Julie Croatia 24 Comments

Rovinj is a city that tops the favorite list of many travelers to the Istrian Peninsula and we were no different. Why is this town so beloved? Rovinj is romantic, historic, and looks and feels more Italian than Croatian. With twisting city streets, a bustling, photogenic harbor, and some of the best seafood restaurants in Croatia, this is a town that is not to be missed.

We spent one day here in July and we all fell in love with Rovinj. I have to say that Dubrovnik is still our favorite Croatian city (and Tyler is a big fan of Split) but Rovinj is right up there at the top of our list.

The Istrian Peninsula does not get the same astonishing numbers of visitors during the summer months as the Dalmatian coast, so this is a great place to visit if you want to avoid the crowds. Rovinj still gets a lot of visitors, but it doesn’t feel mobbed like Dubrovnik or Hvar can be in the summer.

For the most part, we spent the day wandering the old town, enjoying the view from the cathedral, and sampling a few restaurants. Rovinj is one of those places that is perfect for exploring without an itinerary or to-do list. Even so, there are a few spots well worth your time while in Rovinj. Here they are.

Best Things To Do in Rovinj

1. Stroll along the Harbor

The small harbor of Rovinj is packed with fishing boats, small ferries, and batana boats (flat-bottomed boats used by the local fishermen). Plus, this is a nice spot to take a photo of the old town.

Rovinj Harbor

2. Wander the Old Town

In my opinion, this is the best thing to do in Rovinj. These narrow, winding streets are fun to stroll and a blast to photograph. Along the way, go shopping at the small boutiques, have a coffee or a drink in one of the cafes, and search for hidden alleyways and steps down to the water’s edge.

Next to the harbor is Tito Square (Trg Marsala Tita). It’s hard to not notice the Italian touches in Rovinj and you can really get a feel for that right in this spot. In fact, it felt like we were standing in the Cinque Terre, not Croatia.

Walking through Rovinj

Rovinj Buildings

Rovinj Street

How to Visit Rovinj

Shopping in Rovinj

Rovinj Cafe

3. Shop at the Farmer’s Market

Worth a quick look, this small market has vendors selling truffles, fresh fruits and vegetables, and even some souvenirs. This is the perfect place for a cheap, healthy snack to keep you fueled up as you tour Rovinj.

Rovinj Market

Truffles

4. Climb the Bell Tower at the Church of St. Euphemia

For the best view over Rovinj and the coast, climb the bell tower. First, it’s an uphill walk just to get to the Church of St. Euphemia, which can be very hot in the summer months. Then, it is a climb up 192 creaky steps to the top of the bell tower. But it’s worth it for this view. Plus, the breeze feels amazing and it’s so much cooler here than down on the city streets.

Bell Tower Steps

Bell Tower View

Rovinj View

5. Have a Drink (and maybe a swim) at the Mediterraneo Bar

This is the coolest spot we found in Rovinj. This small bar sits right on the water’s edge with views out to St. Catherine’s Island and the harbor.

Colorful tables, chairs, and comfy beanbag chairs are arranged along the water’s edge, forming the perfect Croatian bar. I could have sat here all day.

Favorite Spot in Rovinj

Mediterraneo Bar Rovinj

Drinks in Rovinj

Tyler and Kara debated going back to our car to get their swimsuits, because yes, you can go swimming right from this spot. The clear, bright blue water looked so inviting on this hot summer day.

6. Take a Cruise from Rovinj

We did not do this but I wish we had. There are a number of companies that offer cruises out into the sea, where you can get scenic views of the old town and the nearby small islands.

Another popular thing to do is to cruise to St. Catherine’s Island and the Red Island.

7. Go to the Beach

There are a few places in Rovinj to lounge in the sun. Balota Beach is a popular spot right on the old town peninsula. This rocky outcropping is filled with sunbathers during the summer months. You can also go to the Golden Cape (Zlatni Rt) or Valdaliso Beach, a short drive from the old town.

Planning Your Trip to Rovinj

How Much Time Do You Need?

One full day is plenty of time to explore Rovinj, go on a short cruise, and even spend some time at the beach. Or, just plop yourself down at the Mediterraneo Bar, go for a quick swim, and enjoy the view. Do you get the sense that I really liked this place?

How to Get Here

The best way to get around the Istrian Peninsula is by car. You can’t park in the old town, but there are parking lots located just outside of the old town. The closest lots are labeled “Velika Valdibora” and “Mala Valdibora” on Google Maps.

Driving Distances from Nearby Towns:
  • Pula: 42 km, 45 minutes
  • Porec: 36 km, 45 minutes
  • Motovun: 47 km, 55 minutes
  • Piran: 80 km, 1 hour 15 minutes (plus a border crossing)

Rovinj Map

Where To Eat

The food is amazing on the Istrian Peninsula. Seafood with an Italian twist is on the menu of most restaurants in Rovinj. Here are some of the best spots to eat in town:

Monte. This restaurant is not only “the best” restaurant in Rovinj, many people who dine here state that it is also the best restaurant in Croatia. Expect excellent food, excellent wine, and superb service here. Definitely make your reservation in advance.

