Rijeka is the largest port city in Croatia, the third largest in the country after Zagreb and Split. It is located in the north of Dalmatia, near the Istrian peninsula.
In Croatian, “rieka” means “river” – the city received such a name because of the Riečina river separating it.
According to 2011 data, 128,624 people live in Rijeka, with 83% of them being Croats.
Rijeka can be considered the most suitable city for those who want to combine a comfortable holiday on the beach with an intense cultural life and sightseeing.
What cultural program does the city of Rijeka offer in Croatia? There are a lot of diverse architectural and historical monuments, museums and churches. Next, we will talk about the most famous attractions that are included in the list of must-see.
By the way, every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, local enthusiasts organize a tour of the most interesting sights located in Rijeka – the excursion starts at 10:00, a gathering at the fountain on Jelacic Square.
The center of tourist life and at the same time the historical center of Rijeka is the pedestrian street Korzo and the nearby old alleys. Here are the best restaurants with excellent cuisine, the most popular discos and night bars, there are good shops and boutiques. During a walk around Korzo, you can see many beautiful old buildings with unique architecture from different eras. This street is a favorite place for walks for both tourists and citizens.
The main attraction of Rijeka is located on Korzo Street – it is the City Tower, which was originally part of the city gate complex and served as the entrance to the city from the sea. The tower has the appearance of a rounded structure, decorated with watch dials: in the middle there are watches with Roman numerals and openwork hands, and on both sides of them with Roman numerals and standard hands. The lower foundation of the building is decorated with baroque elements containing images of the arms of the Austrian kings Lepold I and Charles VI.
Under the main clock of the City Tower there is another unique attraction – the old gate of Rijeka. They look like a wide powerful arch made of large stones. These gates are one of the oldest urban monuments, but historians have not agreed on their purpose.
Rijeka city, Uljarska street 1 – at this address is a magnificent building of the National Theater of Croatia named after Ivan Hare.
The design of this building was developed by famous architects Fellner and Helmer, who accounted for more than 45 public buildings in European countries. The theater in Rijeka, like the rest of their creations, is a magnificent building that successfully combines the styles of the Renaissance and Baroque.
The name of the conductor and composer Ivan Zaitsev was assigned to the theater in 1953. In 1991, the theater received the status of National and added to the list of 4 similar structures in Croatia.
The theater hosts opera, ballet and drama performances. Ticket offices are open Monday through Sunday from 09:00 to 19:00, and on Saturday from 09:00 to 13:00.
A beautiful square with flowerbeds and benches is decorated in front of the building, in which a monument to Ivan Zayts is erected.
At Kapucinske Stube 5 (this is near the main entrance to the port) there is the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes, included in the list of the main attractions of Croatia.
It was erected in the period from 1904 to 1929 by the monks of the Order of the Capuchins. The Capuchin monastery stands in the immediate vicinity of the church – a stone wall separates it from its western part.
It was originally planned that the building should end with a tower height of 75 m, but during the construction of this idea was abandoned. But with its present appearance, this shrine impresses everyone who sees it. The facade, made in a fancy neo-Gothic style, is decorated with beautiful reliefs, mosaics, stained glass windows. The murals on the inner surface of the walls depict Croatian saints.
In 2009, in the building of the old fortress, located at Sveti Krizh 33, the Rijeka Aronomy Center was opened.
This is the only center of its kind not only in Rijeka, but also in Croatia – an observatory and a planetarium are simultaneously operating here. They conduct various interactive programs for visitors, give lectures, show films about the solar system and the history of the creation of the telescope.
The cost of a ticket to visit the planetarium is about 3 €, the observatory – 1.4 €.
The central market is equipped in the central part of Rijeka. It occupies several buildings made in the Art Nouveau style and decorated with patterned interweaving of reinforced concrete and glass.
The market has a huge assortment of meat and dairy products, a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables. A special abundance is presented in Ribarnitsa – they offer fresh fish and seafood.
