Today we meet the romantic Rovinj, a charming and historic town located on the western coast of the Istrian peninsula in the northern Adriatic. A town that thrives on art, its impressive Venetian heritage, numerous healing properties, and forever-present Mediterranean flair, it is one stop you’d be crazy to miss on your sailing trip of the northern Adriatic.
Undoubtedly one of Croatia’s most colorful and photogenic towns, Rovinj’s quaint old town stands on a headland, with vivid buildings crowding down to the coast. A town long-known for its fishing traditions, Rovinj ultimately transformed into a tourist resort thanks to its undeniable climatic features, which favor health. Rovinj is thus a ‘healthy’ town where you can take advantage of nature’s best benefits, where the entire coast and its 22 islands are a protected natural heritage.
It shouldn't surprise you that Rovinj has roots dating back to the Roman era when it was known as Ruvinium. During this period, Rovinj was a strategically important town used as a port and naval base by the Roman Empire.
After the fall of the Roman Empire, the town was occupied by various groups, including the Ostrogoths, the Byzantines, and the Venetians. In the 16th century, Rovinj became part of the Venetian Republic and was heavily fortified to protect it from the threat of pirates. This Venetian influence can still be seen in Rovinj today, with many of the town's buildings and landmarks built in this distinct architectural style.
Rovinj was occupied by Napoleon's forces in 1797 and later became part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, then the newly formed Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, which later became Yugoslavia. After World War II, Rovinj underwent significant modernization and development, which had to meet the demands of its growing tourism attention.
But let’s backtrack a bit. It's Rovinj’s place in modern tourism that catches our genuine interest, as the town became increasingly popular for travelers looking to take advantage of its healing climate. Thus, after regular trip-liners from Trieste to Rijeka were introduced in 1844, ships regularly stopped in Rovinj and other Istrian towns. And with the Divača-Pula railroad extending to Kanfanar-Rovinj in 1876, Rovinj tourism developed even further. The official beginning of tourism in Rovinj was pronounced in 1888, with its healing climate in focus, as Theresia Seehospiz opened a center for poor children with scrofula and rachitis in the town.
Today, Rovinj is a popular tourist destination that attracts visitors from all over the world, eager to explore its romantic old town on the coast. But even despite its popularity, especially in more recent years as it's been regularly featured in travel magazines and roundups about the best European tourist destinations, Rovinj has managed to maintain its traditional character and unbeatable charm, making it one of Croatia’s most authentic destinations.
Rovinj is a well-known destination for boaters and situated on the west coast of the Istrian peninsula; it’s a go-to dream destination for anyone sailing the Istria region and northern Adriatic. And even better news for boaters? Rovinj boasts a top-quality marina with various services, including berthing, refueling, maintenance and repair, and many other amenities.
Meet the ACI Marina Rovinj. This well-equipped marina is just a short walk from the town center on the southeast side of the city harbor, offering the best view of the old town and St. Catherine’s island. An integral part of Rovinj for 34 years, this marina has drawn boaters from its very beginning, mainly thanks to its location and amenities. ACI Marina Rovinj also saw a complete renovation in 2019, transforming it into a modern designer marina with the latest technological solutions, with services meeting the highest standard in nautical tourism.
We don’t have to convince you that Rovinj has beautiful beaches, but which are the most popular for sun-seekers and swimmers?
By far, the most stunning beaches are on St. Catherine’s island, a gem of the Rovinj archipelago. Located only a few hundred meters from the city center, most locals and tourists flock to beaches on the island's eastern side. The rocky shores and easily accessible coves are decorated with some restaurants and cafe bars when you need to recharge.
And once you’re already on the island, it would be hard to miss the famous Zlatna, Srebrna, and Brončana rocks. Located on the northwestern side of the island, these rocks shoot up to 15 meters high and descend vertically into the sea at least 3 meters. Anyone for a bit of cliff jumping?
Nature lovers will then want to make their way to Lone Cove, part of the protected Golden Cape Forest Park with one of the most-visited beaches in Rovinj - Golden Cape Beach. Just 15 minutes by foot from Rovinj’s old town, this natural paradise offers slightly rocky yet accessible beaches with some amenities for anyone planning to stay for the day. You can also head to the most visited cove on that part of the coast, Kurent Cove, which also boasts a beautiful grassy area, snack bar, and deck chairs. At the same time, the nearby quarry at Cape Montauro is popular with free-climbing enthusiasts!
