Bordering the Adriatic Sea, the country of Croatia is shaped like a crescent. Or maybe when you look at a map you see Pacman, or an alligator with its mouth open (as I do). This beautiful country used to be part of an area called Yugoslavia, but as war prevailed, it has since split into Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Slovenia, and Montenegro. Somehow, Croatia rolled the lucky dice and ended up with most of the coastline. More coastline = more quaint seaside towns and islands. Just what we were looking for.
We flew into the capital city of Zagreb to recoup after three flights and spent the night before heading on our three-hour drive towards the seaside town of Rovinj. We didn’t have time to give Zagreb a fair chance, as we kind of only used it to sleep, eat, pick up our rental car, and check out their impressive market. The market might be one of the most impressive that I’ve been to in Europe.
For those wondering, driving in Croatia is easy. They drive on the right-hand side, their highways are nice and familiar (tolls work the same way as the States), and they pass on the left. We did get an International Driver’s License prior to our trip. While it is not required in Croatia to rent a car, it would be very beneficial if somehow we ended up dealing with police because they would then want to see it. Better safe than sorry.
Rovinj is a seaside mix of Italy and not far from it. Venice, Italy is basically “right around the bend.” We found Rovinj (and Zagreb) to be extremely affordable, as Croatia is in general when you compare to Italy and France prices. The Italian influence is definitely apparent on restaurant menus with items you will find in Italy – truffle pasta dishes and various pizzas. We stayed right in the heard of the old town, which is pedestrian only. We parked the car in the parking lot (thanks to our apartment host for the directions) and took the suitcases over cobblestone paths and some steps to reach our adorable apartment.
The verdict? Rovinj is a no-brainer, must stop spot while in this area of Croatia.
Here’s why we think so:
It’s very walkable and contains quintessential teeny tiny mazes of back streets to explore.
The views of the town from around the harbor are stunning.
You’re surrounded by the evening sunsets.
Food fresh fisherman catching each morning, which means order the Seabass from Balbi. Best fish we have ever had. It comes to your fully cooked and the staff debones it at your table and serves it to you. Yes, they cook fish whole in Europe. This is a meal that makes you wish you could send a taste of it through Instagram to your friends back home.
Did we mention views yet? 🙂 The restaurant Puntulina has views to dine over and another one of the most delicious meals we’ve had.
The list could go on and on, but there is even a park walkable from Rovinj with bays to explore perfect for snorkeling or sunbathing on the rocks. Best of all though – Rovinj radiates a peaceful and romantic vibe by not feeling so bustling. It is less congested than it’s Southern (and more well known) big brother Dubrovnik (more on Dubrovnik in a later post). All in all, we were thoroughly pleased with the balance of city, country, and seaside towns that we included in our trip to Croatia. We love variety!