Rovinj Travel Guide: What to see & do in Rovinj was first published on Culture Tourist on August 15th 2017, and updated on June 29th 2021.
Rovinj is, without a doubt, one of the most gorgeous towns in Croatia. It has everything you need for that perfect summer vacation: old medieval town centre, many great restaurants and some amazing beaches. It’s located in the Croatian region of Istria, well known for its wines, olive oil and beautiful nature. After spending each summer there for the last ten years, I thought it’s finally time to share this Rovinj Travel Guide with you. It’s filled with some tips on what to see and do in Rovinj.
Rovinj Travel Guide
When it comes to vacation, Rovinj really has it all. It’s an old town with numerous cobbled streets, colourful houses and small galleries. It’s home to many lovely restaurants and plenty of excellent accommodation, from private apartments to five-star hotels.
Just outside the city centre, there are some gorgeous shingle beaches with the clear blue sea. And it’s also ideally located in the central part of the Istrian peninsula, so it’s very easy to explore other fantastic places from there.
How to get to Rovinj
Rovinj is located in the Istria region, at the very south-western corner of Croatia, very close to the border with Italy. The closest airport is the one in Pula (thirty minutes by car from Rovinj).
However, you can also fly to Zagreb, rent a car (some two hours) or take a bus there (three-four hours), and drive to Rovinj. Although it’s a bit longer journey, it’s very nice because of the beautiful scenery along the way. That way, you can also combine your trip to Rovinj with a few days stay in Zagreb.
Where to stay in Rovinj
The tourism tradition is quite long in Rovinj, and there is a plenty of different kind of accommodation to choose from. If you prefer camping, a Campsite Polari is just outside the city.
You can also find numerous private accommodation, from private homes to apartments in Rovinj. The best area to stay in Rovinj is between Zlatni Rt Park Forest and the city centre. That way you’ll be close to the beach and the town.
History of Rovinj
Rovinj was founded as a small village on a tiny island. It was surrounded by high walls to protect itself from the pirates and conquerors. Later on, they’ve connected the island with the inland. However, you can still see that round shape when looking at it from a distance.
On the highest peak of the island, a large Saint Euphemia Church is located. You’ll recognise it by the statue of the saint that’s turning around and showing the wind direction.
From the church, you can take a walk through any of the Old Town’s narrow streets. The most famous one is Grisia Street, where most of the artists’ studios are located. Rovinj is renowned for being an art town. And especially during the summer months, small shops in the Old Town filled with artists and designers selling their work.
You’ll often find very old houses with small statues or some other decoration on them. Something I really like there is how despites being very historical, the city is not abandoned. Very often, those historical towns became towns-museums by time. However, this city is alive. You’ll see clothes drying on windows, cats sleeping at the front doors and people reading on their balconies.
The whole town has that ancient feel where time stands still, and nothing really changed since it was first inhabited before Roman times. And when you stroll around it, you have a feeling like you travelled back to some of those past times.
Rovinj – the Art Town
As already mentioned, Rovinj is an authentic art town. It’s home to numerous artists’ and designers’ shops and studios. While walking around the town, you’ll often see them at work. And you’ll have a chance to talk about their art. Some of the paintings and artworks from there could be a great souvenir from Rovinj to take home with you.
Once per year, the main Old Town street Grisia is becoming an open-air gallery. This event is usually taking place on one of the Sundays in August. On that day, artists and visitors could take their easels, sit anywhere on the street and enjoy creating an art piece.
Rovinj is also home to some charming museums. Usually, during the summer months, they host some exciting exhibitions.
- Civic Museum Rovinj – Besides showcasing the history of Rovinj and its surroundings, every summer, the museum organises temporary exhibitions of some of the most popular modern or contemporary artists. They hosted Salvador Dali, Pop Art and Joan Miro collection in the last few years. (Address: Trg Maršala Tita 11, 52210, Rovinj)
- Adris Gallery – This is a great place to enjoy some of Croatia’s classics of Modern Art. With a free entrance and a location right next to the seashore, it could be a perfect stop during your evening strolls. (Address: Obala Vladimira Nazora 1, 52210 Rovinj)
- Batana House – Rovinj is a fishermen’s town. This museum is dedicated to a particular type of boats used for fishing here, called batana. It’s a relatively small museum, consisting of only two rooms. But it’s definitely one of the best museums I’ve ever been to. Definitely, a must-see place in Rovinj, if you want to understand the history and life in this charming town. (Address: Obala Pina Budicina 2, 52210 Rovinj)
The best beaches in Rovinj
Being located on the Adriatic coast, one of my favourite activities in Rovinj is swimming.
Just outside the city centre, the fantastic Forest Park Zlatni Rt is located. It’s a vast forest area with walking paths, giant trees and a lovely shadow in those warm summer months. There is also an area for climbing there, a few cafes and restaurants.
Located next to the sea, it’s home to some lovely isolated beaches, too. Like in most of Croatia, they are rocky, but I love them the most because they make the sea looking crystal clear. They are the most beautiful in the morning when there are not many people around, and the sea is still and almost transparent.
Another beach closer to town is called Lone and is located just below the hotels’ area in Rovinj. It has a gorgeous view of the Old Town of Rovinj, and it’s surrounded by many pine trees.
Food & wine in Rovinj
When it comes to food in Croatia, my only advice is to eat local! Istrian food is fantastic! It’s a great combination of Mediterranean cuisine with many sea products, fresh vegetables and olive oil and food from more rural parts of the peninsula, with a lot of pasta and stew-like meals.
One of my favourite restaurants in Rovinj is Maestral. It has the best view of the old town, especially at sunset. They specialised in local food, and I’ll definitely recommend you to try their Fishermen’s bread. Other great restaurants in Rovinj are Veli Jože and La Puntulina. I’m also suggesting some of my recent findings in this Rovinj Travel Guide – La Vela and Konoba Kantinon.
TIP: During the summer months, all of these restaurants in Rovinj could get quite busy. So, to be sure to get a table, make a reservation.
Istria is a wine region, so Malvasia (white wine) and Teran (red wine) should be on your list of things to try. I love local wine bar San Tommaso and always take a few bottles of their wine home with me. You can try some of their wines in a wine bar that has a terrace with one of the best sunset views in Rovinj, or you can buy some of their wines in a small shop they have in Rovinj, as well.
After the whole day of swimming, sunbathing, enjoying Istrian cuisine, it’s best to buy some ice cream or sit with a glass of wine somewhere with a nice view of a town and enjoy the moment. Enjoy life! With the help of this Rovinj Travel Guide, I hope your stay will be even more pleasant.
Have you been to Rovinj or some other Istrian towns? What were your favourite places?
Cover photo by Dimitry Anikin on Unsplash