Rijeka

Discover the city with our Rijeka travel guide, and find the best things to do, hotels, restaurants, bars and more...

The great Croatian road trip
Things to do

The great Croatian road trip

Running from Rijeka on the Kvarner Gulf to Karasovići on the border with Montenegro, Croatia’s Jadranska magistrala or Adriatic Highway offers one of Europe’s most unforgettable journeys. Whether weaving its way round deeply indented bays or skirting scree-covered mountains, there’s scarcely a single boring kilometre in its 650km length. The magistrala may frequently set your stomach a-churn with its endless twists and turns, but the views it offers are unforgettable, with the Adriatic’s famously stark islands parading in stately procession before your eyes. Travelling along the magistrala used to be a severe test of holiday- season nerves, with its columns of caravans, straggling towns with speed restrictions, and enough blind corners to make overtaking a near impossibility. With Croatia’s still-growing motorway network now taking the pressure off much of the magistrala, the route is re-discovering its reputation as one of Europe’s greatest coastal odysseys. We’ve chosen two large chunks of the magistrala for our list of Croatian road trips listed below, followed by three more recommendations for exhilarating and rewarding drives. For twists, turns and superb maritime views, there are few roads in Europe that can match the magistrala, especially in this northern stretch. A sense of the otherworldly sets in early, with the hypnotically bleak and tawny island of Krk dominating the western horizon. The huddled town of Senj with its knoll-top Nehaj fortress provides a good p

Summer classics presented by HNK Rijeka in Pula amphitheatre
Things to do

Summer classics presented by HNK Rijeka in Pula amphitheatre

Like its sister in Zagreb, the Croatian National Theatre Ivan pl. Zajc in Rijeka is one of the city's most staggering architectural landmarks, a glorious, 130-year-old remnant of former Austro-Hungarian rule that offers international renowned ballet, opera, music performance and drama to residents and visitors in the Kvarner region. With its season now closed for the summer, there's still opportunity to catch some spectacular opera and classical music presented the theatre as they have decamped to Pula's wonderfully well preserved Roman amphitheatre where they will perform three unforgettable evenings entertainment.Whether you're visiting Rijeka and the Kvarner region or Pula and the Istrian peninsula, don't miss these spectacular shows in a spectacular setting, presented by Croatian National Theatre Ivan pl. Zajc in Rijeka

Rijeka's icons
Art

Rijeka's icons

Pretty Rijeka might be steeped in Hapsburg-era elegance, but there's nothing last-century about its grittily modern cultural scene. The arts are thriving here, in what will be the European City of Culture 2020. That might be surprising to some tourists, who have never given it much attention. Perched on the Kvarner Bay, the city is Croatia's longest-serving seaport, but visitors tend to bypass it for the alluring nearby islands. That has left punky Rijeka to get on with what it does best – creating brilliant, cutting-edge art. 'Red Rijeka' (so dubbed by Croats for its left-leaning locals) is the defiantly edgy younger sister of sophisticated Zagreb. A melting pot of Italian, Hungarian and Croatian influences, the port city has always had a creative buzz about it, but it really 'found itself' in the '80s, when it played host to Yugoslavia's burgeoning punk-rock movement. The city has continued to breed alternative talent, and it now boasts some of Croatia's most exciting writers, artists and musicians. They tend to be fiercely independently-minded, but if there's one thing that unites them it's the pride they take in the spunky heritage of their art-loving city.

An alternative tour of Rijeka
Things to do

An alternative tour of Rijeka

In order to pick away at the complex layers of Rijeka’s history and culture you sometimes need to get away from the canonical tourist sights and roam further afield, taking in some of the idiosyncratic and often unsung attractions that reveal stories that aren’t always adequately told in the set-piece museums. What follows is a list of the kind of locations that have something to say about the city’s complicated psychogeograpy. Although some of them are a bit far-flung and might require a bus ride or a taxi, most are walkable from the centre and offer excellent opportunities to savour the mixture of residential, park-side and industrial neighbourhoods that give the city on the Kvarner its unique character. RECOMMENDED: The best things to do in Rijeka.  

