Rovinj is a delightful seaside village on the northern Croatian coast. It’s very popular with tourists, and for good reason. We recently spent a day there just wandering the old town. This historic section is a web of cobblestone lanes lined with colorful buildings. It’s built on a hill so there are lots of great viewpoints of the Adriatic Sea too. It’s a really cute town.
We are currently staying just down the road in Pula. There are multiple buses making the 45 minute journey back and forth from Rovinj all day long. This made it an easy journey with lots of flexibility. Since it’s so close, it’s cheap too, costing us a total of 176 kuna, or about $23 round trip. At such a reasonable cost and short distance, it was impossible to resist a day trip to the place that the area guidebook in our Airbnb called “the pearl of Istria”.
While there are a few official sites that can be visited, by far the best part of visiting Rovinj is just walking around. It’s a photographer’s delight and it’s hard to get a bad picture. It’s also hard to get lost, so ducking down back alleys is highly encouraged. Formerly under the governance of the Republic of Venice from the 13th to 19th century, wandering here has a somewhat similar feel (minus the canals). The old town was actually an island hundreds of years ago, but the ocean was filled in the late 1700s, connecting it to the mainland.
One of the most popular activities is climbing the tower at St. Euphemia’s Basilica. Built in the early 1700s, the church sits on the highest point of the old town. The tower is another 40 meters (120 ft) higher, providing sweeping views of the surrounding area. For 20 kuna (about $2.60) you can climb the 189 steps to the top. The entrance is inside the church.
However, this climb is not for the faint of heart. If you suffer from vertigo or any sort of fear of heights, this is not the activity for you. The wooden stairs are completely uneven, both in their wear patterns and the distance between them. Many of them are not fully parallel to the ground. The whole time you can see through the stairs to the bottom of the tower, so it’s easy to imagine plummeting to your death. It really is a harrowing experience. On the plus side, neither of us once thought about how many stairs we were climbing to reach the top. Pure survival instinct actually made the climb physically very easy.
We were very happy with our decision to make the day trip to Rovinj. Sometimes places don’t live up to the hype, but this isn’t one of them. Maybe it’s because pastel-colored houses dotting seaside hills is something that I never tire of. Or it’s all of the old cobblestone lanes and their charm. Either way, it’s a perfect little place to spend a nice day beside the sea.