Rovinj is one of the Croatian most romantic destinations. The historical center of Rovinj bathed by the sea, with an archipelago of beautiful green islands, surrounded by parks, vineyards, and beautiful nature, will awaken all your senses!
Why visit Rovinj?
Istria is the largest Croatian peninsula and the largest peninsula in the Adriatic Sea. It is known as “Little Italy” because, for many years, Istria was under Italian rule. This left a great mark on the architecture of the peninsula, as well as on the people of Istria. Along with the rich history and beautiful sea and nature, Istria is full of lovely little towns built in stone.
The most well-known cities of Istria are those on the coast – Pula, Rovinj, and Poreč. But there are also several lovely towns located in the inland of the peninsula. These are the acropolis towns such as Grožnjan, Motovun, or Hum, which is also known as the smallest town in the world.
The most romantic place in the Mediterranean is set on the west coast of Istria – Rovinj. The town of Rovinj lies on a small peninsula. Due to the lack of space, the stone houses are closely built, forming narrow streets and small squares. This makes the entire layout of the town irregular. But it also allows you to wander the streets and discover new interesting places by making the “wrong” turn. On the west end of the peninsula, you will reach the high rocky coast. The cliffs protect the seaside, but also serve as a nice refuge from the summer heat. If you get tired of exploring the town and want to restore the energy, take a dip in the beautiful Adriatic Sea.
islands and islets
ha protected green areas
km of coastline
What to see in Rovinj
The historic center of Rovinj is located on a hill, on a limited area of the former island. The old town’s houses are crowded together, forming narrow winding streets, which surround the magnificent baroque church of St. Euphemia like a labyrinth. The church, with its central position on the island, towers over the city with its slender bell tower until this day. In the 18th century, the island was connected to the mainland by burying the canal. Since then, the city began to spread on the mainland. Yet, the peninsula remained the most beautiful part of the town, the historic center – the heart of Rovinj. Due to its beautiful architecture and historical significance, in 1963 the old town was declared a cultural monument.
St. Euphemia Church
Occupying a central position in the heart of the city center, the Church of St. Euphemia, known as Fuma, overlooks the entire peninsula. The beautiful church on the top of a hill is one of the most recognizable symbols of Rovinj. The St. Euphemia Church is a Venetian-style Baroque basilica and the largest monument in the town. Although it was first built in the 10th century, the church was reconstructed in the 18th century when it got its present appearance. The church is dedicated to St. Euphemia, a Christian martyr and a patron saint of the city. A sarcophagus with the body of Euphemia was brought to the city in 800. The sacred body of the martyr remains in the church until today. The inhabitants of the surrounding places still make a pilgrimage to the tomb of St. Euphemia just as they did hundreds of years ago. Along with the church stands 62-meter-high bell tower with a statue of Euphemia on the top.
Grisia street is a beautiful paved staircase that leads to the plateau of the St. Euphemia Church. Its paving is one of the oldest in the historic center of Rovinj and a beautiful example of the typical architecture of maritime cities at the time. At the very top, the pavement is placed in the shape of a fishbone. Along the street, on both sides, you can see some of the oldest and finest examples of the traditional local houses. Every summer, in August, the street turns into an open-air gallery. The summer art exhibition in Grisia is one of the main events in Rovinj, which transforms the street itself into a real piece of art. Grisia is also the town’s main spot for souvenir shopping, so don’t miss the opportunity to check out some of the many local art shops.
Rovinj’s historic core is shaped as a unique urban area that shows the clear features of Venetian architectural models. This is why Rovinj is often called “Little Venice”. Like any other urban center of that time, Rovinj was surrounded by city walls. Back then, the town had six entrances – six city gates. Some of the gates remained preserved and still serve as the entrance to the peninsula.
The most famous city gate that remains on its place is the Balbi Arch, with access from the main city square. The Baroque arch dates to the 17th century and was built on the spot of the older “Fish Market Gate”. Since the construction of the city walls, this has been the main city gate. The arch has a lion carved on the top, a symbol typical for all the Venetian towns. As you pass the gate and enter the old town, you will see the Municipal Palace with the Old City Hall.
Rovinj Town Museum
The Rovinj Town Museum is housed by one of the most beautiful Baroque palaces in the town. The palace once belonged to a wealthy Italian family from the 17th century. The museum was founded in 1954 on the initiative of Rovinj’s artists. The idea was to create a place for collecting and saving Rovinj’s heritage. And there was a need for a place where many exhibition activities could take place. Permanent exhibitions that are open to visitors are archaeological and maritime exhibition, collection of works by old Italian masters, contemporary Croatian art, and local artists exhibition. The palace with the museum is on the main city square at the beginning of the peninsula – Tito’s Square.