Rijeka carnival: the essential guide
Things to do

Rijeka carnival: the essential guide

Many cities celebrate Mardi Gras. Rio, Venice and New Orleans have long been known for their pre-Lenten processions, a tradition harking back to medieval Europe, pagan rites and the casting out of winter. Around this region, these rituals are also historically linked to the threat of invasion by the Turks, a deep-rooted fear woven into the communal psyche for much of the last millennium. Elsewhere in Croatia, most notably the remote island of Lastovo, locals burn effigies and throw fireworks at fez-bearing figures. This being Rijeka, though, the history is a bit more convoluted. With Rijeka’s deep-water port coveted by both Venice and Vienna, and the town full of medieval intrigue, the city authorities banned the wearing of masks, at carnival or any other time, in 1449. Rijeka Carnival, © St. Valter   But Rijeka has always had a rebellious streak. Isolated groups continued the tradition over the centuries before, in 1982, with a nod to history and an eye for a party, three of them decided to revive the concept of a city carnival. Lako ćemo, Pehinarski feštari and Halubajski Zvončari donned masks and paraded through the streets around the time of Mardi Gras, attracting a few hundred friends and curious onlookers. Pretty soon, these numbers had run into the thousands and the groups into the dozens. In 1995, Rijeka was included in the Federation of European Carnival Cities. By 2001, there were well over 100 groups and organisers had to limit numbers. More than 100,000 vi

Where to stay in Rijeka

Where to stay in Rijeka
Things to do

Where to stay in Rijeka

Despite two four-star venues, the Hotel Bonavia Plava Laguna and the Hotel Jadran, the range of accommodation in Croatia’s third-biggest town is disappointing. A short drive down the coast, the new complex of Novi Spa Hotels & Resort should give the various downtown hotels a run for their money. Also, about 20 minutes outside of Rijeka, in the preserved old town of Kastav, the Kukiriku has lodging above its excellent restaurant.

Hotel Bonavia Plava Laguna
Hotels

Hotel Bonavia Plava Laguna

Rijeka’s classiest option is a modern business hotel with a spa and gym. Sauna cabins and massage and beauty treatments have also been introduced. The 120 rooms are tastefully done out, the in-house Kamov restaurant is one of the best in town, and the terrace café overlooks the city.

Time Out says
5 out of 5 stars
Hotel Continental
Hotels

Hotel Continental

Upgraded to a three-star after a renovation in 2008, the central Continental is in a bulky 100-year-old structure overlooking the canal. It’s a nice view, though the square below tends to fill with noisy teens when it’s not a school night, so a rear window can be better. Reasonably priced, comfortable and convenient.

Time Out says
3 out of 5 stars
Hotel Jadran
Hotels

Hotel Jadran

Jadran contains 66 nicely fitted rooms in an enviable shoreside location. Set by Rijeka’s first stretch of swimmable sea with its own stop on the No.1 bus route east of town in Pećine, the Jadran (‘Adriatic’) has been a spot for bathing since it opened in 1914. There’s a supplement charged for sea-facing rooms. Half and full-board deals are available.

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Neboder
Hotels

Neboder

If you’re looking for a cheapie in town and the Continental is full, come to the aptly named 14-floor ‘Skyscraper’ by the flyover. Following renovations a few years ago it now has an underground car park and café. The wonderful Socialist-era lobby has, sadly, been replaced by something more modern - while the rooms remain adequate.

Time Out says
3 out of 5 stars

Recommended restaurants in Rijeka

The best Rijeka restaurants
Restaurants

The best Rijeka restaurants

Rijeka majors in fish, seafood and simple Venetian-inspired dishes, thanks to its seaport location and cultural mixing with nearby Italy. Rijeka has a handful of upscale restaurants that provide international culinary quality, but you can also experience some local specialities at more affordable restaurants. Read on for our critic's guide to the best restaurants in Rijeka. RECOMMENDED: Everything you need to know about Rijeka.  

Conca d'Oro
Restaurants

Conca d'Oro

With a good location and a reputation as one of the best places in town, this busy cellar restaurant can charge higher prices than most. Along with the usual seafood offerings, appetisers include fish carpaccio with capers, and marinated salmon. The day fish is displayed on ice, and includes a wide selection of molluscs. The hefty salads can work as a small meal, followed by a number of cheeses. Snappy service adds to a pleasant atmosphere.

Time Out says
5 out of 5 stars
Tarsa
Restaurants

Tarsa

Hidden away among quiet suburban lanes behind Trsat’s sports hall, Tarsa could almost be a village inn, and it’s not surprising that it has become one of Rijeka’s prime venues for a slap-up traditional meal. Despite being a modern building the décor is decidedly trad, with plenty of exposed brick and wooden beams. The menu revolves around lavish platters of local meat and fish, grilled or baked; home-made pastas with tangy goulash accompaniment; and some of the Kvarner Gulf’s best pancakes to round things off. Pay particular attention to the platters for two; specialities such as the Franjo Glavinić pork chop stuffed with pršut and mozzarella or the Maksimilijan squid with baked potatoes and vegetables are well worth the extra outlay.

