At a Glance
The Istrian coast of Croatia glitters with many jewels just waiting to be discovered, and Rovinj shines among the brightest of them all. Situated as it is with Italy just across the sea - there is a daily ferry to Venice - the town has arguably absorbed the most culture from Croatia's neighbours. Indeed, such is the proximity to Italy that Rovinj is officially bilingual, with Italian and Croatian being its official languages. The double whammy of cultures only adds to the experience for holidaymakers.Putting all that aside for a moment, though, holidaying in Rovinj is an absolutely charming experience that will satisfy foodies and culture vultures as well as those who like to get active when they're taking a break. Another benefit of the dual culture influences is that the town rarely looks like you would expect it to, with an interesting twist on its architecture here, or a particularly endearing way of preparing risotto there.
Rovinj - pronounced 'Roh-veen-ya' - is not the easiest of Croatia's towns to get to. Pula is the nearest airport, but Trieste is a more cost-effective option with more flights and a better choice of airlines. Expect a two-hour transfer from here to the centre of Rovinj.Once you're actually here, though, transport itself becomes simplified by the fact that cars aren't permitted in the quaint little Old Town, which is where much of the fun can be found. The cobbled streets and winding pathways are for feet only, but if you're keen to hire a car for the duration of the trip, there is ample parking located outside the centre. Hopping in a vehicle gives you an opportunity to explore some of the surrounding attractions, such as the stunning scenery that surrounds Rovinj. If you're really intrepid, consider taking the ferry to Venice for a day.
Eating and Drinking
Any restaurant in Rovinj that doesn't serve either truffles or fish isn't going to last very long. These two essential ingredients are woven through the local cuisine - into pastas, risottos, stews and even salads. Stroll down to the harbour at lunchtime and you'll be able to watch the fishermen dragging in their catch, repairing their nets before taking a well-deserved meal at a local eatery. That's how fresh the fish is. Rovinj is considered one of the last fishing towns of the Mediterranean so don't miss out on its incredible seafood.When it comes to eating out, either wander the harbour and Old Town until you find somewhere with a nice view and a menu that grabs your interest, or try one of our recommendations. Calisona on Trg Pignaton is a particularly good bet, with speciality meat and fish dishes on the menu and an atmospheric plaza where you can eat your food and watch the world go by. Pizza, pasta and risotto feature heavily. A quirkier affair can be found at Neptun on Joakima Rakovca. The venue serves up a variety of dishes cooked using the peka method, which sees meat and vegetables slowly roasted on live coals. You'll have to reserve a table two days in advance for this, however. Turning up on the night is not an option.
Things to See and Do
One thing is for sure about Rovinj - you won't struggle to find activities to keep you occupied during the day. Start by orientating yourself with a wander through the Old Town, which itself contains two must-see sights - the 18th century Saint Euphemia Cathedral and a lively food market near the harbour. With regards to the first of these, the journey up the 60-metre Venetian-style bell tower is worth the 15 kuna asking price and the lack of breath you'll undoubtedly suffer from climbing all those stairs. The view is absolutely awe-inspiring. From the food market, you can expect nothing less than the finest Mediterranean ingredients, including olive oil, seafood, fruit, vegetables and those much-desired truffles. Culture vultures are also advised to check out the Rovinj Heritage Museum, which contains many fascinating exhibits that will make your mind soar with inspiration.There are plenty of opportunities to get active around Rovinj, too. Jump on a bicycle and explore the surrounding countryside, which is breathtakingly beautiful. If you're feeling a tad more adventurous, there are opportunities to go mano a mano with Mother Nature herself in a spot of rock climbing. Great areas for this include the Limski Canal and Dvigrad.
Wandering around the quaint Old Town at night, you may be led to believe Rovinj doesn't really have much of a nightlife scene with its sleepy streets and quiet passageways. Don't be fooled into a false sense of security - the settlement with catch you by surprise with its rich nightlife filled with trendy bars and fabulous discoteques. Admittedly, you'll find that many of these are only open during high season when the tourists get here. If you're visiting during the winter, you'll have to confine yourself to a glass of wine and a bit of people watching in one of the more traditional bars.
Like the nightlife, Rovinj's festival and events calendar only gets going during the high season. However, once it starts, it seems impossible to stop. Antiques fairs, club nights, music festivals, special exhibitions - the selection of events seems limitless. There are a great many highlights, particularly on the music scene, and you should make it a priority to ask at reception when you check in, to see if there is anything worth checking out.