As the largest city in the Kvarner region, Rijeka offers its visitors a variety of cultural events, concerts,and culinary experiences throughout the entire year, and though known for its natural beauty, there are various sports related activities and well-known services related to health and wellness on offer too.
FYI, Rijeka is also known as the city of rock in Croatia, whilst at the same time being a candidate for the ‘City of Culture, 2020’.
If you happen to be in Rijeka in December, then it’s the season to be jolly as you can enjoy a rich program related to Advent. City streets and squares will host many concerts; charming wooden houses will fill the air with various aromas and flavours of homemade delicacies too! You can find some interesting souvenirs and have fun with the sounds of singing choirs, rock and pop stars gracing stages, theatre plays and so on.
breakfast on Christmas Eve where you can try cod stew, fried calamari, fritters and more...
The ‘Rijeka Karneval’ is the largest and most popular carnival in Croatia. The handing over of the city keys is the beginning of a little turmoil, a little mayhem, and lots of fun. ‘Be what you want to be’ is always the motto behind this amazing spectacle which city folk spend the whole year preparing for. It’s their version of Rio with over 100,000 people visiting each year. The parade is packed with allegorical floats, dancers, marching bands,cheer leaders, historical icons, fireworks and more. A spectacle of colour and fun!
The Children’s Carnival parade (30th January) has the cutie-pie factor, while the International Parade (07th February) is nothing short of spectacular with over one hundred thousand people attending. The traditional costumes from the local area are spectacular, so do head down to the coast and indulge in the chance to enjoy a cup of coffee in the winter sun. See the official carnival homepage www.rijecki-karneval.hr for further details.
The Bellringers (Zvončari) - These scary chaps are called Zvončari. Hailing from the Kvarner coast, by dancing, merrymaking, and the loud ringing of bells hung from their belts, they chase away the evil spirits of winter. Depending which village they’re from, they wear masks of animal heads, or hats with streamers and flowers. See them at the famous Rijeka and Opatija carnivals, and herald the spring!
If your taste buds are tantalising and you want to go on a culinary adventure, then you cannot leave without trying Kvarner scampi which are a specialty of the region, characterised by their bright red colour, thin shell and tasty meat. The entire Kvarner region is specific in that it has the largest concentration of restaurants of quality gastronomy in Croatia. Recommendations include a visit to the undiscovered culinary jewel named Volosko which is a small fishing village with much to offer, and the island of Krk is an ingenious culinary destination to be explored from top to bottom. Wishing to explore even more, then on the island of Rab you can try dried octopus or their very own Rab cake, whilst the mountain ranges of Učka and Gorski kotar are known for venison and frog specialties. A wide selection of restaurants is open year round along the gorgeous Opatija Riviera, and then Istria which isn’t far away is a separate gastronomic province of many attractions.
Adventure enthusiasts can choose from hiking on Mount Učka or skiing on Platak, it’s one of the few ski resorts where you can enjoy a view of the Kvarner islands from the top of the chairlift. Sledging and snowboardingis on from December to March whilst other months of the year are ideal for mountain biking. Fresh mountain air isn’t seasonal, it’s all year round! Fast speed car racing can be seen at the Grobnik race track, while those who prefer a slower pace can enjoy long walks along the various ‘Lungomare’, promenades in the area.
Due to the uniqueness of nature and the favourable climatic conditions that are found in the Kvarner, this area has long been known as a destination for health tourism. The number of health care clinics and institutions are indeed large with specialised centres for the treatment and rehabilitation of cardiovascular and respiratory illnesses, orthopaedics, dentistry and cosmetic surgery. A wide range of wellness facilities can be found with specially arranged packages in many of the surrounding hotels and wellness centres. In addition, it must be said that much of the authentic natural cosmetics used by these centres is produced in this particular region.
The city of Rijeka is also important for religious tourism, namely on Trsat, which is located in the eastern part of the city at an elevation of 135 meters above sea level. Once there, the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Trsat stands tall, it’s the oldest Croatian sanctuary which worships the Mother of God and has existed since 1291. Many spiritual and cultural events are held right here. The view of the city itself and the Adriatic Sea is breath-taking from the Castle just down the road!
If heading away from the coast and up to the mountains, particularly Gorski kotar, then we recommend a visit to the Risnjak National Park, famous for its crystal-clear air, centuries-old forests and three carnivorous mammals; wolves, bears and lynxes. Apart from exploring the area on foot, you can take part in game stalking, fishing and mountain biking - as well as indulging in hearty mountain cuisine. Whilst there, you can also visit the Museum of Frogs in a small place called Lokve, the only of its kind in Europe. As this area is full of forests and streams, frogs have always played an important role in peoples' lives, so why not get an insight into their secret habitat and learn about their role and impact on the culture of the region, including literature and art. Gorski kotar offers a quiet yet serene holiday amidst nature, a place to thoroughly relax.
To sum up, the city of Rijeka and the entire Kvarner region are wide awake during the winter months with a number of interesting events and activities up for grabs, and the rest is left to you dear readers. May your holidays begin!