23 May Rovinj in Istria, North Croatia
If you’re staying somewhere on the coast in Slovenia, whether you’re in Koper, Piran or Portoroz, it’s very easy to take a day trip into Croatia. We rented a car from Hertz in Portoroz for three days and split the cost between three of us.
Now one piece of advice: if you’re planning to drive from Slovenia to Croatia, make sure every person in the car has their passport. We didn’t.
It sounds silly in hindsight, but we’d been so used to crossing borders in Europe without having to show passports, that we completely forgot. Our friend who was driving had his, but we’d left ours in the hostel, so we got all the way to the border and had to turn back.
We then wasted another hour driving back to Piran to get our passports and then all the way back again. Once we crossed the border it was very simple to get to Rovinj and only took about an hour.
In Slovenia they use the euro, but the Croatian currency is the Kuna. In Rovinj, which lies in northern Croatia, most of the bars and restaurants took euros, but there is a bank where you can draw out some money. You should get some local currency if you can, because you can only pay for the car parking in Kuna.
Rovinj is a pretty fishing port on the coast, with cobbled streets lined with pastel yellow, orange and red buildings. The Cathedral of St. Euphemia dominates the skyline as you arrive into the town, whilst out to sea you have the view of several offshore islands in the distance.
There are plenty of restaurants serving Mediterranean food like risotto and pasta and you’ll find a couple of trendy bars offering cocktails and ocean views.
One in particular, Valentino Champagne and Cocktail Bar, is worth a look. The drinks are quite pricey, but you can sit on turquoise cushions perched on the rocks and gaze at the twinkling ocean below. There’s a separate seating area reserved only for customers ordering champagne, so if you’ve got the cash to splash then this is the place to sip on a glass of bubbly and watch the sun go down. Not in the mood for alcohol, I ordered a banana milkshake. Classy.
It’s all very chic and ultra-glamorous in the tourist towns of Croatia- a trend which the Slovenian seaside towns haven’t quite followed yet.
After a lovely lunch and a sophisticated drink in Valentino Bar, we made our way back to Slovenia in the car, but somehow we managed to get lost. Seems almost impossible considering how simple it was to get there, but somehow we ended up on the wrong motorway heading east towards Rijeka, which added a good hour or so onto our journey. Whilst it was a bit of a stress at the time, I’m quite glad we did get lost, because we had the chance to see some beautiful inland scenery.