Published On: Sun, Dec 3rd, 2023

The beautiful European seaside city ‘as pretty as Venice’ but cheaper | Europe | Travel

Venice is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe with more than 20 million visitors a year, but with its popularity comes crowds, so here is a destination to try with all the perks of the Italian city but half the crowds.

Rovinj in Croatia is renowned for its terracotta rooftops and pastel-coloured buildings and while it might not have gondolas there are plenty of opportunities for boat rides from the historic fishing port.

For more than 500 years it was even part of the Venetian Empire which perhaps explains its similar looks.

But Rovinj’s marble lanes remain quiet and punctuated with a rainbow of different coloured homes, quaint independent shops and pretty bars and restaurants.

The city is even known for producing its own cheeses, cured meats and olive oils.

Those who like to see a bit of history will not be disappointed in the Croatian city, with its Church of St Euphemia, which was built in 1736 standing imperiously over the city.

The unavoidable Balbi’s Arch represents the historic entrance to the city’s old town and harks back to the 7th century when the city was fortified and had seven gated entrances.

Visitors entering the old town are greeted by a Venetia lion and the family crest of former city mayor Daniel Balbi.

Other Italian-style features include the Pula Arena, the world’s only remaining Roman amphitheatre with four side towers still standing.

The arena hosted gladiator battles, combat between convicts and animals, and medieval fairs, it is so well-loved in Croatia that it has even featured on the country’s banknotes.

In modern times it has hosted concerts by the likes of Arctic Monkeys, Elton John and Leonard Cohen and even featured in a number of films including Titus Andronicus.

Those wishing to explore the history of the Istra region in which the city is located and the art made there can visit the Rovinj Heritage Museum with a collection of art dating back to the 1400s.

The most popular boat trip to take from Rovinj is to the Red Island of Crveni Otok, with services from the city every hour to the island which offers a stunning range of plants and trees from around the world and historic buildings.

To get to Rovinj, travellers should take a flight to Zagreb costing £57 before taking a bus to Rovinj which can cost as little as £15 but the trip does last three hours.

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