There is a vast number of possible hikes to do in the region, from half day strolls to 2-3 day or longer trips.
There is so many possible routes it’s difficult to list more than a few but I will give some pointers and suggestions. It is best to get hold the relevant SMAND map which have the full range of hiking routes marked on them. Almost all trails are marked with red and white painted circles. The word “vrh” means peak or summit so worth remembering.
Rijeka Trails Website
There is a website listing a range of hikes and runs in the mainland region. Like the Bike Rijeka app there is no information on how to get to the start or the routes, or from the end in the case of one way routes. Some of the routes have clearly been lifted from the trail running races that take place in the region and are not natural hiking routes. While it is not a particularly great site it can be useful for ideas and it does provide downloadable gpx files.
Snjeznik is the most accessible mountain peak from Platak, about a three hour round trip so perfect for a half day trip. it is quite steep near the top involving some easy scrambling. There is a map and gpx file for Snjeznik and the neighbouring peak of Guslica on the Rijeka trails site here.
This is an easy and pleasant hike not far from Rijeka, 20 minutes by car – no public transport options unfortunately. It is only about an hour from the car park to the peak which gives a 360 panoramic view of the whole region. It doesn’t get much snow so can be a good winter option. It is listed on the Rijeka trails website mentioned above.
Risnjak is perhaps the most beautiful peak in the region, and can be accessed by a long hike from Platak, or more easily by driving to Gornje Jelenje and taking a left turn and driving up the forest track, a two wheel drive car can make this easily except in winter. Park at the obvious parking at Velje. From here it is only a little over an hour past Bear’s Gate, Medveje Vrata. The summit involves a little scrambling but there is a cable to hang onto if necessary.
There is a hut just below the summit where in summer you can pay the national park fee, get food and even sleep.
Ucka Mountain dominates the Kvarner Bay. It rises straight out of the sea above Opatija and can be seen from almost every point in Kvarner.
The easiest way to climb it is to drive, or take the bus which only runs on Sundays, to the top of the pass at Poklon. There is a restaurant/hotel and picnic ground here. there is a trail to the top from here through the woods which takes about an hour. The tougher, much tougher, alternative is to climb from Opatija or Lovran. This is a climb from sea level to 1400m. Take plenty of water in the summer.
From Rijeka I prefer the Lovran start, this is easily accessed by the number 32 bus from Rijeka. Get off just as the old town comes into view, the route is marked and starts close to the city walls. if you miss the bus stop the next stop is the end of the route and you walk back in a few minutes.
There is a canyon that ends almost in the centre of Rijeka even if it isn’t immediately obvious. This can be hiked the whole length or in sections. The first section from Rijeka to the bridge is the most spectacular and makes for a pleasant half day if hiked both ways. A full guide to the canyon can be found here.
There is excellent hiking centred on the resort town of Baska. There is an excellent map produced by the tourist board, it is also available in Rijeka airport. The trails are well marked. In summer they are very hot and exposed, carry plenty of water. They make excellent routes for winter, although the town of Baska is pretty much deserted in winter. Krk or Rijeka make better bases. The buses run to Baska all year round.
Cres and Losinj Islands
The northern section Cres island, the part visible from Rijeka and Opaitja, makes for a surprisingly isolated hiking area as the local inhabitants have virtually abandoned the area.. There is a network of marked trails, it is best to find a map and make a route.
By car it probably easiest to part at Brestova on the mainland and take the ferr as a foot passenger. Plenty of trails start immediately at the arrival port of Porozina. The area can also be accessed by bus. The early morning bus from Rijeka to Cres and Losninj passes this way via Opatija. A ticket to Porozina includes the ferry ticket. The early afternoon bus reverses the route. The other buses take the other ferry to Krk island so make sure you don’t miss the bus back. There is very little by way of facilities in Porozina.
Just south of Cres town is the beautiful area around Lubenica (which bizarrely means watermelon in Croatian). This hill top town is a major visitor attraction, as is the stunning beach below. There are numerous hiking trails linking Lubenica with Valun in the bay to the north east, or to Martinscica to the south. Access to this area is not so easy without car but the irregular buses do open up possibilities for one way hikes. The timetables are available on the Autotrans website.
Losinj is a long mountain ridge with plenty of great hikes. The south end of the island is the tourism centre leaving the rugged north relatively untouched (see main photo on this page). One option is to take the Losinj bus to Nerezine then hiking up over the peaks to drop down to Osor, where the islands of Cres and Losinj are divided by a narrow channel, to get a bus back to the mainland or Cres. There is two campsites in Osor.
Velebit Hiking Trail
There is a 7-9 day hiking route that starts in the south of Kvaner and follows the ridge of the Velebit mountains to the Paklenica National Park, not far from Zadar. This can be done in its entirely or a shorter option is to hike the northern most section, known as the Premuziviceva Staza – don’t even try to pronounce it. This is a relatively flat but dramatic route from the Zavizan Mountain hut to Baske Ostarije, above Karlobag. Getting to Zavizan is not so easy. Even with a vehicle it requires getting back to pick it up. the other option is to hike from the main coast road, Magistrala. This involves a long steep hike to reach the start but can be reached by any bus travelling south from Rijeka, i.e. to Zadar, Split or Rab.
While there are very occasional buses passing Baske Ostarije to Karlobag but hitch hiking is probably easier and more convenient. From Karlobag there are reasonably frequent buses to Rijeka and Zadar. Karlobag has a small supermarket and several cafes and restaurants, and a beach.
While the route is fairly well marked it is definitely recommended to carry the SMAND maps. The Croatian Mountaineering Association has produced an online guide to the route here. I have converted it into a PDF document which may be more convenient and can be downloaded here.
The mountaineering association produces two guides, the other being for Dinara, the highest mountain in Croatia. While it’s not in Kvarner you may want to join it onto a visit to the region. There is a link here, and the PDF here.