Often described as liquid gold, olive oil is more than just food in Croatia but is rather considered as a symbol of the oldest Croatian history, culture, tradition & way of life.
Over the last decades, olive oil has also become an agricultural hit of Croatian tourism, and the quality of the oil is just increasing.
In terms of quality, olive oil is divided into several types – extra virgin, virgin, olive oil, and sansa oil. The most valued among them is extra virgin olive oil for which you will gladly go that extra mile to taste it!
Olive oil in Croatia has been present since ancient times – olives have been cultivated on the Istrian peninsula and pressed for their precious oil since ancient Roman times. Nowadays Croatian olive oil is getting the world's praise and attention as one of the best and healthiest in the world.
Let’s find out everything about Croatian olive oil – including the best ones from Istria to Dalmatia.
Olives are cultivated in Croatia throughout the entire length of the country – from Istria following the whole coastline and islands to the borders of Dubrovnik.
And besides the production, Croatian olive oils are winning many prizes from Flos Olei to NYIOOC confirming that the Croatian olive oil is at the peak of the olive oil industry.
So, what is so special about Croatian olive oil that makes it among the best ones in the world?
Well, the best olive oils in Croatia come from small olive groves, where every tree can have special attention. That way the entire process from growing olives, picking, processing, and finally bottling is made locally and with a lot of care. Secondly – the Mediterranean climate, lots of sun, wind, sea breeze, and soil have a perfect combination for making the best olives there can be.
Many different sorts of olives can be found in Croatia – from Buža and Istarska bjelica in Istria to Oblica and Paštrica in Dalmatia. Although the practice of mixing different sorts of olives is very common, olive oils from specific sorts that grow only in specific regions are highly valued.
There are many benefits of olive oil, but the best thing you can do now is to set your course for the Croatian coast and explore all the magic of olives and olive oil – from Istria to Dalmatia.
Did you know that the production of olive oil in Istria is approximately 2,500 years old tradition? Yes, locations such as Brijuni islands, Barbariga and Poreč have since the Roman period been actively used for the production and transportation of olive oil.
Istrian olive oil comes from some of the most well-known local sorts of olives such as Buža, Istrska bjelica, Oblica, Črnica, Buža Puntoža, and many others.
Today, Istria produces one of the most admired olive oil in the world, all thanks to its Mediterranean climate, perfect soil, and modern production that delivers perfect taste, fragrance, and color.
All of the above said is confirmed by the Flos Olei – the most comprehensive guide to the world’s best extra virgin olive oils, which pronounced Istria as the 2021 best olive region in the world, for the 7th year in a row.
So now that it's all said and done which ones should you try while going on an olive oil hunt in Istria? Here are our recommendations:
Chiavalon olive oil is award-winning Istrian olive oil that is well known for its intense aroma and taste. The secret of its olive oil superb taste is the position of the olive groves (that have excellent conditions). Chiavalon oils are especially known for their blends of olive oils that come from mixing monosortic oils.
One of the most rewarding Istrian olive oils is Ipša olive oil which is made in the village Ipši in northwestern Istria by a family whose last name is – you guessed it – Ipša!
The Ipša family produces their high-quality olive oils in a modern oil mill and they are most known for picking olives by sorts and not blending them. Today their extra virgin olive oils are mostly monovarietal Frantoio, Leccino, and Istarska Bjelica.
Oleum viride Belić is virgin olive oil that is always at the very top of the list of the best oils in the world according to Flos Olei. Their olive groves are situated in the regions of Fažana, Galižana, and Peroj, and their oils are known for their magnificent green color, rich taste, and aroma.
This family olive oil brand produces high-quality extra virgin olive oil for almost two decades. Their olive groves are located in the vicinity of the town of Vodnjan overlooking the Brijuni islands where 2,500 olive trees grow, mostly indigenous Istrian varieties.
Traveling to the northwest of Istria in the town of Umag there is the highest point named Buščini where these olive groves are cultivated. Oio de Buščina has a variety of 12 olives organically produced with modern production technology. No matter which one you choose you will enjoy these extra virgin olive oils - they are named the 20 best olive oils in the world for a reason!
Olives and olive oil are completely linked with Dalmatia and Dalmatian culture and the cultivation of olive oil is one of the most important branches of agriculture in Dalmatia.
When talking about the history of olive oil in Dalmatia, it seems that the production dates back to the 11th century – because in the cellars of Diocletian's Palace traces of oil production have been found.
Today, most of the production is situated in Central Dalmatia and on islands like Korčula, Hvar, and Brač.
What makes the Dalmatian olive oil so special? The secret of the high-quality olives in this region lies in the fact that Dalmatia has an average of 2600 hours of sun per year!
The most widespread olive variety in Dalmatia is the Oblica, whose oil is sweet and perfectly complements fish meals. Here are our top picks for Dalmatian olive oil:
The island of Korčula is well known for its natural beauty and winemaking tradition but it is also an important area for high-quality olive oil in Dalmatia. In the western parts of the island, there are olive groves where Marco Polo extra virgin olive oil is produced. This olive oil has quite a recognizable smell, taste, and color and is carefully selected from olive varieties (Lastovka, Drobnica, and Oblica).
The mid-Dalmatian island of Šolta is well known for keeping the tradition alive. Why? Well, the Šoltansko olive oil is produced using two local olive varieties – Oblica and Levantinka. Besides that, olive growers pick their olives by hand so only healthy and undamaged fruits are selected for production, ensuring steady high-quality oil.
Brachia extra virgin olive oil is obtained from the autochthonous variety of olives; Oblica and Bura. These olives are of a rare variety called Buhavica that dates back to the Venetian years. Brachia olive oil is harvested by local olive growers and processed with care and the latest technologies.
Produced from olives grown on the eastern part of the island of Hvar, Eva Marija olive oil is made from the Levantine sort. This olive oil has even won a gold medal at the prestigious New York Olive Competition, NYIOOC.
Fortica, the award-winning olive oil of the olive grower of Zadar, Ivica Vlatković, also won a medal at the prestigious NIYOOC competition in New York. His olive oil is a blend of the olive varieties Moraiolo and Coratina.