It is often said to be Zagreb’s beach or Zagreb’s only seaside neighborhood. But, Crikvenica has so much to offer to their guests coming from anywhere!
- Welcome to Crikvenica!
- How to get to Crikvenica and get around
- 5 things not to miss
- Where to stay in Crikvenica?
- Where to eat in Crikvenica?
- Top 4 day trips from Crikvenica
- 4 things you didn’t know about Crikvenica
Crikvenica is the centre of the Crikvenica Riviera (Dramalj, Jadranovo and Selce, as well as some smaller place in between). The Riviera is one of the places in Croatia with the longest tradition of organized tourism. It’s full of a particular old-timey charm, lots of events, diverse tourist offering – and it’s close by to continental Croatia!
Crikvenica is located in the Kvarner Gulf, on the seaside around 20 km south of Rijeka, on the mainland facing the Krk Island. Its location is one of the main drivers of its tourism. It is perfectly located to attract a lot of tourists from Zagreb, who are their traditional guests. It’s easily within driving distance for many tourists from the Central Europe as well.
Crikvenica is mostly a location that most visitors still reach by car (or by bus). It’s perfectly located for that, as it sits quite close to one of the major motorways in Croatia, the A6 which connects Zagreb and Rijeka. If you’re coming to Crikvenica from the direction of Zagreb, you should get off the motorway at Oštrovica (the traffic signs will help you), or at Fužine for a bit longer drive through the woodlands. From Rijeka, it’s quite simple, as the A7 motorway will get you there within half an hour. You should count on it being a bit more than that during the high season.
To get to Crikvenica from the direction of Dalmatia, you have two main options. One is taking the A1 motorway all the way to Bosiljevo, where you’ll take the exit towards Rijeka on A6 (and then continue as described before). The other option is taking the exit at Žuta lokva, and drive towards Senj. From there it’s a short drive to Crikvenica up the Adriatic Highway (A65).
Crikvenica is very well connected by buses to almost all major towns in Croatia, as well as the local destinations. Find out more about getting to and around Crikvenica by bus on the Arriva website.
The closest airport to Crikvenica is obviously Rijeka Airport, located on the island of Krk. From there, it’s a 20 km drive to Crikvenica. One thing to keep in mind: the drive takes you over the Krk Bridge, which is one of the busiest hot-spots on the Croatian coast during the season). Or you can find your way to Šilo, a village on Krk, and a boat service will take you straight to the centre of Crikvenica.
The boat line mentioned in the previous paragraph connects Crikvenica to Šilo on the Krk Island. It operates three times a day (only on workdays) in the “out-of-season” months (October – April). During the high season, it will probably operate more frequently.
Up and down the Riviera
There are several town buses which will take you from Crikvenica Bus Station to various parts of the Riviera. Also, during the tourist season, there’s a tourist train Felix, going from the centre of Crikvenica to Kačjak beach on the north side of the Riviera.
We already mentioned that Crikvenica is the centre of the Crikvenica Riviera, a charming series of small towns and villages. Each of those smaller places has a charm of its own, but probably the best piece of advice would be to make an effort to see them all. Selce is a former fisherman’s village, which will charm you with its tradition. Jadranovo feels the most rustic of them all, while Dramalj manages to make you feel like you’re in the mountains while standing at sea level.
All along the Crikvenica Riviera, you will be going from one amazing beach to the next. In Crikvenica itself, there are several which are among the best beaches in Croatia, for various reasons.
The first public beach in Crikvenica opened in 1888. Almost 150 years later there is a beach for everyone. The main Town Beach (Gradska plaža) is probably the best town beach in Croatia, with numerous facilities. It is very disabled-friendly, it’s part sandy and part pebbly . The many bars make it a bit of a party destination during the night. The Podvorska beach on the other side of the town is a wonderful family-friendly beach with pebbles (where the author of this text learned to swim at the age of 8 months), with a remarkable dog beach bar next to it (more about that later). Wherever you find yourself on the Crikvenica Riviera, you can count on being close to a great beach, with a few more within the walking distance!
As already mentioned, the Riviera used to be the series of fisherman’s villages. The tradition of fishing has survived to this day. The region is best known for its oily fish, such as sardines and mackerel, and most restaurants in the Riviera have something to offer you featuring the oily fish. In addition to that, every year an event happens in Crikvenica, called the Oily Fish Month. During the month of June, many separate events are organized celebrating the tradition of fishing, workshops, tastings, thematic dinners in local restaurants and hotels.
