Rijeka Travel Guide: Top Things to Do, See & Eat in Rijeka, Croatia

Welcome! Are you ready to dive into the vibrant city of Rijeka? Perched on the stunning shores of Kvarner Bay, Rijeka is Croatia’s third-largest city and its most important seaport. But Rijeka is more than just a gateway to the picturesque Croatian islands; it’s a dynamic blend of rich history, artistic energy, and spirited culture. Whether you’re drawn to its historical significance, its artistic communities, or simply in search of a unique urban vibe, Rijeka offers an eclectic mix that will enchant every visitor. Let’s explore the unique blend of experiences that make Rijeka a must-visit destination in Croatia.

Capuchin Church in Rijeka, Croatia

Urban Exploration City of Diversity:

The streets of Rijeka are a canvas displaying centuries of history and a variety of architectural styles—from Roman remnants to Secessionist palaces. Stroll down the lively Korzo, the heart of the city, to soak in the lively atmosphere and diverse architectural styles. Don’t miss the iconic Trsat Castle, which offers panoramic views of the city and the Adriatic Sea, and serves as a historical landmark steeped in tales of knights and romance.

Artistic Flair Cultural Melting Pot:

Rijeka’s status as the European Capital of Culture in 2020 is a testament to its vibrant cultural scene. From avant-garde art installations to live music venues, the city pulses with creative energy. Explore the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, dive into the alternative culture at the autonomous cultural center Palach, or catch a performance at the Croatian National Theatre Ivan pl. Zajc, known for its rich repertoire of opera, drama, and ballet.

Seaside and Gastronomy Flavors and Festivals:

Sitting on the Adriatic coast, Rijeka’s culinary offerings are heavily influenced by its maritime location. Feast on fresh seafood dishes like scampi and grilled fish, paired with local wines such as Žlahtina. Experience the vibrant Rijeka Carnival, one of Europe’s largest, where the city comes alive with masks, floats, and festivities that reflect its historical and multicultural layers.

Historical Insight A Crossroads of Civilizations:

Rijeka’s colorful history is influenced by its strategic position and the many rulers it has seen, from Roman rule to its time within the Habsburg Monarchy, and its brief stint as the Free State of Fiume. This rich history is reflected in landmarks like the Roman arch and the varied architecture throughout the city, telling stories of a past filled with diversity and change.

Rijeka is a city that promises an array of experiences. So, pack your bags and prepare for an adventure that will leave you rich with memories and eager to return.

Rijeka Travel Guide: Things to do in Rijeka, Croatia

Rijeka City Guide: A Brief History Of Rijeka, Croatia

Rijeka’s history is as colorful as its vibrant present. Let’s embark on a historical exploration and uncover the events and milestones that mark Rijeka as a living museum of European history.

Ancient Origins

Roman Beginnings and Medieval Fortitude: Rijeka’s historical narrative starts in the days of the Roman Empire, known then as Tarsatica. Wander through the city to spot remnants of Roman architecture that provide a window into its ancient urban framework. The Middle Ages brought fortifications, notably Trsat Castle, which still dominates the cityscape, echoing the battles and governance it has witnessed over centuries.

The Austro-Hungarian Era

Flourishing Under the Empire: The transformation of Rijeka into a significant maritime port occurred under the Austro-Hungarian Empire. This period was a renaissance of trade and shipbuilding, which saw the city burgeon with elaborate constructions and modern infrastructural advancements. The architectural splendor of this era, including the grand Governor’s Palace, is a testament to the prosperity and cosmopolitan vibe Rijeka enjoyed during these times.

Twentieth Century Upheavals

Conflict and Change: The 20th century was a turbulent time for Rijeka, featuring prominently in the geopolitical strife of the era. Post-World War I, the city found itself at the center of the “Fiume Crisis,” becoming momentarily an independent state under the enigmatic Italian poet Gabriele D’Annunzio. World War II further altered its course with significant impacts from Fascist and Nazi occupations, reshaping its cultural and demographic landscapes profoundly.

From Yugoslavia to Modern Croatia

Industrial Growth and Cultural Renaissance: After the tumult of the World Wars, Rijeka became a part of Yugoslavia, ushering in a period of industrial prosperity, especially in shipbuilding. However, it also faced the trials of political upheaval and economic transitions post-Yugoslavia’s dissolution. Now, as part of modern Croatia, Rijeka has revitalized its identity, embracing its past while innovating as a cultural nexus, highlighted by its designation as the European Capital of Culture in 2020.

Rijeka harbor at night in Croatia

Rijeka Top Attractions and Best Places to Visit in Croatia

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.

