The Brijuni Islands are one of the most attractive tourist destinations in Croatia. This archipelago consists of fourteen green gems set within the blue expanse of the northern Adriatic just off the western coast of Istria. Together with the surrounding sea, they were proclaimed a national park in 1983. There is a regular daily boat service between the islands and the Port of Fažana, and they are only 6 km from Pula.
Because the Brijuni were part of the Istrian mainland ten thousand years ago, the Fažana Channel is only 12 m deep. Flat and slightly inclined layers of limestone from the Cretaceous period support a rather thick layer of brown calcareous soil, or terra rossa, which is prevalent on the islands. The stone in this formation is white, easily excavated, of marble structure, and abundant in clay and silicic acid. It is very solid and represents an excellent construction material. Roman builders appreciated this stone’s useful qualities and used it to build many towns on the Adriatic coast.
The Brijuni Islands are comprised of two larger islands – Veliki and Mali Brijun, as well as 12 smaller and exceptionally indented islands that have been inhabited since prehistoric times. Brijuni is well known for its mild Mediterranean climate, with plenty of sun and humidity, which is ideal for the lush vegetation and a pleasant island stay.
The best way to experience the flora and special in the Brijuni Islands is by visiting the Safari Park. Inhabited by many different animal species, Lanka, the elephant, who arrived as a gift from Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1972, is the most popular animal at Safari Park.
Get acquainted with over 160 indigenous plants as you stroll through the Mediterranean garden. Also within the park is one of the oldest olive trees in the Mediterranean region. Its age was verified by research carried out at the Ruđer Bošković Institute in Zagreb in the 1960s. Olive trees are integral to Brijuni’s unique landscape; owing to its lush and rich crown, as well as the impressive size of its trunk, the ancient olive tree adds a unique aspect to the garden.
Riding on the Safari Park train is fun for all visitors and is an unforgettable experience for children. Last but not least, make sure to pay a visit to Koki, the big, yellow-crested cockatoo, the park’s biggest main celebrity. Visitors love to get a selfie with Koki! Be sure to take pauses during your visit to stop and enjoy the perfect harmony of nature.
The richness of Brijuni is also amplified by geo-paleontological sites where more than 200 dinosaur footprints have been discovered. It is believed that these ancient reptiles walked Brijuni 100-130 million years ago. Keep an eye out if you sail into the port of Veliki Brijun: when disembarking from the boat, it is possible to see a three-toed print in the limestone block, probably left by a large theropod carnivore.