Učka
© HPD ŽeljezničarUčka

Amazing winter trips from Rijeka

Fabulous winter breaks a day-tripping distance from Rijeka

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Closer to the Alps than it is to Dalmatia, Rijeka offers plenty of outdoor activities within easy reach of town. Historic landmarks and national parks get a dusting of snow, and there’s hiking, climbing and even skiing to be had nearby.

Amazing winter trips from Rijeka

A historical holiday
© Viktor Pravdica

A historical holiday

Rijeka is ringed by castles – there’s even one in town. Trsat is accessed by a grandiose staircase, Trsatske stube, from alongside Titov trg. As you climb, the view widens out until the reason for this vantage point being coveted by the Romans, Frankopans and Habsburgs becomes clear. With a commanding panorama of the Bay of Kvarner, Trsat was an obvious spot to site a fortress. By the time Irish military leader Laval Nugent was gifted it after the Napoleonic Wars, it was in poor condition. Rebuilding it in neo-Gothic style, he also commissioned the family mausoleum here. 

In winter, with no leaves to block the view, the vista from the battlements is unparalleled. 

With their powerbase in nearby Krk, the Frankopans were the most dominant dynasty in the Middle Ages, illustrated by the castles they left behind. 

The nearest to Rijeka is Grobnik, whose striking façade looks even more dramatic when surrounded by a blanket of snow. Legend has it that when a nobleman took a shine to a local village girl, Lucy, she jumped from the battlements in fright. The spring below, in winter a picturesque scene of ice and snow, has been named after her.

Back to nature
© James Cumming

Back to nature

The forests, nature parks and national parks surrounding Rijeka are ideal for an active day out in winter. 

The nearest nature park of Učka stretches close to Lovran just outside Rijeka. Though many of the mammals here hibernate in winter, the various bats taking to dark caves, you should still be able to spot the odd roe deer, wild boar, shrew or alpine salamander. You may even spy a golden eagle, peregrine falcon or griffon vulture flying above. Conifers, specifically spruce and black pine, cover great swathes of Učka, offering a particularly magical scene on snowy winter days.

Also within easy reach from Rijeka, the main gateway of Delnice an hour’s drive away, Risnjak National Park is home to the lynx after which it is named. Hunted to extinction once the Habsburgs started making these picturesque, forested slopes a favoured holiday destination from the 1800s, the Eurasian lynx has been successfully reintroduced – although it remains a solitary creature happiest on higher ground. Visitors have more chance of spotting a chamois, a wild boar or an eagle owl. Wolves, bears and wild cats are also known to venture out at certain times of the year.

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Outdoor adventures
© Platak

Outdoor adventures

Učka, Risnjak and Velebit attract outdoor adventurers all year round, while skiers head for Platak.

First scaled by a Venetian botanist in 1722, Mount Učka and surrounding slopes are claimed by hikers, mountain bikers and climbers every weekend – paragliders and hang-gliders prefer the warmer months to leap off the ramps at Vojak and Brgud. There are eight recommended routes for mountain bikers while climbers can choose from 62 routes in the canyon of Vela draga. 

Hikers can explore one of the picture-postcard villages dotting the landscape, such as the wine-producing community of Lovranska Draga. One of the ancient paths here leads to Oporovina, where prehistoric remnants were discovered in 1929. Another leads past a rushing stream all the way down to the coast. 

Many come to Risnjak to hike or climb. From the picturesque village of Crni Lug, at the entrance to the park, a signposted educational trail runs through the trees for 4.5km. Those with stronger calves and proper hiking boots can also take a more challenging route up to Veliki Risnjak, the highest point in the park. Most reach the top in around three hours, with a rest stop at Šloserov dom, named after the 19th-century botanist who first detailed the landscape here.

Also easily accessible from Rijeka, the North Velebit National Park is spectacular hiking country, although be prepared for sudden storms and freezing winds. The information centre is located at Krasno, a mountain village the other side of Senj. Hiking options include three peaks over 1,600 metres high. Afterwards reward yourself with a hot drink or a warming schnapps at the Dom Zavizan lodge. 

Finally, few realise how close a ski centre is to Rijeka. Set alongside Risnjak, Platak contains seven ski runs for varying skill levels, with night-time skiing also available. There’s a cablecar and non-skiers can hire sledges. Kids will also love the year-round, 160-metre-long tube track to zoom down.

Hikers can follow three marked trails leading from the car park, and each taking about two or three hours, light climbs with a mountain lodge en route or near the top.

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