Rijeka Travel Guide
As one of Croatia’s most important seaports, it’s no surprise Rijeka is this country’s third-largest city. Despite its industrial focus, it also has cultural attractions that get overlooked by those bound for Split or Dubrovnik.
From castles to churches, you’ll find plenty to like during your visit here.
Come check out our Rijeka travel guide as we cover the best things to do in Rijeka, Croatia.
Soon after arrival in Rijeka, make Trsat Castle your first stop. Local authorities built this fortification in the 13th century atop strategic ground. Since Roman times, defenders used this hill to monitor marine traffic out in the Adriatic.
This castle saw action in the Austro-Venetian War when it was taken by the Venetians. The occupation didn’t last long, as a Croatian noble led a detachment of soldiers to victory shortly after that. After the threat of the Venetians and the Ottomans had receded, the castle fell into decay.
By the 19th century, though, it was restored by an Irish general. Locals gifted him the castle after the Napoleonic Wars, so he redid the structure in the Neo-Gothic style.
Today, the structure is a well-loved tourist attraction. After touring this castle, enjoy the fantastic views from its ramparts, as well as its coffee bar. Best of all, there is no admittance fee, making it a must-see for budget travellers.
The Rijeka area is famous for a pair of religious institutions. Start by checking out the Shrine of Our Lady of Trsat. Church officials built this Christian place of worship to commemorate the brief presence of the House of Mary.
While it (allegedly) resides in Loreto, Italy today, legend says that angels (or Crusaders) carried it here first. While its final location didn’t end up being Rijeka, its “visit” is still recognized, nonetheless. Pope Urban V gave a painting to the town as consolation for the loss of the holy structure. To this day, it’s the key attraction that pilgrims come to see.
The shrine here dates back to the mid 15th century. However, much of the building is younger, thanks to a fire in 1629. Feel free to light a candle if you feel moved to do so. During your visit, though, be respectful of others.
Once you’ve finished touring the shrine, make your way over to Rijeka Cathedral. This structure dates back to the Middle Ages when it debuted as a Romanesque building. Over the years, additions to this uniquely round church added Gothic and Baroque elements.
This building is so iconic, it appears on the back of the 100 kuna note. Once you head inside, there are two highlights. First, check out the crucifix. According to local legend, someone threw a rock at it in the 17th century. After that, it started bleeding. This building also has some stunning stained glass windows – don’t be in a rush to leave.
Learn more about the history of Rijeka by visiting the Maritime and History Museum of the Croatian Littoral. The building itself is a spectacle, as it used to be the governor’s palace. Some of the ruler’s furniture and possessions are on display. However, most rooms show off the nautical history and culture of the Rijeka area.
Most shocking is the gallery dedicated to those killed in the Lipa massacre. Fascists and Nazis perpetrated this horrific event in 1944. They entered the village of Lipa during the Braunschweig offensive and killed 269 people. One hundred survived, only because they were absent from the community when the massacre happened.
In the year 2020, it’s easy to forget how old something as “modern” as computers are. By visiting the Peek & Poke Computer Museum, you’ll get to learn about tech advances through a local lens.
Exhibits go back to the 1960s, with a vintage Minivac dating from 1961. Other items on display include the Apple II, the first IBM PC, and the Newton (the smartphone’s precursor.)
Looking for a great day trip from Rijeka? Head out to the hillside village of Kastav. This popular getaway is known for its summer festivals and music. If you’re looking to get a taste of Croatian culture, this is where you’ll want to go. It’s also well-known for its “slow food” restaurants, so kick back and enjoy a multi-hour meal here.
Watch locals of Rijeka go about their day by spending time at the Rijeka Central Market. Originally built to serve the fishers of Rijeka, it sells also sells meat, vegetables, fruit, and hard goods today. In particular, they sell olive oil and berries that are truly excellent – try them out!
End your visit to Rijeka with an evening on the Korzo. This promenade is where this city’s social scene lives. In any season, locals flock to its cafes and bars. By day, it is also home to some stylish shops that will satisfy the discerning traveller.