Clean, efficient, and amazing value for money. No, not me: the Seoul Metro system, which has some foibles but overall is an excellent and incredibly far reaching network. This podcast is free, as is the travel newsletter from The Independent. Sign up for it here. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.

  • 20 MAY 2024

May 20th - The long and winding route from Zagreb to Seoul

When choosing the optimum flight path gets tangled with geo-politics, the results are never positive. My report on the long and winding route from Zagreb to Seoul on the world's longest budget airline link. This podcast is free, as is the travel newsletter from The Independent. Sign up for it here. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.

  • © The Independent

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Simon Calder travel advice: When to renew your passport before visiting Europe

Since Brexit , the rules on passport validity for British visitors to the European Union have tightened.

Gone are the days when you could travel to the EU at any point before your travel document expired; the UK is now a “third country”, with rules to match.

Added confusion has come in the form of the UK’s own HM Passport Office, which has continued to give out incorrect information regarding child passport expiry dates .

These are the key questions and answers based on EU rules.

What’s changed?

While the UK was in the European Union, British passports were valid up to and including their expiry date for travel within the EU. But since the end of the Brexit transition phase, British passport holders are treated as “third country nationals” with stipulations about passport issue and expiry dates – together with limits on the length of stay almost everywhere in Europe.

For the avoidance of doubt, these are not “new EU rules” – they were decided while the UK was in the European Union.

What is required for my passport to be valid?

The requirements for the Schengen Area – comprising most EU countries plus Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and a handful of micro-states – are crisply expressed on the Travel page of the European Union’s Your Europe site : “If you are a non-EU national wishing to visit or travel within the EU, you will need a passport:

valid for at least three months after the date you intend to leave the EU country you are visiting,

which was issued within the previous 10 years.”

(All children’s passports meet this latter condition – see below.)

For the avoidance of doubt, there is no problem travelling to Europe with a passport issued for over 10 years, so long as it is under 10 years old on the date of departure to the EU and will have three months remaining on the date of return.

Why the line about ‘issued within the previous 10 years’?

For many years, until September 2018, the UK had a generous policy of allowing credit for “unspent” time when renewing a passport, issuing documents valid for up to 10 years and nine months.

So a passport issued on 31 October 2012 could show an expiry date of 31 July 2023.

This was fine around Europe and the world for decade – until Brexit, whereupon a longstanding rule kicked in. For non-members of the EU hoping to enter the Schengen Area, a passport must have been issued in the past 10 years.

With a passport issued on 31 October 2012, regardless of the expiry date, you’re not allowed to enter the EU post-1 November 2022.

Until September 2018 the government appeared unaware of the problem. Once the issue was identified, the practice of giving up to nine months’ grace ended abruptly.

Are the “issued less than 10 years ago” and “valid for three months” rules combined?

No. There is no need to have a passport issued less than nine years, nine months ago. The two conditions are independent of one another.

The Migration and Home Affairs Department of the European Commission in Brussels told me: “Entry should be allowed to those travelling with passports issued within the previous 10 years at the moment of entry into the Schengen area.

“The condition that the passport must have been issued within the previous 10 years does not extend for the duration of the intended stay. It is enough if this condition is fulfilled at the moment of entry.

“To give a practical example, a non-EU traveller arriving on 1 December 2021 for a 20-days stay in the EU with a passport issued on 2 December 2011 and valid until 2 April 2022 will be allowed entry.”

If I get wrongly turned away, what are my rights?

For flights: you can claim denied boarding compensation (either £220 or £350, depending on the length of the flight) and associated costs – for example, booking another flight on a rival airline, or for wasted car rental and hotel expenses that cannot be reclaimed.

I’ve just read a report saying I need six months remaining for Europe?

Some news outlets, regrettably, continue to publish incorrect information. Ignore it.

Does that 10-year-plus rule apply anywhere else in the world?

No as far as I am aware. The concern around the date of issue is relevant only for travel to the European Union – not for the rest of the world.

For destinations outside EU, the only significant consideration is the expiry date. And for destinations such as Australia, the US and Canada, your passport is valid up to and including this date.

So with that passport expiring on 31 July 2023, you could be in New York until that very day (though you would need to get a daytime flight back to avoid your passport running out en route.