The first dog beach bar in Croatia was opened in Crikvenica in 2010. The Riviera is proud to be probably the most pet-friendly region of Croatia. Monty’s Dog Beach & Bar Crikvenica is on the edge of the amazing Podvorska beach, and it has literally everything a dog might want on a beach – including a pooch-only shower, freedom to be on their section of the beach without the leash, all the way to dog ice-cream and dog-beer. No, really.
Every year they organize a marathon for the six-legged team of a dog and their human, with great prizes and amazing fun for all.
Many of the hotels and private accommodation in Crikvenica is pet-friendly. If you’re looking for a place where your pet will be just as welcome as you are, look no further.
Swimming Marathon Šilo-Crikvenica
Crikvenica has always had the strong vibe of leaning towards health tourism. It is also dedicated to providing numerous sports and recreation opportunities for their guests. A big part of that is the annual Crikvenica-Šilo swimming marathon, which will happen for the 111th time in 2021. It traditionally takes place on Assumption Day, on August 15th. Each year it welcomes the best professional long-distance swimmers from Croatia and abroad. In 2020, there were over a hundred swimmers and the winner was able to complete the 3,5 km of the swim in just under 50 minutes!
Many recreational swimmers looking for a challenge also participate. The main reason why is the fact that the waters between Šilo and Crikvenica are usually filled with boats and it would be dangerously crazy to try and swim over. And if you’re a half-decent swimmer, it does look doable to get from any beach in Crikvenica to the Krk island, so many people give it a try, while protected as a part of the race.
There are more than twenty hotels in the Crikvenica Riviera, and they offer a range of experiences for their guests. You can stay at a luxury, five-star hotel Amabilis in Selce if you’re a high-paying customer. You can also choose among the numerous three- and four-star hotels which offer a great experience on a budget. And many of those hotels are located right by the amazing beaches of the Riviera! Also, in the last several years a couple of hostels have opened in Crikvenica. There is, of course, a lot of private accommodation available, entire houses for rent and two camping sites. One sits on each side of the Crikvenica town itself (in Selce and Kačjak), both located right on the beach.
If you don’t want to spend your time in Crikvenica cooking (and you really should consider that, as the market and the fish market there are AMAZING), there is a lot of restaurants to choose from for your meals.
There are no Michelin-decorated restaurants on the Riviera. However, you will still be able to find both the restaurants which offer high-end gastronomy, as well as the ones making meals on the budget using locally sourced ingredients and a traditional approach. Restaurant Dida is a very popular destination, and many claim it is the best restaurant in Crikvenica. Zrinski Tavern is probably your best bet to find an amazing meal in the centre of the town. Restaurant Galija is close to Town Beach, while Kantunić in Selce is the best one on that side of the Riviera. On the budget side, there are numerous konobas, such as Pandora or Mika, where you won’t get top gastronomy, but you will be able to eat for cheap.
Even though most tourists come to this region to spend time on the beaches and generally in their flip-flops, sometimes the heat and the sun just get too much and you want to go spend some time in the woods. When you’re in Crikvenica, that option is very close, and also, a great idea. It will take you around half an hour to get to Fužine, a remarkable little town in Gorski Kotar, where the amazing lake is and many walking, biking, hiking, and similar paths. The temperatures will always be lower in Gorski Kotar than on the beach, so you can get a break from the heat.
And even if you don’t feel like driving all the way to Fužine, the villages just up the mountain from Crikvenica, such as Drivenik, Tribalj (with its lake), and Blaškovići can provide you with some change in the scenery and some fresher mountain air.
An amazing tourist destination on its own, the island of Krk invites you to hop over while in Crikvenica. From the beaches on the Crikvenica Riviera, you will see a part of the island which is less tourist-oriented, such as the mostly peaceful villages of Klimno and Šilo. From Šilo, it’s a short drive to Vrbnik, a beautiful old village known for the Vrbnička Žlahtina white wine and several excellent restaurants. The entire coast of Krk is full of interesting sights to see, if you’re driving you will be able to visit many of them on a day trip.
