Best Day Trips from Rovinj to the South, North and Center of Istria
If you’re looking for the best Rovinj day trips you should include in your itinerary, this is the post for you. From lovely fishing towns, beautiful beaches and ancient ruins to gorgeous seascapes, medieval villages, olive groves and wineries. These are the top Rovinj day trips you should add to your bucket list.
When we started planning our Croatian adventure, my sister and I wanted to include a mixture of well-known attractions with some off the beaten path gems, and so we devoted a big chunk of our time to the Istrian Peninsula. The fact Istria has a reputation for being a foodie’s paradise only added to its appeal in our eyes. Our first destination in Istria was Rovinj, and it was such a great choice. Rovinj is probably the most stunning town in Istria, some might say in Croatia. Besides its unparalleled beauty and charm, its location on the West Coast of the Istrian Peninsula means it’s the perfect getaway to explore the Istrian Peninsula on various day trips. If you truly want to experience Istria, we suggest renting a car; however, some of these locations can be reached with public transportation or with an organized tour and make for an easy day trip from Rovinj.
A note regarding the driving time: we’ve mentioned the driving time from Rovinj to each destination as well as the driving time from each location to the next since some of you might only want to visit only some of these places or adjust our suggested itinerary to your needs.
Best Rovinj Day Trips
Day Trips from Rovinj to the South of Istria
Who should choose this day trip from Rovinj? If you love historical monuments, hikes and beautiful beaches, on this day trip you’ll get a mixture of both.
Pula – Ancient Roman Monuments & Historic Center
Pula, the largest city in Istria, is situated just at the southern tip of the peninsula. At first sight, it might not be as attractive as some of the smaller fishing towns, but Pula offers many attractions such as exploring the ancient Roman monuments, shopping, restaurants and beaches, and it’s the perfect getaway to explore Cape Kamenjak and Brijuni National Park.
What to See in Pula?
Visit the Roman Monuments
First, you must visit the most famous attraction in Pula, the Roman Arena. Pula Arena dates back to the first century, and it is one of the most well-preserved Roman amphitheaters in the world. It’s not as impressive as the Colosseum, but it’s still quite a sight. The amphitheater was built initially to host gladiators’ battles, and later, it was used for knight tournaments and medieval fairs. Nowadays it is used as a venue for concerts and music performances.
Opening Hours: April – October 8:00 am till 8:00 – 11:00 pm (depending on the month). During the rest of the year: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm.
Tickets: Adults/Students and children 50/25 kuna
For more information check the Pula Arena Website
Roman Forum in Pula
Not far from Pula Arena, you’ll find a beautiful public square where the Roman Forum used to be. This place was the heart of the religious, political and social life during the Roman era. There used to be three temples in the Roman forum, but only the Temple of Augustus has survived the turmoil of time. The temple was built in honor of Augustus, the first Roman emperor, and throughout the years the forum served as a Christian church, a grain storehouse and had various other roles. Nowadays it is used as a lapidarium to display Roman monuments.
Opening Hours for Temple of Augustus: April-October: 9:00 am – 7:00/11:00 pm (depending on the month)
Tickets: Adults/children 10/5 kuna
Arch of Sergii (Golden Gate)
The Arch of Sergii (also known as the Golden Gate) is an ancient Roman triumphal arch located at Portarata Square, about 500 meters from the Roman Forum. It was built during the first century to commemorate three members of the Sergius family, one of the most powerful families of the Roman State. The arch is beautifully decorated on its western side, the side that was visible from the city, while the other side of the arch is almost bare of decorations.
Enjoy the View from Fort Kaštel
The beautiful Venetian Castle is located at the heart of Pula on a hill, which means great views of the city and coastline (and steep streets to climb to get to it). This formidable castle was designed by the French architect Antoine de Ville during the 17th century and had a major part in keeping the Venetian control of the Adriatic Sea. You can also visit the Historical Museum of Istria, which is located inside.
Opening Hours: April – Sept. 8:00 am – 9:00 pm, October – March 9:00 am – 5:00 pm.
Tickets: Adults/children 20/10 kuna (discounts for students/families/pensioners)
Wander around the Cobbled Streets of Pula Old Town
On your way back from the castle, stroll along the narrow streets and look for small stores and restaurants. You’ll find many shops that sell locally produced olive oil and wine, handmade soap and lavender and truffle products of course!
How to Get to Pula?