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.

Fascinating Attractions

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.

More Attractions

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.

Rijeka boat lined area in Croatia

Other Cultural Attractions: Trip to Rijeka, Croatia

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.

Other Attractions

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.

source: Lucas World Travel

Top 20 Things To Do in Rijeka, Croatia For Visitors

Here are the top 20 things to do in Rijeka:

Trsat Castle in Rijeka, Croatia

1. Visit Trsat Castle

Perched on a hill above Rijeka, Trsat Castle offers panoramic views of the city and Kvarner Bay. This historic fortress, dating back to the 13th century, is a blend of medieval architecture and modern restoration. Visitors can explore the castle’s ramparts, gardens, and the chapel, or enjoy a coffee at the castle’s café. The climb up the long stairway to the castle is an experience itself, offering several stops to admire the view.

2. Explore the City Tower

The City Tower, a symbol of Rijeka, marks the entrance to the old town. This 16th-century gate once served as part of the city’s defensive walls. The tower’s clock has been keeping time since the 18th century, and its Baroque architecture is a testament to Rijeka’s rich history. Visitors often gather here to begin their exploration of the city’s vibrant streets and squares.

3. Walk Along Korzo

Korzo is Rijeka’s main promenade, bustling with life and lined with beautiful Habsburg-era buildings. This pedestrian zone is the heart of the city, where locals and visitors alike gather to shop, dine, and enjoy outdoor cafes. Street performers, live music, and cultural events frequently take place here, making Korzo the perfect spot to experience the city’s lively atmosphere.

4. Visit the Maritime and History Museum of the Croatian Littoral

Housed in the former Governor’s Palace, this museum showcases Rijeka’s maritime history, cultural heritage, and the region’s development. The exhibits include historical ships, navigational instruments, and artifacts that tell the story of life on the Croatian Littoral. The museum’s architecture and beautifully maintained gardens are also highlights for visitors. It’s an essential stop for anyone interested in understanding the city’s connection to the sea.

5. Attend the Rijeka Carnival

The Rijeka Carnival is one of Europe’s largest and most colorful carnivals, attracting thousands of participants and spectators every year. The event features a grand parade with elaborate costumes, masks, and floats, embodying the city’s spirit of tolerance and diversity. The carnival includes numerous events, parties, and traditional rituals, making it a vibrant celebration of culture and creativity.

6. Relax at Sablićevo Beach

Sablićevo Beach, a short walk from the city center, offers a tranquil escape with its clear waters and pebble shore. It’s a favorite spot for swimming, sunbathing, and enjoying the scenic view of the Adriatic Sea. The beach’s proximity to the city makes it easily accessible for a quick dip or a day of relaxation by the sea.

7. Discover Saint Vitus Cathedral

Saint Vitus Cathedral, a magnificent 17th-century Baroque church, is dedicated to the city’s patron saint. Its distinctive circular shape and impressive dome dominate the city’s skyline. Visitors can admire the church’s ornate interior, stained glass windows, and the relic of Saint Vitus. The cathedral’s bell tower offers another vantage point for panoramic views of Rijeka.

8. Explore the Tunnel of Rijeka

The Tunnel of Rijeka, an underground tunnel built during World War II, has been repurposed as a public attraction. Visitors can walk through this historical passage, learning about its construction and use during the war. The tunnel hosts exhibitions, cultural events, and guided tours, offering a unique glimpse into the city’s past.

9. Enjoy the Rijeka Astronomical Center

The Rijeka Astronomical Center, located on the outskirts of the city, includes an observatory and a planetarium. It’s the perfect place for stargazing and learning about the universe. The center’s programs and shows cater to all ages, making it an educational and entertaining visit. The observatory’s location also provides stunning views of Rijeka and the surrounding area.

10. Visit the Capuchin Church of Our Lady of Lourdes

This early 20th-century church is notable for its impressive neo-Gothic architecture and the large statue of Our Lady of Lourdes. The church’s interior is beautifully decorated with murals and stained glass windows. It’s a place of worship and reflection, attracting both locals and visitors. The church is situated near Trsat Castle, making it a convenient stop while exploring the area.

11. Take a Boat Tour of Kvarner Bay

Experience the beauty of the Adriatic Sea with a boat tour of Kvarner Bay. These tours offer a different perspective of Rijeka and the chance to explore the nearby islands, crystal-clear waters, and hidden coves. It’s an ideal activity for those looking to enjoy the sea, sun, and scenic landscapes. Sunset cruises are particularly popular, offering breathtaking views.

