Music hub and student-centered maritime city Rijeka is often overlooked by tourists in favor of the Dalmatian coast, but the Kvarner Bay’s capital is full of surprises, surrounded by beaches, making it a great, cost-effective place to be based. With a history that goes back to the Neolithic period, a city was first established here by the ancient Romans who made the most of the rivers, hills and port in their metropolis, Tarsattica. You can still find a Roman arch in the heart of the old town, an entrance gate which was once part of the ancient city’s wall.
The city center is a buzzy but comparatively laid back hub, laden with Austro-Hungarian Hapsburg architecture that give an elegance to what is essentially Croatia’s largest free port. Full of cafes, independent retailers, quirky museums and excellent restaurants, Rijeka is an enjoyable place to live week to week, and very well connected to the beautiful islands nearby such as Krk, Cres and Lošinj, which you’ll likely want to explore on weekends.
Workwise there are two great spaces for coworking; Klub Mladih which is in essence a youth club for students but has all the facilities you’ll need and is a great place for meeting people either day or night, and similarly student and graduate focused RiHub, which is a cultural center with excellent meeting rooms and workspaces you can use. If you’re happy working away in cafes, the aptly named Book Caffe (it’s walls are lined with, you guessed it, books) is a top choice and you’ll likely hang out there of an evening too, or try King’s Caffe which has a great food menu, solid WiFi, and a few plugs for staying charged.
As with any student town around the world, Rijeka has a vibrant live music scene, but what makes it special is the Yu-Rock (Yugoslavian Rock) heritage, being the birthplace of many of the biggest acts of the 80s and 90s that the Balkans saw. Klub Mladih, RiHub and Book Caffe all host gigs and there’s Ri Rock festival every winter, showcasing this legacy, and promoting new bands.
There’s some great dining in town; Seafood restaurant Feral is brimming with personality and the fresh catch of the day, Konoba Tarsa up in scenic neighborhood Trsat serves the best of traditional Croatian cuisine and if you’re going for fancy, the Michelin-listed Nebo Restaurant up in the relatively new and very swish new Hilton, does incredible tasting plates that are themed are the geography of the country.
Lucie Grace is a British freelance writer, based in Chiang Mai. She lived in India throughout 2020 and 2021 and misses it daily. You can read her bylines in The Daily Beast, Fodor’s, The Independent and The Times.
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