Although Croatia is famous as a summer holiday destination there are plenty of winter options. The islands often suffer severe storms, cancelling the ferries and catamarans, but on other days the sun comes out and the wind drops, leaving perfect conditions to be enjoyed by those lucky enough to be there.
There is a small ski resort at Platak, just 35 minutes drive from Rijeka. There are only two lifts plus a short drag lift for beginners. The main runs are reasonably hard red runs with the bonus of views of islands from the pistes Although limited and the snow highly unreliable it makes for a fun and cheap half or full day out. When the weather is good at the weekend half of Rijeka seems to head there to ski, sledge or just to enjoy lunch in the mountain lodges.
There is a second ski area at Mrkopalj, about 50 minutes drive from Rijeka. Although higher than Platak it is smaller and less easy to get information on conditions.
There are ski hire and instructors available at Platak. Information on conditions and lift prices can be found at www.platak.hr
Getting to Platak
Unfortunately there are no public transport connections to Platak except at weekends in winter. To drive take the highway towards Zagreb from Rijeka. Turn off just before the toll booths. Turn left at the T junction, follow the road steeply up the hill and then left to Platak, clearly signposted. From the direction of Zagreb, turn off the highway immediately just the Rijeka, turn right at the T junction, and then left after passing under the highway to join the previously described route.
There is an excellent ice rink in Delnice – about 45 minutes drive from Rijeka. It is open most afternoons. Driving in winter in Gorski Kotor can be a treacherous experience. It is better to take the train at 12:00, skate for an hour or two, have an early dinner (I suggest Tron at Supilova Street 45 for a cosy option), and return to Rijeka on the train at 16:15 or 18:16.
There is also a small ice skating rink on the sea front of Rijeka operating in December and January. The hire skates aren’t so great and it can get crowded but it’s a convenient way to get your skating legs back.