If you’re considering visiting Rijeka, Croatia then congratulations - you’ve picked a coastal city of Croatia that’s much more authentic and less touristy than other popular coastal destinations like Split or Dubrovnik.
In fact, Rijeka is a popular base for digital nomads and expats because the prices are much lower than other coastal towns and you can find a far more local and authentic experience of Croatian city life.
That doesn’t mean there’s any shortage of things to see in Rijeka or places to visit in Rijeka! This vibrant coastal city is the third largest city in Croatia after Zagreb and Split and is known for its fishing industry, deep-water port and as the 2020 European City of Culture.
After spending some time in the city of Rijeka, we were more than pleasantly surprised to discover plenty of things to do around Rijeka and it felt like a real Croatia hidden gem!
At the time of writing I’ve been living in Croatia for nearly 6 months on the Croatian Digital Nomad visa and Rijeka is probably still one of my favourite underrated spots in Croatia.
Without further ado, here is my Rijeka travel guide to the best things to do in Rijeka.
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Below are some of the top rated tours, hotels and recommendations for visiting Rijeka. Make sure to book ahead of time to ensure availability!
Top Experiences and Tours in Rijeka:
1) Visit Postojna Cave and Predjama Castle
2) Krk Island Ziplining tour(perfect for adrenaline lovers!)
3) Istria Highlights tour (visit the beautiful and underrated Istria region)
Top Hotels and Accommodation in Rijeka:
1) Hotel Bonavia Plava Laguna (Great central location)
1) Hilton Rijeka Costabella (Further out the city but right on the beach and family friendly)
3) InCenter Apartments (where we always stay in a self-catered apartment)
Is Rijeka, Croatia worth visiting?
I’m obviously a fan of Rijeka and I think it is a unique city when you compare it to other coastal Croatian towns.
There’s a lot to do there and if you’re someone who loves to be immersed in local culture, discover hidden gems and experience a more authentic side to a country while still having all the convenience of a city - then Rijeka is a great option for you.
However if you’re planning to visit Croatia for beautiful beaches, charming old towns, partying or luxury resorts - choosing to visit just Rijeka probably isn’t for you!
However Rijeka is a great jumping off point for many of Croatia’s spectacular islands and although you won’t find any city beaches, there are plenty of beach options within driving or boating distance!
When is the best time to visit Rijeka?
Despite being a ‘less touristy’ city than other coastal cities like Split or Dubrovnik, the allure of turquoise blue Adriatic, fantastic seafood and great weather does still attract more visitors during the peak season of July-August.
The best time to visit the city is during the shoulder seasons: May-early June or September-October when the weather is still usually good but the crowds and the prices are lower!
Winter weather is much cooler however it’s also a popular time to travel to Rijeka due to the famous Rijeka Carnival which is the biggest carnival in Croatia.
Where to park in Rijeka
If you’re visiting Rijeka as part of a Croatia road trip like us then knowing where to park in a city is really helpful information!
Having a car to get around Rijeka and explore more places to visit near Rijeka is also beneficial as there’s a huge amount of nature, hikes, beaches and attractions which are more easily reached by car.
This is another indicator of how non-touristy Rijeka is - there’s a huge parking space right by the city centre called Parking Delta. Here you will find 500 spaces and it’s just 6kn / 1 euro per hour during the day, but free 9pm-7am every night and free after 2pm on Saturdays and Sundays.
Reserving a space in advance is not possible but with plenty of places it shouldn’t be a problem, although I recommend not arriving or leaving at commuter times as the queue in/out around 9am and 5pm was huge!
Where to eat in Rijeka
Best seafood in Rijeka
No trip to Rijeka is complete without sampling some of the incredible fresh fish that’s caught daily here.
For a traditional konoba, head to Feral Konoba with charming stone walls and fishing nets strung across the ceiling. For a more modern experience but with a cute rustic vibe, try Na Kantunu Restaurant on the edge of the old town area - the mussels are amazing!
Best pizza restaurant in Rijeka
We do have a bit of a soft spot for pizza and always try to find the best in a new city. Don’t miss Maslina.- the thousands of reviews speak for themselves about how popular this Italian restaurant is!
Best authentic dining experience in a Rijeka Konoba
Konoba Fiume is an authentic and very affordable Croatian dining experience with a beautiful exposed stone interior and plenty of Croatian staple dishes from fresh seafood to meat dishes.
Top things to do in Rijeka: places to visit
1. Take a stroll along Breakwater
The Breakwater is the 1,707m long promenade which now serves as the passenger terminal and port for ferries and cruises.
This huge stretch of promenade is known as Molo Longo because it’s so long and it took 16 years to complete in the late 19th Century.
