Rijeka (literally "River") is a city in Kvarner Bay, a northern inlet of the Adriatic Sea in Croatia. It is the principal seaport of the country. It has 128,735 inhabitants (2011) with the greater city area reaching up to 200,000, and is Croatia's third largest city.


Panorama of Rijeka with river Rječina

The city of Rijeka is a unique cosmopolitan city with a very turbulent history, especially during the 20th century. For instance, Rijeka was ruled by eight different countries between 1918 and 1991, so theoretically, a citizen of Rijeka born in 1917 could have had eight different passports without ever leaving the city limits. Such rapid changes of events led to a strong local identity for the city.

Rijeka is a major Croatian port, in the very heart of Kvarner Gulf. Because of its location, Rijeka is a crossroads of land and sea routes, connected with the rest of the world by air, bus, train and ship lines. Despite often being described as a predominantly industrial and port city, Rijeka is an interesting city with beautiful architecture of mostly secession style, a good choice of museums and quality night-life.

In the beginning of the 20th century, Rijeka was one of the main European ports and had weekly passenger service to and from New York. The famous ship Carpathia, which saved most of the survivors from the Titanic, was heading from New York to Rijeka, and most of the crew on the ship was Croatian. Thanks to that, one of life-belts from the Titanic is preserved in the Rijeka Naval Museum.

Unfortunately, Rijeka was also the first fascist state in the world, before Mussolini's Italy or Hitler's Reich. A mixture of fascism, anarchism and elements or dadaism was the basis for the constitution of Reggenza Italiana del Carnaro (Italian Regency of Kvarner), short lived state created in 1919, after a coup d'etat of Italian war veterans led by Gabriele D'Annunzio, often called the pioneer of fascism. To make it more awkward, this unusual state was the first international state that recognized Lenin's USSR.

On the bright side, from 1920 to 1924, Rijeka was an independent neutral state. A status very similar to the later status of Gdansk provided Rijeka with independence and neutrality. The official language in the Free State of Rijeka were Croatian, Italian and Hungarian, in order to provide maximum care for all minorities in the city.

Square on the bridge over the river Rječina

Woodrow Wilson, President of United States, recommended Rijeka in 1919 as a head of the League of Nations. After Second World War, Rijeka was one of candidates for hosting the headquarters of the United Nations. The idea was to reintroduce Independent State of Rijeka as a special United Nations neutral state.

Modern Rijeka is actually made from two original cities that were separated by river Rječina. On the west was Fiume or Rijeka and on the east Sušak, the rival counterpart of Rijeka mostly inhabited by Croatians and most of the 19th and early 20th century under Yugoslavian or Croatian administrative rule. Those two cities were merged in 1945. To symbolically connect the city, a wide pedestrian bridge was built in front of Hotel Kontinental which was turned into a square. Most of the people are not aware that there is actually a river under this wide square. It is popular place for meeting and socializing, especially for the younger generations.

With coming to Rijeka, you are joining to the list of people together with Che Guevara, James Joyce, Franz Liszt, Dora Maar, Enrico Caruso, Benito Mussolini, Gabriele D'Annunzio, Josip Jelačić, Bobby Fischer, Saddam Husein, Gamal Abdel Nasser, Johnny Weissmueller, Pope John Paul II and many others that have been in Rijeka before.

Rijeka airport terminal

Get in

By car

Travellers heading from Zagreb (185 km) should take the A1 to Bosiljevo and then take the A6 to Rijeka. The A6 is a 4-6 lane motorway over hilly terrain with many tunnels, bridges and viaducts.

Travellers from Trieste (76 km) should take A7 upon entering Croatia at Pasjak or Rupa border crossing.

Travellers from Split (380 km) can take A1 to Žuta Lokva and then proceed via Senj and Crikvenica to Rijeka, or A1 north to Bosiljevo and then A6 to Rijeka.

By plane

Rijeka airport is situated on the nearby island of Krk, around 35 km from the Rijeka city center.

Bus shuttle from Rijeka Airport to city is operated by Autotrans. Price for a ride from Rijeka to Airport is 50 kn. See schedule here.

There are regular bus services from Rijeka into Zagreb Airport for connections there. The Croatia Airlines website has more information.

From Airport Rijeka to city it is possible to come with official Rijeka Airport Taxi Transfer Service. All information you can take on the official website.

