Where is Rovinj?
The hilltop town of Rovinj sits on the west coast of the Istrian peninsula in Croatia. This charming fishing village has become one of the most visited towns in Croatia for its pleasing blend of Italian influence, cobblestone streets, pine groves, pebbly beaches, natural beauty and abundant sunshine. Visit the town’s farmers’ market near Valdibora Square, climb to the top of the Church of St. Euphemia’s steeple for views of the Adriatic Sea and sip a local white wine as you watch the sunset. Here are the best things to do in Rovinj, Croatia.
When should I go to Rovinj?
With its enviable position on Croatia’s Istrian Peninsula, Rovinj boasts a mild climate. The best time to visit is during the warmer months of spring, summer and early fall.
What should I do in Rovinj?
1. Explore Old Town Rovinj
Wander through the narrow cobblestone streets lined by colorful houses in Old Town Rovinj. Pop into small boutiques, art galleries and cafes and feel the pulse of daily life. Like many Istrian towns, you’ll feel and see the influence of Venice on Rovinj, particularly at Tito Square.
2. Enjoy the Seaside at Golden Cape (Punta Corrente)
Join the locals at this mesmerizingly beautiful stretch of Istrian Peninsula coastline in Croatia. It’s south of Rovinj and part of Zlatni rt Park Forest. There are shady paths to stroll on, waterfront promenades, meadows, swimming holes and more. It’s peacefully quiet as there is no motorized traffic allowed.
One of the most popular spots on the Golden Cape is Lone Bay, walking distance from the center of Rovinj. Sunbathers and swimmers flock to the sheltered shores to lounge and take a dip, rent bikes to ride along the coastline or rent rowboats to paddle into the sea.
3. Monkodonja Hill Fort
Take time to delve into Rovinj’s history at these fort ruins, discovered in the mid-20th century. The walls and stone blocks you’ll see were once part of an ancient town dating to around 2,000 to 1,200 BC. The fort was inhabited during the Bronze Age and may be related to the Greek city of Mycenae.
4. St. Andrew’s and St. Catherine’s Islands
The biggest islands in the region, these car-free islands are a five- to ten-minute boat ride from Rovinj (St. Andrew Island is also known as Red Island). Spend the day or overnight here and peruse the gardens, churches and monastery. St. Catherine’s Island boasts one of the best beaches in the region – head to the west for adrenaline-pumping cliff-jumping opportunities.
5. Dive to the Adriatic Titanic
Divers visiting Croatia’s Istrian Peninsula won’t want to miss this site. The sunken remains of the Baron Gautsch was sunk in World War I just two years after the demise of the Titanic. The water clarity is excellent, allowing for prime shipwreck viewing conditions – it is considered one of the best dive sites in Europe.
6. Buy Art in Grisia
The artistic hub of Rovinj is the neighborhood of Grisia, which runs along its namesake street from the town square to St. Euphemia’s Church, winding its way through Old Town Rovinj. As you walk, notice the varying architectural influences: Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and Neoclassical. There is work by artists of all styles and abilities along the way – even children – and a number of great art galleries.
7. Savor Istrian Cuisine
Practically every restaurant in Rovinj will wow you with its fresh seafood offerings, spectacular wines, olive oils and truffles. Foodies from all around the globe are sitting up and noticing this coastal Croatian gem for its culinary treats. Try the traditional fish casserole, brodet, which combines several varieties of fish and is served with creamy polenta. Don’t overlook the Istrian prosciutto, with its own unique drying process. It’s best served very thinly and simply melts in your mouth – particularly when washed down with a glass of Istrian Malvasia. The best part? It’s easy to find prime outdoor seating, with views of the water.
8. Take a Daytrip to Brijuni Islands National Park
Sail to Brijuni Islands National Park, off the Istrian Peninsula, and a treasure trove of wildlife, nature and archaeological sites. It’s possible to explore the islands by boat and tourist train, possibly visiting a safari park, Roman ruins, museum and church along the way. The top highlights within the national park archipelago include the Roman Villa in Verige Bay, the Byzantine Castrum and the Ulysses Theatre.
9. Visit the Nearby Euphrasian Basilica
Visit another beauty of Croatia’s Istrian Peninsula – Porec – and its UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Euphrasian Basilica. Marvel at the complex’s beautiful use of mosaics, including the floor of the original Roman house and the stunning apse in the Basilica. Look for remnants of original 4th-century floor mosaics, too.
10. Extend Your Trip to Plitvice Lakes National Park
Consider staying in Croatia longer and adding in a trip to Plitvice Lakes National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site a three- to four-hour drive from Rovinj. It is the country’s most popular attractions, with 16 terraced, crystal-clear lake and 90 waterfalls. The park is open year-round; the best time to visit is spring or fall.
11. Explore Nearby Baredine Cave
Take a daytrip to this underground attraction not far from Rovinj. You’ll descend on a guided tour into Baredine Cave to see its thousands of stalactites and stalagmites and subterranean lake, home to an endemic species of non-pigmented salamander. While you’re in the area, stop by a local winery to taste exquisite Istrian wines.
12. Visit the Istrian Peninsula’s Other Favorite Towns
While you’re in the area, visit Porec, a sun-splashed resort town on the Istrian Peninsula with marvelous mosaics, world-class beaches, excellent wine and superb historical sites. In Pula, on the southern tip of Croatia’s Istrian Peninsula, you’ll find the Roman influences of the past in the well-preserved Pula Arena, lively festivals and concerts and plenty of white wine vineyards.