There are many possible places to use as a base in the region. I will share my thoughts on a few possible options. You can click on the name for the website to access the official tourist office websites for the official view. To find other local tourist office website the easiest way to search for “tz” and the name of the location, (e.g. tz vrbnik), TZ stands for tourist association in Croatian.

 

Rijeka

Rijeka is the third largest city in Croatia and very much the centre of the region. it is a lively city all year round, famous for its night life and for one of the largest carnivals in Europe, held in February each year.

 

Although certainly touristy in the summer Rijeka is not a major tourist destination like Split or Dubrovnik. It is a working city with shipbuilding and a large university. Its international claim to fame is that Rijeka is where the torpedo was invented. While access to the inlands involves either catamarans at inconvenient times or road trips, there are surprisingly good beaches within the city. The tourist office provides a useful guide to the beaches, and other guides to the city all available for download here.

Although not obvious at first there is a spectacular canyon virtually in the city centre. Despite being called “River”, which is what Rijeka means in Croatian, the river in the town is tiny, but comes from a deep hidden canyon. There is a path leading up out of the city from Titov Trg, or down from Trsat, into the canyon. The first hour is the most dramatic, the whole route to the source is about 25km. There is some rock climbing in the canyon, mainly close to the waterfall.

Most other hiking and running options usually involve a bus or train ride.

The city is well connected to Zagreb by frequent buses and slow trains. there are infrrquent buses to Italy and Slovenia. There are also buses to most places in Istria, the islands of Cres, Losinj, Krk and Rab as well as the rest of coastal Croatia. The buses heading south almost all take the coast road which is spectacular but slow.

 

Opatija/Lovran

Opatija is the original Austro-Hungarian resort on the Adriatic with grand old hotels by the sea. It is one of the few year round resorts in Croatia with conferences and seminars keeping hotels busy over the winter. Lovran is a smaller, and perhaps cuter, town just a few miles further down the road. Opatija is much less urban than Rijeka but is connected by the number 32 bus every 35 minutes – Opatija is in zone 3, Lovran zone 4. The Rijeka airport shuttle starts in Opatija.

The beaches are being improved but aren’t the best but it’s an easy walk, cycle, run, bus ride to better beaches in places like Icici or Ika. There are certainly plenty of swimming options in Opatija too.

Ucka mountain rises directly up behind the Opatija Riviera. there are paths starting in both Opatija and Lovran up to the summit – 1400m of ascent.

 

Krk

Krk is the main town on the island of Krk, which is connected b a bridge to the mainland. It has a beautiful historic centre. In the summer there are numerous tourist centres which are all relatively similar. Krk has the advantage of being the communication centre of the island with buses to all parts of the island and Rijeka which is convenient if you are relying on public transport. Unlike the other towns on the island it remains relatively lively all year round. A sunny day in winter attracts large numbers of day tripper from Rijeka.

Frustratingly there is no bus connecting Krk with the airport. The airport bus stops in Omisalj, just a couple of kilometres from the airport, from where it is possible to connect with the Rijeka – Krk bus. The same is possible in reverse or if you don’t mind walking about a mile you could ask the driver to drop you at the turning for the airport.

 

Platak

Platak is the main mountain centre in the Gorski Kotar. There mountain huts with restaurants open year round. This is the main ski area of Croatia since Bjelolasca closed. It can get very busy over weekends in winter when there is snow.

 

There is a network of mountain bike routes starting in Platak. The marking is not very thorough, downloading a gpx file or using the Bike Rijeka App is recommended. There are also two downhill bike routes from the top of the chairlift. They are not at all well advertised. One  is a “flow” track, a gravel zig zag path down with no real obstacles. The other is more technical with drops, tree roots and several jumps – which are avoidable. If the chairlift is not working they can be accessed by riding up the path starting to the left of the Radesevo chairlift – it is part of the Radesevo route on the Bike Rijeka App.

There are plenty of hiking opportunities. Snjeznik is the closest peak and the most obvious hike. Risnjak is also possible from here, it’s a long day but one of the most beautiful peaks in Croatia.

Except for weekends in the ski season there are no public transport options to reach Platak. Taking the train to Fuzine and then cycling is an option particularly if you plan to spend a more than a day in Platak.

Driving from Rijeka takes about 35 minutes. Follow the signs for Zagreb to get out of town and onto the highway . Stay on the highway past the Cavle junction and take the exit about 100m before the toll barrier. Turn left at the T junction and follow the road under the highway and steeply up the hairpin bends, soon after the hill eases there is a clearly marked left turn to Platak. Follow this road up for 10km to reach the parking.

Baska

Baska has the longest and best known beach on Krk island. It is a large resort can get very busy in the summer but is virtually deserted in winter. it is located on the wild south end of the island in a deep valley surrounded by cliffs. The “Moon Plateau” mountain bike route is well known but otherwise mountain bike options are limited.

Detailed hiking and biking maps are widely available for free from the tourist office and also in Rijeka airport.

it is one of my favourite places for trail running. Apart from the valley floor all routes are steep and likely to involve some walking. Running over to Stara Baska is a great route but perhaps the run over to Vela Luka is the most challenging, although it is possible to take a taxi boat back to Baska. Both routes are marked on the hiking map. Carry plenty of water!