The main city square is named after Josip Broz Tito, the president of Yugoslavia. The square lies at the very beginning of the peninsula. It dates to the medieval times when it was formed outside the city walls as an interspace between the fortified town and the mainland. Today, Tito’s Square is full of life. The square houses the oldest coffee houses in Rovinj – Caffé Municipio and Viecia Batana. Other attractions on the square include the 19th-century Clock Tower, Rovinj Town Museum, House of Culture, and Hotel Adriatic, the first modern hotel in Rovinj. The square is funnel-shaped and opens towards the picturesque harbor of St. Catherine. The harbor holds the oldest pier in Rovinj (Mali Mol, a.k.a. Small Pier), in which many traditional wooden boats are still anchored today.
As a maritime town, Rovinj has always been oriented towards the sea. For centuries the sea has provided protection, food, and life for the town’s residents. One of the symbols of the continuous maritime heritage is the traditional wooden vessel called batana. The art of batana building is protected as an Intangible Cultural Heritage and the batana boat even got its own museum. The Batana House is located on the southern shore of the peninsula, next to the harbor. Along with the batana comes bitinada. Bitinada is an authentic local folk song created and sung by Rovinj’s fishermen. The centuries-old tradition of batana and bitinada is presented to residents of Rovinj and their guests every summer. The event takes place in the port in front of the museum. The fishermen also organize an evening batana procession with lanterns. The procession starts from the Small Pier and ends in the local tavern with a sea entrance where guests can enjoy a traditional dinner.
What to do in Rovinj
Rovinj area, with a 67 km long coastline, has many beautiful and easily accessible beaches. Rovinj’s coast is a unique natural environment, with 14 islands and more than 2000 ha of protected green areas. From cliffs to gravel, the town’s beaches are suitable for everyone. North of the city center, you will find several lovely beaches, such as Porton Biondy Beach or Val de Lesso Beach (which is very popular among families with children). However, the most beautiful beaches are located south of the peninsula, as well as on the nearby islands. Zlatni Rt (Golden Cape) Nature Park offers several beaches with plenty of shade provided by the dense forest of the park. The Lone Bay has a nice rocky beach with an Aquapark on the site. If you are looking for a more private beach, you will need to take a car and drive to it. Most of the city beaches are crowded during the summer months.
Rovinj boat tours
Both Rovinj and the entire Peninsula of Istria hide many secret spots, accessible only by boat. The town has an excellent location for exploring the Istrian coast. The many boat options include a panoramic boat ride, offering the best view of the town from the open sea, or the Rovinj’s islands tour. You can also choose from the pirate cruise, fish-picnic, underwater sightseeing, or night excursion. There’s even a dolphins tour.
Taking a boat, you will also have the opportunity to explore hidden cliffs and bays. Finding a perfect hidden beach, you can take a break and take a dip in the refreshing blue sea.
When to visit Rovinj?
As the city is located on the coast, tourists usually visit Rovinj during the summer. That is also when the town lives to the fullest. In any other period, Rovinj will be just as beautiful, but the facilities will be limited. Many hotels, restaurants, and bars close during colder months.
How to get to Rovinj
Rovinj is accessible by car, bus, boat, or plane. Car and bus are the most practical options, available all year round. But, if you decide to take a boat, you can get to Rovinj from Italy. During the summer, the town has daily connections with Venice (Venezia Lines, Adriatic Lines), Trieste (Liberty Lines), and Cesenatico (Gomo Viaggi). The ferry is available in the port of Rijeka, 90 km from Rovinj.
How to get to Rovinj from Pula airport
On leaving the airport, turn left and follow the road until you reach the roundabout. Then, continue straight. Follow the instruction on the road and get on the motorway A9/E71 towards Slovenia/Austria/Rijeka/Umag. When reaching the Kanfanar junction, keep right and follow the instructions for Rovinj. Next, leave the motorway, turn left and continue straight until you reach the town. This road will take you straight to the Aleja Ruđera Boškovića and to the parking place at the entrance to the city center.
How to get to Rovinj from Zagreb
To reach Rovinj from the Croatian capital, you will need approximately 3 hours. First, get on the motorway A1 and follow it until you reach the Bosiljevo junction. Keep right to continue on A6/E65 in direction of Pula/Rijeka. When reaching Rijeka, keep left to continue on E65. Stay in the middle lane to join A7/E61 towards Austria/Italy/Slovenia/Pula. Next, take the exit Pula/Pazin/Opatija and continue on E751. At the Kanfanar junction, keep right and follow the instructions for Rovinj. The road will take you straight to the entrance to the city center.
