Bale is a remarkably pretty and quaint hilltop town. Despite its proximity to pristine coastline, its medieval architecture and its undeniable charm, Bale is still relatively unexplored by tourists. The town retains a calm, off-the-beaten-track appeal. Wander its winding alleys and admire picturesque churches and historic buildings.
This site was originally occupied by the Illyrians and was later established as a Roman settlement named Castrum Vallis. However, the current incarnation of the village developed around the imposing Venetian-Gothic castle at its center, known as the Soardo-Bembo Palace. Check out this mighty medieval edifice, which is not only the largest building in town, but also Bale’s greatest attraction. Combine a visit here with a trip to the nearby Municipal Palace, which also features interesting architecture including a 14th-century loggia with Gothic arches.
Pay particular attention to Bale’s many beautiful churches, located both in the town and in the surrounding area. Of particular note are the tiny Church Sveti Duh (Church of the Holy Spirit), home to eye-catching 15th-century frescoes, and the white-stone Parish Church of St. Julian, whose 118-foot (36-meter) bell tower dominates the cityscape.
For beaches, descend to the shoreline, which is about 4 miles (7 kilometers) away from Bale town center. Lounge on the pebbled shorefront of nearby San Polo. Visit Colone, a paleontology site where several dinosaur fossils were found on the seabed in the late 1990s. Hike in nearby Palud, a swampy ornithological reserve that is home to more than 200 species of birds.
Bale hosts several cultural events throughout the year. Arrange your visit to coincide with Bale’s jazz festival in August or arrive for Castrum Vallis, an international art exhibit that takes place during July and August.
Because of its small size, Bale is best explored on foot. It is located in southwest Istria about 14 miles (23 kilometers) from Pula. Ride a public bus from Pula or Rovinj to get here. For flexibility in arrival and departure times, consider renting a car and driving.