Cape Kamenjak – Rugged Beaches and Hiking/Cycling Trails
If you’ve already made your way to Pula, and you have a car, you should leave some time to explore Cape Kamenjak. The Kamenjak Peninsula or Peninsula of Premantura is located at the southernmost point of Istria. It is about 9-10 km long, 1.5 km at its widest part, and has 30 km of rugged coastline. It’s a protected reserve, so you’d have to pay a fee to get in. Some of the most beautiful beaches in Istria are located along Cape Kamenjak’s rugged coastline, and it’s the perfect location for some seascape photography. You’ll find many beaches and coves along the coast with perfectly crystal-clear water and simple beach bars. Other than gorgeous beaches, the Premantura Peninsula is home to more than 500 plant species, including 20 orchid species.
What to Do in The Kamenjak Peninsula
You can visit some of the most popular beaches on the peninsula or look for a secluded spot (check out the list of 23 beaches of Cape Kamenjak). You can also try your hand at cliff jumping and then relax in the next-door Safari Bar. Other attractions include kayaking, windsurfing or snorkeling. For snorkeling, try visiting Pinizule Beach and for kayaking and windsurfing visit Skoljic Beach. Check out the recommended hiking trails (including an orchid trail), and for cyclists, there are several bike trails to choose from.
Check out this map of Kamenjak Peninsula
How to Get to Cape Kamenjak?
Drive to Premantura village, which is located 10 km south of Pula. There you’ll have to buy tickets to enter Cape Kamenjak (for cyclists and pedestrians, the entrance is free, but vehicles need to pay a fee to get in). Take into consideration these are dirt roads, meaning a slower driving pace. Important Tip: There are two entrances to Cape Kamenjak. The Rupine entrance for which you’ll need to cross the village BUT note that at this entrance, you can only enter with a prepaid ticket (that can be purchased at different agencies in Pula or the ticket booth just before entering Premantura village). If you need to purchase your ticket, you can do that at the Paredine entrance for which you’ll need to turn just after entering Premantura. For more information about the two entrances check here and here and you can also check the information regarding the tickets for Cape Kamenjak.
Opening Hours: The ticket booths are open from 7:00 am till 9:00 pm. All visitors must leave the park by 10:00 pm Driving time from Rovinj: 1 hour (from Pula: 20 minutes) If you don’t have a car, you can go on this cycling trip from Pula that ends with wine tasting.
Day Trips from Rovinj along the North-Western Coast
Who should choose this day trip from Rovinj? This Rovinj day trip is perfect for people who’d like to explore the coastal fishing villages and beautiful coastline of Istria. On this day trip you’ll see some of the most beautiful spots along the coast.
Lim Fjord – Natural Beauty and Oyster Farms
Lim Fjord is one of the most beautiful places in Istria, and its location between Rovinj and Vrsar is perfect to start your day trip from Rovinj. Lim Fjord is a part of Lim Valley, which begins in Pazin in the center of the Istrian Peninsula and transforms to Lim bay on the western coast of the peninsula. The Fjord itself is 10 km long and 30 meters deep and reaches 600 meters at its widest part. The walls around Lim Bay can reach more than 100 meters, some of which are covered with lush vegetation. The unique mixture of salty and sweet water turns Lim Bay to the perfect habitat for many species of fish as well as mussel and oyster farms.
What to Do in Lim Bay?
First of all, enjoy this beautiful and serene bay. You can have a cup of coffee at the coffee shop or bring a picnic basket with you and find a spot at the small beach. The perfect way to admire the natural beauty of Lim Bay is by boat. You can reach Lim Bay by boat from Rovinj but if it’s part of your day trip along the western coast, then you can hop on one of the boats in the bay, and they will take you for a tour (in the main season from June to September there are plenty of boats that offer tours in the bay). You can also choose one of the kayaking tours that visit Lim Bay from Rovinj. If you love mussels and oysters, try some of the local ones at Viking Restaurant.
Important Tip: Lim Fjord is a protected area and therefore, it’s not allowed to fish or dive in the bay.
How to Get to Lim Bay?
You can drive with your car or take a boat trip from Rovinj.
Driving time from Rovinj: 20 minutes
Vrsar – Charming Old Town and Lovely Beaches
Just up the coast from Lim Bay, you’ll find the small town of Vrsar. Vrsar is less known than the other fishing towns along the coast, but it has a charming atmosphere and lovely beaches. The center of the old village is located on a hill that provides excellent viewpoints over the beautiful Vrsar archipelago and islands. You can explore the medieval streets and visit the bell tower and the church. Personally, we visited the beaches along the coast. There’s a nice promenade (with a nearby parking lot) along the coast that will lead you along several beaches, beach bars and restaurants. There’s also a water sports center for water sports lovers.
