Days 31 to 34 of 172 (I think!):
Hello all, and thanks for tagging along with me and my hubby on this brilliant adventure.
In my previous post I focused on the central Dalmatian Route, in Croatia and mainly Split, but with this post I will concentrate on the area known as Kvarner and its principal seaport city, Rijeka.
As a bonus I’ll talk a little bit about Opatija, a stylish beach-side tourist destination. It's fantastic.
(Friendly reminder that the Croatia trip is split into a multi-series as there is just too much to tell you about in one post. Please check back regularly for new Croatia posts.)
Croatia - Part 2.0 (Rijeka + Opatija / Kvarner, Routes of Fragrant Rivieras and Islands)
In all honesty, when you think about visiting Croatia, Rijeka might not be the first place that you think of to visit.
The various blogs I’ve read, in researching our trip, suggest that it is not really a place to stay for a holiday.
The travel bloggers say it’s a “gritty port," and it’s a “working city." It has “lacklustre architecture” and it is “not a tourist-oriented city.”
While the bloggers agree on the majority of these comments, they wholeheartedly agree on this: “Some port cities can be vibrant and pretty - Rijeka is not."
I happen to think differently, and due to its location and affordable accommodations, you might want to give it some thought too.
Folks we came in touch with there were friendly, for the most part, and the port was clean and active.
It is a working city - but then so are most cities you visit - and while the architecture could use a little rehabilitation but it's certainly not "lacklustre."
Vibrant? Yes or No?
I guess that depends on your expectations.
We needed quiet and that's exactly what we got. Thank goodness.
Plus, Rijeka is situated in a fascinating historical and geographical location. Around the city you’ll find mountains or hilly surroundings, lush green scenery and of course, the wonderful Adriatic Sea.
Added Bonus - you’ll be less than a two-hour drive from many intriguing towns and cities such as Opatija, Pula, Rovinj and Ljubljana (Slovenia,) and above all hundreds of marvelous adventures.
Everywhere in the Rijeka city centre, especially close to the main pedestrian area called the "Korzo", you see traces of the different regimes in the city.
Most influential is the Austro-Hungarian regime, as can be seen in the Art Nouveau-style buildings, which make you, feel as if you are in the middle of Vienna (although slightly run down.)
Let yourself get lost in its narrow roads or wander down an alleyway and you might be lucky enough to come across a real Roman archway or ruins. Visit its open air markets, go for a coffee or sit down for a cold tasty local beer.
For the avid football fan, a walk around "Stadion Kantrida" is a must – where else can one watch a football game, in a stadium, situated on the shore of the Adriatic Sea?
Though Rijeka is a vital transport hub (Croatia’s largest port) and situated on a large body of water, there are no “real” beaches in the city (and hotel pool options are scarce.) For that reason, most people base themselves in neighboring Opatija.
Opatija is a chic tourist destination.
At the turn of the century European aristocracy chose - for their holidays - this area due to its agreeable climate, Mediterranean waters and lush vegetation.
Its better known name is the Croatian French Riviera.
In fact, this area is also known as the “Routes of Fragrant Rivieras” mainly in part to landscapes resplendent with shrubs of rosemary and lavender. The lavender is a pale color of purple and oh-so-beautiful.
This seaside resort village also boasts a well-maintained coastal promenade, beautiful “belle époque-style” villas and hotels, all nestled between forested hills and the sparkling Adriatic.
The picture-perfect Croatian views and its surroundings are all very attractive to the tourist.
BTW - If you have a yearning for a day trip or two, then you are situated in the ideal location. Both Rijeka and Opatija are close to some very cool spots.
That brings us to our next leg of the trip (and next post.) Read all about Rovinj, and Pula, and Plitvice Lakes National Park and Brac Island.
And a special mention, Ljubljana (Slovenia) I know it's not Croatia but it is just 1:45hr drive from Rijeka. And trust me well worth the drive!
PS. I’m wondering what other people think about Rijeka and Opatija? Tell me about your experiences or visits in the comment box below.
We would love to hear from you!