12. Discover the Peek & Poke Computer Museum

The Peek & Poke Computer Museum is a unique attraction that showcases the history of computers and technology. With an extensive collection of vintage computers, video games, and gadgets, it’s a nostalgic journey through the digital age. The interactive exhibits and playable vintage games make it a fun visit for technology enthusiasts and families.

13. Shop at the Rijeka Central Market

Rijeka’s Central Market is a lively place where locals shop for fresh produce, seafood, meats, and cheeses. The market consists of several pavilions, each offering different goods, and an outdoor area with fruit and vegetable stalls. It’s a great place to experience the local culinary scene, sample traditional Croatian foods, and purchase souvenirs. The market’s vibrant atmosphere and historic setting add to its charm.

14. Visit the Governor’s Palace

The Governor’s Palace, now home to the Maritime and History Museum of the Croatian Littoral, is an architectural masterpiece from the Austro-Hungarian period. The palace’s ornate façade and elegantly decorated rooms reflect the city’s historical importance and cultural heritage. The surrounding gardens are beautifully landscaped, providing a peaceful retreat in the heart of the city. It’s a symbol of Rijeka’s past as a significant port and administrative center.

15. Explore the Art Quarter

Rijeka’s Art Quarter, located in the Benčić complex, is a vibrant cultural hub that hosts galleries, studios, and creative spaces. The area is a focal point for contemporary art, design, and innovation, showcasing the work of local and international artists. Visitors can attend exhibitions, workshops, and events, making it a dynamic destination for art lovers. The Art Quarter’s regeneration is part of Rijeka’s ongoing cultural renaissance.

16. Relax in Molo Longo

Molo Longo is Rijeka’s revitalized waterfront promenade, offering leisurely walks with stunning views of the harbor and Adriatic Sea. The area features modern installations, seating areas, and cafes, making it a popular spot for both relaxation and socializing. It’s a great place to watch the ships come and go, capture beautiful sunsets, and enjoy the sea breeze. Molo Longo symbolizes Rijeka’s connection to the sea and its maritime heritage.

17. Attend a Performance at the Croatian National Theatre Ivan pl. Zajc

The Croatian National Theatre Ivan pl. Zajc is a historic institution in Rijeka, hosting opera, ballet, drama, and symphony performances. The theater’s stunning interior, including a lavish auditorium and ornate decorations, provides an elegant setting for cultural events. It’s a cornerstone of Rijeka’s artistic community, offering a diverse program of high-quality performances. Attending a show here is a memorable experience that highlights the city’s cultural richness.

18. Hike in Učka Nature Park

Just a short drive from Rijeka, Učka Nature Park offers a range of outdoor activities, including hiking, biking, and paragliding. The park’s diverse landscapes, from dense forests to rocky peaks, provide a stunning natural backdrop for adventure and exploration. The highest peak, Vojak, offers panoramic views of the Kvarner Bay, Istrian peninsula, and even the Alps on clear days. It’s an ideal destination for nature lovers and those seeking an escape into the wilderness.

19. Take a Day Trip to Krk Island

Krk Island, accessible via a bridge from the mainland, is known for its beautiful beaches, historical towns, and Mediterranean cuisine. Visitors can explore the ancient Roman ruins, medieval castles, and quaint seaside villages. The island offers a variety of recreational activities, from swimming and sailing to wine tasting at local vineyards. It’s a perfect day trip from Rijeka, offering a blend of cultural exploration and relaxation by the sea.

20. Visit the Galeb Ship

The Galeb Ship, also known as Tito’s Ship, is a historic vessel anchored in Rijeka’s harbor. Once used by Yugoslavia’s President Tito for official state visits and diplomatic missions, it now serves as a museum. Visitors can tour the ship, learning about its fascinating history and Tito’s travels. The Galeb is a unique attraction that offers insight into Yugoslavia’s maritime heritage and political past.

Rijeka must try dish includes octopus salad in Croatia

What To Eat and Drink in Rijeka, Croatia

Here’s a ‘lil travel guide to what to eat and drink when you visit Rijeka, promising a feast for your taste buds.

Seafood Delights

1. Fresh Adriatic Fish Rijeka’s location along the coast ensures a steady supply of fresh fish, which you can find grilled, boiled, or baked at local restaurants. Popular choices include sea bass, gilthead sea bream, and sardines, often served with a drizzle of local olive oil and a squeeze of lemon.