By train

Rijeka has been an important railhead since its early days as one of the major ports of the Austro-Hungarian empire, and is connected with direct services to other major cities in Croatia (Zagreb, Osijek) as well as twice daily services to Ljubljana in Slovenia, and one train via Zagreb each day to Budapest (changing of the train in Zagreb). Services to Pula by train are possible, though as the two cities are not connected in Croatia by rail (the connection is now in Slovenia), a designated bus is timed to take you that part of the journey. It is possible to travel to Pula by train, with a bus connection from train station to Lupoglav, from where you take a train to Pula. Bus is provided by Croatian Railways and you need to buy just one ticket.

The Railway station is in 5 Krešimirova Street, at the northern edge of the town area. Information on rail services is available on the information counter, or on the telephone +385 60 333-44-44. You can buy tickets or make reservations at the station ticket-office (+385 51 21-33-33). The railway station has a luggage lockers open from 9AM to 9PM, ans is charged 15 kn. There is also a tourism information office in the station building, but is open odd hours - although there is a large map at the front of the station building. There is also an ATM at the station.

The Croatian Railways website contains good information on train times and prices, and there is also some information for travel Rijeka-Ljubljana on the Slovenian Railways site.

By bus

Rijeka is connected by bus with bigger cities in Croatia, Slovenia, Italy and elsewhere in Europe. The busy bus terminal is in the city center at the foot of the imposing Capuchin church, on Trg Žabica. You can find good information on timetable and fares at the Autotrans website or in their office (which also sells tickets), at Žabica 1 or by telephone +385 (0)60 30-20-10. Tickets purchased through company's website are 5% cheaper. There is a left-luggage office next to the newspaper and cigarette stand, open from 5:30AM till 10:30PM (the latest of all the transport modes in Rijeka). Luggage safekeeping is charged 9 kn. Eurobusways operates a direct Budapest-Rijeka Bus line.

By ship

As one of the largest ports of the Austro-Hungarian empire, and the largest port in Croatia, ships play an important role in the life of Rijeka.

Of best use to travellers from Rijeka is the Jadrolinija ferry service. The state-owned company operates small fast vessels to the nearby islands. Until 20133. there was as well large car-carrying ferries down the Adriatic Coast to Split and Dubrovnik, but they were canceled. Possible reintroduction of the line is for summer 2016. The passenger terminal is in the city center, and on the waterfront just near the Jadrolinija office building (where one buys tickets on the ground floor) is a left-luggage office.

Get around

By foot

Most of Rijeka is accessible on foot, and traffic is actually banned on Korzo in the heart of the city.

By public transport

For those that are further away from the city or tired, an efficient local bus network operates operating in a single-direction, circular movement around the central city area, and fanning out in all directions. Buses #2 and #8, to Trsat, are probably the most useful for tourists, and a good alternative to the 561 stair climb to the top of the hill.

By Taxi

Rijeka has a cheap and well organized Taxi service, they will get you anywhere in the city for approximately €10 or less. In the centre of the town there are three taxi terminals, at the Bus station, tel. +385 51 335 138; in the Matije Gupca Street, tel. +385 51 335 417, at the railway station, tel. +385 51 332 893 and there is also a taxi van available.


Besides Croatian, Italian is de facto semi-official and featured on many signs in the city. Most natives of Rijeka understand it well and some speak it fluently. Older native citizens speak their own dialect of Italian language - Fiumani, named after the Italian name for the city - Fiume. English is widely understood and spoken by younger people and hotel/restaurant staff. Some people also know some German.


Yellow cock on city tower and palace Wohinz on Korzo street

The best way to see Rijeka’s Cultural and historical monuments is to follow the tourist path that gathers all of the most important sights for this town and its history. Most of them are accessible by foot, as they are mostly located in or near the city centre, but to see Trsat Castle you will need to take a short car/bus ride. Other option, the more adventurous one, is to climb 561 Trsat stairs that lead from city centre to Trsat. The Trsat Castle is worth the effort. Also, a helpful travel companion is free AdriaGuide Rijeka mobile application, for smart phones and GPS navigation.

Theatre of Ivan pl. Zajc

Museums, collections and exhibitions – Rijeka is a city with an unusual, turbulent past. The best places to discover the whole story on Rijeka are its museums, among its rich collections and exhibitions.


Korzo, main pedestrian street in Rijeka




Wherever you go in Rijeka, you will find a place to drink and relax. There are hundreds of bars and cafes across the city. There are three ships docked in the harbor (city center) with bars, casino, and a night club – Arca Fiumana, Marina club and Club Nina2.




Go next

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Sunday, March 20, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.