Time Out says
5 out of 5 stars
Konoba Na Kantunu
Restaurants

Konoba Na Kantunu

This once-tiny seafood bistro has expanded into the neighbouring room and kitted itself out with new furniture – its reputation for serving some of Rijeka’s best seafood in a simple setting remains unchanged. Settle at one of the rustic wooden tables in the bright, modern interior and admire the trays of just-caught fish and crustaceans chilling behind the glass. Point at your choice and wait for it to be expertly grilled, perhaps dressed lightly with olive oil and big chunks of sea salt, and then served up as a minimalist masterpiece. The car park terrace gets the sun and gives a view of the docks. You can find fancier, but not much better.

Time Out says
5 out of 5 stars
Municipium
Restaurants

Municipium

Municipium is set in a grand Habsburg-era building, tucked away in a quiet courtyard right in the centre of town. Door staff greet you at the entrance – decorum is all. The menu is vast and fish-oriented, most of it priced in the 300kn/kg range, which is very reasonable considering the quality of service, presentation and the fare itself. Courgettes, wild asparagus and other greens get a look-in and the wine list runs to 150 (mainly Croatian) varieties.

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars

The best bars in Rijeka

The best bars in Rijeka
Bars and pubs

The best bars in Rijeka

There's seemingly a bar on every corner in Rijeka. Proud of its Mediterranean café culture, the city's streets are lined with bars of all stripes. From classic downtown bars to grungy pubs and trendy nightspots, here's our pick of the best bars in Rijeka. RECOMMENDED: Your ultimate guide to Rijeka.

Three Monkeys Bar
Bars and pubs

Three Monkeys Bar

Opened in November 2018, Three Monkeys Bar has been an immediate hit among Rijeka's mid 20's to early 40's crowd thanks to its swish décor, the theatre of its exemplary service and its refined cocktails. A long, thin venue with funky, exposed lighting hanging from above and a DJ sometimes perched at the end of the bar on weekends, it is frequently busy in the evenings with parties or groups of friends savouring cocktails dressed with slices of cucumber or orange zest and served in deliciously chunky glasses. By day, it serves one of the best coffees to be found in the city, although its vast array of high-quality spirits is also available if you're in the mood. All drinks are prepared by knowledgeable, friendly and extremely well-presented staff.

Time Out says
5 out of 5 stars
Book Caffe Dnevni Boravak
Bars and pubs

Book Caffe Dnevni Boravak

Living-room-style hangout that will appeal to those who like a bit of culture with their coffee – the floor-to-ceiling shelves are absolutely stacked with books, CDs and vinyl LPs, while a small annexe serves as a cute art gallery. Literary readings and live music feature several times a month; on other days it serves as a mellow social hub for the city’s reading, writing and chatting community.

Time Out says
5 out of 5 stars
Samovar Bar
Bars and pubs

Samovar Bar

A great little café with cushions, carpets and chandeliers setting an old-fashioned living-room tone, and with outdoor seating right in front of one of Rijeka’s most instagrammable street murals.  As well as being a popular coffee-and-cake stop, it’s also an outlet for locally based tea-blending outfit Samovar (whose shop is just across the way). Sporting energising names such as ‘Torpedo’ or ‘Rijeka Riser’, their blends mix strong black and green teas with floral flavours and aromatic spices.

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
The Beertija
Bars and pubs

The Beertija

Uphill from the centre in Trsat but well worth seeking out, this Rijeka branch of Zagreb’s Beertija bar sticks to the same formula – a superb range of bottled beers from all over the world, and well-chosen weekend DJs. Look out, too, for indie nights, Doors tribute bands and all kinds of excuses for a party.

Time Out says
5 out of 5 stars

The best attractions in Rijeka

The best attractions in Rijeka
Things to do

The best attractions in Rijeka

Rijeka remains the northern Adriatic’s main hub of transport and commerce, and as the centre of social and cultural life, it also possesses a palpable year-round buzz. Start at the Korzo, which runs parallel to the harbourfront Riva. St Vitus’ Church, Peek&Poke and Trsat Castle are all standout attractions. RECOMMENDED: More great things to do in Rijeka.

Ivan pl. Zajc Croatian National Theatre
Theatre

Ivan pl. Zajc Croatian National Theatre

Both an architectural and cultural landmark, Rijeka’s Croatian National Theatre was designed by the same team of architects as its namesakes in Split and Zagreb: Austrian Ferdinand Fellner and his German partner Hermann Helmer. In fact, the pair created dozens of theatres across Europe, from Odessa to Zürich, this one opened in 1885. Though Croatian-language performances here may be of limited interest, there’s also ballet and opera on the agenda, and the interior is worth a look around – Gustav Klimt and brother Ernst helped paint the ceiling before its grand unveiling, a performance of Verdi’s Aida.