2. Scampi na buzaru This traditional Croatian dish of scampi cooked in a sauce of white wine, garlic, parsley, and breadcrumbs is a must-try. It reflects the simplicity and freshness of Adriatic cuisine and is best enjoyed with a slice of crusty bread to soak up the delicious sauce.

3. Squid Ink Risotto For a truly unique local flavor, try the squid ink risotto, a rich and creamy dish that stands out for its striking black color and intense seafood flavor. It’s a beloved dish in Rijeka, often enhanced with finely chopped squid and a generous amount of Parmesan cheese.

Meat and Hearty Dishes

4. Ćevapi This dish of grilled minced meat, a staple in Balkan cuisine, is particularly popular in Rijeka. Served in a flatbread with chopped onions, sour cream, and ajvar (a pepper-based condiment), Ćevapi makes for a filling and flavorful meal.

5. Sauerbraten Reflecting German influence in the region, sauerbraten is a pot roast, usually of beef (but other meats such as lamb, mutton, pork, and traditionally horse), marinated before slow-cooking as pot roast. The meat is typically served with a rich gravy made from the marinade, often accompanied by potato dumplings (knödel) or red cabbage.

Sweet Treats

6. Fritule These small deep-fried doughnuts are a local favorite, especially during the Christmas season and other festive occasions. Infused with rum and citrus zest, and sprinkled with powdered sugar, fritule are a delightful treat to enjoy with a cup of coffee.

7. Kremsnita This creamy custard slice, topped with a layer of whipped cream and encased in a flaky pastry, is a popular dessert in Rijeka. It’s a perfect example of the sweet culinary influences from neighboring Slovenia and Austria.


8. Croatian Wine Croatia’s wine scene is underrated but impressive, with the regions around Rijeka producing some excellent white wines like Malvazija and reds like Teran. Visiting a local wine bar to sample these alongside other regional varieties is a must.

9. Rakija No culinary exploration in Rijeka would be complete without trying Rakija, a strong fruit brandy that is widely consumed throughout the Balkans. It’s traditionally made from plums, but varieties include grapes, apricots, and cherries.

10. Coffee Coffee culture is deeply ingrained in Croatian daily life, and Rijeka boasts numerous cozy cafes where you can experience the ritual of a leisurely coffee, enjoyed slowly, whether along the bustling Korzo or in a quieter, hidden alley.

Rijeka rooftop views in Croatia

Tours For Visitors To Rijeka, Croatia

Here’s a rundown of the best tours available in Rijeka.

Historical and Cultural Tours

1. Rijeka City Walking Tour Discover the heart of Rijeka on a guided walking tour that covers all the major historical and cultural sites. Explore the iconic Korzo promenade, the Roman arch, and the City Tower, delve into the area’s complex history, and hear stories of its past from knowledgeable local guides.

2. Trsat Castle Tour Visit the historic Trsat Castle situated on a hill overlooking the city. This tour not only offers insight into the castle’s medieval past but also provides stunning views of Rijeka and the Kvarner Gulf. Learn about the legends of the knights and noble families who lived here and the pilgrimage site of the nearby Trsat Sanctuary.

3. Maritime and Heritage Museum Tours Take a tour of Rijeka’s Maritime and History Museum of the Croatian Littoral, where you can explore the city’s seafaring history and its development through the ages. These tours are rich with tales of Rijeka’s role as a major port during the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Culinary Tours

4. Rijeka Food Tour Embark on a culinary journey through Rijeka’s local markets and eateries. Sample traditional dishes like scampi na buzaru, Ćevapi, and freshly baked pastries while learning about the influences of various cultures on Rijeka’s cuisine. This tour is perfect for foodies looking to delve deeper into the local gastronomy.

5. Wine Tasting Tour Explore the vineyards in the regions surrounding Rijeka. Sample some of Croatia’s best wines, including local varieties like Malvazija and Teran, and learn about the winemaking process in this lush part of Croatia.

Adventure and Nature Tours

6. Učka Nature Park Excursion Take a day trip to Učka Nature Park, just a short drive from Rijeka. This tour offers hiking, cycling, and paragliding for the more adventurous, or gentle walks through the park’s diverse flora and fauna for those looking for a relaxing day out.

7. Kayaking and Sailing on the Kvarner Bay Experience Rijeka from the water with a kayaking or sailing tour around the beautiful Kvarner Bay. Explore the coastal areas and nearby islands, enjoy the clear blue waters, and maybe even spot some dolphins along the way.

Art and Architecture Tours

8. Art and Architecture Exploration Discover Rijeka’s vibrant art scene and unique architecture with a guided tour that highlights its eclectic buildings, from Habsburg-era palaces to modernist Yugoslav architecture. Visit galleries and artists’ studios to see why Rijeka was named a European Capital of Culture.

