Tucked away on the Istrian coast of Croatia, Rovinj is a romantic and highly scenic town that you will definitely want to include in your itinerary for Croatia.
Rovinj has a rich history. It was populated by Illyrians before it became part of the Roman and then the Byzantine Empire. In the 13th century, Rovinj came under the rule of the Venetians, who held it until the end of the 18th century.
During Venetian rule, Rovinj, originally an island, was connected to the mainland by the filling in of the sea. The Venetians contributed much to the development of Rovinj, building fortifications and three gates. You can still see some of the walls, as well as Balbi’s Arch.
Today, Rovinj is one of the most important towns in Istria. The popular tourist destination is one of the best places to visit in Croatia. It will steal your heart with its charm and its laid-back vibe.
Things to Do in Rovinj, Croatia
Best Day Trips from Rovinj
Getting to Rovinj, Croatia
Getting Around in Rovinj
Where to Stay in Rovinj, Croatia
Best Time to Visit Rovinj in Istria, Croatia
Best Things to Do in Rovinj
Rovinj is one of those places where you can just relax and spend your time wandering around without a destination in mind, enjoying good food, and lazing in the sun.
But if you want to take in the sights in and around Rovinj, and explore some of the places around Rovinj, that’s fun too!
Here are the best things to do in Rovinj.
Wander Rovinj Old Town
Getting lost in the cobblestone alleys and streets of the historic Old Town is one of the most enjoyable things to do in Rovinj. The colorful facades are made for photos!
Lined with small shops, cafes, gelaterias, and restaurants, the streets are eminently walkable, and great for people-watching as well.
The Old Town does tend to get crowded during the day in season, so if you are looking for a quieter stroll, or you want to take photos, try walking the town early in the morning.
Snap a Photo of Balbi’s Arch
Balbi’s Arch was built in the 18th century. The old gate leads into Grisia Street in the the Old Town. At the top, you will see the head of a Turk on the outside, and the head of a Venetian on the inside.
The ornamental gate also features the Venetian winged lion at the top. The marble gate has been restored in 2018-19. Stop by to admire the architecture and snap a few photos!
Visit the Church of Saint Euphemia
Possibly the most significant attraction in Rovinj is the Church of St. Euphemia, which stands at the highest point in the town, with an uphill walk to reach it.
Built in the early part of the 18th century, the Basilica features an ornate Baroque interior. It contains the sarcophagus with the relics of Saint Euphemia and some notable works of art, both paintings and sculptures. The altar is beautiful.
The facade is large and imposing, but relatively simple, and you get beautiful views of the town, and the water, from the grounds. The walk up to the church through the narrow old streets lined with shops is great fun.
Climb the Bell Tower
The bell tower of the Church of Saint Euphemia is modeled after Saint Mark’s Campanile in Venice. Gracefully reaching for the sky, the tower dominates the skyline of Rovinj.
The tower dates from before the current church. At the top is a statue of Saint Euphemia, which changes direction based on the wind.
The 192 narrow wooden steps to the top of the tower are a workout, for sure, and not for the faint of heart, but the panoramic 360-degree views from the top are definitely worth the effort!
There is a small fee for the tower.
Stroll the Waterfront
The waterfront is both beautiful and lively most of the day, making it the perfect spot for a stroll any time of the day.
Visit early in the day for a serene experience, and later in the day to take in all the activity! Walk it after dark, when the lights make for a delightful scene.
We walked the waterfront numerous times during our time in Rovinj. There are several beautiful spots for photos of the many boats in the harbor, and the beautiful red and yellow facades of the town.
There are, of course, a plethora of bars and restaurants along the water, so it is also a place to sit and enjoy a drink or a meal.
Browse the Rovinj Farmers’ Market
Located in the heart of the town, the Green Market in Rovinj is another fun place to wander, people watch, and pick up some fresh fruit (and produce if you plan to cook some of your meals).
The stalls were filled with colorful fruit, flowers, and vegetables when we visited in early June. You can also find cheeses, fish, and other local products such as honey, and stalls selling souvenirs.
Take a Boat Tour
Taking a boat tour is one of the most fun things to do in Rovinj: the views of the town from the water are simply spectacular. There are many different types of tours you can do.
We found a tour boat along the waterfront on one of our walks and joined the next tour of the waters around Rovinj. The one-hour tour took us past a couple of outlying islands before returning via the back of the town.
If you plan ahead, you can do a dolphin watching tour, an extended tour of the Rovinj archipelago, or a sailboat excursion. In the summer, a Batana boat tour is a fun option. If you want a more active experience, rent a kayak!
Enjoy a Spectacular Rovinj Sunset
Rovinj looks beautiful any time of day, but sunset is a particularly spectacular time to be out and about in Rovinj.
The waterfront pier is a great spot from where to catch the sun go down in a blaze of orange or in an explosion of colors from pink to orange. The portion of the harbor that faces west has some great viewpoints as well.
Of course, you can take an evening boat tour and watch the sunset from the water. You will get fabulous photos of the town if the sky is colorful just after the sun drops beneath the horizon.
