Memories from Rovinj, Croatia

Springtime means we’re all busy making plans for the summer, and if you’re still undecided as to where to go, why not spare a thought for the mediterranean jewel that is Rovinj.

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Photo from http://www.skyscrapercity.com

Rovinj is the second biggest city in Istria with about 14.000 inhabitants. It’s a typical Istrian port town, characterised by colorful square buildings huddled up tight on a small stony peninsula which used to be an island up to the 18th century. The lack of building space meant houses needed to be built close together, which resulted in a maze of narrow cobbled streets and passages barely wide enough for three people to walk abreast. You’ll find no cars here – people that lived during the construction of the city had no notion of four-wheeled transport of course. You’ll have to leave your gas guzzler parked outside and explore the city on foot.

As seen on the picture above, the town sits on a small hill and if you wander the twisty streets long enough, you’ll eventually find your way to the top. There you’ll find the church of St. Euphemia, a building of Venetian-inspired design, built in the second half of the 17th century. It features a tall bell tower which you can climb and enjoy the views of the surrounding area – against payment of a few kunas, of course (you’ll get about 7 kunas for 1 euro).

Once back on solid ground you can once again lose yourself in the jumble of narrow streets which become especially crowded and alive in the high season. Due to it’s unique setting, Rovinj is a powerful magnet for tourists from all over the world and their deep pockets attract a palette of cafe and restaurant owners, street performers, sellers, painters and other artists looking for their place under the Istrian sun.

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It seems like every local becomes a first grade artist over the summer. Galleries and small shops pop up everywhere.

I visited Rovinj in the summer of 2014  while working at the Kempinski Adriatic, which is  about an hour up the coast. I was joined by two workmates, Przemyslaw Obrebski from Poland, who spoke Croatian almost as good as the locals and Croatia’s own Valentina Simčić. We only spent an afternoon there, taking a quick stroll and a bite to eat at one of the many seaside restaurants – time enough to get a general idea, but just enough as well to leave me wanting more. Plus I only had a Nikon 1 S1 back then, and limited knowledge of photography, so the photos left in my archive admittedly aren’t the best.

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Plenty of reasons to plan a trip to Rovinj then. A great photo location and very hot on the tourist wish list this year, from what I’ve heard. With security concerns driving destinations like Egypt and Turkey away this year, demand for Istria is highest it’s been in years. Expect high room prices and little or no vacancies in the busiest weeks, so reserve quick, while there’s still some time.

There are a lot of things to do outside just exploring the twisty, narrow streets. You’ve got the usual bike trails set up, alongside boat trips, sailing, scuba diving etc. Make sure not to miss the Lim Canal, an Istrian version of a proper Norwegian fjord. It’s about 20 minutes away from Rovinj and ship excursions are available several times a day.

Accommodation options are the usual mix of hotels, campsites and private offerings. As befits such a popular destination, there is something for everyone, though I would recommend taking a room at one of the old houses in the center of town, just to get the proper feel of the place. Hotels are all well and good, but they also do a nice job of removing you from the core experience.

Have a look through some of my other photos in the gallery below and check out the Rovinj Tourist Information site if I left you hungry for more. 🙂

Cover photo from www.trazimsmjestaj.com.

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