For many, Rijeka is often just a reminder of the history studied at school or a necessary stopover destination to more famous Croatian tourist destinations.
Why not decide to make a stop instead? Suspended between the mountains and the sea, Rijeka has a lovely city centre with numerous attractions, including medieval fortresses and gates, museums and elegant pedestrian streets.
Just avoid the architectural havoc of the suburbs surrounding the city centre and you will find yourself surrounded by Habsburg magnificence, with rich and sumptuous palaces reminiscent of those in Vienna and Budapest, the two pearls of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
Just outside the city, numerous beaches await you that can compete without shyness with other, more famous Croatian seaside resorts: proof of this is the fact that some of them have been awarded the Blue Flag, which rewards the best beaches for cleanliness and services.
Another good reason for a one or two-day holiday in Rijeka is the varied gastronomic tradition of the Kvarner region, which the city is promoting with themed events and the promotion of restaurants offering typical cuisine.
The beating heart of Rijeka is the Korzo, the main street of the old city centre. This elegant pedestrian street is lined with buildings in different styles reminiscent of Classicism, Historicism and Modernism.
The Korzo took on its current appearance as early as the beginning of the 19th century; today, it is a thoroughfare for locals and tourists alike, who stroll along, drink coffee in one of the numerous cafés with outdoor tables, go shopping and socialise.
Another emblem of the city of Rijeka is the City Tower, which dominates the central part of Korzo. Built in the Middle Ages, it has Baroque traces in the lower part, characterised by a portal richly decorated with imperial coats of arms and reliefs, while the upper part is adorned with a town clock dating from the 18th century.
Passing through the tower you reach Ivan Kobler Square, which was once the centre of the medieval fortified town. Here you can admire the old town hall and a curious fountain made from elements of paper presses from the historic Rijeka paper mill.
Outside the old town, Trsat Castle, situated on a hill 138 metres above sea level, offers one of the best vantage points in town. It is one of the oldest fortifications on the Croatian coast, retaining the characteristics of buildings from the early Middle Ages.
It houses an art gallery and the castle is used as an attractive setting for summer concerts, theatre performances and other cultural events. It can be reached by bus or by climbing a steep flight of steps.
Along the slope leading up to the castle, you will find numerous chapels dedicated to various saints. In the past, they were used as resting places by the faithful on their way to visit the shrine of Our Lady of Trsat, still one of Croatia’s most important pilgrimage sites.
Perhaps as holidaymakers, you should pay homage to St Francis Xavier, patron saint of tourists, whose painting is preserved inside St Vitus Cathedral.
Built in the 17th century, this beautiful church dedicated to the city’s patron saint has a mighty central dome supported by massive pillars and richly decorated chapels in Baroque style, while the Gothic crucifix belonged to an earlier church also dedicated to St Vitus.
At the Museum of Natural Sciences, you can fearlessly admire a real shark, as well as a collection of minerals, marine invertebrates, rays and a collection of reptiles and amphibians native to the Rijeka area.
The museum was founded in 1876 along similar lines to the Natural History Museum in Vienna; since 1960 it also includes a zoo and an aquarium. Today it is strongly oriented towards marine research and for visitors it is a fascinating journey into the geological past of the Adriatic.
Tired of visiting museums and monuments? Immerse yourself in the lively and colourful atmosphere of the town’s main market, an institution that has lasted since the end of the 19th century.
It is located along the coast, not far from the pier where local fishermen used to unload their freshly caught fish and take it to be sold. Its steel and glass lattice structure was absolutely avant-garde for the time, but decorative elements were incorporated into the covered market that hark back to the tradition of local trade.
Rijeka is a port city and therefore there are no beaches in the city centre: they are all concentrated in the eastern and western ends of the city.
Although they are not the most famous beaches in Croatia, and probably not the most beautiful either, the beaches around Rijeka should not be underestimated because there are some beautiful and well-served ones.
Among them, we would like to point out:
In order to revitalise tourism, the Rijeka municipal administration has very deliberately focused on the rich gastronomic tradition of the Kvarner region.
Numerous events and food and wine festivals are organised throughout the year, with themed weeks dedicated to typical local foods such as squid, cod, asparagus, figs, cherries and sardines.
In addition, the tourist board has produced a sticker marking typical places where one can eat traditional Quarnara dishes. Simple restaurants and taverns with an intimate and warm atmosphere, often family-run, have been chosen.
If you are looking for a good place to eat, take a look at the places that display the Kwarner Food label!
Rijeka is easy to reach thanks to a good motorway connection, including a stretch through Slovenia!
Coming from other Croatian cities you can take motorways or scenic coastal roads, which certainly lengthen the route but make it much more fascinating.
It can also be reached by bus from many Croatian towns, while the train is not recommended as there are no direct connections.
Another option is to take a ferry: you can take a direct one from Bari or one from Venice famous locations in Istria and from there reach Rijeka by car.
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Rijeka is a coastal city located in the northern part of Croatia, in the historical Kvarner region. With a population of about 150,000, Rijeka is Croatia's third largest city.