How to Get to Vrsar?
The best way is to drive to Vrsar with your own car since there aren’t many buses between Rovinj and Vrsar. You can check the bus schedule here. If you don’t have a car, we recommend skipping Vrsar and heading straight to Porec.
Driving time from Rovinj: 50 minutes (from Lim Fjord: 20 minutes).
Poreč – UNESCO Heritage Site, Old Town and Beaches
Other than Pula and Rovinj, Poreč is probably one of the most popular tourist destinations along the Istrian Coast. It offers just the right mixture of historical monuments, charming cobbled streets, lovely beaches and foodie and night scenes.
What to Do in Poreč
Visit the Euphrasian Basilica – A UNESCO World Heritage Site
The most important monument in Poreč’s historic center is the Euphrasian Basilica which was built during the 6th century on the remnants of an earlier basilica. Within the basilica’s compound you can also find an atrium, a baptistery, the bishop’s palace and beautiful mosaics. You can also climb the bell tower and admire the town from above.
Discover the Historic Center of Poreč
Wandering around Porec’s old town is a great way to learn more about the town’s history. The old town and its main streets are built in the classical Roman style, they are symmetrical with two main streets, Decumanus and Cardo Maximus, and a main square, Marafor. Admire the Romanesque and Gothic architecture and visit the Pentagonal Tower and the Round Tower where you’ll find Torre Rotonda Caffé Bar. To learn more about Porec’s history and heritage, you can visit Poreč Heritage Museum (the oldest museum in Istria). The museum is located in a baroque palace which dates back to 1719 and has several artistic, historical, cultural and ethnographic exhibitions.
Ride the Poreč Tourist Train
There are small tourist trains that run throughout the city. It’s a great opportunity to enjoy the view and learn more about the town thanks to the accompanying guide who provides facts and stories about Poreč. For more information and hours about the Poreč tourist train.
How to Get to Poreč
Another Coastal Town Option: Novigrad
We didn’t have enough time to go all the way to Novigrad, but if you’re not into beaches, we’d suggest skipping Vrsar and visit Porec and Novigrad. Some of Novigrad’s attractions include:
How to Get to Novigrad
The best way is with… yes, you’ve guessed it, with your own car. However, if you don’t have a car, you can catch a direct bus to Novigrad from Rovinj, or visit Porec and then catch a bus from there to Novigrad. Just pay attention to the timetables since there aren’t a lot of options and you must catch the last bus back to Rovinj.
Driving time from Rovinj: 1 hour (from Poreč: 30 minutes).
Day trip from Rovinj to Central Istria
Medieval Towns, Olive Oil and Wine Tasting
If you have enough time, we definitely recommend exploring the inner parts of the Istrian Peninsula. There are numerous beautiful medieval towns perched on cliffs with breath-taking views, cobblestone streets, small shops and excellent local restaurants. On the way, you can stop at one of the numerous wineries and olive groves that can be found all over Istria and sample some of the best local products used in Istrian cuisine.
Motovun – Picture Perfect Medieval Town Surrounded by Wineries
Motovun is probably the most famous Istrian town. It is situated about 55 km from Rovinj in the middle part of the Istrian Peninsula. The town is perched on a 270-meter hill and surrounded by vineyards and olive groves. You’ve probably seen hundreds of stunning pictures of Motovun in the early morning, engulfed by a mysterious veil of fog. If you are not staying nearby, it would be difficult to arrive during sunrise to get the best light and mystical morning fog. However, Motovun is charming any hour of the day and it’s definitely one of the most beautiful places in Istria.
What to Do in Motovun
Take a Picture-Perfect Postcard View
Take a few pictures of the town from different viewpoints. You have to get the classic shot of Motovun from the road. The best spots are located along the road that leads to Motovan from the south (the road you’ll be arriving from Rovinj), especially at the part where Casa Rossa Motovun and Caffe Bar & Fast Food Vidik are located. There’s even a parking lot and viewing platform near the bar, but you’ll find many other spots to stop along the road.
Explore Motovun’s Cobbled Streets
We don’t recommend driving up to Motovun with your car. You can’t enter Motovun with your vehicle, so just leave it at one of the parking lots at the foot of the hill (if you arrive very early you might be able to score a spot along the winding road that leads to the entrance of the village). You can either walk up to the village’s main entrance or get a ticket to the shuttle bus that goes up and down the winding road till the entrance. Inside Motovun you’ll find restaurants and bars, souvenir shops and specialty food stores where you could buy local olive oil, wine bottles and truffle products (though they will be more expensive here).