Specialty Tours

9. Ghost and Legends Tour For something a little different, take a nighttime ghost tour of Rijeka’s historic center. Explore ancient alleyways and learn about the spooky legends that haunt these streets, adding a thrilling edge to your visit.

10. Festival Experience Tours Plan your visit during one of Rijeka’s many festivals, such as the Rijeka Carnival or the Hartera Music Festival. These tours offer special access to festival events, insights into the preparations and history of the festivals, and a chance to participate in the local festivities.

Rijeka archway views in Croatia

Rijeka Accommodations Guide: Hotels, Guesthouses and Hostels

Here’s your on the go travel guide to some of the best places to stay in Rijeka, ensuring a comfortable visit.

Luxury Hotels

1. Hotel Bonavia Plava Laguna: Experience top-tier amenities and refined comfort at the Hotel Bonavia Plava Laguna. Located in the heart of Rijeka’s bustling city center, this hotel combines luxury with convenience, featuring stylish rooms, a wellness spa, and several fine dining options. It’s perfect for those seeking a pampered stay amidst the urban excitement.

2. Hilton Costabella Beach Resort & Spa: For those looking to stay a bit outside the city for a beachfront experience, the Hilton Costabella Beach Resort & Spa offers luxury with a stunning view of the Adriatic Sea. Enjoy its private beaches, world-class spa, and dining that showcases the best of Mediterranean and international cuisine.

Mid-Range Hotels

3. Hotel Jadran: Situated along the scenic coastal promenade, Hotel Jadran offers comfortable accommodations with spectacular sea views. Known for its excellent service and welcoming atmosphere, it provides a perfect balance of comfort and value, with easy access to both the beach and city’s attractions.

4. Hotel Continental: Housed in a beautiful historic building near the city center, Hotel Continental boasts a charm that echoes the architectural elegance of Rijeka. It offers guests a comfortable stay with modern amenities and is just a short walk from major tourist sites, making it ideal for cultural explorations.

Budget Accommodations

5. Botel Marina: For a unique stay, check into the Botel Marina, a converted boat permanently moored at the city’s waterfront. This floating hotel offers compact, cabin-like rooms with nautical décor and an on-deck bar with panoramic views of the harbor. It’s an affordable option for travelers looking for an unconventional lodging experience.

6. Hostel 1W: Hostel 1W provides a trendy and affordable staying option for backpackers and solo travelers. Located in the city center, it features a vibrant, youthful atmosphere with artistic décor, shared and private rooms, and communal spaces that encourage socializing among guests.

Guesthouses and B&Bs

7. Villa Nora: Villa Nora, located near the historic Trsat Castle, offers a quaint and quiet retreat. This family-run guesthouse provides personalized service, homey comforts, and a peaceful garden. It’s perfect for travelers looking for a serene spot away from the city bustle.

8. Teatro Suite & Rooms: Located right in the cultural heart of Rijeka, Teatro Suite & Rooms offers elegantly decorated accommodations. Each room is themed around different theatrical acts, providing a unique aesthetic experience alongside comfort.


9. Das Hostel Rijeka: Das Hostel Rijeka offers clean, modern, and affordable accommodations in the heart of the city. Known for its friendly staff and clean facilities, it’s a favorite among young travelers and those on a tight budget. The hostel includes shared kitchen facilities and a common room, ideal for meeting fellow travelers.

10. Youth Hostel Rijeka: Positioned closer to the beaches, Youth Hostel Rijeka is perfect for those who prefer a quieter location near nature. It offers basic but clean facilities, including shared dorms, private rooms, and a communal kitchen, all at very budget-friendly rates.

Opatija is a great day trip from Rijeka, Croatia

Day Trips From Rijeka, Croatia

Here’s our complete travel guide to the top 10 day trips around Rijeka, each promising a unique blend of sights and experiences.

1. Opatija

Just a 20-minute drive from Rijeka, Opatija is a stunning seaside town known for its grand Austro-Hungarian architecture and a lovely coastal promenade, the Lungomare. Stroll along the waterfront to admire the opulent villas and lush gardens. Visit the Angiolina Park to see the impressive Villa Angiolina and the town’s iconic Maiden with the Seagull statue. Opatija’s charming cafes and restaurants offer a taste of luxury with a view of the Adriatic Sea.