It is best to come shopping here early in the morning, when they only bring the goods. As a rule, by noon, all trading ends.
The central market of Rijeka is not only a very large and rich assortment of farm products. Here the chaotic and completely peculiar atmosphere of the coastal city, expressed in its fullest volume.
Apart from the list of attractions of Rijeka, and of Croatia, is Trsat. This is part of the city of Rijeka, once a separate settlement, and now combines a number of interesting objects. Trsat is a famous pilgrimage destination for Catholics, as well as a popular tourist attraction: several interesting objects are concentrated on this territory: Trsat Fortress, Church of Our Lady of Trsat, the famous staircase of Petar Kružić.
Trsat Fortress rises on a hill, address Petra Zrinskog bb. Here you can see not only the well-preserved castle of the XIII century built, but also the ruins of ancient fortifications. After the tour, you can go to the observation platform, which overlooks the city, the sea, the island of Krk, the canyon and the river flowing below – you can take the best photos about the trip to Rijeka and Croatia. Trsat Fortress is open to visitors all days of the week except Monday.
- The work schedule is as follows: from April to November – from 9:00 to 22:00, from December to March – from 9:00 to 15:00.
- The entrance is free.
Climb to the top of the hill where the castle stands, you can take bus number 2 from the bus station. But it’s much more interesting, although more difficult, to climb the fortress’s gates along the famous stairs of Petar Kruzhich, consisting of 538 rather steep steps. Stone steps originate in the northwestern part of Titov Square, under a modest triumphal arch. The staircase is laid through a steep gorge, along it there are small chapels installed by various saints. Built in 1531 by order of Petar Kuzhich, it was supposed to facilitate the pilgrims’ journey to another attraction on this hill – the Basilica of Our Lady of Trsat.
The Church of Our Lady of Trsat (address Frankopanski Trg 12) has the honorary status of the “Small Basilica” – only seven churches have such a title in Croatia. This one of the oldest shrines of Rijeka was built in the XV in the place where, according to legend, a miracle happened: the house of the Virgin Mary arose. In the churchyard there is a monument to Pope John Paul II, who visited the shrine.
Behind the basilica there is an unusual and original recreation of the way of the cross of Jesus Christ. The symbolic sculptures are reproduced by the procession of Jesus uphill with a cross, and when descending from a hill, one can observe scenes of removal from the cross. These plots are captured in modest monuments installed in the churchyard.
Kastav is a small old town located 10 km northwest of Rijeka. It is located on a separate hill, reaching a height of 378 m.
According to legends, it was in this medieval city that the last witch in Europe was burned. But be that as it may, now it is a very nice town, attracting foreign tourists and travelers from Croatia. Castav is very small, it is quite possible to explore all the attractions located in half a day. What to look for:
- fortress wall with city gates;
- Lokvin Square;
- old unfinished church;
- Church of St. Helena Križarice, standing at the highest point of the city;
- chapels of St. Mikhovil, Saints Fabian and Sebastian, St. Anthony the Great, Holy Trinity.
Not far from the city on the island of Krk is the eponymous National Park of Croatia . If you have time, consider visiting it.
The best beaches
A large port operates in Rijeka, so you need to look for good clean beaches away from it. To the east of the port, Sablicevo, Grchevo and Glavnovo are quite suitable for recreation, and to the west of Rijeka – the beaches of Kostan and Ploce. Further west, 10 km from the city, there is the resort area of Opatija Riviera with many pebble and platform beaches.
This beach is located closest to the center, you can get to it along the busy promenade in 20 minutes.
Kostanj beach was equipped in 2008 – with its help, the authorities of Rijeka tried to attract as many vacationers as possible. On its territory there is everything that is required for a good beach holiday: showers and changing rooms, numerous cafeterias and bars, as well as sports centers that rent boats and catamarans. The main distinguishing feature of the beach is that it is designed for people with disabilities.
For cleanliness and safety, Kostan is awarded the “blue flag” of the EU.
