Top 15 Things to Eat in Rijeka, Croatia

A European cruise with Carnival® is like no other European trip. You’ll stop in well-known ports, as well as travel to unexpected and remarkable seaside sanctuaries, such as Rijeka in Croatia. When you disembark in Rijeka, open up your senses to its local flavors, which are mostly Mediterranean with elements similar to Italian.

When in port, there are wonderful things to do in Rijeka. You’ll have the full spectrum of the region’s gastronomy at your fingertips as Rijeka is located centrally to islands and surrounding towns.

It’s a diverse and tasty list, the top 15 things to eat in Rijeka and each item is a must-have on your trip to this Croatian coastal haven.

woman eating a traditional croatian meal

1. Istria’s truffles

Inland from Rijeka is the nearby town of Istria. It’s famous for asparagus, but even more so for its black and white truffles. Tip: Truffles aren’t considered just for the wealthy here in Croatia since they grow in abundance. Truffles are hunted yearly in Croatia’s dense oak forests and rival those from Italy and France. In fact, you can find them in just about any marketplace, as it’s one of the most popular things to buy in Rijeka. Just make sure they come pre-packaged and sealed before you get back on the ship.

2. Asparagus

If you’re an omelet enthusiast, ask for an asparagus (and truffle) fritaja when eating breakfast in Rijeka. That way you’ll get to taste one of the most delicious asparagus picked in the wild. It has a stronger, more bitter taste, but it adds just the right amount of flavor to any dish.

3. Trešnje (sweet cherries)

Summertime is ripe for large, sweet cherries from the town of Lovran. Buy a couple of pounds, and enjoy them as a snack while you’re sitting by the seaside.

a large display of cherries for sale at a market in croatia

4. Anything with chestnuts

Lovran is also known for its sweet chestnuts in the autumn. Try chestnut desserts and cakes made with chestnut puree. If you decide to hunt for chestnuts yourself, there’s a Croatian belief that carrying three chestnuts with you at all times will bring you luck.

5. Rapska torta (Rab cake)

Croatian towns and villages are known for their proprietary cake recipes. The island of Rab, near Rijeka, has one of the most famous of all cakes, the Rab. This cake’s main ingredients are almonds and maraschino liqueur. It’s baked in a festive spiral and dusted with icing sugar.

6. Wild garlic leaves

Wild garlic leaves are a springtime favorite in Croatia. They’re found in a variety of dishes such as salads or cooked with potatoes. You’ll find them on almost every dish of just about any restaurant you walk into!

a farmer picking out wild garlic leaves

7. Šurlice

If you’re a pasta lover, you’ll want to experience this rustic-style pasta that is uniquely made by wrapping dough around knitting needles. It’s also known as needle macaroni and its name, šurlice, comes from the Croatian word for elephant trunk, which the noodles resemble when finished.

8. Dark pie

Dark pie is a seafood pie filled with squid, cuttlefish and octopus. You may also see it called Škura pogača. The reason it’s dark is due to the cuttlefish ink used in the recipe.

9.  Seafood dishes

Codfish stew, scampi alla busara, sardine balls, squid stuffed with prosciutto, cuttlefish risotto, tuna tartare—these are only a few of the fresh fish dishes you’ll find on menus in Rijeka’s restaurants and taverns. Make a note to taste Kvarnerski škampi, a species of scampi that’s local and characterized by its tender texture and distinctively sweet flavor.

croatian seafood soup with octopus and fish

10. Frankopan torta

In the town of Crikvenica, look for a cake called Frankopan torta. It’s made with apricots or peaches with almonds, raisins and other sweet spices mixed in. Once upon a time, this cake was made for wealthy nobles. Try a slice for a special treat.

11. Žlahtina (native Croatian wine)

If you’re still looking for things to eat in Rijeka, simply enjoy an appetizer platter that includes Krk prosciutto and sheep milk cheese, paired with a glass of dry white Žlahtina, the most popular wine in all of Croatia.

Better yet, visit the lush vineyards on the Island of Krk where you can discover the Konoba Nada Wine Cellar and bring home a bottle of its signature wine as a memento of this charming village. Carnival allows you to bring one 750 ml bottle per adult aboard, if you’re over 21 years of age.

12. Creska janjetina (lamb)

This high-quality lamb comes from a centuries-old native sheep called Cres sheep. The sheep are free roaming, and their diet consists of ewe’s milk and aromatic herbs rich with nutrients, which makes the lamb’s meat lean, aromatic and healthy. Look for this meat in lamb goulash, lamb stew and simple lamb chops.

a traditional lamb dish on the grill

13. Krčki sir (Croatian cheese)

The Croatian island of Krk crafts this hard, full-fat cheese made from raw sheep’s milk. Its rich, full flavor is a result of the sheep’s’ diet of locally grown herbs. It’s served sliced as a table cheese or grated for pasta.

14. Grobnički sir (Croatian cheese)

This is another Croatian cheese from the Grobnik Valley near Rijeka. It’s also Made from sheep’s milk, it’s is hard chalky-white in color and has a granulated texture throughout. This cheese is salty, but not overly, and is usually served as an appetizer with local ham.

15. Krčki pršut (Croatian prosciutto)

Krk also produces Croatian prosciutto in a unique way by blending two different ham-curing methods. The non-smoked ham is cured with its skin on after a dry-salting with sea salt, pepper, rosemary and bay leaf. The hams are left to mature in the strong, salt-bearing Bora winds of the Adriatic.

butcher cutting up prosciutto in a marketplace

There are plenty of chances to taste Croatia’s cuisine between your visits to the cobalt-blue waters of the beach, to the majestic castles or to the town’s market and Main Street. Just remember, you shouldn’t leave without picking up a few items only available in Rijeka. From the artistry of gold embroidery and lace to a few wooden toys that will last a lifetime, so will your memories of spending time in this idyllic country through your cruise with Carnival.