2. Krk Island

Cross the Krk Bridge to explore Croatia’s largest island, which is less than an hour’s drive from Rijeka. Krk is a treasure trove of historical sites, including the ancient Krk town walls and the Frankopan Castle. The island boasts beautiful beaches like Baška Beach, perfect for a day of sunbathing and swimming. Don’t miss sampling the local wine and olive oil, which are among the best in the region.

3. Plitvice Lakes National Park

Drive inland for about two hours to visit one of Croatia’s most awe-inspiring natural wonders, Plitvice Lakes National Park. This UNESCO World Heritage site features a series of stunning turquoise lakes connected by cascading waterfalls. Explore the well-maintained trails on foot or by boat, and bring a camera to capture the park’s breathtaking vistas. The park is equally mesmerizing in all seasons, whether the waterfalls are surrounded by lush greenery or dramatic snowy landscapes.

4. Istria Peninsula

Venture into Istria, known as Croatia’s Tuscany, which is about an hour’s drive from Rijeka. This region is famed for its hilltop towns, like Motovun and Grožnjan, which offer panoramic views and a rich history. Explore Pula to see one of the best-preserved Roman amphitheaters in the world. Istria’s culinary offerings, especially its truffles and wine, provide a delightful gastronomic experience.

5. Pazin

Discover the heart of the Istrian peninsula in Pazin, known for its spectacular chasm, the Pazin Pit, which inspired Jules Verne’s novel. Tour the Pazin Castle, a medieval fortress that now houses the Ethnographic Museum of Istria. Adventure lovers can try zip-lining across the chasm for an adrenaline rush with a view. Pazin’s central location makes it a great starting point for exploring the rural beauty and culinary delights of inland Istria.

6. Postojna Cave and Predjama Castle (Slovenia)

Take a cross-border trip to Slovenia to visit the Postojna Cave, the most extensive cave system in the country, featuring unique karst formations and an underground train ride. Nearby, marvel at the Predjama Castle, a Renaissance castle built within a cave mouth and steeped in legends. This excursion offers a fascinating combination of natural and man-made wonders. The drive from Rijeka to Postojna takes about an hour and a half, making it an easy day trip.

7. Cres Island

Hop on a ferry from Rijeka to Cres Island for a day exploring its rugged landscapes and quaint villages. Cres is known for its biodiversity, including the rare griffon vultures. Visit the ancient town of Cres to wander through narrow, medieval streets and relax in one of the harbor-side cafes. The island’s secluded beaches and crystal-clear waters are ideal for a peaceful day in nature.

8. Venice (Italy)

For an ambitious day trip, catch a fast ferry from Rijeka to Venice to explore the enchanting Italian city of canals. Spend your day marveling at the architectural wonders of St. Mark’s Basilica and the Doge’s Palace, enjoy a gondola ride through the canals, and sample Venetian cuisine. While it’s a longer day trip, Venice’s captivating beauty makes it worth the journey.

9. Učka Nature Park

Drive to Učka Nature Park, which offers a variety of outdoor activities against the backdrop of breathtaking mountain scenery. Hiking trails range from easy walks to challenging treks, leading to peaks with panoramic views of the Kvarner Gulf. The area is also popular for paragliding and mountain biking. Učka’s rich flora and fauna make it a fantastic spot for nature lovers and photographers.

10. Hum and the Glagolitic Alley

Visit Hum, officially the smallest town in the world, renowned for its charm and the unique Glagolitic Alley, a series of stone monuments celebrating the ancient Glagolitic script. Explore the quaint streets of Hum, which feels like stepping back in time. The town is also known for its mistletoe brandy, offering a unique local tasting experience. The drive through the picturesque countryside to reach Hum is as enjoyable as the destination itself.

Rijeka industrial port scene in Croatia

Rijeka Transportation Guide

Here’s how you can most efficiently get around in Rijeka.

Arriving in Rijeka

1. By Air The closest airport to Rijeka is Rijeka Airport (RJK), located on the nearby island of Krk, about 30 kilometers from the city center. The airport serves both domestic and international flights and is connected to the city via bus, taxi, and rental car services.

2. By Bus Rijeka’s bus terminal is one of the most active in Croatia, with numerous domestic and international connections. It is a hub for buses coming from major Croatian cities like Zagreb and Split, as well as international destinations such as Trieste, Venice, and Munich.

3. By Train Rijeka train station offers services to a number of destinations within Croatia, including a direct line to Zagreb. While the train network is not as extensive as the bus system, it provides a scenic and comfortable alternative for arriving in and departing from the city.

4. By Car Arriving by car is straightforward, with Rijeka accessible via the Croatian A6 motorway, connecting to Zagreb, and A7 motorway, which links to the Slovenian border and beyond. The city offers several parking options, from street parking to secured garages.