Learn about Motovun’s Historical Monuments
Motovun was built over the ancient city of Kastelijer and throughout the years it has seen its fair share of rulers. The ancient walls that surround the village were built by the Venetians and they date back to the 13th. An intricate maze of internal and external fortifications used to connect the different parts of the village including towers and city gates. Strolling around the village you might notice Gothic, Romanesque and Renaissance architecture. The main historical monuments other than the city walls are the town gate and Parish Church of St. Stephen with its bell tower which is located in the center of the square. You can also find there the Romanesque Municipal Palace and a tourist information center.
Admire the Breath-Taking View with a Drink
Motovun is perched on a 270-meter hill surrounded by vineyards and olive groves. One of the best things you can do in Motovun is simply taking a break and enjoying the stunning view; patches of agricultural land, farmhouses, vineyards and olive trees. Just sit at one of the several bars or restaurants and relax.
How to Get to Motovun
It is very hard to explore the inner parts of Istria with public transportation. The best way is with an organized tour or with a car.
Driving time from Rovinj: 1 hour
Grožnjan – Village of Artists
Not far away from Motovun, you’ll find Grožnjan, another beautiful Istrian village you should put on your bucket list. Many painters and artists have made this quiet Medieval village their home and nowadays it’s known as a colony of artists.
What to Do in Grožnjan
Explore the Picturesque Streets
Just like any other medieval village in Istria, the cobbled streets of Grožnjan are a great place to go on a treasure hunt. There are endless charming corners, decorated doors, and leafy terraces to take pictures of. You can also try and see if the Church of St Vitus, Modest, & Crescentiu is open and have a peek inside.
Look for Unique Souvenirs
There are plenty of tourist shops and souvenir stands in Istria, but most of the shops you’ll find in Grožnjan have unique artifacts and souvenirs so this is the place to find something a bit different than the usual tourist souvenirs. You can also visit the Fonticus Gallery that has a collection of works by local Croatian artists.
Enjoy the View with the Best Cappuccino in Croatia
We are not coffee addicts, but we do appreciate a good cup of coffee; after all, as a former barista I will give you bonus points if I get velvety milk foam in my cappuccino. Well, at this little village we had the perfect cappuccino accompanied by a tray of Istrian cheese, fresh vegetables and delicious bread, not to mention the breath-taking view. So, when you’re in Grožnjan, stop by Mama Maria Café. It’s a small family restaurant/café so be patient in regards with the service and in the meantime, enjoy the view.
How to Get to Grožnjan
It is very hard to explore the inner parts of Istria with public transportation. The best way is with an organized tour or with a car.
Driving time from Rovinj: 1:10 minutes (from Motovun 25 minutes)
Wine, Olive Oil Tasting and Truffle Hunting
Some of our best experiences in Istria were our wine and olive oil tasting. There are many wineries and olive oil groves all over Istria, so try and stop at a couple of them during your day trips. The perfect place to experience olive oil tasting is at Vodnjan, a small village with a few shops that offer olive oil tasting. It’s located only 20-25 km south of Rovinj. We had a wonderful experience at Chiavalon. What we liked about this place is the family atmosphere, the beautiful (and award-winning) design, the high quality (and award-winning) olive oil and the fact they took the time to teach us how to detect high quality olive oil and answer any question we had. You can read about our olive oil tasting in Chiavalon.
If you want to go wine tasting, there are many vineyards all over Istria. We stopped at Benvenuti Winery on our trip to Motovun. Their winery is located at Kaldir, only 6 km away from Motovun so you can stop here on your way to Motovun. This is also a small family business with many awards under its belt. Livio, Albert and Nikola Benvenuti continue the long-family tradition of wine making in their charming winery and they do it with love, passion and dedication to the their trade. In their own words; family values and tradition are the key “condiments” of their wines. They mainly grow three grape varieties: Malvasia Istriana, Teran and Muscat, and as we’ve already mentioned, their wines have won them several awards. We loved their passion and love, and the cozy tasting room, not to mention their delicious wines.
Finally, during the season you can go truffle hunting. Istria is blessed with several kinds of truffles (tartufi) and though we didn’t get to experience truffle hunting in person, we’ve heard it’s quite an experience. The best time would be from September to January, but the Black Summer Truffle or Tuber Aestivum whose taste and aroma are less pronounced, grows during the summer. Anyway, you’ll find lots of truffle dishes in the local restaurants year-round so feel free to indulge in truffle pasta, truffle cheese, scrambled eggs with truffles or any other dish with fragrant thinly shaved truffle all over it.