A little further from the city center than Kostan is the Ploce beach.
It covers an area of 14 km² with a well-equipped promenade: a volleyball court, numerous cafes, showers, changing cabins, as well as a particularly popular pool complex.
The eco-friendliness and cleanliness of Ploče beach have been awarded the EU’s blue flag.
Like the previous one, this Rijeka beach for Croatia can be considered a few exceptions: it is covered with small pebbles, and not with rocky or concrete blocks.
See also our selection of the best beach holiday destinations in Croatia .
In Opatija, rocky beaches, and the slopes to the sea on them are laid with concrete slabs – for Croatia this is a common occurrence. Along the coast, the Opatiysky Lungomar embankment stretches for 12 km, where you can not only take a walk and enjoy the sea views, but also enjoy a tasty meal in one of the many restaurants, buy souvenirs in numerous shops. The best beaches in Opatija are Lido, Slatina, Tomashevac, Shkribichi.
Read more on the resort of Opatija on this page .
Prices for holidays in Rijeka
Rijeka is not very popular among tourists, so the prices here are much lower than in other cities of Croatia .
For a double room in a hotel you need to pay from 60 €, overnight in a hostel for one person will cost a total of 15 €. Renting an apartment through Airbnb will cost 40-50 €, and rooms – from 25 €. By the way, in the season prices remain at approximately the same level.
Near the National Theater. Ivan Hare is located Guver Apartments. Here, Rijeka offers free Wi-Fi, a well-equipped kitchen, and a bathroom with all necessary toiletries. A double room per day will cost from 90 €.
For the same price, you can rent a room at 3 * Riva Rooms, also located in the immediate vicinity of the Croatian National Theater. The rooms have air conditioning, televisions, refrigerators, private bathroom. Continental breakfast is also included.
Hostel Omladinski Rijeka was equipped in 2006, an attractive villa built in the 1940s was converted for this purpose. Visitors can choose a place in 2 and 6-bed rooms, and one place per day will cost 18 €, and for a double room you need to pay 43 €. The hostel is located at Setaliste XIII divizije 23.
Lunch for two in a mid-range restaurant will cost about 30 €, for a cup of coffee or a glass of beer you need to pay about 3 €. At McDonald’s or similar fast food you can eat well for only 5 €.
Holidays in Riev can be made even more budgetary if you buy ready-made food in supermarkets, or cook from products bought on the market. For example, 1 kg of locally produced cheese can be bought for 7 €, and 1 kg of potato for only 0.6 €. Bananas and oranges will cost 1.6 € per 1 kg, and apples – 1.2 €.
How to get to Rijeka from Zagreb
Closest to Rijeka are the airports of Pula and Zagreb. You can get to the city as one or the other point.
You can travel from Zagreb to Rijeka by bus, train or car.
How to get from Zagreb to Rijeka by bus – there are no problems. A bus departs every half hour on a given route; the travel time is 2.5 hours. Departure comes from the central bus station Zagreb, arrival – at the bus station Rijeka.
There are several carriers, but the most comfortable buses are offered by Autotrans (ticket price 9-10 €) and Brioni (8-9 €). You can buy tickets at the box office or online on the website of the carrier company.
The railway line Zagreb – Pula is laid through Rijeka, so you can get to Rijeka by train. But there are only 3 flights per day, the trip takes 3.5 hours, and the ticket price is 13-19 €. In addition, trains in Croatia are quite old and uncomfortable. However, those who wish to travel by train can buy a ticket at the ticket office of the railway station or on the website of the railway station in Croatia.
Since the fare on the roads of Croatia is paid, when traveling from the Croatian capital Zagreb to Rijeka by car, you will have to pay about 10 €. The distance between cities is 165 km, gasoline will need 13 liters (its value must be found out during the trip). Travel time is about 2 hours.
By the way, travel by car can be arranged as a passenger. On the blablacar website there are offers to travel from Zagreb to Rijeka for 8-10 €.
Video: Croatia aerial view.