Rovinj, Croatia: the Jewel of the Istrian Peninsula

I’ve talked ad nauseum about how amazing the northern half of Croatia is, particularly the Istrian peninsula.  And in my opinion, Rovinj is the jewel of Istria, a charming coastal town with a heavy Italian influence due to being under Venetian control for hundreds of years.

Rovinj (roh-veen) is not only a must-see town if you’ve visiting the Istrian Peninsula, but I believe it’s the perfect place to base yourself if you’re exploring the area.  It’s big enough to provide plenty to do and lots of places to stay, things are open in the evening, and the transportation network is good, plus it’s central to a lot of the towns you’ll want to visit.

Rovinj's harbor, the jewel of northern Croatia | a charming coastal town in Istria, perfect base for exploring the hill towns of Croatia

Here’s a guide for planning 3-4 days in northern Croatia…& how to pair it with other destinations!

One reason you should consider visiting Croatia is that it’s pretty cost-efficient.  While the euro is a pretty great exchange rate right now, that’s not always the case—and Croatia is a perfect alternative or itinerary complement that can help your money stretch further.  It’s technically part of the EU, but not part of the currency eurozone, and the Croatian kuna is a good deal.  And because the northern half of the country is super central, you can easily add a couple days here when visiting Italy, Slovenia, Austria, and anywhere in eastern Europe.

 

How to get to Rovinj

There is a great bus network in the area, so you can definitely take the bus in and out.  One of the times I visited, we took a train from Venice to Trieste and then a bus from Trieste, and it was super easy, comfortable, and cheap.  They even have wifi on the bus typically.  You’ll have to stop at the Slovenian border and they’ll stamp your passport, but otherwise it’s completely seamless.  I believe it was around a two-hour trip.

HOWEVER, if you’re actually wanting to explore the hill towns of Istria, a rental car is critical.  You’re talking narrow, winding roads between tiny towns, and a car is the only way to really see the best of the area.  This is actually the view from the Sixt office, where we picked up our rental car one of the times we visited Rovinj.  We walked here from our apartment, an easy 10-minute stroll.

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Where to stay in Rovinj

While there are obviously hotels you can stay in, they’re going to be a little more expensive (particularly since Rick Steves has recommended Rovinj in a lot of his books and shows).  But what you really want to look for in Rovinj is sobe, what they call rooms for rent, so you can wake up and be right in the middle of everything.  You can sit and drink wine on your terrace at sunset, go for a run through the empty streets, grab a pastry and coffee, and watch the sun come up on the water.

Below is the view from our apartment the first time we stayed in Rovinj.  Unfortunately both apartments I’ve stayed in don’t seem to be available for rent anymore from what I can tell (this was before Airbnb was really a thing).  But Airbnb should be a great resource for your stay these days.

Read next:  Exploring the Hill Towns of Northern Croatia

What to do in Rovinj

One of the big draws of Rovinj, and the area, is actually all of the surrounding towns.  From bigger Pula to tiny Hum, one of the most compelling reasons to stay in Rovinj is that it’s super central to a medieval hill town road trip.  I’ve shared all my best tips and the route (well, routes) we took in this post about all the hill towns, but make sure you visit Motovun, Grozjnan, and more while you’re in the area!  Eat your bodyweight in truffles, drink the local Teran wine, buy amazing olive oil to take home, and generally soak in the culture and ambiance.

Rovinj's harbor, the jewel of northern Croatia | a charming coastal town in Istria, perfect base for exploring the hill towns of Croatia

Rovinj's harbor, the jewel of northern Croatia | a charming coastal town in Istria, perfect base for exploring the hill towns of Croatia

Rovinj's harbor, the jewel of northern Croatia | a charming coastal town in Istria, perfect base for exploring the hill towns of Croatia

Rovinj, Croatia | a charming coastal town in Istria, perfect base for exploring the hill towns of Croatia

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The waterfront area of Rovinj is amazing, and I highly recommend setting aside a few hours just to wander up and down twisty, hilly streets and alleys.  Stop on the marina for some steak and truffle sauce or fresh seafood (we ate at Restauran Sidro one night, decent and a great view, though a little touristy), and some of the local wine.

Rovinj is a charming coastal town, the perfect place to base yourself when visiting northern Croatia in Istria. Rovinj is close to all the hill towns, amazing history, the jewel of Istria | what to do in Rovinj, where to go in Croatia #croatia #rovinj #istria

Read next:  Motovun: Croatia’s Quintessential Hill Town

Rovinj is a town made for just wandering around.  You can (and should) hike up to the church at the top of the hill, should spend time on the harbor, but also just walk around and get lost in the twisty, narrow streets.  And sunset is NOT to be missed…the harbor has spectacular sunset views on both sides of the tiny old town peninsula.

Rovinj is a charming coastal town, the perfect place to base yourself when visiting northern Croatia in Istria. Rovinj is close to all the hill towns, amazing history, the jewel of Istria | what to do in Rovinj, where to go in Croatia #croatia #rovinj #istria

Rovinj is a charming coastal town, the perfect place to base yourself when visiting northern Croatia in Istria. Rovinj is close to all the hill towns, amazing history, the jewel of Istria | what to do in Rovinj, where to go in Croatia #croatia #rovinj #istria

Rovinj is a charming coastal town, the perfect place to base yourself when visiting northern Croatia in Istria. Rovinj is close to all the hill towns, amazing history, the jewel of Istria | what to do in Rovinj, where to go in Croatia #croatia #rovinj #istria

Rovinj is a charming coastal town, the perfect place to base yourself when visiting northern Croatia in Istria. Rovinj is close to all the hill towns, amazing history, the jewel of Istria | what to do in Rovinj, where to go in Croatia #croatia #rovinj #istria

Have you spent time in Rovinj?  I’d love to hear your recommendations on where to stay, where to eat, and any insider tips!  Hit me up in the comments!

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Rovinj is a charming coastal town, the perfect place to base yourself when visiting northern Croatia in Istria. Rovinj is close to all the hill towns, amazing history, the jewel of Istria | what to do in Rovinj, where to go in Croatia #croatia #rovinj #istria

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