Read the Independent ’s guide to how many months you need left on your passport to travel worldwide

What about children?

Passports for under-16s are typically valid for five years (plus any extra credit). A child’s passport issued for five years and nine months is clearly within the 10-year limit, and there is no possibility of breaching that condition.

(During 2021, the Home Office’s defective passport checker stripped all extra credit, which was both wrong and unhelpful. The online checker has now been switched off.)

But beware of the three-months-remaining-on-exit rule, which children are more likely to fall foul of because of the shorter duration of their passports.

What about this 90/180 day rule?

For trips to the Schengen area (most EU nations plus Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and some small countries) British passport holders can stay a maximum of 90 days in any 180. That’s roughly three months in six.

it is tricky to explain, but I shall do my best. Imagine a calendar that stretches back almost six months from today. What happened more than 180 days ago is irrelevant. What counts is the number of days you were either inside (I) or outside (O) the Schengen Area in the past 180 days.

You can easily keep count on a calendar yourself, either printed or digital.

If “I” hits 90, you must leave that day and stay out for almost three months, to accumulate 90 “Os” in a row. Then you can go back in, for a maximum of 90 days.

During the course of a calendar year, it could work like this (assuming no travel to the EU in the previous six months).

1 January: enter the EU and stay for 90 days until the last day of March, when you must leave.

1 April: remain outside for 90 days, which takes you to 29 June.

30 June: enter the EU and stay for 90 days, until 27 September. Then leave.

28 September: remain outside the EU until 26 December.

For longer stays, some countries offer visas that allow British citizens to remain for months on end. If you get one of these, then the time spent in that country does not count towards the “90/180” rule – in other words, you can explore other EU countries with a fresh calendar.

What about non-Schengen EU members?

For British visitors to Ireland , there are no limits on passport validity. Indeed, a passport is not legally mandatory for British travellers to the republic, though some airlines insist on it.

Bulgaria, Cyprus and Romania have identical rules to the Schengen Area: passport issued in the past 10 years, and with three months validity remaining on the day of leaving the country. But time spent in any of these nations does not contribute to the “90/180” day total.

Help! My passport is full of stamps and I have no space left. Will I be turned away?

No, even though Eurostar warns British passport holders : “Check that you have a clear page in your passport as it will need to be stamped with your travel date when you’re travelling to and from the EU.”

The EU’s Practical Handbook for Border Guards is explicit about a “document enabling a third-country national to cross the border [that] is no longer suitable for affixing a stamp, as there are no longer available pages”.

It says: “In such a case, the third-country national should be recommended to apply for a new passport, so that stamps can continue to be affixed there in the future.

“However, as an exception – and particularly in the case of regular cross-border commuters – a separate sheet can be used, to which further stamps can be affixed. The sheet must be given to the third-country national.

“In any case, the lack of empty pages in a passport is not, in itself, a valid and sufficient ground to refuse the entry of a person.”

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Solar eclipse 2024: A traveller’s guide to the best places to be when the light goes out

O n 8 April 2024, a total solar eclipse will sweep across North America , providing an astronomical experience in many alluring locations.

Only a tiny proportion of humanity has ever witnessed a total eclipse – but tens of millions of people will be able to experience one as the “path of totality” sweeps from the Pacific to the Atlantic during the course of that magical Monday.

Here’s what you need to know about why you should see it and where to be.

What happens during a total solar eclipse?

The greatest show on earth comes courtesy of the lifeless moon. Normally the orbiting lunar lump merely provides earth with tides, moonlight and somewhere to aim space rockets. But roughly once a year the natural satellite aligns with the sun and, thanks to a geometric miracle, blots out the hub of the solar system to create a total eclipse.

“Even though the moon is 400 times smaller than the sun, it’s also about 400 times closer to earth than the sun is,” says Nasa. “This means that from earth, the moon and the sun appear to be roughly the same size in the sky.”

A narrow band marking the “path of totality” carves an arc of darkness across the surface of our planet. If you are somewhere on that line at the predicted time, and you have clear skies, then the experience will become a lifelong memory.

