Istria’s coveted port city, Rovinj, is 106 miles (171 km) from Slovenia’s western wine region, Goriška Brda. This makes wine tasting and a dip in the Adriatic Sea possible within the same trip. The most convenient way to travel between the two is by car—rental or private transfer—which takes just over two hours.
Renting a car gives you more freedom to explore the beautiful scenery of western Slovenia and Istria. If you are interested in extending your visit, this 11-day road trip combines the highlights of both areas.
Another option is the bus, with private companies operating two separate legs of the journey: one from Nova Gorica—Goriška Brda’s transportation hub—to Koper, and the other from Koper to Rovinj. In total, you can finish the route in about 4.5 hours.
Because Nova Gorica is on the Italian border, you can also take a train from neighboring Gorizia to Trieste. If you’re traveling in the summer months, a ferry runs from Trieste to Rovinj four days a week. This route requires about 3 hours to complete.
By Rental Car or Private Transfer
Duration: 2 hours
The fastest way to reach Rovinj from Goriška Brda by rental car or private transfer. Both can be booked in Nova Gorica, Goriška Brda’s transportation hub. Scenic country roads lead you out of the wine region and onto the H4 expressway, where you’ll pass through hilly countryside until you reach highway E61. If you’re interested in caves, Škocjan Caves are some of the best in Slovenia and located just off the highway. From there you’ll head south and connect to E751, which takes you into Croatia.
Because Croatia isn’t in the Schengen Zone, you’ll need to stop and show your papers at the border. Check with your car rental company, as you may need to pay a small fee. If you’re traveling in the summer, lines at the border, especially at this crossing, can be long—so prepare a little extra time just in case.
Once in Croatia, the scenic port towns of Umag and Poreč make for great lunch spots. If you want to experience inland views, hilly Motovun is the perfect detour. Once at the junction near Kanfanar, you’ll transition to D303 and make your way to Rovinj.
Duration: 4.5 hours
Due to its long journey time and connection in Koper, the bus is a less convenient option. The first leg of the route—Nova Gorica to Koper—is operated by the private company, Avrigo/Nomago, and takes about 2 hours. The company Flixbus completes the journey in another 2.5 hours. Keep in mind that during summer months, buses tend to be late due to longer lines at the borders.
By Train + Ferry
Duration: 3 hours
Rovinj is a major port city, so ferries are also an option. Nova Gorica is the Slovenian equivalent of the Italian municipality Gorizia. A 10-minute taxi will get you to Gorizia’s train station where you can catch a one-hour train to Trieste, Italy. From there, a ferry will arrive in Rovinj 1.5 hours later.
This option is faster than the bus—and arguably far more scenic—but keep in mind that it operates in July and August only. Departures leave Trieste two times on Wednesday, and one time each on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.