December 13, 2018 — Though the season hasn’t even officially started yet, here in Rijeka the forthcoming winter has already shown its hand and oh baby, it’s cold outside!
Despite the unseasonably warm weather we experienced in November, the days are now noticeably shorter and colder, reminding us it’s time to embrace the magic of winter and make the best of it.
One way to do so is to give yourself a nice warming boost every now and then by casually indulging in hot drinks, typical wintertime foods, and decadent desserts. Just wrap up in something warm and come out for brunch or evening cocktails; or you can set aside a couple of hours just for coffee — an absolute favorite waste of time among Croatians.
Apart from its ongoing traditional Advent festivities, Rijeka is full of cozy little cafés, slick bars, and charming eateries so take a look at our pick of some of the best places to hang out at during the chilly days and nights in the “city that flows.”
This popular tapas bar is located in the heart of the historic old town and boasts a cute little terrace overlooking one of the city’s archaeological sites. With elegantly assorted appetizer boards meant for sharing, Bar Bar is the perfect choice for meetups with friends, dates, or an after-work happy hour. And if you’re feeling hungry, but you can’t make it to Bar Bar, I recommend you stay away from their Instagram. On top of delicious foods and a wide selection of drinks, this stylish bar offers occasional live music and dance parties.
Most known for friendly staff, good selection of beers, and great atmosphere, the Celtic-themed Bard pub is usually packed on weekend nights so make sure you get there early. When the place is full, people regularly enjoy their drinks sitting on the sidewalk in front of the St Vitus Cathedral that’s just across the pub. Since it’s wintertime, a far better solution is to simply share a table with some random strangers and make new friends because in Bard, that’s always an option.
This fancy cafe and wine bar opened about a year ago and quickly became popular among the locals. Boa Privé‘s friendly staff along with outstanding service and an overall chill atmosphere will make you return again and again. Their wines are fairly priced, and the list is impressive, while an amazing ambiance makes it a great place to spend some quality time in the evening.
Book Caffe Dnevni Boravak
The name of this cute little book cafe translates to “living room” and that perfectly sums up both the atmosphere and the level of coziness you’ll find there. Dnevni boravak boravak is one of those places where you immediately feel at home. During the day you can enjoy some peace and quiet while having coffee, while the evenings are reserved for book promotions, public readings, workshops, and other events, with occasional live music, cocktail parties, etc. On top of that, for non-smokers, there is a separate room which doubles as a gallery.
Bordel La Grotta
When the current owners started renovating this place, they found a peculiar price list dated from 1944. Back then, while Rijeka was under Italian occupation, La Grotta was one of the city’s most elite brothels. The whole story, including the said price list and other curiosities of the house, inspired La Grotta’s interior design, and the owners also decided to keep the name, but the offer is slightly different. Today, the locals flock to La Grotta for some delicious heartwarming comfort food and a great selection of beers. Oh, and the prices are ridiculously low — they might have rewritten the 1944 brothel’s menu items, but kept the fees? We can’t tell for sure.
This adorable place decorated in a shabby chic vintage style with refurbished grandma-style furniture, flea market finds, and numerous trinkets donated by a number of regular guests has been one of Rijeka’s favorite cafés ever since it opened. What makes Cukarikafe stand out is its special energy but also a variety of events that his cafe is hosting — here you will find anything from local artists exhibitions, handmade crafts and design fairs, cocktail parties, various thematic evenings, etc. Cukarikafe also boasts an impressive selection of coffee, spirits, wine, and craft beer, in addition to some really great foods like artisan charcuterie, breakfasts, daily specials, quiches, cakes, and pastries.
The beautiful Filodrammatica building was designed by architect Giacomo Zammatti and constructed in 1890 to be used by the Italian Philharmonic Drama Association — hence the name — and in 1992, the house was declared a protected cultural heritage site. Today, Filodrammatica is one of Rijeka’s favorite coffee houses but also doubles as an art gallery, and it is conveniently adjacent to the Rijeka City Library’s central department. The place offers some of the best coffee in town but also a decent selection of cocktails, fresh juices, snacks, and desserts.
“The only ‘kancelarija’ (lit. chancellery; office) where having fun and relaxing over a cup of coffee is mandatory,” their motto says. This stylish little bar located within the Galerija Rijecka business and housing complex opened just this summer and instantly became a favorite spot among the locals. Though the place will occasionally host night-long parties, with its regular closing time at 9 PM, Kancelarija caters mostly to working people who flock there on a daily basis whether to enjoy that first morning coffee, or after-work cocktails and delicious liquor spiked desserts.
This fashionably decorated cafeteria/bar invites people to “eat, drink & mingle,” as their motto says. They offer an amazing selection of coffee, tea, wine, craft beer, mixed drinks, various appetizers, finger foods, etc. Plus you will really want to leave some room for dessert as Grad offers a daily selection of KaoKakao pastries. They always aim for top quality food and beverages, and so their menu is continuously changing depending on the availability of seasonal produce. On top of that, on weekend nights, this is one of the places where you can enjoy live music or occasional DJ parties.