The closer you are to the centre of the path of totality, the longer the total eclipse will last. The astronomer Dr John Mason, who has guided dozens of eclipse trips (and will be doing so again in 2024), says: “People down in southwest Texas will get about four minutes 20 seconds, and that reduces to about three minutes 20 seconds up in the northeast. That’s a pretty good, long total eclipse.”

What’s so good about seeing an eclipse?

In the days leading up to the eclipse, locations in the path of totality acquire something of a carnival atmosphere as astronomical tourists converge in excited anticipation.

On the day, the cosmological performance begins with a warm-up lasting more than an hour, during which the moon steadily nibbles away at the surface of the sun.

Suddenly, you experience totality. The stars and planets appear in the middle of the day. The air chills.

To testify to the heavenly fit between our two most familiar heavenly bodies, faint diamonds known as Baily’s beads peek out from behind the moon. They actually comprise light from the sun slipping through lunar valleys.

A sight to behold – so long as you can see the moon blotting out the sun and appreciate the mathematical perfection of nature in our corner of the galaxy.

Eclipses are entirely predictable: we know the stripes that the next few dozen will paint upon the surface of the Earth. But the weather is not. Cloud cover, which blighted the Cornwall eclipse in 1999, downgrades a cosmological marvel to an eerie daytime gloom.

Almost as predictable as the eclipse is that traffic towards the path of totality will be heavy on the morning of 8 April 2024.

Accommodation rates are astronomical: even humdrum motel rooms in Niagara, central in the path of totality, are selling for C$600 (£350) for the night of 7-8 April 2024.

Where will the great American eclipse 2024 be visible?

The path of totality makes landfall from the Pacific at Mazatlan on Mexico’s Pacific Coast and sweeps northeastwards to reach the US-Mexican border at Piedras Negras.

In the US, three big Texan cities – San Antonio, Austin and Dallas – are on the extremes of the path of totality; many citizens are likely to drive to locations near the centre of the line.

Arkansas will be an attractive place to see the eclipse , with both Texarkana (on the border with Texas) and Little Rock within the path of totality.

In the Midwest, Indianapolis and Cleveland share the distinction of being fairly central in the path of totality. In upstate New York, Buffalo and nearby Niagara Falls (shared with Canada) could be extremely attractive – though prone in early April to cloudy skies.

In Canada , Montreal is just touched by the path of totality. The line then reverts to the US, passing across northern Maine – which promises to be a superb with clear skies. Then back to Canada’s Maritime Provinces, with New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland all in the line of darkness.

Will I be able to see a partial eclipse from the UK?

Yes. The eclipse ends with the sunset in the eastern Atlantic, about 600 miles off the coast of Cornwall , before it reaches the UK and Ireland . But on the island of Ireland and western parts of Great Britain, a partial eclipse may be visible with the sun low in the sky.

If skies are clear and you have an open view to the west, it will start at around 7.55pm in Cardiff, Liverpool , Manchester, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

BBC Weather presenter Simon King said: “With the partial solar eclipse occurring late in the day UK time, the Sun will be low to the horizon and will actually set before the spectacle is over.”

Can I combine an exciting city with a partial eclipse?

Boston, New York and Chicago are among the big cities that will see a sizeable chunk of the sun blotted out. Viewer as far apart as Alaska and the far north of Colombia and the Caribbean will, if skies are clear and they use the correct eye protection, see a partial eclipse. But there is nothing to compare with a total eclipse.

Eclipse guru Dr Mason sums up the difference between a 99 per cent partial eclipse and a total eclipse as far apart as “a peck on the cheek and a night of passion”.

“There will be people who will look at the map and say, ‘I live in Cincinnati or I live in Columbus [Ohio] and I’m just outside the zone of totality. But I’m going to get a 99 per cent-plus eclipse, so maybe I won’t bother to travel’.

“What they don’t realise is there an enormous difference between 99 per cent and 100 per cent. And there’s a range of phenomena that they won’t see if they put up with 99 per cent.”

You must use special eclipse safety glasses or viewers when viewing a partial eclipse or during the partial phases of a total solar eclipse.

Where should I be for the total experience?

There are no guarantees of clear skies: all you can do is play the odds based on the record of cloud cover for the corresponding date in previous years.

