Why Rijeka is a Real Winter Wonderland

14 Nov 2023

Rijeka is a tremendous place to visit all year round, but there is something about a visit in winter that really gets the blood flowing, no matter your area of interest. What are the highlights of the season? Well, we’re glad you asked…


Winter Pass

Rijeka is a fascinating city packed with curious history and intriguing stories, but it can be challenging to cover everything in a short stay. Well, challenging no more, as the Tourist Board of the City of Rijeka has a gift for all visitors staying two or more nights during the winter season. The Rijeka Winter Pass is pretty much the perfect Christmas gift for anyone in town, allowing free entry into many of the city’s best museums, galleries, attractions and more, including the Kantrida Swimming Pools, which is excellent news if you are looking for a little Yuletide swim.

The Winter Pass is fabulously simple to use. Book two or more nights in the city, and you’ll receive the pass when checking in to your hotel, apartment or hostel. The pass is a voucher with a QR code sent to your email address, which acts as a ticket for the venues taking part. It couldn’t be any simpler. 

The list of venues is a Rijeka Bucket List, covering everything from history to culture via medicine, castles and the entire vastness of outer space. The Sugar Palace is arguably the main event, a wing of the City Museum detailing one of the city’s most influential buildings, while the fantastic Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art is also involved. The Natural History Museum, Maritime Museum, Museum of Childhood, Astronomical Centre, Kockica and JGL Pharmacy Museum are included in the Winter Pass. Trsat Castle is the imposing 13th-century cherry on top, another historical structure tied to Irish soldier Laval Nugent. 

The Rijeka Winter Pass is a fantastic way to explore the history and culture of the city, free of charge, so get ready to become a true Rijeka expert this winter.

Rijeka Advent

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Christmas is here, and with it comes Christmas cheer. We are aware that might be too much rhyming for some, but the festive season does funny things to us. Rijeka is a magnificent city 12 months of the year, but there is something about December that is extra special. The city becomes a fairytale, where twinkling lights and romantic moments fill the air through the streets, squares and promenades of this magical place. Yes, it is a cliche, but Christmas in Rijeka really is the most wonderful time of the year.

The Christmas-New Year’s Market is a beloved tradition here, as iconic wooden cabins serve a bit of something for everyone, from delicious food and drink to creative souvenirs and intricate crafts. The city fills with music as the artistic groups of Rijeka put on shows across town, covering various genres, styles and ideas for visitors of all ages. Hungry? Impossible, as the gastronomic offer at Rijeka Advent is unbeatable. The city is fast becoming a culinary centre in Croatia, and many local restaurants, taverns and cafes serve special festive stunners to keep the festive energy up. If you consider yourself a foodie, you owe yourself a Christmas run to Rijeka.

But, of course, the festive season is most exciting for kids. Rijeka understands this, and Santa’s Train runs every day throughout the season, but the big man’s work isn’t confined to the train. This year, Santa’s Post Office comes to Rijeka, letting children fulfil their dreams and see where the magic truly happens. The logistical side of Santa’s work largely goes unnoticed, making this a fabulous addition to Rijeka’s winter offer.

Trsat Castle also gets involved in the Christmas fun, as thousands of lights illuminate the fortress in a gorgeous scene, accentuated with handmade Nativity scenes and enough festive cheer to, well, power those thousands of lights. 

All good things must end, and Rijeka Advent is no different, although the New Year’s Eve fireworks show is a pretty exhilarating way to bring the curtain down on another year. Advent runs from December 2 through to January 7.

Rijeka Carnival

Actually, that last bit isn’t entirely sure. While Rijeka Advent certainly does end on January 7, that just means that the countdown is on until arguably the most exciting time of the year — Rijeka Carnival.

Expectant revellers don’t have to wait long, as the Carnival kicks off just 10 days after the end of the festive season, bringing its iconic blend of colour, excitement and fun to the streets of Rijeka. They say that Carnival is Rijeka’s fifth unofficial season, but it is much more than that. Rijeka Carnival is the time when the city’s soul is bared to its people, a time when passion pours out of the walls of its buildings, and Rijeka is at its most authentic. There is nothing like the Rijeka Carnival!

The feast day of St Anthony kicks everything off on January 17, with the raising of the Carnival flag (in a different place every year, of course) followed by a packed schedule of events. Rijeka becomes a sleepless city during this time, as visitors and locals try to see and do everything they can. Rijeka Carnival inspires people to live in the fullest sense of the word. There are parades for children and grand dinner dances, while the crowning of the Queen and the handover of the key to Rijeka are not to be missed. Everything climaxes with the stunning D-Day, the International Carnival Parade, a thrilling conveyor belt of intricately designed costumes, allegorical floats, and more. Rijeka Carnival is undoubtedly one of Croatia’s most exciting annual events, an absolute must for any traveller worth their salt, and the glittering highlight of the Rijeka calendar.



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