27 June 2022 Places

Rijeka City Guide - get to know the largest port in Croatia

In the city of Rijeka (River), you will often see I love the flowing city bumper stickers. The open and lively spirit of this city makes falling in love with it easy.

Rijeka is not just another typical summer destination, although it does feature beautiful beaches for swimming and enjoying the sea views. It is also a great choice for those who love an action-filled vacation, wandering and exploring the wonderful sights the city has to offer.

Rijeka - the largest port in Croatia

The city is located in the west of Croatia, to the north of the Gulf of Rijeka, which belongs to the larger Kvarner Bay of the Adriatic Sea. The third-largest city in Croatia, Rijeka is the administrative centre of the Primorje-Gorski Kotar County. It is located about 185 km from the capital Zagreb.

Throughout history, Rijeka has been considered a major industrial and shipbuilding centre, and one of the largest seaports in Europe. No matter which way you approach Rijeka, you will be welcomed by cranes, a recognizable symbol of the city. Over time, however, as industry and port traffic declined, Rijeka took on a role as a major tourist destination. The cranes remained, even though rarely in use, more as reminders of the city’s dynamic industrial beginnings.

Here, you can really see it all - ancient Roman ruins, medieval architecture, magnificent palaces built by the Austro-Hungarian Empire, an Art Nouveau market, city squares similar to those in Italy, buildings built during socialist times, and abandoned factories longing to come back to life. During the 20th century alone, Rijeka lay in as many as six different countries.

Rijeka has plentiful cultural and historical sights, and in 2020 it was declared the European Capital of Culture. The people of Rijeka are widely known for their excellent hospitality, and they will always welcome you with open arms. Rijeka is also a student city, which is one reason for the youthful spirit, tolerance, and openness it exuberates.

Great location and good connections with other cities

Due to its ideal position, Rijeka is well connected with other cities in Croatia, but also in neighbouring countries. You can reach Rijeka by water, land, or air. The most convenient way to get to the flowing city is certainly by air. The flight from Belgrade to Rijeka takes about 90 minutes, and you can book tickets to Rijeka online.

What to see in Rijeka

The starting point of the city tour is the Korzo (Promenade), a spacious walking area, to which almost all roads in Rijeka lead. It lies near the sea, and all the important sights are a stroll away, a brisk walk filled with the exhilarating spirit of the city. While walking along the Promenade, be sure to visit:

  • The City Tower which is the most recognizable symbol of Rijeka,
  • The Church of Our Lady of Lourdes,
  • The Governor's Palace (Maritime and Historical Museum of the Croatian Littoral),
  • Rijeka Revolution Square,
  • Kobler Square,
  • The old town (Old Town Gate, Cathedral of St. Vida, Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Leaning Tower, Rijeka Tunnel, etc.),
  • The city market,
  • Ivan Zajc National Theatre.

Enjoying a coffee in one of the many cafes in the centre of the city could come as a nice break during sightseeing. People from Rijeka love to drink coffee, but unlike Italians who take a five-minute espresso break at a cafe, the experience is different. Drinking coffee is a ritual here, consisting of a long and enjoyable time relaxing and chatting with friends.

It would be a shame to miss Trsat, at the top of a hill just outside of the city, a perfect place for an enjoyable walk, near interesting historical and cultural sites. You can reach Trsat by bus, but those of you who are in good shape and enjoy a challenge can also opt to climb the Petar Kružič steps to get there. All of 561 steps will take you to the top, but the effort will be well worth your while as you enjoy one of the most beautiful views of the Kvarner Bay. In addition to enjoying the view, visit:

  • Trsat Castle,
  • Shrine of Our Lady of Trsat,
  • Trsat Park,
  • The university campus.

An attraction for fans of old computers

The PEEK & POKE Museum has an impressive collection of retro computers, video game consoles, gadgets, and other computer hardware, taking you way back in time, in awe of how much technology has advanced over the last 50 years. If you visit this unique museum as a family, it is guaranteed fun for all ages, because you can play old games and sing karaoke.

Beaches not to be missed

f you happen to be in this seaside town during the summer, you can escape the city bustle by enjoying a swim at one of the many surrounding beaches. All beaches are located east or west of the city. They are not too far from the city centre, and city buses go to all the beaches.

Due to the Mediterranean climate, the swimming season in Rijeka is long - starting in early spring and not ending until late autumn. The sea is very clean, as you can see from the blue flags on Ploče and Kostanj beaches. Some of the most famous beaches in Rijeka are: Grčevo, Sablićevo, Bivio, Igralište, Ploče, Preluk, Kostanj, Glavanovo, etc.

Rijeka, as a base for other city excursions

Rijeka is perfectly situated – whichever way you chose to go from there, you will not go wrong, as there are countless options near this seaside town to spend the rest of your vacation.

If you chose to venture west, Opatija Riviera, or simply, Opatija, awaits you nearby, a favourite summer destination for both tourists and locals. The beaches in Opatija that you should visit are Tomaševac, Sveta Klara beach (Mali raj-Little Heaven), Roya, Lido, Miramar, and Lipovica.

If you have more time to explore, keep venturing west to enjoy the jewels of the Croatian coast – Pula, Rovinj, and Poreč.

On the other hand, if you head east, you can visit typical coastal towns such as Bakar, Bakarc, and Kraljevica, as well as Crikvenica and Novi Vinodolski Riviera. The island of Krk is also nearby.

You can reach Zagreb in mere two hours from Rijeka, and explore the countries of Italy or Slovenia, just an hour's drive away.


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