Dr Mason says the average expected cloud cover amounts increase from around 40-45 per cent on the Mexico/Texas border to over 80 per cent in Maine, New Brunswick and Newfoundland.

Three particularly tempting locations:

  • Southern Texas , close to San Antonio or Austin. Besides clear skies being more likely than not, access is easy with direct flights to Austin. Importantly there is much to explore in the region before and after the eclipse, from Big Bend National Park on the Rio Grande to Space Center Houston – an excellent place to continue the cosmological theme.
  • Northern Arkansas , a picturesque part of the state, with the added attraction of Memphis just a couple of hours away.
  • Niagara Falls : the dramatic border between the US and Canada could be an eclipse washout due to clouds. But the natural surroundings are impeccable – and there is plenty of accommodation, which will avoid the risk of being caught in severe traffic congestion on the freeways from Toronto and locations in New York State.

However, the most recent forecasts for cloud cover suggest that the Midwest around Indianapolis and the northeastern state of Maine could have the best prospects.

When are the next total solar eclipses?

Summer 2026 – Wednesday 12 August, to be precise – should bring a spectacular eclipse visible in northern Spain at the height of the European holiday season. The path of totality begins in the Arctic and crosses Greenland and Iceland before arriving in the northern half of Spain. The stripe of darkness will traverse the great cities of Bilbao, Zaragoza and Valencia in mainland Spain before arriving in Palma de Mallorca.

The following summer (2 August 2027), the southern tip of mainland Spain is in the path of totality for an eclipse that will sweep across North Africa and the Arabian peninsula : going east from the Strait of Gibraltar, it will encompass Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, the northeasternmost corner of Sudan, Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

Just under 12 months later, on 22 July 2028, Outback Australia will be the place to be. A total eclipse will make landfall in northern Western Australia, sweep across the Northern Territory and part of southwest Queensland – then clean across New South Wales, with Sydney in the middle of the path of totality.

Winter cloud cover could disrupt the experience in Australia’s largest city – and is very likely in the southern portion of New Zealand’s South Island where the eclipse reaches a finale.

Australia also features in the cosmological plans on 25 November 2030. This is early summer in the southern hemisphere, and likely to be good conditions for viewing in Namibia, Botswana and South Africa (Durban is on the path of totality) as well as South Australia.

From news to politics, travel to sport, culture to climate – The Independent has a host of free newsletters to suit your interests. To find the stories you want to read, and more, in your inbox, click here .

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' class=

Given the civil war in Eastern Ukraine...is it safe to be a tourist in Rostov na Donu right now?

This post was determined to be inappropriate by the Tripadvisor community and has been removed.

' class=

You should be fine. Although the city is close to the border with the Ukraine there is nothing happening there.

simon calder eu travel advice

Have you heard of anything scary from Rostov-na-Donu?))))

What o you mean? No, it's fine as I told you, it's rural but fine)

This topic has been closed to new posts due to inactivity.

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Hello, If anyone is going to travel to Rostov-on-Don, and you would like some info or advice on the city, hotels, things to see or to do. You can contact me direct if you wish. I have been there many times, and have lived there for a period of time also. My wife was born in Rostov-na-Donu, and lived there for 42 years. There is nothing she or I do not know about Rostov. Please give me a few days to reply as I do not check this site every day. Have a good time as Rostov is a great place to vacation.

I can recommend hotel Pushkinskaya or Amaks

Here you can find it http://www.hrs.com

This topic has been closed to new posts due to inactivity.

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Rostov-on-Don Hotels and Places to Stay

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  • The Top Attractions In Rostov...

The Top Attractions in Rostov-on-Don

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Rostov-On-Don city is a port and the administrative center of Southern Federal District of Russia. It lies to the southeast of the East European Plain, on the Don River. The city stands on the banks of the Don River, about 46 kilometres east of the Azov Sea and 1,070 kilometres south of Moscow. The climate is temperate continental. Rostov-on-Don has a specific unique outlook because of its rich historical and cultural heritage.

