Novigrad is a wonderful coastal town, located halfway between Poreč and Umag. It is our favorite town in Istria and perhaps the most overlooked town too.
The town is all about fishing (you'll immediately notice many fishing boats in a small harbor, Mandrač), food (you'll find here some of the best seafood restaurants in all Istria), and camping (two big campsites in such a small town).
Novigrad doesn't have so many hotels like other coastal towns in Istria and it is less crowded than Porec or Rovinj. Don't leave Istria without visiting Novigrad! If you aren't staying there, you still might visit it for a day or two and enjoy some of the many things to do in Novigrad.
Things to do in Novigrad
Explore Novigrad old town
Novigrad's old town is really small but charming and it can easily be explored on foot. Walk at the seafront, along the medieval fortification walls, Novigrad's main attraction. Explore defense towers, secret passages, and town gates. Visit Venetian loggia, the only remaining Venetian loggia on the Istrian coast. Enjoy a drink at many bars within the old town or just head straight to Vitriol (see the no. 3).
Visit the town's churches
Interesting churches worth a visit include the St. Agatha Church dating back to the 9th century, the Church of Our Lady built in the 15th century, and the Parish Church of St. Pelagius and Maximus dating back to 6th century.
Enjoy a drink at Vitriol
Vitriol, a chill-out bar located at Novigrad's seafront promenade, is our favorite bar in Istria. We used to go for a drink in Vitriol daily, now not so often because we are busy with other things, but we still love it as much.
This bar has a very special vibe, friendly staff, excellent choice of beers, and wine by the glass. The prices are affordable, and the place is always full of locals and tourists alike.
Besides, it offers wonderful views over the sea and moored or anchored sailing boats. This view never gets old. This is also a top spot to enjoy sunsets. This bar alone is worth a visit to Novigrad.
Visit a maritime museum
The maritime museum, Gallerion, is located in Novigrad's old town, just one block away from the harbor.
An Austro-Hungarian Navy collection is on permanent display here. The most interesting part of this exhibition is a collection of model ships, representing ships that sailed from 1750 to 1918. Size ratios used are 1:200, 1:100 and 1:50. The models include the Novara frigate from the late 19th century, the frigate Aurora, and the research ship Admiral Tegetthoff.
Other items displayed here include different nautical charts, nautical and medical instruments, porcelain, handmade embroidery, and other things from around the world, and particularly the Far East. There is also a collection of flags of all nations whose ships were present in the Adriatic in the past two centuries.
The Gallerion also sometimes hosts temporary exhibitions, all in relation to the maritime theme.
Visit Lapidarium Museum
Lapidarium Museum is home to the collection of stone monuments. The monuments date from the first to the eighteenth century. Interesting place to visit with children, especially if you are interested in ancient history and its modern interpretation.
Contacts: Veliki trg 8a, Novigrad | t: +385 52 726 582 | Website
Tickets: 10 Kn adults (14 years and older)
Swimming is definitely one of the top things to do in Novigrad. While Novigrad beaches are mostly rocky or cemented, there are a couple of pebble beaches to look for.
A popular in-town swimming spot is along Novigrad town walls. This might seem like a weird place to swim, but it remains one of the most popular swimming areas among locals.
Another popular swimming area is in the vicinity of hotels Maestral and Laguna, and campsite Sirena.
One kilometer away from the old town, you'll find a popular Karpinjan beach, a 500 m long pebble beach. This beach can get crowded during the high season.
If you want to get away from the crowds, just continue further north toward Mareda campsite.
Novigrad is home to some of the best seafood restaurants in Istria.
Damir and Ornella tucked away in a side street of the old town, serves the best sashimi and diverse raw seafood delicacies.
Restaurant Cok is another seafood temple in Novigrad with over 20 years of tradition. This family-run restaurant serves fresh catch of the day, and the dishes here are simple, traditional, and delicious. We've written a full review of the Cok restaurant.
Like the rest of Istria, Novigrad is a great place to explore on a bicycle. There are a couple of interesting cycling trails from Novigrad.
A popular cycling trail takes you from Novigrad by the sea to the village Dajla. You can take the same road back, or if you would like to change the scenery, head inland through the village of Bužinija. This trail is 16 km long.
Another popular cycling trail starts in Novigrad, pass along river Mirna, all the way to Motovun forests. From here you can make a turn and come back to Novigrad through the village of Nova Vas, or you can climb up to the village of Zavrsje, through Groznjan, and continue toward Buje and back to Novigrad. This trail is 60 km long.
Take a boat trip
Book a full-day boat trip from Novigrad to Rovinj. Enjoy the west coast of Istria from the sea. There are many companies offering day trips from Novigrad to Rovinj with a stop in Porec and Lim Bay. Lunch and drinks are included. This is a nice way to spend a day out, enjoying the boat ride, swimming, and relaxing.
Big game fishing with the Red Tuna
Fishing aficionados will be happy to know that they can enjoy sport fishing in Novigrad. We haven't done this tour and thus cannot share our experiences. But it seriously looks like lots of fun. If you like fishing you can contact the provider directly.
Within only a few nautical miles off the coast of Novigrad, you'll find several interesting diving sites. The shipwreck Coriolanus is the most popular diving site in the vicinity of Novigrad. This minesweeper belonged to the British Royal Navy. It sunk during WWII after hitting the mine.
Another popular diving site is Savudrija where you'll find a few interesting reefs, and underwater museums featuring ancient amphorae. This site is protected within an enclosed cage, and you need to coordinate a dive with a local center that holds the key.
To the south of Novigrad, at the Cape Lanterna, there is a popular diving site, interesting for its underwater flora and fauna, and also suitable for beginner divers.
Istralandia is the first Croatian water park, and it's located only 10 km northeast of Novigrad. Attractions include many water slides, among them a 27-meter high free-fall slide, three swimming pools, shops, restaurants, and bars. There is a direct bus from Novigrad to Istralandia. You can read about our visit to Istralandia.