How to get to Rovinj from Split
To get from Split to Rovinj, you will need approximately 5 hours. Please note that in summer months it could take you a bit longer, due to the increased traffic on Croatian roads. After leaving Split, take the highway A1, direction Zagreb/Rijeka. Follow A1 to Bosiljevo and, next, get on A6, following the instructions for Rijeka/Pula. After passing Rijeka take the exit for Pula/Pazin/Opatija. Keep following the road. At the Kanfanar junction, keep right and follow the instructions for Rovinj. The road will take you straight to the entrance to the city center.
How to get to Rovinj from Venice
The ride from Venice to Rovinj takes about 3 hours. Please note that you will be passing the border, so keep your documents by your side. First, take the motorway A57/E65. Stay right to continue on E70 (later RA13). Take the exit towards Muggia/Capodistria/Koper and continue to the Slovenian border. Next, continue on H5 towards Pulj/Pula/HR. Take the exit Pulj/Pula/Pola/HR and follow the instructions until reaching the border crossing Dragonja. Then continue straight on E751 and follow the instructions to Rovinj.
Since the traffic in the center of Rovinj is limited to the local vehicles only, we recommend staying outside the old town when coming by car. If visiting Rovinj for a day, there is a big parking place at Aleja Ruđera Boškovića, where you can leave your vehicle while exploring the streets of this beautiful town.
Where to eat in Rovinj
Istrian cuisine is as good as Istria is beautiful! Although they are both a variation of the Mediterranean cuisine, the traditional food of Istria differs from the Dalmatian cuisine. Fish, squid, asparagus, truffles, pasta, and prosciutto are just some of the ingredients used in Istria.
Veli Jože is a traditional Istrian tavern, located on the peninsula, right next to the sea. The tavern offers you seafood, freshly caught in the Adriatic sea. Other specialties include meat and grilled dishes, and traditional Istrian cuisine. The trademark of this unique restaurant is the richly decorated interior – the walls are covered with interesting objects related to the sea and the way people live in this area.
La Puntulina is a centrally located restaurant and wine bar with a view of the beautiful Adriatic sea. Guided by the influence of Italian cuisine, the restaurant serves innovative and local dishes, using local and fresh products. In addition to an extended menu, the restaurant boasts a long list of the best local wines, as well as a variety of desserts. Due to its popularity, reservation is required upon visiting the restaurant.
Kantinon is a traditional Istrian tavern located on the coast of the Adriatic sea, overlooking the lovely old town of Rovinj and fishing harbor full of sailing and fishing boats. The place is highly popular among tourists, but also among the locals who crave for some fine local cuisine. Kantinon’s cuisine is a traditional fisherman’s cuisine offering almost forgotten old recipes, mainly based on a freshly caught seafood and fish.
What to visit near Rovinj
Another historical town on the Istrian coast and another popular tourist destination is Poreč. The city of Poreč is most widely known for the 6th-century Euphrasian Basilica, one of the several UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Croatia. Alongside the magnificent basilica complex, there are several other sights in the historical center of Poreč that are worth a visit. The inevitable Mediterranean architecture and traditional Istrian restaurants and souvenir shops are yours to be explored. Located less than an hour from Rovinj, Poreč is a perfect day-trip destination, if you have time to spare.
The town of Hum, located in the interior of the peninsula, is known as the smallest town in the world. Hum is, in fact, one of the rare examples of a medieval town that hasn’t spread outside the city walls. The appearance it has today, this acropolis town got back in the 11th century. The town of Hum consists of only three sets of houses and you don’t need more than 20 minutes to see the entire town. But there is still something magical here that attracts tourists to visit it and to love it.
Motovun is one of many acropolis towns scattered throughout the Istrian peninsula. It is also the most famous and most visited Istrian acropolis, due to the Motovun Film Festival that takes place in the beautiful scenery of the town every summer. The medieval fort of Motovun, along with the city walls, hides many surprises. Apart from the unique architecture, the town offers an incredible panoramic view of the green Istrian inland. The town is a great place to visit if taking a tour through the peninsula, or as a site for a lunch break.
From the town of Fažana (30 minutes from Rovinj) sails out the boat to one of the most beautiful sites in Croatia – the Brijuni National Park. The Brijuni is a group of islands famous for its natural beauty and for being the Summer Residence of President Marshal Tito. Today, the Brijuni National Park houses several hotels, a safari park with exotic animals, several archeological sites from different historical periods, a museum and an educational center. The ticket for the national park includes a boat ride, touristic train, and a local guide.
Pula is the largest, and, architectonically speaking, the most interesting town in Istria. The city of Pula is one of the oldest Croatian cities on the coast. Inhabited ever since the prehistoric times, Pula became an important Roman colony and port on the Adriatic Sea at the time of the Roman Empire. Until this day, the historical center of Pula houses several Roman buildings, all in perfect condition. Some of those are even among the best examples of Roman architecture in the world, such as the famous Arena Pula, a beautiful Roman amphitheater.