There are more than 1,000 objects of cultural heritage in the city, among them 482 architectural monuments, 70 archaeological monuments, eight large memorial complexes and 106 monuments. It is a major transport hub of the southern part of European Russia and a large educational and scientific center of Russia. So take a look at the city’s major points of interest. Our tips will make your trip to Rostov-On-Don unforgettable and full of interesting activities. https://www.instagram.com/p/BXex-Lzh8uV/?taken-at=213270263 Pushkin Street Take a look at this landscaped boulevard, lined with thousands of trees, flowers, restaurants, food kiosks, benches, memorials and statues. Pushkin Street leads into both the City Park and October Revolution Park. The biggest street of the city is always crowded and you can find a lot of activities there as a tourist. Undoubtedly the first place to go upon arrival, especially if you’re hungry. https://www.instagram.com/p/BYVR7KrHPyl/?tagged=%D1%80%D0%B5%D0%BA%D0%B0%D0%B4%D0%BE%D0%BD Don River Lookout Right after a visit to Pushkin Street, move to Don River lookout (aka, the Embankment) where you’ll enjoy a stroll along the riverside. The Embankment is lined with several restaurants, statues, fountains and a few souvenir shops; it also has an outstanding picturesque view. Yet it is considered to be the centre of Rostov’s nightlife. https://www.instagram.com/p/BYQtspxHtsu/?taken-at=1092801284125416 Rostov Zoo If you’re in travelling with children, then this zoo is well worth a visit. One of the largest zoos in Russia, it is home to a huge variety of animals, including giraffes, camels, polar bears, falcons, reptiles, fish and tigers. Located right in the city centre. https://www.instagram.com/p/BYQDpiIAGEU/?taken-at=879146942 Maxim Gorky Academic Drama Theatre. This theatre is a famous venue for dramatic plays, comedies and concerts in the Rostov area. It is located on the eastern end of Bolshaya Sadovaya Street (Teatralnaya Square 1), directly across the street from the monument known as ‘Stella’. Maxim Gorky Theatre operates even in summer when all other venues are closed. https://www.instagram.com/p/BNCnw_DA4Lo/?tagged=%D1%80%D0%BE%D1%81%D1%82%D0%BE%D0%B2%D1%80%D1%8B%D0%BD%D0%BE%D0%BA Central Market This massive outdoor and indoor market, which consists of many tiny shops and kiosks, can be both exciting and intimidating for tourists. Market shopping is one of the most memorable experiences that Russia has to offer for an adventurous tourist who just arrived here. You can buy anything here. The market is located in the downtown area, on Stanislavskovo Street, just four blocks south of the central intersection of Bolshaya Sadovaya Street. https://www.instagram.com/p/BYXMs9Xjcsk/?tagged=%D1%80%D0%B5%D0%BA%D0%B0%D0%B4%D0%BE%D0%BD Bridges Over the Don River & Embankment This city network of bridges and overpasses was constructed between 2007 and 2010, and it consists of a steel and a concrete composite structures across the River Don. Almost all the bridges were designed by the St ­Petersburg engineering firm TransMost and constructed by the Moscow contractor MostoTrest.

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The secret heart-shaped European peninsula perfect for a foodie holiday

Fancy oysters straight from cages underneath a pontoon kirsty masterman immerses herself in a destination perfect food lovers and history buffs, article bookmarked.

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The hilltop town of Motovun

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A mosaic of attractive truffle forests, hilltop towns, olive groves and vineyards , it’s easy to fall in love with Istria, a heart-shaped peninsula in the Adriatic Sea . Lying across the water from Venice , it’s a secret paradise for food lovers and history buffs alike.

I arrive on a fresh spring morning for a whistle-stop tour of the region’s most popular towns – Pula, Rovinj and Motovan. My lodgings for the duration are at the contemporary Lone Hotel by Maistra Collection in Rovinj on the west coast of the Istrian peninsula, surrounded by the lush Golden Cape forest park and overlooking the turquoise Lone Bay.

I start my adventure in Pula, a seafront city and Istria’s largest. At 3,000 years old, it is one of the oldest urban areas in Croatia and has been occupied and destroyed many times, making it a city with plenty of stories to tell.

Just outside the city walls, the 2,000-year-old Pula Arena dominates the landscape. The sixth largest remaining Roman amphitheatre in the world, it’s thought to have held around 23,000 at its peak. I stand in the centre of the arena, gazing upwards and picturing everything from boat fights, hunting spectacles and gladiator battles to modern-day concerts ( Dua Lipa is one of the many singers scheduled to play here this summer).