Getting Around Rijeka

5. Public Buses The local bus network in Rijeka is extensive, covering the entire city and its suburbs. Buses are frequent and reliable, making them a convenient option for getting around. Tickets can be purchased from kiosks, directly from the bus driver, or via mobile apps.

6. Taxis and Rideshares Taxis are readily available throughout Rijeka, and several taxi companies operate within the city. Rideshare services, such as Uber, are also active, offering another convenient option for short trips around town.

7. Car Rentals For those preferring to explore at their own pace, several car rental agencies are available at the airport and within the city. Renting a car gives you the flexibility to visit nearby attractions outside public transport routes.

8. Biking Rijeka is becoming increasingly bike-friendly, with dedicated bike lanes and routes. Biking is a great way to explore the city’s scenic waterfront and historic areas. Bike rentals are available, including e-bikes for those who may want assistance riding up the city’s hills.

9. Walking Rijeka’s city center is compact and pedestrian-friendly, making walking one of the best ways to explore. Many of the main attractions, restaurants, and shops are easily accessible on foot, especially around the bustling Korzo promenade.

10. Ferries Being a port city, Rijeka has a ferry terminal with services to the surrounding islands such as Cres and Rab, and other coastal towns. This is a scenic way to explore the beautiful Croatian coastline and islands.

Visit Trieste after Rijeka, Croatia

Where To Visit After Your Trip To Rijeka?

Here’s a list of the top 10 destinations to visit after your trip to Rijeka.

1. Zagreb

Croatia’s capital, Zagreb, is a lively city with a rich history, vibrant arts scene, and an array of cafes and restaurants. Explore the historic Upper Town with its colorful rooftops, visit the unique Museum of Broken Relationships, and stroll through the bustling Dolac Market. The city’s numerous parks and gardens provide a perfect escape from the urban hustle. In December, don’t miss the magical Christmas market, voted one of the best in Europe.

2. Plitvice Lakes National Park

Just a few hours from Rijeka, Plitvice Lakes National Park is one of Croatia’s most famous natural wonders. This UNESCO World Heritage site is renowned for its cascade of terraced lakes and breathtaking waterfalls. Hiking trails and wooden walkways meander through the park, offering spectacular views at every turn. Visit during the off-season to avoid the crowds and see the park’s colors transform in autumn or the lakes crystallize in winter.

3. Ljubljana, Slovenia

The charming capital of Slovenia, Ljubljana, is a must-visit for its picturesque architecture, vibrant cultural life, and friendly atmosphere. The Ljubljanica River, lined with outdoor cafes, bisects the city, while Ljubljana Castle watches over from above. The city is known for its green spaces, including the expansive Tivoli Park. Ljubljana is also a great base for day trips to other Slovenian attractions, such as Lake Bled or the Postojna Cave.

4. Istria Peninsula

Explore the Istria Peninsula, known for its Italian-like charm, excellent wines, and truffle-rich cuisine. Visit the Roman amphitheater in Pula, wander through the artistic streets of Rovinj, and enjoy the hilltop views from Motovun. Istria is also famous for its olive oil, and many estates offer tastings and tours. The region’s beaches are ideal for a relaxing day by the clear blue waters of the Adriatic Sea.

5. Venice, Italy

A short trip across the Adriatic Sea takes you to Venice, the iconic city of canals and romance. Marvel at the architectural wonders of St. Mark’s Basilica and the Doge’s Palace, enjoy a gondola ride through the canals, and explore the vibrant art scene at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection. Venice’s maze of narrow alleys offers endless opportunities for discovery. Be sure to try some authentic Venetian cuisine, from fresh seafood to rich risottos.

6. Dubrovnik

Further south along the Croatian coast lies Dubrovnik, renowned for its stunning Old Town encircled by massive stone walls. Walk the walls for panoramic views of the Adriatic and the city’s red roofs. Explore the city’s rich history in the Rector’s Palace and relax on the beaches of nearby Lokrum Island. Dubrovnik’s vibrant nightlife and cultural festivals add to its allure as a top destination.

7. Vienna, Austria

For a change of pace and scenery, head to Vienna, Austria’s imperial capital. Dive into its world-class museums, opulent palaces such as Schönbrunn, and vibrant coffee house culture. Vienna is famous for its classical music heritage, so consider catching a performance at the State Opera House. The city’s Christmas markets are a festive delight, offering a warm escape into holiday cheer.

