Cruising 30,000 feet in the air I was about to reach Rovinj (roh-VEEN), the picturesque seaside town located north west of Croatia’s Istrian Peninsula. The Italians (who call Rovinj Rovigno) did a great job at keeping this a secret from us for decades. And for a valid reason. If it weren’t for The Daily Telegraph (and subsequently, Sa who moved here recently) J and I would not be heading to one of the most romantic towns on the Adriatic coast.
Rovinj greeted us with fresh sea air and a scorching 30 degree celsius heat. It was the stuff that weather dreams were made of, since we came from London where the Big Guy in the Sky had forgotten to turn off the shower faucet for weeks!
Real summer, heLLLooooooo!
Our beautiful apartment was located in the Old Town, at the heart of the town centre. As we walked towards Apartmani Taylor, I got a sense of what Rovinj was like in the old days when it was under Venetian influence. The cobbled streets were shiny, narrow, and twisted around colourful, crammed-together houses and buildings. I couldn’t help but to notice how many art galleries or workshops (or ateliers) we had walked past. And how vibrant colours seem to work their way into every corner of the streets.
I was completely in awe with the stone wall and dark wood combination in our well-equipped apartment, and that has always been the dream interior of my dream home.
Exploring parts of the Old Town, I recognised the laundry system that came up in my google search and I had been so keen to photograph. I can spend all day just taking photos of colourful laundry hung high on the 12 metre washing line from window to window.
But alas, there’s the clear blue sea which brings us fresh fish caught by the local fishermen and brought in to the fishing port daily. Andrija, our local Croatian artist, warned us against the waterfront trattorias ran by non-natives that served unauthentic food. So it is only fair that I impart the personal recommendations for restaurants that we have either been to or were given 5-stars by our local friends.
1) Konoba ‘Da Baston’ – Svalba 3, Rovinj, Croatia
2) Orca – Gripole ulica 52210, Rovinj, Croatia
3) Scuba – Pino Budicin 6, Rovinj, Croatia
4) Neptun – J. Rakovac 10, Rovinj 52210, Croatia
While I am at the food and beverage department, drinkers will be ecstatic to know that beer and wine in Rovinj is very reasonably priced. There are so many lively bars overlooking the pier, ranging from the relaxed to the upbeat discos. The Monvi centre also has a party atmosphere with bars, discos, a nightclub and an open air theatre where concerts are held.
If you are game for sitting on the shore and watching the ships go by, go to the Valentino Cocktail & Champagne Bar along Santa Croce. Notice I said go to the shore and not the bar itself, people have literally sat down and got up again upon seeing the prices for drinks. Word of mouth also suggested that the owner of the bar disliked people sitting by her premise without buying any drinks, so as a way around things please only patron the shore when the bar is closed.
There are plenty of choices for beaches in and around Rovinj, including the Baluota Beach at the foot of St. Euphemia’s Church and the beach on the Island of St. Andrija (only a ten minute boat ride from town). Of course there are other more superior locations with clear turquoise water and big white rocks.
We hired a bike at the edge of town and cycled along Punta Corrente, the national park that lines the peninsula. On the bike trail all along the sea you can stop anywhere to swim and quench your thirst at the bars. At the end of the trail lies a natural and quiet beach called Lone Bay in Zlatni Rt with capes and coves that stretches for about 2700 m.
If you are one who enjoys getting your kit off, Rovinj is the best place you can do so without being gawked at. Out of an abundance of naturist camps, go to the most famous one called Valalta.
This long weekend away had us falling head over heels for this enchanting Mediterranean seaside town and wishing that there were more days or even weeks to our stay.
Ryanair flies into Pula, which is about 25 miles/40 km south of Rovinj. For further options, you could fly to Trieste or Venice in Italy and then transfer from there. Whatever it takes to come back to this idyllic town that moves to a different rhythm to the rest of Croatia.