Welcome to Rijeka, the third-largest city in Croatia. In its long history, Rijeka was part of many countries including the Austro-Hungaria, Italy, Yugoslavia, etc.
Today, this city in Croatia (which is a part of the European Union). It’s one of the most popular tourist destinations, with many wonderful places to visit.
In this article, we will showcase a few destinations you shouldn’t miss if you come to Rijeka. Don’t forget to visit the tourist board in Rijeka, for additional information .
Also If you are interested in visiting Croatia in general but are not sure where you should go, this article can give you a clue: Croatia Game of Thrones: Most Popular Locations to Visit.
The List of Things to Do in Rijeka
1. The Cathedral of Saint Vida
One of the first destinations that stand out when you come to the city Rijeka is the Cathedral of Saint Vida (Croatian: Katedrala Svetog Vida). This unusual architectural piece attracts the attention of many tourists (even those non-religious).
Placed in the Rijeka city center, Vitus Cathedral has a huge historical and artistic value. This building is a rotunda and is built-in gothic and baroque architecture style.
Its interior is mostly made of marble wood and glass. Stained glasswork, with the image of St Vitus, leaves an impression on everyone.
In addition, there is an urban legend about a man, a certain Petar Lončarević, who was playing cards near the church. After losing a game, Petar threw a stone at the crucifix.
What happened next was mind-blowing. There was blood coming out of Christ (I mean, from the figure of Christ not literal Christ for Christ’s sake).
The legend says that the ground literally swallowed Petar, leaving his waving arm. His hand was cut off and burned in public .
2. Trsat Castle
Trsat Castle (Croatian: Gradina Trsat) is located at the exact spot of an ancient Illyrian and Roman fortress. The castle is on the hill (that is 138m high) just above the port and the rest of the town, (which was the reason for its strategic position in the past).
In ancient times, there was a Liburnian observation post at this hill that was used for road monitoring. During the Roman times, it became a part of the so-called Liberia limes, which was established to protect the eastern border of the Roman Empire from barbarian invasions.
In the 19 century, Trsat Castle was completely reconstructed and renovated. Today, it is adapted for touristic purposes, becoming one of the top destinations for tourists from all around the world.
3. The Governor’s Palace
This is one of the most significant historical places in Rijeka. It was built as a business-residential complex for the governor of Rijeka.
Construction began in 1892, during the period of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. That’s why it’s not surprising that its designs come from Alajos Haussmann, which was one of the leading Hungarian architects of the time.
The Governor’s Palace is a protected cultural monument. The headquarters of the Maritime and History Museum are located in the Palace.
There is a museum of Governors Palace where you can find furniture and art objects like a collection of portraits of the most notable Rijeka people and other interesting things.
4. Maritime and History Museum of the Croatian Littoral
For those interested in the city’s history and development, the Maritime and History Museum is the best place for learning about Rijeka’s past.
Located at the former Governors Palace, the museum has impressive collections of artifacts from prehistoric times to the 20th century. The artifacts are divided into categories from archeological pre-historical, Greek, Roman, medieval to numismatic collections.
As a city that has an ancient port and is therefore near the sea, the History Museum has a huge collection of ships.
When you go to the museum, you will see all kinds of ship equipment, nautical instruments, maps, pictures, and other tools that represent Rijeka’s ship-building through history.
5. The Beaches
If there’s a way that Croatia can stand out among other Balkan countries, it is definitely its close relationship with the Adriatic Sea (it’s a coastal county, I mean). The Croatian coast is simply amazing.
There are a lot of beaches in Croatia that can be easily reached by bus. If you are using a car, don’t worry, free parking spots will most likely be available.
Together with Preluk Beach, Kostanj Beach is the westernmost beach in Rijeka. It is located in Kostanj Bay and is probably the best-equipped beach in Rijeka for all kinds of visitors.
This beach has accompanying adequate technical assets like floating sea barriers, showers, and toilets for disabled people.
The blue flag at the beach is a symbol of how clean the water in this Bay is, it is known (this is a GOT reference, not a mistake).
The beach is provided with a team of professional beach guards as an additional level of safety. Unfortunately, Pamela Anderson isn’t included (this is a Baywatch reference, I am not talking about the other video).
The second beach worth visiting is Ploče beach. This is the most visited beach in Rijeka, especially by young people. In 2012 it was voted for the best beach in the county under the category of urban/local beach.
For those of you who want to try some sports activities during the day, we recommend beach Igralište. This destination has a volleyball court that gathers a lot of people during the summer.
Igralište is convenient for pets as well. It has special areas for dogs, and it is near the town, so you can easily come with your dog.
Additionally, you can find places in this area with delicious food that will help you to recharge your energy levels after doing sports.
On the east side of the town, you can find Salićevo beach. It is one of the oldest beaches in Rijeka, just 15 minutes walk from the city center.
Buses from the city can drop you there fast so you don’t have to worry about transportation.
6. City Market
Some people say that if you want to explore a new city and understand its people and culture, the best way is to go to the city market.
No supermarket can replace the excitement of the unpredictable purchase at the city market. Besides that, during the summer, it is more appealing to visit the open-air market.
Rijeka’s main market is in the town center. The best time to visit the market is in the morning. This way, you are able to catch all those fresh products and feel the local atmosphere.
You will see that there is a lot of fresh vegetables and other food products, like seafood which is popular in this area.
7. Riječki Carnival
The best beaches are not the only thing that makes Rijeka city so exotic. There is an event that gives Rijeka a special vibe (it’s like you’re in Rio De Janeiro). This is the main cultural event of the year: Riječki Carnival.
The first time this carnival was held was in 1982. Soon after. it became the biggest carnival in the country,
The carnival consists of several events such as exhibitions, concerts, and sports competitions. However, the highlight of the carnival (which grabs the biggest attention) is the masked processions that you can see on the main streets of the city center.
The procession can be longer than five kilometers, with thousands of participants from Croatia and abroad.
It gets better and better every year because the costumes and decorations of the vehicles are more and more luxurious, which is one of the reasons why the procession attracts more than 100,000 visitors.
8. Night LIfe
When the sun goes down, the new Rijeka is awakening. This is the real underground city in Croatia. It has a rich and diverse offer of nightclubs and pubs located all across the city.
If you are looking for an underground place I would definitely recommend club Crkva (which means “church”). It is a unique club with a wooden roof and an altar for dj performers.
Many visitors say that the parties in Crkva have a holistic and sacred vibe, I wonder why (not really, it’s straightforward).
If you go to Crkva, you can hear mostly electronic, house, techno, and hip hop music.
The Bottom Line
City Rijeka is a unique place and destination which has a long history and diverse culture. In the 19th century, it became one of the biggest ports in the Adriatic Sea. Today it is the biggest seaport in Croatia.
In 2016, Rijeka was awarded the prestigious title of European Capital of Culture for the “Port of Diversity” program, This means that Rijeka is a city of culture and creativity in the eyes of Europe.
The European Capital of Culture is not only the title by which Europe declares certain cities as parts of the European family, this validation is always accompanied by the rapid development of the city which is a direct consequence of this award.
In that regard, Rijeka is a fast growing Croatian tourist city at the heart of the Adriatic sea. With its mixture of cultures, Rijeka is the best destination to start a tourist trip in this area.