The sandy Amarin Beach is just a short drive from Rovinj, or head to Mulini beach near the city center, luxury hotels, and the Golden Cape forest park. You’ll also find the Mulini Beach Bar if you’re looking for swanky sunset cocktails and eats.
When the respected, recognized, and remarkable Istrian cuisine is in question, you know that award-winning olive oil, truffles, and first-class wine are on the table. Rovinj is thus a food lover's paradise.
And we can’t begin speaking about Rovinj’s culinary charm without mentioning Monte, a Michelin-star restaurant that brings sophisticated dining, fresh seafood, and traditional Istrian cuisine to Rovinj. With unbeatable views over Rovinj's old town, Monte serves creative and imaginative dishes designed with local ingredients, paired with a sommelier who will take you on a journey of the region's finest wines.
And how could we forget Agli Amici, led by Italian chef Emanuele Scarello? This upscale restaurant received its first Michelin star less than three months after opening in 2021. As part of the Maistra Hospitality Group, Agli Amici sits between the Grand Park Hotel Rovinj and the marina, following a philosophy based on respecting the land and its producers.
And since we’re still on the Michelin topic, the fine-dining Cap Aureo Signature Restaurant as part of Rovinj’s Grand Park Hotel is another Michelin-recommended gem that offers multiple-course creative tasting menus and unique wine pairings.
Rovinj has plenty to offer if you’re looking for something a bit more casual, too, like the family-style taverns Barba Danilo, Veli Jože, and Kantinon.
Is it fair to start with the best attraction of them all? Rovinj’s old town, of course. A maze of narrow cobblestoned streets, historic buildings, and picturesque squares make up the center of town, where visitors can stroll and stop to admire the beautiful Venetian architecture or people-watch at cafes and restaurants. The most famous street in the old town is Grisia Street, one of Rovinj's most famous landmarks and tourist attractions. Lined with artist's studios, souvenir shops, and traditional Croatian cafes, this street is a must-visit for anyone interested in Rovinj's cultural heritage.
As mentioned, you’ll also find many unique architectural points within the old town, like Balbi's Arch. This impressive arch was built in 1678–79 and leads to Grisia Street. Today, it is one of the town's most recognizable monuments and represents the main entrance to the old town.
And then there is the largest baroque church in Istria, built in 1736 - St. Euphemia's Church. This beautiful church is one of Rovinj's most important buildings and is dedicated to the local martyr St. Euphemia. Renowned for its stunning baroque architecture and beautiful paintings, this church occupies the highest point in the town (its bell tower is 61 meters high). Visitors can climb the narrow, rather creaky tower for truly outstanding views of the Adriatic and learn about the history of the town’s patron saint.
To learn more about Rovinj, head to the Rovinj Heritage Museum, housed in an old baroque palace built in the 17th and 18 centuries. Offering a fascinating insight into the town's history and culture, visitors can learn about Rovinj's rich maritime history and see exhibits of local artifacts and paintings, modern and old art, ethnology, books, and documents.
Another fun activity is visiting the ‘House of Batana’ (Kuća o batani), featuring the construction of the traditional ‘batana’ fishing boat. This unique wooden boat is built according to Rovinj’s fishing tradition. These boats also inspire artists who use them as a canvas to exhibit on Rovinj’s famous art street. The eco-museum is also a great way to hear local fishermen’s songs sung in the Rovinj dialect.
Since you’ll already be coming here to swim, we can’t miss mentioning St. Catherine’s Island once again. Located on the south side of Rovinj, this is the second-largest island in the Rovinj archipelago. Known for its lush parks, gardens, and vegetation, you can explore over 450 different plant species here too!
Speaking of lush scenery, there is no better place for nature lovers than the Golden Cape (or Zlatni rt), a dense forest park adorned with native Istrian oaks, alpine pines, cedars, and cypresses. Not only does this park boast some of Rovinj’s stunning beaches (a few of which we have mentioned above), but the long coastal path also offers many active sports, recreational activities, and cycling.
And alas, one of the most beautiful excursions from Rovinj is to the Lim Channel. This fjord was formed in the last ice age and is part of the 35 km long Lim Valley, lined by tall hills. Tourists love a day trip to this natural masterpiece for a bit of fishing, oysters, and visiting the famous Romuald cave, named after a priest who lived in this cave one thousand years ago.
Rovinj, a romantic, charming, and Italian-influenced seaside town, should be on every boater’s sailing itinerary! And of course, this gem is an inevitable part of our Northern Adriatic tailored routes. Check out our fleet and choose the vessel that will take you to Rovinj and contact us so we can do our magic!