Novigrad is a wonderful coastal town, located half way between Poreč and Umag. Novigrad is our favorite town in Istria and perhaps the most overlooked town too. Novigrad 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 events (Novigrad hosts monthly gastronomic evenings from April to October).
Novigrad doesn’t have so many hotels like other coastal towns, and it has an excellent vibe, but it’s never overcrowded. Don’t leave Istria without visiting Novigrad. If you aren’t staying there, you still might find interesting things to do in Novigrad.
Things to do in Novigrad
1 | Explore Novigrad old town
Novigrad’s old town is small, but extremely charming. Its history dates back to the Roman times. Back in roman times, Novigrad’s name was Aemonia. There are many remains from Venetian time, including municipal loggia. This is the only remaining Venetian loggia along the coast. Well preserved fortification walls are Novigrad’s main attraction. Walk around the town walls, explore defense towers, secret passages, and town gates. Interesting churches worth a visit include the St. Aghata Church dating back to 9th century, the Church of Our Lady built in 15th century, and the Parish Church of St. Pelagius and Maximus dating back to 6th century. Enjoy a drink at many bars within the town walls or just head straight to Vitriol (see the no. 2).
2 | Enjoy a drink at Vitriol
Vitriol, a chill out bar located at Novigrad’s seafront promenade, is our favorite bar in Istria. You can find us in Vitriol almost every afternoon. This bar has a very special vibe, friendly staff, excellent choice of imported beers, and wine by glass. The prices are very affordable. For a glass of house wine (Rossi Istarska Malvasija), a cappuccino served with a bowl of crisps and olives, we pay only 18 Kn (2,3 €). 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.
3 | Visit a maritime museum – Gallerion
Gallerion is located in Novigrad’s old town, just one block away from the the harbor. Novigrad’s Maritime Museum opened in 2005 with the a permanent Austro-Hungarian Navy collection. The most interesting part of this exhibition is a collection of model ships. Models represent model of real ships that sailed from 1750 to 1918. Size ratios used are 1:200, 1:100 and 1:50.
The most interesting models include the Novara frigate from the late 19th century. This ship, from its worldwide travels, brought many plants, animals, and minerals to Habsburg Monarchy; 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 Far East. There is also a collection of flags of all nation whose ships were present in the Adriatic in the past two centuries.
Besides permanent exhibition, Gallerion also hosts temporary exhibitions, all in relation with maritime theme. In 2014, Gallerion housed a temporary exhibition that displayed the military navy operations in the Adriatic and Mediterranean seas.
4 | Visit Lapidarium Museum
Lapidarium Museum is a home to the collection of stone monuments. The monuments date from the first to the eighteenth century. Interesting place to visit with children, it will impress everyone interested in ancient history and its modern interpretation.
Contacts: Veliki trg 8a, Novigrad | t: +385 52 726 582 | Website;
Opening hours: April, May, October: 10 am – 1 pm & 5 pm – 8 pm | Nov. – March: 10 am – 1 pm & 5 pm – 7 pm | June – Sept.: 10 am – 1 pm & 6 pm – 10 pm; closed on Mondays and public holidays and Dec. – Feb.;
Tickets: 10 Kn adults (14 years and older)
5 | Go swimming
Swimming is definitely one of the top things to do in Novigrad. While Novigrad beaches are mostly rocky, or cemented, there are 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 and campsite to the south side of the town. Further to the north 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. But if you want to get away from the crowds, you can continue further north toward Mareda.
6 | Eat local
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. The restaurant Marina is a fine dining establishment that serves 3-, 5-, and 8-courses seafood menus. This is one of our favorite restaurants in Istria. Check our full review on the restaurant Marina. 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 on Cok restaurant.
7 | Cycle
Like the rest of Istria, Novigrad is a great place to explore on a bicycle. Cycling trails are marked. 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 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 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.
8 | Take a boat trip
Book a day boat trip from Novigrad to Rovinj. Enjoy 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.
9 | Sport fishing
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 since we are often in Novigrad, we’ve noticed this announcement aboard one of the fishing boat moored in a harbor. And just wanted to share with you contacts. If you like fishing you can contact provider directly.
Contacts: +385 98 1788 211
10 | Diving
Within only 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 British Royal Navy. It sunk during the WWII after hitting the mine. Another popular diving site is Savudrija where you’ll find few interesting reefs, and underwater museum 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.
11 | Istralanida
Istralandia is the first Croatian water park, and it’s located only 10 km northeast of Novigrad. Istralandia open in June 2014 and immediately attracted crowds. 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.