A European cruise is a great way to see many countries in one enjoyable trip. If sailing the Adriatic Sea strikes your fancy, cruise to Rijeka, Croatia. Full of rich history, charm, natural beauty and friendly locals, this seaside city on Kvarner Bay offers a variety of memorable activities and attractions. Here is our list of eight exciting adventures to help you discover Rijeka:
1. Tour Trsat Castle
Consider a visit to Trsat Castle, a historic hilltop attraction offering breathtaking views of the city. You can either climb 538 steps to the top or you can save your energy and reach it by bus.
Built in the 13th century, the castle belonged to a number of royal families until it was damaged by an earthquake in 1750. In the 19th century, an Austrian field marshal named Laval Nugent bought the castle, restored it and added a family mausoleum.
Today the property serves as a museum with both permanent and temporary exhibits, as well as an overlook with bastions offering spectacular views of Rijeka and the Adriatic Sea. Before you leave, have a bite to eat in the courtyard café.
2. Take a Stroll Down Korzo
If you’re looking for shops, cafés, galleries or opportunities for people-watching, take a stroll down Korzo, a wide, pedestrian-only promenade in the Old Town section of Rejika. Many of the buildings in the area date back to the 1700s.
The clock tower, built prior to the 16th century, stands out in this area and is a visual delight. Once a part of the city gates, the tower features bright yellow paint, a green-domed roof and a large, working clock.
3. Stop in to St. Vitus Cathedral
Do you enjoy touring beautiful churches? Don’t miss a visit to St. Vitus Cathedral, named for Rijeka’s patron saint and modeled after the Venetian church, Santa Maria della Salute. Dating back to 1638 this building features an unusual round shape on the outside and massive, marble pillars, curved archways and ornate wooden pews on the inside.
Additional interior details worth seeing include an elaborate, baroque-style altar and a crucifix from the 13th century.
4. Go Shopping at City Market
To get a feel for everyday life in Rijeka, you can make a trip to the bustling city market. Here, local vendors sell various types of meat, dairy and fish inside three pavilions erected just after the turn of the 20th century. The fish hall in particular is worth visiting for its beautiful glass and metal art-nouveau architecture.
Outside, you can find open-air stalls stocked with fresh fruits, veggies and flowers.
5. See Stars at the Rijeka’s Astronomy Centre
If you’re fascinated by the mysteries of the cosmos, head to the Astronomy Centre in Rijeka located east of the city in a renovated WWII military fortress. The only establishment of its kind in Croatia, this center features an observatory, planetarium, study center, café and terrace offering stunning views of Kvarner Bay.
Throughout the year, the Astronomy Center opens up its large space to host meetings, conferences, workshops and exhibitions to professionals and the general public alike.
6. Soak Up the Sun at Sablićevo Beach
On a hot day, there’s no better place to be than at the beach. Although Rijeka offers an array of beautiful beaches, Sablićevo Beach in the eastern section of town is a local, accessible favorite. From the center of town, you can get there in a 15-minute walk or a quick drive. Sablićevo Beach boasts a pebble beach, turquoise-colored waters, showers, restrooms and changing rooms.
7. Explore the Village of Kastav
The small village of Kastav, just under 30 minutes northeast of Rijeka, promises a rich history dating back to the Middle Ages. Places worth visiting in Kastav include the historic city square and various churches.
In the summertime, the town plays host to a number of music and art performances and displays during the Kastav Cultural Summer Festival which runs June to August. During the wintertime, the Kastav Winter Carnival offers you parades with costumes, local cuisine and more.
8. Drive out to Opatija
Just 30 minutes west of Rijeka lies Opatija. This seaside village is a popular vacation spot for the rich and famous, which is why many locals call it the “Nice of the Adriatic.”
Here, you’ll discover attractions like Villa Angiolini, a luxe palace-turned-museum built by a wealthy merchant in 1884 featuring stylish Biedermeier design and formal French gardens.
This picture-perfect town also shares a collection of extravagant hotels, a promenade that lines the coastline and a number of seaside restaurants serving up delicious bites and stunning sea views.
While you’re in Opatija, don’t forget to pay a visit to another local landmark gracing the rugged shoreline, the Maiden with the Seagull statue.
When it’s time for a vacation, you want one that packs a punch like a European cruise. Board a Carnival cruise ship, and you’ll stop in many exciting ports of call like Rijeka, Croatia, on the Adriatic Sea. While you’re here, make the most of your time ashore with any of the enjoyable activities above and then board your ship for more fun until you arrive at your next European port.