Croatia’s third-largest city and biggest seaport doesn’t generally feature as the first place tourists pick as their Croatia holiday destination.
Home to an international airport and harbour in the northern Adriatic Sea, the city is located with convenient access to Croatia’s islands and inland attractions.
If you aren’t convinced yet, here are our top 9 things to do in Rijeka if you decide to visit for a city break.
1. Concerts at the Rijeka National Theatre
A beautiful building in itself, the Ivan pl. Zajc Croatian National Theatre is set amidst a quaint courtyard garden close to the banks of the Rječina River.
Near the port’s docks, the structure is situated on the land of the former army training ground.
Today this artistic theatre is the place to immerse yourself in the cultural accomplishment of Croatian drama, Italian drama, opera, and ballet with a full schedule of shows on offer.
Not only are the performances a unique way to experience the city culture, but theatre tours are open to visitors allowing one to witness spectacular architectural design, art, and sculpture.
Built in 1885, the ceiling artwork of Gustav Klimt has been carefully preserved, creating an atmosphere perfect for a complete Croatian cultural experience.
2. Trsat Castle
The 13th-century hilltop Trsat Castle is not only a place of historical intrigue, telling the city tales of centuries past, but its location is the perfect spot from which to catch the best views over Rijeka and the Kvarner Gulf.
While there, visit the Church of Our Lady of Trsat – a remarkable display of intricate sculpting, architecture, marble, gold detailing, and masterful artwork.
Tours are hosted for visitors showcasing the origin, history, and legends of the structure.
Since destruction due to invasion and wars, Trsat Castle has been restored and enriched by the presence of art exhibitions, summer concerts, and theatrical performances.
It is also a Christian pilgrimage centre today, featuring a statue of Pope John Paul II.
3. The Rječina River Promenade
The river Rječina resembles the starting point and essence of Rijeka city.
Full of colourful boats and yachts, lined with a shore-side promenade, and surrounded by the city’s Habsburg-era buildings with charming architecture, the river is a great place to take a wander, explore the city, and dine overlooking the shimmering waters.
Whether you start your day here or end it with a sunset stroll, this is one of our favourite places to soak in what this brilliant city has to offer.
4. Ploech Palace and the Modello Palace
Rijeka has a beautiful habit of keeping its history alive in modern times.
Built in 1885 Palace Modello is now home to the Italian Cultural Club and the public library of Rijeka.
Both the Ploech Palace and Modello Palace are prominent architectural sites in Rijeka with late renaissance and baroque style design elements of arches, sculpting, columns, and artistic intricacies.
5. The Lively Korzo Street
Korzo street is the place to get your shopping done, dine, and soak in the modern-day culture combined with the charm of the past.
The main promenade Korzo is a pedestrian-friendly walkway perfect for daytime exploration and relaxing, and a lively nightlife scene.
6. St. Vitus Cathedral and Capuchin Church of Our Lady of Lourdes
Dating back to the Roman empire and spanning the Medieval age, the ancient city of Rijeka boasts some beautiful and historic churches.
St. Vitus’ Cathedral is the only sizable Baroque rotunda built in Croatia.
The construction of this church began in 1638. Steeped in history, legendary tales, and intriguing baroque art, the St. Vitus church became a cathedral between the two world wars.
By appointment, visitors can see a collection of paintings, goldsmiths’ works, rare books, prints, and other religious works of art in the gallery of the cathedral.
You will also find a portrait of St. Francis Xavier, the patron saint of tourists.
The Capuchin Church of Our Lady of Lourdes is another spectacular construction overlooking the port.
This neo-Gothic church was built in the early 20th century.
7. Rijeka Museums
Rijeka boasts a remarkable collection of museums and exhibitions portraying much of its rich history, culture, development, and natural treasures.
The Natural History Museum features a beautiful botanical garden, with the museum being a multimedia centre including an aquarium.
Besides fish, sharks, and sea rays from the Adriatic, species of insects, reptiles, birds, and amphibians can also be seen.
Rijeka City Museum houses eleven collections including fine arts, arts & crafts, medals, arms from the Second World War and from the Croatian War of Independence, and a collection of theatre and film material.
Other popular museums in Rijeka include the Modern and Contemporary Art Museum and the fascinating Peek & Poke Museum of old computers, in an area of three hundred square meters.
8. Clock Tower
The Clock Tower represents the original gateway to the city from the port in medieval times.
Situated on top of the old Roman arch, it was converted into a tower after it survived the town’s earthquake destruction in the 1700s.
The yellow tower later gained the clock, still telling the correct time today, and is now an iconic symbol of the city.
9. Rijeka Festivals and Adventure Activities
Rijeka city is home to a remarkable number of music and cultural festivals from jazz and rock performances to literary festivals and art exhibitions.
Not only is the city a dream for culture vultures, but adventurists can find their fair share of exciting activities in the area including kayaking, hiking, and paragliding.
Besides a variety of beaches, you can also cool down at the Kantrida pools – a complex of five pools located near the sea with an amazing view over the islands.
The coastal area is also remarkable for diving. The Adriatic’s clear waters and wealth of underwater life feature underwater cliffs, corals, caves, and shipwrecks.
For a little adrenaline, venture ten kilometres outside Rijeka to the auto-moto track Grobnik and then go to see stars at the Astronomical Centre Rijeka.
The astronomy centre is located on a hill with magnificent views over Rijeka Bay and mountain landscapes.
Enjoy dining along cobblestone street cafes, sink your toes into Mediterranean beach sands, soak in the history and cultural flair, and marvel at picturesque views.
Rijeka offers some of the best Mediterranean holidays for families, adventurists, and romantics.