As I leave the arena behind and head to Pula’s main square, evidence of the many different rulers this city has come under are plain to see, with Venetian, Italian, Austrian and Albanian architectural influences all sitting side by side.

Rovinj, with its old town on the headland

Read more on Croatia travel :

  • The best Croatia holiday destinations – and when to travel to each one
  • Sibenik travel guide: Where to eat, drink, shop and stay in Croatia’s untouched coastal city
  • The lesser-known Croatia destinations you may not have considered

Later in the evening, I head to dinner in Rovinj at Puntulina , a family-owned restaurant hidden away down the cobbled streets in the heart of the old town and overlooking the water’s edge. Tables are staggered along the cliffside, ensuring everyone has a picture perfect sunset view.

The next morning, I am whisked away to Lim Bay on Istria’s west coast. At almost 13km long, this canyon-like estuary is home to some of the country’s finest oyster farms and a great place to experience the region’s farm to plate ethos.

Following a peaceful cruise along the bay to observe the oyster farms, I head to Tony’s Oyster shack, a tiny ramshackle hut on the edge of Lim Bay, where tourists can sample oysters straight from red cages underneath the pontoon. Best enjoyed in spring, I am perfectly timed for my initiation to this delicacy. Drizzled with a healthy dose of lemon juice, I scoop out the mollusc and swallow it whole. The salty freshness makes me an instant convert.

Following a hearty lunch of seafood delicacies, it’s time to see what the charming coastal town of Rovinj has to offer. Surrounded by lush green landscapes and crystal clear waters, the bustling town harbour is packed with local batana fishing boats and twisting, cobblestone lanes.

Gourmet seafood served in Istria

I enter the old town via the 17th-century arching Balbi town gate, one of the most iconic landmarks in Rovinj. I wander around the narrow, winding alleys, stumbling across some of the country’s finest seafood restaurants sandwiched between tightly clustered multi-coloured houses. The harbourside and open-air cafes may be busy but there is no sense of overcrowding.

Motovun – meaning ‘a town in the hills’ – is an ancient walled city perched high on the hillside, only accessible by foot. The area itself is renowned for truffle hunting and wine.

Just an hour’s drive from Rovinj, the hilltop town of Buzet is home to the family-owned business Prodan Tartufi, which exports truffles to 35 countries and countless restaurants.

When I arrive, owner Ben has just returned from a hunt with a healthy haul and the dogs are beyond excited, eager to be the next to head out. He selects his next two hunters – Trophy the Dalmatian and Lila the Labrador. I jump into the van and we head to the Kontija forest to begin our scavenging.

Within 15 minutes, Lila starts frantically digging and Ben has to be quick to retrieve the ‘gold’ from her jaws. She is rewarded with treats, but I somehow suspect she would have rather had the truffle. Before long we have a worthy haul and head back to base, where Ben gets the scales out to put a true value on our finds. I am rewarded generously with freshly prepared and deliciously creamy scramble eggs infused with truffles, accompanied by a board of truffle cheeses and meats. A rich treat if ever there was one, with spectacular views to boot.

Somewhere to relax at Hotel Lone

Continuing with the truffle theme, I dine at Michelin-starred Zigante , known for its truffle-infused cuisine and owned by a Guinness World Record holder. Back in 1999, Giancario Zigante and his dog, Diana, found a white truffle weighing in at 1.31kg in the Motovun forest near Livade. At the time, rather than selling the truffle, which could have made him a cool €1 million, he instead chose to serve it to guests at a special dinner so that everybody could enjoy it.

This gesture put Livade on the map as a world centre for white truffles. Nowadays, Zigante makes multiple dishes inspired by different types of truffles, the most unusual being black truffle ice cream.

His zest for culinary experimentation doesn’t surprise me. In Istria, every town is infused with history and the chefs embrace their local delicacies with passion. With its captivating scenery and exceptional wines to boot, this region has certainly left a lasting taste in my mouth and a thirst to return.

Doubles at Hotel Lone Rovinj start from £146 (€170) per night, including breakfast.

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