Rovinj, the picturesque Croatian seaside city situated on the western coast of the Istrian peninsula just 40km to the northwest of Pula. Easily accessible by ferry from either Pula or Venice, Rovinj is the second most visited town in Croatia behind Dubrovnik. Although a favorite of European travelers, unfortunately, Rovinj is not that well known to British and American travelers.
One of the first things you will notice upon arriving in Rovinj (pronounced Ro-Veen), is the Italian charm. After all, from the end of World War I until 1947, Rovinj was part of Italy. Following the end of World War II, it became a part of Croatia.
Rovinj’s Partisan Memorial
Located on La Grisia, the main street leading to Rovinj’s Old Town, is the Partisan Memorial. Erected in 1956, it commemorates the victims of fascism during World War II. Designed by sculptor Ivan Sabolić, the Memorial was unveiled in 1956.
Rovinj’s Trg Valdibora
Just past the Memorial, you will find the seafront Rovinj Trg Valdibora. Although appearing to be a farmer’s market, it mostly targets tourists with vendors aggressively hawking produce or overpriced souvenir trinkets.
Stroll Through Rovinj’s Old Town
Continue along the narrow, cobbled street of La Grisa and you will discover picturesque alleyways tucked discreetly between old stone buildings. The Venetian influence on Rovinj’s architecture is prominent, leading Rovinj to be referred to as the “Little Venice”.
Insider’s Tip: Look carefully and you will find a picturesque narrow stairway leading down to the Adriatic Sea. A perfect photo opportunity!
As well as beautiful architectural detailing!
Enjoy Rovinj’s Marshal Tito Square
Marshal Tito Square is the main square of Rovinj and connects the old town with the newer town. The Clock Tower was originally constructed in the 12th century and features the Lion Of Saint Mark, a symbol of the Rovinj’s connection to Venice.
Built in the 17th century, Marshal Tito Square was initially called Piazza della Riva and later Square Vitorio Emanuele III. In 1980, it was renamed after the death of Yugoslav President Josip Broz Tito.
Support The Rovinj’s Local Shops
Take a leisurely stroll around the side streets lining Marshal Tito Square. It is here you will find the perfect souvenir or gift (many locally made) while supporting Rovinj’s shopkeepers.
Insider’s Tip: Be sure to check out: Nothing To Sea offering unique art & creative handcrafted gifts by local artists (located at Ul. Vladimira Švalbe 2); Lungomare Plaza located in the Grand Park Hotel Rovinj is comprised of small boutiques offering upscale fashion, niche perfumes and accessories; Raku Ceramics offers handmade ceramics by local artists.
Rovinj’s Balbi Arch
To the right of the Square is the Balbi Arch, an ancient Venetian arch that leads back to Rovinj’s Old Town. Built in 1679, it was named for Daniel Balbi, a former mayor of the town.
Visit Rovinj’s Basilica of Saint Euphemia & Bell Tower
Entering through the Arch, climb the steep hill to the Basilica of Saint Euphemia with its 60m high Bell Tower. Construction was completed in1736 on the site of the original 4th century church. The Bell Tower is actually older than the church itself with construction starting in 1654.
Atop the Bell Tower is a copper statue of Saint Euphemia, standing watch over the town and bay. According to the design of Simone Battistella, a local Rovinj architect, the Statue was placed on a shaft allowing it to rotate with the wind .
For a small fee, climb the 192 small steps to the top of the Tower for an amazing panoramic view of Rovinj and the Adriatic Sea below.
Step Inside The Basilica
Decorated in an opulent Baroque style with high ceilings, statues, frescoes, as well as several treasured 16th century paintings, the interior of the Basilica is simple yet elegant.
The Basilica also contains a sarcophagus which holds the remains of Saint Euphemia, the patron saint of Rovinj. Born in 290 AD, she died by torture in 304 AD at only 14 years old for refusing to renounce her Christianity.
Don’t forget, some of the best things to see are above you. Be sure to look up at the incredible ceiling fresco and stained glass above the Sarcophagus.
Enjoy amazing panoramic vistas of the Old Town and Aegean Sea from the landscaped grounds that surround the Basilica. The parklike setting with its dense trees and foliage affords plenty of much needed shade and photo opportunities.
Visit Rovinj’s Old Bunker
Situated on the hill overlooking the Adriatic Sea is the remains of an old German Observation Bunker built during World War II. Although only an empty relic, the view of the Sea below is spectacular.
Enjoy A Dip In The Adriatic Sea
The Adriatic is known for its crystal clear turquoise waters and there is no better way to refresh after touring Rovinj than taking a dip. Whether you choose Rovinj’s Balota Beach just a few minutes walk from the Basilica of Saint Euphemia or take a plunge from the rocks surrounding the city, the cool waters of the Adriatic will afford immediate relief from the midday sun. Insider’s Tip: The rocks can be quite slippery, so be sure to pack water shoes as well as sunscreen.
With its Venetian charm, twisting cobbled streets, and spectacular coastline, it is easy to understand why Rovinj is called “the jewel of the Istrian Peninsula”!