what i wish i knew before traveling to rovinj, croatia

Rovinj is an eclectic mix of colorful shutters, winding, white stone pathways, laundry hanging from multiple stories of windows, and a summer breeze. It’s almost more Mamma Mia than the film itself.

One of the best parts of traveling to this location is that it almost felt like a secret; it wasn’t bustling with people like in Venice or the Mykonos. Rovinj has the the Mediterranean feel without being completely stuffed with tourists.

Like with any location we’ve traveled to, there were many lessons we learned during our four days in the idyllic (former) island city of Rovinj.

Driving to Croatia Tips

Pack your passports, along with Euro and Kuna for tolls

Before entering the Croatian border, there is a roadside shop to exchange Euro to Kuna, with lots of large signs ahead of time.

Tolls: €12 toll in Austria, €7.40 toll in Slovenia, and 36 Kuna toll in Croatia. (Tolls may vary in price due to distance traveled.)

Vignettes: €10 in Austria, €15 in Slovenia.

Prepare for hours of traffic. Driving down to Croatia took three hours longer than expected due to construction traffic in Austria. Driving back to Germany took three hours longer than expected due to border traffic and roads closed in Croatia.

Packing Advice

Since Rovinj is a walking city, definitely pack your sneakers.

Also, water shoes. The beaches are not sandy, so water shoes are a must.

Multiple bathing suits. Plus, a beach towel.

SUNSCREEN. That is all.

We carried backpacks – one for our wet gear after swimming, and one for items we’d prefer to keep dry.

If you’re wondering what to pack, think flowy, colorful clothing and floppy hats.

Is there an item in your closet that you love but have never had an occasion to wear? This is your time to be adventurous.

What to Know About Kuna

Pay attention to how much Kuna you’re spending. You may have heard that food in Croatia is cheap, but it’s not as cheap as you think. The exchange rate is currently 1 Kuna = 0.15 USD, and most nice meals cost about 130 Kuna each, which is $19.71.

If you need more cash, no worries. There are ATMs everywhere in the old town.

Parking Info

If you’re looking for free parking, you’ll have to walk a mile before reaching the old town. This was perfectly acceptable for us, being the cheapskates that we are. We ended up parking there everyday. (Highly recommend wearing sneakers for this reason.)

  • Free parking address: Ulica Antonia Bazzarinija 5, 52210 Rovinj

You’ve made it to Rovinj! Now what?

Don’t overplan! Just taking time to walk around and see what looks entertaining or good to us was an unforgettable experience. You may find a spontaneous electric keyboard concert on a pier, or an unforgettable sunset.

Make it a point to stay in the present moment as much as possible. Nearly every street in Rovinj is ‘instagrammable’, but at the end of the day, that’s not what is important. Make the memories.

Rent a bike! We spent 140 Kuna ($21.22) for two bikes for the entire day. It’s worth it.

Swim as much as possible.

Nudity on beaches is normal here. Women without tops, naked toddlers swimming, people changing in the open. No big deal.

The beach we spent the most time at was definitely filled with tourists, though it had the clearest blue water and nearby changing stalls. Plus, it was a short walk/bike ride from the town center. We don’t know the name of it, just that it’s located by the big hotel near the old town.

  • Beach address: Setaliste Uvale Lone 3, Rovinj.
Beach near big hotel

We also spent time at a more natural beach that seemed to attract more locals, called Cistern Beach. You’ll definitely need a car, as it’s a few miles from the old town. Parking is free!

  • Beach address: Jadransko More, Rovinj.

Get on a boat. We bought tickets for a ‘Sunset Dolphin Tour’ and didn’t regret a single second. Plus, our captain gave us stories about the area and guided us around the various islands.

Go to the farmer’s market! They sell olive oil and honey here along with the fresh produce, as well as all the other souvenirs you could dream up.

Be careful on the sidewalks for multiple reasons: motorbikes and bicycles use them, and the stones are slippery as hell. You may think I’m exaggerating but I promise you, I’m not.

Rovinj is a dog town. If you love dogs, this place is for you. If you have dogs, even better. We saw so many puppies walking around, many off leash, enjoying the scenery like the rest of us.

Walk around Rovinj old town during all times of the day. It really comes alive at night.

We slept about 10 hours per night, on average. I think it was a deadly mix of Croatian sun, swimming for hours in the Adriatic, and the seemingly endless walking.

Eating Out

When looking for a restaurant, don’t rely on Trip Advisor and your GPS too much ahead of time. Walk around freely and find places that you’re attracted to, then look up reviews.

Restaurants that we loved:

  • Segura ($$), Porta Sotto Muro 4, Rovinj 52210
  • Ranch Fortuna ($$$), Rato Di Ren 3, Rovinj 52210
  • Riva Bistro ($$), A. Rismondo 14, Rovinj 52210
Riva Bistro, squid ink spaghetti carbonara

Beware of restaurants that seem to offer everything under the sun and have pictures on their menus. They might be cheaper but the food isn’t worth it.

Tipping is 10-15%

Bread, along with olive oil and balsamic come with every meal.

Water costs extra at restaurants and comes in glass bottles. They will ask if you want sparkling or still.

Smoking. Everywhere. Especially the outdoor sections of restaurants.

Every restaurant we saw had an outdoor section. It seemed to be the only area that customers ever sit, only venturing inside to find the bathroom.

Most people in the service industry speak at least 2 languages, english being one of them. This is very helpful but also makes us realize how limited our own language skills are.

Expect to be at a restaurant for a long while. The servers are not in a rush to get you out, but if you are in a hurry this becomes an issue. Don’t hesitate to ask for the bill.

Take advantage of the gelato – at least 2 or 3 times a day.

Rovinj History

Look up some of the history of Rovinj. We spent a breakfast reading up on the history, which made me appreciate our time there even more.

  • Did you know?:
  • Rovinj was an island until 1783 when the canal was filled, making it a peninsula.
  • Rovinj was ruled by a variety of empires and nations, including the Romans, the French, the Austrians, and Italy during WWII.
  • The steeple at the height of the island’s hill is a smaller replica of the one found in Venice.
  • There is a legend of an island that existed nearby named Cissa that sunk due to an earthquake sometime around the 6th or 7th century. The inhabitants relocated to Rovinj and stories of Cissa are still told by local fisherman who pull up what they believe to be remnants in their nets.
  • Croatia was considered to be part of Yugoslavia until 1991.

Have you been to Rovinj?

Tell us about what you loved most about your travels there in the comments below!

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