There’s also a great casual restaurant on the Breakwater with great views called GRAD.
2. Visit Trsat Castle
You might catch a glimpse of Trsat Castle, built in the 13th Century on a hill 1138 metres above sea level and overlooking the city.
Because of the position of the castle, it’s recommended that you drive, take a taxi or a bus, although if the weather is cool enough the brave can walk up the steep hill too!
As well as visiting the castle itself, the castle is also home to an art gallery and regular events in the city such as open-air concerts and theatre in the summer months.
3. Go for a romantic evening walk at Opatija
One of my personal favourite things to do in Rijeka!
There’s a beautiful 12km walk from Volosko to Lovran which is located 20 minutes drive outside the city.
This is a gorgeous spot for an evening walk to watch the sunset and maybe enjoy a glass of wine or two along the water.
4. Visit the famous Krk Island
Located a bit further south of Rijeka is Krk Island. There’s so much to do here that you could take a week trip just to explore the island itself!
Krk is also where Rijeka airport is located.
If you do plan to spend time on Krk, there are so many charming towns, villages and beautiful beaches to visit:
Baska - In the furthest southern point of the island is Baska which has one of the most famous beaches in Croatia.
Krk is the main hub on the island and a great place to stay if you’re planning to explore the island over several days
Punat beach has a lagoon and a small island which is a beautiful spot for a relaxing day on the beach
Malinska is a popular tourist destination and another great option if you’re planning to stay overnight on Krk.
Don’t miss Vrbnik for its wine - it’s famous for the production of Zlahtina wine and you can visit several wineries.
5. See the city market and fish market
Rijeka is famous for its city markets!
Placa is the main market in Rijeka and people have been shopping and dining there for centuries.
You’ll find the market by the coast and you’ll also see the large indoor fish market here - do early if you want to buy some of the day’s catch!
The markets are located right next to the pier where many of the fishermen would bring their stock straight in to sell.
You can easily spend hours exploring the markets here, trying food and buying souvenirs and gifts to take home!
6. Enjoy an authentic seafood restaurant
Of course with the fishing industry in Rijeka, it would be wrong to not enjoy a seafood restaurant or two during your stay!
Na Kantunu restaurant is just across the street from the markets and is a hugely popular modern but casual seafood restaurant.
Feral konoba is another great option if you’d prefer to eat in a traditional Croatian konoba.
7. Walk the Korzo Promenade and Walk Korzo and see the city Clock Tower
Korzo is the historic street in the city and it’s where you’ll see much of the city’s famous architecture.
Take in the sights of the lively city and spot the yellow clock tower.
8. Enjoy a drink at Celtic Caffe Bard
If you’ve read any of my blogs before or follow me on Instagram you’ll know that I’m a big fan of breweries and taprooms. My partner and I usually seek them out in every city we visit because we love to support independent, local businesses and we usually always end up chatting to someone interesting!
We found this taproom with a really cool interior, kind of rustic and gothic but also with a really nice terrace area out the front which faces directly onto the Cathedral of St Vid, so you can enjoy a drink with a view!
9. Explore the River Tunnel Explore the River Tunnel
This military tunnel runs underneath the city from the Cathedral of St Vitus and below the Old Town to the Dolac Primary School which was once the headquarters of the Corps at the time the tunnel was built.
The tunnel is 350m long and was constructed for military purposes in 1939. It was used both during the Second World War and during the Croatian war for Independence as a shelter for the city population.
You can visit the tunnel usually on Saturdays and Sundays and still see the Anti-aircraft Corps signs on the walls along the lengths of the tunnel.
10. See panoramic views of the city from the Petar Kruzic Stairway
Made up of 561 stone steps, this isn’t a walk for the faint hearted!
Find the stairway near the Rjecina River in the city centre and follow these steps up to the castle. While this was originally a pilgrimage route to reach the Church of Our Lady Trsat at the top of the hill, the stairs are beautiful (but steep!) walk with incredible views of the city and the harbour below.
Alternatively, you could do as I suggest in recommendation number 2 and take a taxi up to the top of the hill to see Trsat Castle then walk back to the city down the stairs so you only have to go downhill!
Summary: Rijeka Croatia things to do
I really hope this guide to places to see in Rijeka and Rijeka tourist attractions have put the city on your radar a bit more!
I think it’s often missed by people visiting Croatia for a short time and the city has so much to offer, from what to do in Rijeka to places to visit nearby. Even if you’re just spending one day in Rijeka, there’s plenty to do and easy things to see to add to your Rijeka itinerary.
If you’re planning a Croatia coastal road trip, it’s a great stop that’s much cheaper than other coastal cities and make sure you add Pula and Rovinj to your Croatia itinerary if you’re continuing on to Istria.
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