If you decide to go south from Crikvenica, to find out what’s there on the Adriatic Highway, you will find Novi Vinodolski, a tourist centre which attracts numerous tourists in their resorts, several charming villages (such as Klenovica) and then you’ll find yourself in Senj. The ancient Croatian town, with a lot of tradition and history, and the Nehaj fortress above it, built in 1558. Today, the fortress hosts the museum which tells the story of its past, and it has an amazing view of the channel. The view and the surveillance it provides are exactly why the Uskoks originally built it there. And, when you’re in Senj, you’re a stone throw away from the magnificent mountain of Velebit and the Northern Velebit National Park.
Yes, it’s a bit further away than the other day trips we suggest. Yes, it’s in a different country. But, if you’re spending your time in Croatia and want to see amazing Slovenia’s Postojna cave and the breathtaking Predjama Castle, Crikvenica Riviera is one of the tourist places close enough. It’s about an hour and a half drive, during the height ofo the tourist season it will probably be a bit more to get around Rijeka and over the border. The cave is one of the largest karst caves in the world, and it’s possible to visit more than 5 kilometres of fascinating chambers and other geological formations. The castle is a medieval marvel, standing perched on a cliff for the last 8 centuries.
The history of the Crikvenica Riviera was written by many rulers in its past, but this is one of the regions in Croatia where some aspects of the life as it was before are most clearly visible. During the medieval times, most people of the region lived in the towns of Drivenik, Grižane, Tribalj and Bribir. Today, all of them are full of amazing historical and archaeological finds, some still visible today. Each of those towns on the hills had a port, and fisherman’s villages grew next to those ports. It’s exactly those villages that have turned into Crikvenica, Selce and other towns on the Riviera.
Crikvenica itself was a fisherman’s village for the town of Kotor on the hill. The first time the name Crikvenica was mentioned was in the 15th century when a convent was built next to an even older church. In the 18th century, the town of Kotor burned down, so most of its inhabitants moved to the port of Crikvenica and turned to living off of the sea.
Like in many places in Croatia, the history of tourism in Crikvenica closely relates to the history of health tourism. Back in the late 19th century, the rich Austrians (the region was a part of the Austro-Hungarian kingdom) discovered the health benefits of spending time in the region. Fresh sea-air gets mixed with the mountain winds, the sea is extremely clean, the area is much sunnier than, for instance, Opatija Riviera – all of which was believed to bring numerous health benefits. The first hotel opened in Crikvenica was Thalassotherapia, welcoming guests since 1895! In addition to that hotel, which is still working as a health centre, spa and specialty hospital, many other institutions worked in the Riviera where adults and children came to recover from various diseases. Many of them became hotels, but the dedication to health tourism remains.
And, another aspect of that dedication to health is the amount of content for those visitors who want to stay fit and exercise during their stay. There are seven marked walking/hiking paths in the Riviera, many bike paths, several dive centres taking you to amazing diving sites, fitness equipment on the open. Other facilities exist as well, both for the amateurs, and pro athletes who often come to Crikvenica to prepare for competitions.
Numerous hotels on the Crikvenica Riviera cater to the business-oriented guests, some of them offering congress halls of varied sizes. Many congresses happen in Crikvenica, as well as smaller business events. And as Crikvenica is close to Zagreb, Zagreb Airport and Rijeka Airport, don’t be surprised if you receive an invite to some sort of professional meeting, education or get-together there. Hotel Omorika has the biggest congress hall, which can accept 400 participants.
Riviera of Love
The Crikvenica Tourist Board started their project to brand the Riviera as the Riviera of Love in 2019, and while some might say that that is not the best time to start a project like that, they certainly consider it a success. They’ve created a series of so-called “kissing spots” along the Riviera, there is a well-marked walking path called the Love Path (8 km). You can also find a Labyrinth of Love near the town centre. And, of course, the newlyweds often choose Crikvenica as a venue for their wedding.
One of the most popular tourist attractions in Crikvenica is the Aquarium. Located in the town centre, it has over 30 aquariums, and more than 150 species of fish live in them. Of those, around a hundred of the species are local (and you can learn about the fish you’re able to see while swimming or on your plate), while the 50 species are exotic.
You can find the Riviera Crikvenica Tourist Board at their website, or in the centre of the town, at the Stjepan Radić Square.
To follow the latest news from Crikvenica, check out the dedicated TCN page.