There are spots in town to take in sunset as well. Our hotel room, on the top floor, came with special access to the roof: a prime spot to watch sunset in Rovinj!
Find a Beach
The beaches in the heart of Rovinj are somewhat rocky, but you will find a plethora of beautiful beaches all around the town, including on some of the outlying islands.
You will find Baluota Beach directly beneath the Church of Saint Euphemia. The rocks here are great for sunbathing, but access to the water is via ladders.
Lone Bay Beach, walking distance from the town center, is arguably the most famous beach in the area. The pebbly beach is a great swimming beach for families.
Katarina Island Beach, just a 5-minute boat ride away, also offers rocks for sunbathing, and pebbly beach for swimming. Porton Biondi Beach is walking distance from the town center, and is a combination of rock and pebbly beach. Both beaches offer great views of Rovinj Old Town.
About a 10-minute drive to the north of Rovinj is beautiful Amarin Beach. It has an entry fee, but the beach is a blue flag beach and is delightful for swimming and sunbathing. You can also arrive by taxi boat.
Pop into a Museum
The Casa della Batana is a small museum dedicated to the batana, a type of boat used by the fishermen of Rovinj. Learn about the maritime history of the town: it’s a small museum and a quick stop.
Art lovers will enjoy browsing the exhibits at the Rovinj Heritage Museum, mainly Italian art from the 15th century and onward. You’ll find some of Bellini’s works here. There is also a section of works by Croatian artists, and by local Rovinj artists.
Grisia Street, the main street through the town that goes up to the Church of Saint Euphemia is a fun place to browse for souvenirs. You will find lots of small interesting stores and galleries all along the route.
But you can find little shops selling souvenirs and local foods, olive oils, and even truffles in the cobbled streets all over town.
Visit Lim Fjord
Lim Fjord is a lovely natural area located just 20 minutes north of Rovinj. There are viewpoints from where you can photograph the fjord from above, and the road is also a popular biking route.
The narrow channel of water is ensconced between high mountains on either side, creating a picture postcard scene.
You can also drive down to the fjord and walk along the shore for a bit. The fjord is a little over six miles in length, and known for its tasty fish and oysters, which you can enjoy at the restaurants by the water.
You can also take a boat tour from Rovinj to Lim Fjord.
Enjoy Outdoor Activities
Rovinj is surrounded by beautiful nature, and you have a variety of outdoor pursuits you can enjoy, both on land and on water. Go on a guided rock climbing expedition at beautiful Punta Corrente Park, or go birdwatching along the shore or at Palud, a birding area just a few miles away.
On the water, you can go kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding, parasailing, surfing or windsurfing, or do a dolphin or whale-watching tour, or a fishing charter! Local outfitters offer equipment and guided activities.
Visit a Nearby Island
Saint Catherine’s Island is easily accessed by water taxi: it is just a five-minute ride away. The picturesque island is lush with vegetation: in fact, it is known for its dozens of varieties of plants. The views across to Rovinj and gorgeous.
Saint Andrew’s Island and Red Island are other nearby islands you can visit by boat. All of these islands have resorts with restaurants, and beautiful beaches.
Enjoy Good Food and Drink!
One of our favorite places to eat in Rovinj is Giannino Restaurant, which is just steps from the beautiful hotel where we stayed.
While my husband enjoyed several seafood items over the course of our stay, I enjoyed pastas (yum ravioli with truffle!) and a variety of grilled and cooked vegetable dishes.
Maestral is located by the harbor with outdoor seating and beautiful views of the Old Town. We had pizza here and it was delicious, but their menu has lots of options.
Restaurant Monte has a Michelin star. It’s the place to go for a special meal. There are different levels of tasting menus from which to pick.
A drink at the Mediterraneo Bar is a must! Located right by the water, the little cafe is a great place to chill and enjoy the fun vibe. It’s a beautiful spot for sunset as well, and the cocktails are delicious.
Day Trips from Rovinj
While there is plenty to do in Rovinj, it also makes a great base from which to explore more of the Istrian Coast and the Istrian hills, which will remind you a little of Tuscany.
Day Trip from Rovinj to Pula
Pula, the largest city on the Istrian Coast, is famous for its Roman ruins. Its amphitheater is one of the largest Roman arenas in the world. Other famous sites include the Temple of Augustus and the Arch of Sergius.
Pula is located south of Rovinj, and is about a 40-minute drive. You can also take the bus.
Day Trip from Rovinj to Porec
Porec is famous for the 6th-century Euphrasian Basilica, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We loved our tour of the complex, and the views from the bell tower of the church. Porec also has many beautiful beaches.
Porec is also located along the Istrian Coast, about a 40-minute drive north of Rovinj. Buses run between Rovinj and Porec, if you want to use public transport.
Day Excursion to Istrian Hill Towns from Rovinj
Our favorite excursion from Rovinj was a private day-long tour of several Istrian hilltop towns and villages. You can self-drive as well, or join a small group tour.
Motovun is a must-visit in our opinion. It is a good-sized hilltop town, with a wonderful walk along the town walls, and some of the best food we ate in Croatia.
Other towns to consider are Hum, a tiny town famous as the smallest town in the world, Groznjan, known for its art galleries, and Buzet, which makes for a nice wander.
Day Trip from Rovinj to Brijuni National Park
Brijuni National Park is one of the lesser-visited national parks in Croatia. But it is beautiful, so definitely plan on a day trip to Brijuni from Rovinj! The boat actually leaves from Fazana, a 30-minute drive from Rovinj.
Brijuni National Park is an archipelago, made up of fourteen small islands. You will arrive in Veliki Brijun, the largest of the islands, and go on a train ride to explore it. There’s a safari park with exotic animals from Tito’s time, an ancient olive tree, and some time to enjoy the water.
Day trip from Rovinj to Piran, Slovenia
Piran is a charming coastal town in Slovenia, just an hour away by car. It is picturesque, like Rovinj, but tiny. In Piran, you must climb to the top of the bell tower at the Church of Saint George for fabulous views, and then walk further up the hill and walk the town walls.
Piran’s main square, Tartini Square, features impressive architecture for a town its size, and its restaurants offer fresh seafood.
Getting to Rovinj, Croatia
Where is Rovinj?
Rovinj is located on the Adriatic coast of the Istrian Peninsula of Croatia, across the water from Venice. It is equally distanced from Trieste in Italy and Rijeka in Croatia.
Pula Airport is located about a 40-minute drive from Rovinj. There are flights to Pula from a number of European destinations, as well as from Zagreb and from Zadar within the country. You can also fly to Venice and drive 3 hours to Rovinj. or take the ferry.
From Pula airport, you can drive to Rovinj, or arrange a transfer from the airport to Rovinj. There is parking outside Old Town Rovinj if you plan to drive.
You can, of course, drive to Rovinj, if you are on a road trip in Croatia or nearby countries. If you are working your way up the coast, you will likely be heading north from Zadar. From Zadar to Rovinj is about 236 miles, and in normal traffic, the drive should take about 4 hours.
If you are driving to Rovinj from Trieste, the distance is about 70 miles, and it will take you about 90 minutes. If you are transferring to Rovinj from Zagreb, the distance is about 155 miles, and it should take you just under 3 hours to drive from Zagreb to Rovinj.
Croatia is a wonderful country for a road trip. The highways are well-maintained, and the coastal road is beautiful, even if it does take much longer. If you are looking to hire a car for your Croatia trip, check out Discover Cars. They scour multiple providers to get the best price, and they have a wide variety of vehicles in most locations.
The bus is the best public transport option in Croatia. There are buses to Rovinj from Rijeka, Trieste, and Zagreb.
From Rijeka, the nearest large city, the bus takes a little over 2 hours. There are several departures each day. You can book bus tickets for Europe travel conveniently on Omio. There is a small service fee, but I found the experience hassle free and quick.
The bus station in Rovinj is located near the waterfront promenade and is about 0.6 mile from the historic center.
You can travel to Rovinj by ferry (in season) from Venice in Italy. the crossing takes about 3 hours and 45 minutes. Check ferry schedules here.
Getting Around in Rovinj
You can walk everywhere in Old Town Rovinj: the historic center is compact and pedestrian-only. In fact, it’s a pleasure to walk around the lively town, with its pretty facades and little stores.
If you have a car, it is easier to explore surrounding natural areas, and perhaps easier to get to some of the more outlying beaches. You can also rent bikes in Rovinj.
Where to Stay in Rovinj
We stayed in the Spirito Santo Palazzo Storico. It is a lovely small hotel, located on a quiet street not too far from the parking lot outside Old Town Rovinj, and an easy walk into the shopping and dining streets in the town. Opt for the room on the top floor, which comes with access to the little rooftop deck! Rooms are beautifully furnished and the breakfast is delightful. Book a stay here!
Hotel Lone is located inside the Golden Cape Natural Park, near the sea, and a 15-minute walk to Old Town Rovinj. Furnishings are luxurious and rooms modern. The park allows for great walking, and the pool and spa are gorgeous. Book a stay here!
Hotel Adriatic is located in Old Town Rovinj. The boutique hotel offers harbor views, views of St. Catherine’s Island, or the main square. Rooms are air-conditioned and feature designer furnishings and local art. Book a stay here!
The Best Time to Visit Rovinj
Late spring and early fall are good times of year to visit Rovinj. Temperatures are pleasant and days sunny for the most part, and you’ll encounter fewer crowds in these shoulder season months.
Summer is great from a weather perspective, but Rovinj gets very busy in the summer, and accommodation is likely to be more expensive. If you wish to swim, June to mid September is the best time to visit.
Planning a trip to Croatia? Check out some of our other articles!
- Croatian Coast Road Trip Itinerary
- Visiting Krka National Park, Croatia
- Best Day Trips from Split
- The Best Things to Do in Zadar
- The Most Exciting Day Trips from Zadar
- One Day in Zagreb
- The Best Day Trips from Zagreb
- Croatia’s 8 Spectacular National Parks
- What to Do in Trogir, Croatia
- Best Things to Do in Varazdin, Croatia
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