King’s Caffe & Pub
You will find King’s at two separate locations in downtown Rijeka, and you really can’t go wrong by visiting either one. Depending on whether you’re hungry or in the mood for drinks only, you can choose between King’s Food Pub and King’s Caffe. Both places boast an extensive beer list, while the food pub offers some of the best burgers in town, but also various grilled meat dishes, sandwiches, finger food, and desserts.
Here at Zajc, one of Rijeka’s favorite cafe and wine bars, not only will you find an extensive wine list and friendly staff who will gladly help you choose from it, but there’s also a great selection of craft beers and mixed drinks, plus a variety of delicious tapas dishes, to accompany whatever you’re having. Zajc also offers regular wine presentations and tastings in a really nice, relaxed atmosphere, and in addition, there is occasional live music which is always a plus.
While a glass of wine on its own is always nice, when paired with an assorted charcuterie and cheese board with pickles, the experience can be exquisite. La Bodega offers exactly that and much more. Domestic and imported wines are available by the glass or bottle, but there’s also an impressive list of cocktails and spirits to choose from, and the presentation of each dish is assembled with attention to detail.
You will find this charming little café located on the eponymous street in a somewhat off-beat spot, but it’s definitely worth a visit. During the day, La Guardia is the perfect choice if you want to relax over a cup of coffee in a cozy, laid-back atmosphere, whereas at night the place often offers live music and transforms into a cool bar with a divey vibe that beats overpriced nightclubs any day of the week. This quaint café where the locals gather to drink and socialize is decorated with all kinds of memorabilia which adds to its quirky character, and what people probably love the most about this place are the owner’s daily thoughts, quotes, and scribbles written on a chalkboard hanging outside. And the best part is you can take home some of that La Guardia vibe: those messages du jour are made into souvenir magnets which are handed out at the cafe in exchange for a symbolic donation, and the entire profit goes for a good cause.
Remember the American 1980s sitcom Cheers? Of course you do. Now I don’t mean to indulge in nostalgia, but if Rijeka had its version of Cheers — Premier would be it. And it’s not just the decor, it’s much more than that: it’s the people, the story, the vibe. Premier is the city’s first privately owned café and has been operating for over 40 years. Since it closes at 10 PM, it probably won’t be your best choice for a night out on the town, but it’s more than suitable for the precedent warmup, or even daytime drinking, because why not? Also, “sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name, and they’re always glad you came.”
The name says it all — Rakhia bar is the house of the “fire water that fuels the Balkans.” So if you are out and about Rijeka looking for something to warm you up, this is one of the places you simply shouldn’t miss visiting. Apart from an extensive selection of rakija and other spirits and liqueurs, the bar that started trending the hashtag #DajJošJednu (lit. GimmeAnotherOne) offers various music themed parties and tastings, including the so-called “rakhiada,” a blind rakija tasting contest; and also occasional speed drinking contests for the bravest.
Fancy a cup o’ tea? Look no further. Here at Samovar bar, you will find a carefully curated selection of more than 250 of world’s finest teas and tisanes but also a number of interesting domestic blends like the Croatian Velebit mountain tea, the Kornati islands tea, the Sunny meadow wild herbal tea, etc. In addition, this dainty little tea shop offers great coffee — seriously, it’s hard to imagine how we could ever live without it — and let’s not forget wintertime classics like mulled wine and hot chocolate. Should I go on? Didn’t think so.
Tapas Bar Pet Jedan
Rijeka’s favorite tapas bar, Pet Jedan is one of those places where you can indulge all your senses at once: eat, drink, and enjoy live background music in a cozy, intimate atmosphere. Whether you’re craving breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner — Pet Jedan has you covered. Apart from their versatile daily menus, every Tuesday, you can enjoy the Chefs’ evening, a gourmet multi-course dinner accompanied by professionally selected wines, beers, and other complementary drinks. Pet Jedan is usually packed, but they do take reservations so don’t shy away.
Teatro Lounge Bar
Hear ye, hear ye, Teatro is all the rage, life is a theatre and all the world’s a stage! Did I just quote Shakespeare? Yes, kind of. But the sophisticated Teatro bar does have a certain theatrical vibe to it. This cozy place operates somewhere between a daytime coffee shop and an evening lounge bar, and it occasionally hosts various arts and entertainment events, but also DJ and after-work parties. Drinks selection? Just as versatile.
Caffe by day, cocktail bar by night — and a really good one at that. The Three Monkeys opened recently, in the very heart of downtown Rijeka. They are very serious about becoming the best cocktail bar in town, and they definitely got off to a good start. In addition to an impressive cocktail list and friendly, well-educated staff, this dimly-lit bar is tastefully decorated and has a really cozy feel to it, so once you stop by, you’ll be definitely coming back for more.
Another must-visit place in downtown Rijeka. As you may have already guessed by its name, Tunel was once an actual railway tunnel. And according to their motto, “the light at the end of the tunnel is actually — music,” though you will find much more in this unique cafe that doubles as a nightclub. During the day, stop by for some coffee, but comes nighttime, Tunel is your go-to place for great DJ parties, concerts, and various other performances, while a pretty decent selection of drinks is always a plus.
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