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


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.


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 about Croatia

Planning a trip to Croatia? Read all of our articles in our Croatia Travel 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!



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

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      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

  2. So glad I found your site! We are heading to Croatia in May 2020 and you have so much fantastic information and I’m so excited! We are starting in Dubrovnik and ending in Zagreb. We will have a rental car. How do you recommend finding parking while we’re traveling? I know you had some recommendations in Istria that we will use but in general how do you find this information? Navigating and driving in Croatia I hear is very easy. Did you use Google maps or any other recommendations? Thanks again! Love your site and will use regularly for future travels!

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      Hello Julie. I’m glad you found our site too!! 🙂 Parking in the small towns can be difficult, but not impossible. Before our trip, I searched for parking lots in each town on Google Maps and saved them, so I knew where to park once we were there. Google Maps is great for getting around Croatia, and pretty much all of Europe. It helps to get a Croatia sim card for your phone, so you have data, but you can cache the maps on your phone and use them data free, if you don’t get a sim card. You just won’t be able to search for directions once you out of range of WiFi. Cheers, Julie

  3. Do you have a recommendation on where to rent a car in the Rovinj area? We are planning on getting a car and heading down to Dubrovnik from there. I would love any recommendations you have on a good place to rent a small car (automatic transmission) and take to return in Dubrovnik. Thank you!

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      No, I don’t know anywhere in Rovinj to recommend. You would have to do a search on rental car companies in or near the city. Another spot to try where you might have better luck is Pula, since that is a larger town. Cheers, Julie

  4. Your itineraries are by far, the best I’ve seen! Simple yet it gives me all the things I need to know about my trip to Europe <3 Thank you!

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  5. Thank you for this guide! It was, in my opinion, the best one I read regarding Pula/Rovinj while doing research for my upcoming trip to Istria. I don’t really leave comments but I simply have to say that your pictures are beautiful and that I love the layout of your posts. Additionally, I am so in awe that you travelled through so many countries as a family, simply wonderful! Keep up the amazing work!

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  6. Hi Julie, I have just discovered your site and it is wonderful! We are planning a trip next May for our 34th anniversary and are thinking about Croatia and Montenegro. Can you tell me if English as our only language will be a problem for travelling there? We visited Greece a few years ago and had no trouble so we were hoping it would be the same for these two locations. Thanks – Marion

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      Hello Marion. English is fine for Croatia and Montenegro. Just like in Greece, many people in the touristy areas will be fluent in English so you should have no difficulties. Have a wonderful anniversary! Cheers, Julie

  7. Hi, I just want to say that your blog is our go-to for our travel planning. I just wish I found it sooner! May I ask what you think of this itinerary in Croatia?
    1. Zagreb(overnight in Plitvice)
    2.Plitvice(overnight in Plitvice)
    3.Rovijn(overnight in Rovign)
    4.Zadar(overnight in Vodice)
    5.Sibenik, Krka(overnight in Primosten)
    6.Split(leave in the afternoon, overnight in Split)
    7.Brac(overnight in Split)
    8. Hvar(overnight in Split)
    9.Pakeni Islands(overnight in Brac/Hvar)
    10. Korcula(overnight in Korcula)
    11.Dubrovnik(overnight in Dubrovnik)
    12.Mostar& Sarajevo(overnight in Dubrovnik?)
    13. Elaphiti island(overnight in Dubrovnik)

    My questions are –
    a)What would you change, subtract/add here in terms of staying longer or shorter or combining in one day trip instead?

    b)Are there areas that kinda look alike that we can remove one? I’m worried that we are ‘overstaying’ in Croatia and missing in the other countries). We still have 13 days to plan that I’m leaving for Montenegro and Slovenia.

    c)Lastly, do I do this route south to north or north to south? We plan to arrive Aug 20 and my worry is that I heard that a lot of stores close in Croatia by September, so that forces me to finish Croatia on the first 11 days.? Thank you so much!


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      Hello Joanna. I think your order is good (starting in Zagreb and ending in Dubrovnik). However, if you also plan to visit Slovenia and Montenegro, consider doing Slovenia – Croatia – Montenegro. I think that Croatia is still rather busy in September, so I don’t think you need to finish up with Croatia in August. You can double check this of course, but from what I know, most ferries are still running and stores are open, especially in the bigger towns/cities. You could spend 7 to 10 days in Slovenia, then visit Rovinj on the Istrian Peninsula, go to Plitvice, and hop down the coast to Dubrovnik. Essentially, you could combine our 10 day Slovenia itinerary, 3 day Istrian peninsula itinerary, with our 11 day Balkan Peninsula itinerary. Add in Hvar, Sibenik, and Korcula. You may have to eliminate some stops along the way, but this gives you a good starting point. If you have more questions (or don’t like this idea 🙂 ) feel free to leave another comment. Cheers, Julie

  8. So much great information, thank you, you have been so helpful!

    So I think we have now decided …. I reached a similar conclusion to you and we are now looking at heading from Plitvice Lakes to Ljubljana where I came across a self guided cycling trip travelling through Bled, Kranjska Gora , Skocjan caves to Trieste and on to Porec. A real change in scenery and looks like a great trip. From there we will catch a ferry across to Venice and have a couple of days there. All very exciting!