Aqua2. This is where we ate and we had a great experience. While dining on seafood, we had a wonderful view across the harbor to the old town.

Lunch in Rovinj

Balbi. Tucked away on a quiet street in the old town, Balbi serves seafood and pasta. They don’t take reservations but you can have a glass of wine at their wine bar while you wait for a table to open up.

Pizzeria da Sergio. Don’t want to spend a lot of money on lunch or dinner? Have the best pizza in town at this budget friendly restaurant.

Where to Stay

We did not stay in Rovinj. We stayed just outside of Porec at the Aparthotel Adeo. This hotel was great, since it offered a pool, plenty of parking, and a great location to explore the Istrian Peninsula. However, on a return trip to Istria, Tim and I would love to stay in Rovinj.

Here are a few hotels that get rave reviews.

LUXURY: Hotel Monte Mulini. This 5-star hotel is located just outside of the old town (about a 20-minute walk). Take a swim in one of several pools, sunbathe on the beach, enjoy the gorgeous coastal views, and dine at their fine dining restaurant. The rooms are large, clean, and beautifully decorated. If you want to be near Rovinj but have a resort-like experience, this is the place to go.

LUXURY: Hotel Lone. Normally I do not list two luxury hotels in one article but Hotel Lone is another amazing property and deserves to be mentioned. Like Hotel Monte Mulini, this is resort offers multiple pools, beach access, a restaurant, spa, and even a nightclub. Located in Golden Cape National Park, it takes about 15 minutes to walk to the old town of Rovinj.

UPSCALE: Spirito Santo Palazzo Storico Hotel. This is a gorgeous property that just opened in 2017. Located in the old town, this hotel has one of the best locations in Rovinj, if you like the idea of staying in the city center. Some rooms offer views of the Church of St. Euphemia.

MIDRANGE: La Fondiaria. This property offers double rooms (perfect for two travelers) and one-bedroom apartments (perfect for up to four people). It is located near the harbor and it is just a short walk to get to the heart of the old town.

BUDGET: Apartments Knezovic. This property offers studio apartments and a two-bedroom apartment that can accommodate up to six people. It’s located just outside of the old town but even so you are easily within walking distance of the harbor and the main sights. Since you are not staying right in the old town, parking your car and transferring your luggage will be less of a hassle.

When to go to Rovinj

Rovinj can be visited year round. The most popular time to visit is during the summer months from June through September. Expect larger crowds and make your hotel reservations and dinner reservations in advance.

It can also be very hot during the summer. We were here in July and the temperatures were about 35°C (95°F) with a heat index up over 38°C (100°F).

You can visit Rovinj year round, however, some restaurants and hotels will be closed during the low season (November to April).


Are you planning a trip to the Istrian Peninsula? If you have any questions, let us know in the comment section below!

More Information for Your Trip to Croatia:

Planning a trip to Croatia? Read all of our articles in our Croatia Destination Guide.

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Rovinj Croatia Travel Guide

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Comments 24

  1. HI Julie,

    I have enjoyed your posts. They are quite informative and make me feel like I’m already there!

    My family of 4 (2 kids—boy 13 and girl 10) is heading to Croatia in June. We are thinking of spending 3-4 nights on the Istrian Peninsula. I read your posts about it and we are planning to stay in/near Rovinj and visit other towns from there. My husband and I are going back and forth on where to stay. Should we stay in Rovinj town center in an apartment with all of the ancient, amazing charm or does it make more sense with our children to stay in a hotel with a gorgeous beach and pool and drive to explore the cities? My husband leans towards the charm of town and I lean towards the hotel as home base with plenty of exploring from there.

    Would love to hear your thoughts!

    Thank-you,

    Lori

    PS we head to Budapest after Croatia and will stay in a charming apartment near the Danube.

    1. Post
      Author

      Hello Lori. We had the same exact debate when planning the Istria part of our trip. Tim wanted the beach/pool and I wanted the charming town. We stayed at Aparthotel Adeo, which had a small pool, great central location, and it was very easy to get around Istria. It worked very well. Tyler and Kara got to swim in the pool every day, after sightseeing, and Tim and I had drinks and worked on our laptops poolside. But Tim and I both fell in love with Rovinj and wished that we had stayed here. However, our kids would disagree…for them, having the pool was perfect. And there are many bigger resorts nearby that have huge pools and nice beaches. They are worth looking into. I think that it is nice, for your kids, to have a hotel with a pool/beach in the summer months and Istria is the perfect place to do this. So, maybe skip staying in Rovinj since you have the charming apartment in Budapest? It’s a tough decision, right? Good luck! Cheers, Julie

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