Croatia has gained a lot of attention from travelers thanks to its association with the fantasy TV series ‘Game of Thrones.’ Lots of scenes were shot there, but the city of Rijeka has flown under the radar. This hidden gem of a European city is a must-visit, and this is why.
European Capital of Culture 2020
The first thing to note about the city is that is has been chosen, along with Galway in Ireland, as a European Capital of Culture. That means there is going to be a lot of exciting things happening in the city in 2020, so it’s best to get there soon before everyone else does. Once the world starts exploring Rijeka it will no longer be a hidden gem. Events taking place in Rijeka this coming year include art spaces, concerts, operas, conferences, and festivals to get people thinking a little bit more.
Peek and Poke
One of the best places to visit in Rijeka if you like technology is the Peek and Poke Museum, which is dedicated to computers and video games of the past. You can go along and see how people used to use computers, or enjoy playing on an old gaming system like the Atari or Commodore 64.
Its Hapsburg history
The city came under the rule of Hapsburg in the 15th century, and it remained as part of the Austria-Hungary regime until the Second World War. That means lots of the architecture around the city is the same as you would expect to find in some of central Europe’s major cities, like Vienna. The Baroque designs can be found all over the city, with the Croatian National Theater being one of the main highlights. The city’s clock tower is loved by both locals and tourists thanks to its stone relic of the city’s double-headed eagle coat of arms.
One of the most exciting times of the year in Rijeka is during the Rijeka Carnival, which takes place in February. It happens on the Korzo, which is the main shopping promenade in the city. The carnival dates all the way back to the 1400s, when the city protested against the ban of wearing masks and costumes. Since then, revelers have donned their best masks and costumes and stuck it to the man. Many people show up wearing masks, but keep an eye out for the Halubajski Zvončari, a group of people who wear scary pagan costumes made from animal skins.
Relax on the Korzo
Once the festival has calmed down, the Korzo has a very different vibe. The Korzo is where most people in the city meet up, either for a coffee, a drink, or to buy something in one of the many shops. If you walk the length of the Korzo, you will get a wonderful overview of the rest of the city. Cafe culture is huge in Rijeka, as people take their time over a fresh brew to catch up with friends and family.