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  9. Hello Julie, so now I am a little bit stuck! Leaving Plitvice Lakes I’m not sure what is best to do … both Istria and Slovenia look like they have beautiful sites to visit. I’m quite keen for a break from the 1 night here 2 nights there. Would you have any suggestion for a 3 or 4 night park up that we can make just perhaps make day trips to and from? I also quite like the idea of maybe a bit of self guided cycling somewhere too but many of the Istria trips seem to run north to south when ideally we would want to be heading north more in the direction of our last stop Venice. Do you think perhaps Slovenia might be a better option?

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      I have three ideas for you. We spent four days at the Adeo Aparthotel just outside of Porec on the Istrian Peninsula. From here, we took a bunch of day trips (Rovinj, Pula, Piran & Koper – I still have to write about Piran). This hotel was just OK but the area was nice because we were centered at about the halfway point on the peninsula. If we did it again, we would stay in Rovinj…we just loved this town.

      We also spent four days in Kranjska Gora in Slovenia. From here, it wasn’t too far to drive to Lake Bled and Lake Bohinj, plus we were very close to the Vrsic Pass and some of the best hiking in Triglav National Park. Cycling up the Vrsic Pass from Kranjska Gora is a very popular thing to do so you might want to look into this.

      Finally, you could base yourself at Lake Bohinj or Lake Bled. Beautiful spots.

      So, how do you decide? Go to Istria if you want more coastal cities. Go to Slovenia if you want mountains and lakes and hiking. Since you would have spent so much time on the coast, Slovenia might be a nice change. I think Slovenia would make a nice cycling destination with the scenery and small towns. But wow, what a trip of a lifetime you have to look forward to! It really is going to be amazing. Let me know if you have more questions. 🙂 Cheers, Julie

  10. Hello Julie … your blogs are just great, I am thoroughly enjoying looking at what is only just a small part of your family travels! So now I am seeking a little advice if I may. Looking to travel to Croatia for 5 weeks with my husband arriving 4th May we have already booked a Cycle/Sail trip from Trojor starting one week later. Our initial thought was to fly into Venice, have a couple of days there (we have been once before) then train to Ancona and ferry across to Split. Obviously we will do Split and Trojor but I am thinking to then make the most of places like Vis, Mostar, Kotor, Montenegro, Durbrovnik. Most of these places I was thinking of after our week cycle/sail as we will quite likely have almost 3 weeks. Would you make any further suggestions with which to fill our time … maybe a different alternative at the beginning to take in the Istria area? Are we best to hire a car to do much of our trip.? Any suggestions at all most welcome. Kind regards Philippa

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      Sounds like a great trip!! Start off by looking at our 11 Day Balkan Peninsula itinerary if you have not seen it yet. It includes a lot of the places you mention. Since you have so much time (3 weeks vs 11 days) you can slow down a little bit. I have Durmitor National Park in Montenegro is wonderful but we have not been there yet.

      If you have about one week before the sailing trip, you could start in Zagreb and work your way down to Trogir. However, if you do it this way, you won’t have much time for Istria/Croatia and then you’ll have a ton of time (maybe too much time) for southern Croatia.

      What if you flew into Dubrovnik and spent your first week in Dubrovnik/Montenegro/Mostar (rent a car). Then, go to Trogir for your sailing trip. Once you get back to Trogir, you can spend more time visiting the Croatian islands if you want. Then, rent a car, drive north to Plitvice Lakes, then move on to Istria. If you want you could even do a few days in Slovenia. Continue on to Venice, see Venice, and fly home from here. Then, you can see Croatia from bottom to top and you are going at a great time when the weather should be nice and hopefully it won’t be too crowded yet. By the time June rolls in, you could be in less crowded Istria.

      I have plans to write more about Slovenia (I am actually publishing a new post this morning) plus I will be writing an Istria/Slovenia itinerary at some point. Let me know what you think and if you have more questions.

      Cheers, Julie

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      1. Thank you Julie, a real newcomer to commenting on sites I lost where I sent my original message from, have just sent another and now come across this, oh dear! Thank you, all extremely helpful and definitely given me something to continue looking at

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