8. Trieste, Italy

Just across the border from Slovenia, Trieste offers a fascinating mix of cultures, architecture, and history. Enjoy its bustling piazza, seaside promenade, and visit the stunning Miramare Castle just outside the city. Trieste’s literary cafes, where great writers like James Joyce frequented, are perfect for coffee lovers. The city’s unique blend of Italian, Slovenian, and Austrian influences is reflected in its diverse culinary offerings.

9. Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Explore the intriguing city of Sarajevo, where East meets West in architecture, religion, and cuisine. Visit the historic Baščaršija district, see the Latin Bridge where Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated, and learn about the city’s complex history at the War Tunnel Museum. Sarajevo’s vibrant marketplaces and rich Bosnian coffee culture offer a warm welcome to every visitor. The surrounding Dinaric Alps provide excellent opportunities for hiking and winter sports.

10. Budapest, Hungary

Finally, Budapest, with its dramatic skyline dominated by the historic Buda Castle, offers an array of thermal baths, the stunning Parliament building, and vibrant nightlife along the Danube River. Explore the city’s Jewish heritage, enjoy hearty Hungarian cuisine, and soak in the famous Széchenyi Thermal Bath. Budapest’s festivals, especially the Sziget Festival, draw international crowds for their music and cultural celebrations.

Rijeka architecture in Croatia

Rijeka Travel Guide: Final Thoughts

Rijeka is a city that deserves to be more than just a stopover. Let’s recap why this Croatian gem is a must-visit for anyone seeking a blend of historical intrigue and modern vibrancy.

A City of History and Culture

Diverse Architectural Canvas: Rijeka’s landscape is a patchwork of historical periods, each adding its own character to the city streets. From Roman remnants to Austro-Hungarian opulence and modernist Yugoslav influences, the architecture here tells stories of a past filled with diverse rulers and shifting powers. Walking through Rijeka is like traversing a live museum, each turn offering a new historical narrative to uncover.

Culinary Crossroads

Flavors of the Sea and Land: Positioned at the crossroads of maritime routes, Rijeka’s cuisine is a delicious testament to its cultural melange. Seafood freshly pulled from the Adriatic, combined with the hearty influences of Central European fare, creates a culinary landscape that is both diverse and mouthwatering. Whether it’s enjoying a plate of scampi na buzaru or savoring a slice of Kremsnita, your taste buds are in for a treat.

Vibrant Everyday Life

Festivals and Daily Delights: The spirit of Rijeka is perhaps best experienced through its festivals and daily life. The Rijeka Carnival, a riot of color and creativity, showcases the city’s love for celebration and its ability to bring folklore to life. Beyond the carnival, the everyday vibrancy of the city’s main promenade, Korzo, offers a slice of local life brimming with cafes, shops, and spontaneous musical performances.

Gateway to Wonders

A Launchpad for Adventure: Rijeka is not just a destination; it’s a starting point for myriad adventures in Croatia and beyond. Whether you’re headed to the serene islands of the Kvarner Bay, the lush landscapes of the Istrian peninsula, or the historic streets of nearby European capitals, Rijeka serves as the perfect base camp. The city’s connectivity by sea, land, and air makes exploring the region both easy and enticing.

Safe travels, and see you again in Rijeka!

Rijeka ferry at the port in Croatia

Ode To Rijeka

In Rijeka’s embrace, travelers find delight, A city with history, shining ever bright. From Trsat’s castle, perched on a hill, To Korzo’s bustling streets, filled with thrill.

Walk along the promenade, by the Adriatic Sea, Feel the refreshing breeze, setting spirits free. St. Vitus Cathedral, with its grandeur and grace, Whispers tales of faith, within its sacred space.

At Rijeka Market, flavors come alive, Fresh produce, local delicacies, and more to thrive. Savor scampi na buzaru, a seafood delight, Or Istrian prosciutto, a taste that feels just right.

The city’s culture, vibrant and alive, The Croatian National Theatre, where talents thrive. In museums and galleries, history unfolds, Preserving the stories, the legends they hold.

Beyond the city’s borders, adventures await, Opatija’s charm, Krk Island’s coastal gate. Plitvice Lakes’ cascades, nature’s artwork divine, And Istria’s hilltop towns, where ancient stories entwine.

Join the carnival’s revelry, a joyous affair, Colorful parades, laughter filling the air. In Rijeka’s rhythm, let your spirit dance, Immerse in the cultural scene, a captivating trance.

Rijeka, a destination for wanderers bold, With its charm and wonders, a tale to be told. So, embrace the city, let its spirit ignite, And in Rijeka’s embrace, find your travel’s light.

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