A few short weeks ago, we headed off to Croatia with our sister to a small town situated on the coast of the north Adriatic Sea called Rovinj (or Rovigno). Located on Istrian peninsula, this bustling town had lots of offer.
Here are a few things we’d recommend doing when visiting
- Hire bikes and cycle along the coastline
The flat terrain around Ronvinj makes it ideal for exploring by bike. Check with the hotel or apartment you are staying at, most of them will supply bikes free of charge, otherwise many local shops offer bikes to hire.
- Try the ice creams/gelatos
You won’t be able to go far in Rovinj without hitting a Gelataria which is perfect, as temperatures can get very high (around 30°C/86°F when we visited). With so many flavours to choose from you’ll keep coming back for more!
- Explore the markets
Located near the centre of town, the Green Market sits just to side of Marshall Tito Square. Wander through the many stalls selling fruit, souvenirs and local wares which include: local liquors, homemade olive oil, figs and honey.
- Take a boat to Katarina Island
For just 25KRN (£3!) for a return trip, hop on a boat in the Marina and take a short ride across to the island. Don’t worry if the wind gets up, the island itself has two docks, and they use the calmest one so you can safely board and disembark.
- Explore the Old Town
Rovinj feels very reminiscent of Venice, due to its Italian history and today remains a bilingual town (Istrian/Italian). It’s interweaving streets are picturesque and let you explore for hours down cobbled throughways finding hidden gems to sample the delights. Be sure to keep an eye on your surroundings as you’ll come across an ornate church hidden away or a cat asleep on top the shutters.
- Hike up to Basilica of St. Euphemia
The pinnacle of the old town and Rovinj, is this unique Baroque church. Head up for stunning panoramic views across the coastline and town.
- Have cocktails at sunset
Facing the setting sun, Ronvinj has lots of bars perfect to grab a cocktail and watch the sun go down over the water. Valentino Cocktail and Champagne Bar also offered stunning views, with an under lit lagoon feel when the sun has set. Be wary though, every patron must buy a drink to enjoy these views – something they will uphold almost to the point of rudeness.
- Indulge in the local cuisine
Sitting along the coastline means fresh seafood isn’t hard to come by. The small town of Rovinj is home to Croatia’s first Michelin Star restaurant Monte. Awarded in January 2017, Monte has two superb taste menus: a 5-course and a 7-course. Our favourite course used liquid nitrogen to give authentic and immersive “under the sea” movement to the fish dish. Not to mention the outstanding – if not a little bizarre – puddings!
We also stumbled upon Bookeria, a very chic looking small restaurant not far from the main square. It seems to be newly opened as it does not have many TripAdvisor reviews yet and we found it purely by browsing Instagram photos of food in the local area (top tip for finding good restaurants in places you haven’t been to before). The food was fantastic, and the only criticism would be that they were slightly understaffed and it took a while to move between courses and to pay the bill. However, genuinely it was obviously newly opened and still making necessary tweaks. We would recommend booking an early table to avoid the local rush around 9pm, and thus get the service you require. We also ate at La Puntulina, which was not only delicious but provided stunning sunset views to complement our dinner. Definitely another place we would recommend booking ahead of time, the sunset dinner slot was very busy.
- Try the local wine and beer
Istria is best known for its Malvazija wine and most restaurants only stock local produce. We had a wine pairing at Monte, and every wine was locally sourced and excellently complemented the food. Don’t be scared to ask your waiter for a recommendation, they are very proud of their produce! Obviously a hot day’s exploring is not complete without sampling a selection of Croatian beers, again, we were not disappointed.