St. Stephen trail is a beautiful promenade extending within the protected area of the holm oak forest, attracting you with its' length of 10,5 km for a two-hour tour through the green and blue sceneries of Šišan. This educational trail takes you to the top of the green hill Monte Madonna in Šišan, opening up a fantastic view of the open sea and Kvarner islands of Cres and Lošinj, from where the trail descends to the sea, allowing you to stop and bathe in one of Šišan bays.
Starting point is at the rest area at the alley diverging from the street G. Tromba, i.e. on the local road to Monte Madonna. The trail continues through a protected area NATURA 2000 Port of Budava -Istria (HR2000522) dominated by well-preserved holm oak forest, some of the most beautiful in the Mediterranean. A well-equipped rest area enclosed by a traditional Istrian drywall and small olive grow at the very beginning will provide you with good directions for walking the pedestrian-educational trail St. Stephen. A "smart "bench, an imposing stone table, benches, and a map with the charted bike and trail paths are found there.
Along the trail are educational boards in seven locations, which would be your silent yet eloquent guide displaying interesting facts about natural and cultural values in this picturesque area.
You will learn more about the forested hill and fortress Monte Madonna, whose role was during the Austro-Hungarian era to defend Kvarner Gulf and is therefore known as the "Guardian of Kvarner." The role of this fortress was to secure the main naval port in Pula and control Kvarner. Its military role continued during the Italian, German, Yugoslav, and Croatian army periods.
Thanks to educational boards, you will learn about the underwater world of the blueness that will generously open up before your eyes once you reach the top of the hill Monte Madonna. The underwater world hides endless meadows of Posidonia, the longest-lived flowering plant in the Mediterranean, which grows exclusively in clean and clear seas abundant with light producing oxygen for diverse species of marine animals and algae.
And while meadows dominate the underwater world, the most impressive on land remain holm oak forests (also known in Istria under the name "Bršuda"), which have been preserving a protected coastline area for centuries. They will fill your lungs with oxygen and seduce you with their mysticism, especially when you come across some magical giants that can reach some 20 meters in height.
Following the educational trail of St. Stephen, you will also come across the story about Rudists, frequent fossils of an extinct group of atypical shellfish often found in the Croatian coastal area. Their larger or smaller parts, and sometimes their entire shells, are embedded in layers of limestone rocks, and thanks to the largest specimens (longer than a meter), they are ranked as the largest shellfish that ever lived on earth.
St. Stephen's locality was a well-known wealthy medieval settlement and archeological site containing findings of antic architectural remains. Construction of Sterna - short of Cistern (Sterna: lat. Cistern=Reservoir) has always been a necessary precondition for survival, and during the antic period, they used to be constructed near cities, villages, or country villas. Therefore, a well-preserved Sterna with most of the barrel vault in excellent condition will attract your attention.
If you happen to find yourself using the educational trail during the Spring, an incredibly amazing sight awaits you as you observe the Orchid bloom. As many as 17 types of Orchids became domesticated in this area, three of which are endemic (Ophrys tommasinii Visiani, Orchis zinsmeisteri, Serapias istriaca). You are only allowed to observe, and the educational board will tell you an interesting story about the intelligence of Orchids regarding pollination and their survival. Walking up the St. Stephen trail in the Spring will give you another captivating sight as the bright yellow and fragrant Spartium Junceum or Spanish broom starts blooming. This plant is a decoration not only of the landscape but is also embedded into the Coat of Arms of the Municipality of Ližnjan.
Please note that along the length of the 10.5 km pedestrian-educational trail St. Stephen, you will be walking on a gravel path; its highest point is 87 m and lowest at 2 meters, while the difference in altitude is 154 m.