One of the most beautiful coastal cities in Istria is called Rovinj. It is very popular for sportsmen since it has almost everything you can only dream of there. I made a specific list of things you have to visit and you have to know about before you make a visit there.
ROVINJ OLD TOWN
Rovinj’s old town is without doubt the most impressive and charming part of town. Aside from the smooth, shiny marble cobblestone streets and pastel-colored houses, this part of Rovinj is renowned for its beautiful Venetian architecture.
Rovinj was once part of the Venetian Republic (from 1283 to 1797) until Napoleon Bonaparte arrived and put an end to the millennium of Venetian power in the Adriatic and beyond. When you walk around town, you’ll spot the Venetian lions everywhere, like on the Balbi Arch, the late-Renaissance clock tower and the wells.
ST. EUPHEMIA CHURCH
When you visit Rovinj, the first thing you’ll notice is the dominating church and bell-tower atop the hill. It’s dedicated to the young girl, Saint Euphemia, whose story made a deep impression on me. When Euphemia was just fifteen years old, she was arrested for refusing to give up Christianity. After suffering various tortures, she was first thrown in the fire, which didn’t kill her and later sentenced to be eaten by wild lions who eventually killed her but did not devour her body. Her relics are preserved in a sarcophagus here in this church. On the top of the bell-tower there’s a statue of her that revolves around its axis depending on the wind. The saying goes that if the statue points towards the ocean, it will be sunny, and if it points at the town-side, it’ll be rainy and cloudy. From the 61 meter-high tower there’s also a beautiful view of the town and you can even see the Alps on a clear day. However, the staircase is not for the faint of heart so keep that in mind before you enter. It costs 20 kuna ($3).
Rovinj’s most popular street, La Grisia is hard to miss. The widest of all cobbled streets leading up to the church of St. Euphemia, La Grisia is full of art, jewelry, and souvenir shops, as well as a couple of restaurants. Definitely a cool place for you to see how this town is living!
PUNTA CORRENTE FOREST PARK
Since it is really easy to understand that you are a fan of active vacation, here is something you just can’t miss while staying in Rovinj. I am talking about a wonderful forest park, Punta Corrente is located just 15-minute walk from the old town. Today it provides relaxation, but it’s also popular cycling, jogging, and swimming spot. This park was constructed between 1890 and 1910. The rock climbing site is made of sharp and hard limestone rocks. It stands only 20 m from the sea, in a former quarry. Routes are bolt-fixed, and suitable for beginners. A local agency, Adistra, offers guided climbing with all equipment provided. A tour lasts 4-6 hours, and costs 450 kn per person.
A small museum devoted to preserve traditions of Rovinj is located in the old town. The name of the museum comes from a traditional wooden fishing boat typical for Rovinj.
- FOOD AND RESTAURANTS IN ROVINJ
Rovinj is as special as Poreč when we are talking about food . I won’t be so detailed about the restaurants as I was for Poreč, but here is some good advice about those I know. Town has lots of great restaurants, many of them offering tasty seafood dishes. Some of my favorite restaurants in Rovinj include Barbar Danilo, serving yummy and creative seafood dishes; Lanterna, classy restaurant with a great outdoor sitting on the St. Andrew Island; a fine dining restaurant Monte offering multiple course tasting menus; no-frills restaurant Orca with their hearty dishes; and many more.
Okay, here you have the two coolest and most unique things you can do in Rovinj and that are not even close to doing in some other cities in Istria. Pay attention, there will be some adventure included!
- Scuba diving
Scuba diving is a popular activity in Rovinj due to many shipwrecks in waters around Rovinj. The most popular shipwreck, the Baron Gautsch, is perfectly preserved and the most visited shipwreck in all Croatia. This steamer sunk in 1914. Today it wreck lies at depths of 28-40 m, 12,5 NM off the coast of Rovinj. Many local diving centers offer organized dives on the Baron Gautsch site. A single dive with a boat trip costs 60 € per person, which is not really a cheap price if you ask me, but it is worth visiting.
- Batana ride
Batana is a traditional small fishing boat from Rovinj. It’s a 4.5-8 m long wooden boat with flat bottom, and a sail. Today, very few people go fishing in batana. Instead, people of Rovinj try to preserve batana, as a true symbol of Rovinj.In such an effort, few years ago local museum House of Batana, started offering a program to visitors that includes a ride in a traditional batana around Rovinj’s old town at dawn, and a traditional dinner in Rovinj’s spacio (tavern in a local dialect).It’s a nice experience, and I highly recommend it.