Museum of Modern & Contemporary Art
Art

Museum of Modern & Contemporary Art

Founded in 1948, Rijeka’s Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (Muzej moderne i suvremene umjetnosti or MMSU) has long enjoyed a reputation for holding some of the most exciting contemporary art exhibitions in the country. It is also the host of the Biennial of the Quadrilateral, a contemporary art show featuring artists from Croatia, Italy, Slovenia and Hungary – a quartet of countries that has had a profound effect on the history of Rijeka. Works from the museum’s large permanent collection are rarely seen save during occasional themed exhibitions – the museum’s current home, in the same building as the Rijeka municipal library, is too limited to host more than the (albeit excellent) temporary exhibitions. The MMSU has been promised a new home in the Rikard Benčić palace, built to serve as the HQ of a sugar refinery in 1752 and currently awaiting long-discussed restoration. The completion date lies some way in the future, although the project will help to confirm the MMSU’s status as an increasingly major player in the Central-European art scene. Over the past few years the MMSU has been run by a string of directors who have also been big-hitting curators – a trend that seems set to continue with the arrival of new chief Slaven Tolj (former head of the Lazareti Art Workshop in Dubrovnik).

Trsat Castle
Attractions

Trsat Castle

Visit this fort for the panoramic view alone, best enjoyed from the terrace café beneath the Nugent mausoleum – the Kvarner Bay spreads out before you. Irish-born Austro-Hungarian naval commander Laval Nugent-Westmeath fought Napoleon and rebuilt the medieval Frankopan fortress to house his family and his art collection – his hoard of Greek vases can now be seen in Zagreb’s Museum of Archaeology. The mausoleum is worth a look, partly if you like your Central-European history, partly to see how the dynasty looked back then

Natural History Museum
Museums

Natural History Museum

Behind the Governor’s Palace it overlooks, Rijeka‘s Natural History Museum established its large collection of specimens from the Kvarner Bay, Gorski Kotar and Istria, thanks to private collectors from the mid 19th century onwards. Key displays include one of sharks and rays, and a geological history of the Adriatic Sea.

Rijeka nightlife guide

Rijeka nightlife guide
Nightlife

Rijeka nightlife guide

If you're looking for somewhere to drink, dance or party in Rijeka, you're spoilt for choice. Ever rebellious Rijeka has a nightlife scene that matches its reputation as Croatia's most alternative city, with an intoxicating array of fun bars, pubs and clubs. Hit up these late-night bars and clubs in Rijeka to quench your thirst into the early hours.

Crkva
Clubs

Crkva

Rijeka is a city that is famed for its nightlife and in addition to the wide variety of clubs on offer in the city you will also find special parties and small festival like events taking place occasionally in some of the former industrial buildings by the city's waterside. Many such events revolve around underground dance music and occur sporadically, but Crkva (meaning church) is the city's premier spot for such sounds each and every week. Spectacular lights and visuals mark this intimate venue, its DJ booth raised and placed centrally in the room to appear like an altar in a church, from where the DJ delivers his/her sermon. They host old school techno nights, hip hop concerts, various styles of house music events, hard dance parties and just about every Croatian DJ worth their salt plays here, alongside international guests who appear roughly once a month.

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Život
Clubs

Život

Every city needs a place like Život. A live music venue where you can really let your hair down, Život offers a stage to visiting indie bands and DJs who play everything from grime to Yugoslavian disco. Decorated like your gran's house on drugs-expect to see UV-blasted dollies and dodgy watercolours-it's an essential part of a night out in Rijeka, and its reasonable price-list draws in a loyal crowd.

Time Out says
5 out of 5 stars
Tunel
Clubs

Tunel

This tunnel dug into a railway embankment is heaving most nights, especially at weekends when there’s usually a band and DJs playing techno and/ or electronica. A vaulted stone ceiling, lasers and a good-looking crowd in their twenties and thirties comprise the decor. Getting to the bar, or just finding a place to stand, can be a challenge. The few tables out front fill up in warmer weather.

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Rakhia Bar
Nightlife

Rakhia Bar

Specialising in rakija, the local form of grappa that comes in all kinds of flavours, Rakhia is essential a lively urban nightspot which programmes live music on Tuesdays, and DJs and parties Thursdays through Saturdays. Scattered in between are rakija tastings for extensive sampling.

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars