If you are planning your trip to Rovinj and/or the Istrian Peninsula you are in for a gem of a trip. It is no mistake that Rovinj is nicknamed “The Pearl of the Adriatic”. After visiting the entire coast of Croatia, and Plitvice Lakes National Park, I can safely say that if you only visited some of the 9 towns in Istria, it would be a satisfactory Croatian itinerary. Your first trip to Croatia should likely include some islands, as well as Dubrovnik & Split… but you could easily explore just the Istrian Peninsula for a week or more. Istria, only a quick boat ride from Venice, has architecture and culture that will have you reminding yourself that you’re not in Venice or Tuscany.
Consider including the following towns in your Itinerary:
- Motovun – blog post coming next week
Additionally, and also nearby, you could spend time in Opatija and driving along the Kvarner Bay.
Things I wish I had known about Rovinj (and Croatia) in general prior to visiting:
1. Where To Stay – I have major FOMO when it comes to booking accommodations. We never have a huge budget for our hotels & AirBnb’s, and not because I don’t love a little luxury, simply because I find a large budget is never necessary (unless you’re in Switzerland and don’t want to starve). I like to play a little game called “Nicest for Cheapest”… aka VALUE. Non-negotiables include location, cleanliness/comfort, and views/outdoor space.
Rovinj’s old town does not allow cars. Much of Croatia is not accessible by train, no part is served by an efficient train, and the buses will eat up valuable vacation time. It is popular, depending on the time of year, to hire a boat, or purchase a ferry ticket to reach Rovinj. Additionally, there are only a couple routes you can take that are flat (no-incline to lug-luggage, pun fully intended). The promenade along the ocean, and exactly one street, are flat.
So? Where do you stay? In the map below I drew a square around our AirBnb. If you would like the link, DM me on Instagram @agirlnamedjimie. We found a location close enough to town to walk into the old town (10 minutes – downhill to town & uphill back), and enjoy the Promenade & Park (10-Minutes to All-Day). The value was impeccable considering the large private 4th floor terrace, spacious room, & amazing host who spoke Italian (Rovinj is officially bilingual) and gave us amazing local tips.
TRAVEL HACK: In Croatia, and much of Europe, if you want extreme value… be willing to climb more than 3 flights of stairs. Our Rovinj accommodation was on the 4th floor.
If you are looking for a similar AirBnb, anything in that area would be acceptable. I will be posting a blog soon on how we have yet to have an AirBnb flop. Just be willing to walk uphill a bit. It is nearly unavoidable in Rovinj. Another option is to park your car in one of the parking lots on the outskirts of the Old Town and walk in to your AirBnb in the old town.
Here is a map of Rovinj:
2. Where To Eat – Croatia, and much of Europe is not huge on Breakfast. Be sure to bring some pastries and other snacks back to your AirBnb the night prior. Rovinj also had tourist fare similar that of Dubrovnik. This means you will be eating Seafood, or Pizza. There were are couple of restaurants that we enjoyed eating at and would recommend. This is not all inclusive, and possibly not the best available, but if you’re traveling in October this list is likely your best bet.
- Breakfast – at your AirBnb (or) a local experience near our Air Bnb was Cafe Bar Libero – 4.4/5 stars on Google – fresh home made croissants and delicious espresso! Very local experience. Zero tourists, except us ;).
- Pastrik – Serbo/Croatian – 4/5 Stars on Trip Advisor – View of the Harbor and iconic St. Euphemia bell tower.
- Pizzeria Da Sergio – 4.5/5 Stars on Trip Advisor – located in old town, excellent atmosphere, and delicious food.
- Beach Bar Mulini – 4/5 Stars on Trip Advisor – I guarantee that anyone visiting Late September / Early October voted 5 stars. I’d give it 6. Free beach chairs, luxury style comfort, no crowds! Extensive drink and beer menu, snacks and food. It’s probably packed in peak season.
3. What To Do –
- Delfin Dock Station
- Bell Tower Saint Euphemia – PHOTOS & VIDEO BELOW – ONLY and I mean ONLY if you’re not at ALL scared of heights. We rock climb and were a little freaked out to trust some several hundred year old wooden stairs with a STRAIGHT drop. The view from the top is well worth it though.
- Rovinj Marina – stroll and eat and keep strolling some more. Be sure to check Google/Trip Advisor reviews prior to selecting from one of the 100+ restaurants here. Spoiler alert, it’s ALL seafood and pizza.
- Browse Art Galleries – amazing local art galleries – it’s a miracle we didn’t buy anything.
- Taste Istrian Craft Beer & Local Wineries – be sure not to miss the local Craft Beer festival like we did. Stroll the Main Street to find a few shops selling local wine and beer.
- ACI Marina Rovinj & Grand Park Hotel – the unexpected yet modern and beautiful side of Rovinj.
- Mulini Beach Club – you’re likely going to want a whole day or two in Rovinj just to lay on a luxury beach chair here, or on one of the near by public beaches
- Lone Bay – this one and the following two should be explored at a leisurely pace … they hold a couple of interesting surprises including the largest cairn field we’ve ever seen, and we’re from Colorado where cairn building is a way of life for some.
- Golden Cape – amazing view points, beaches, and a way to escape the hustle and bustle
- Zlatni Rt Park & Beach – public park
BELL TOWER ST. EUPHEMIA