My kind of place: Rijeka, Croatia

We discover why the underappreciated port city is ready for its moment in the sun

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Why Rijeka?

As Croatia's third-largest city and busiest port, as well as the home of the country's ­largest carnival, Rijeka is a major transport hub through which many tourists travel, though few spend any real time there. With the city to become Euro­pean Capital of Culture 2020 – the first Croatian city set to be awarded such a title – this is expected to change, with a sparkling and diverse ­cultural programme already in the making to captivate visitors.

Rijeka is on the country's Adriatic coast and, while it is less glitzy than nearby Opatija, the city is well worth a stopover for a couple of nights. It is also a great springboard from which you can explore the surrounding Kvarner region and neighbouring Istria.

A comfortable bed

Grand Hotel Bonavia is Rijeka's most impressive hotel and is located in the city centre. With excellent service, corridors hung with works by local artists and one of the finest restaurants in town, this the best place to stay in Rijeka. Double rooms cost from €130 (Dh509), including breakfast.

Hotel Navis, meanwhile, is an outstanding, modern design hotel in the bijou fishing village of Volosko, 12 kilometres from the centre of Rijeka. The impeccably stylish rooms come with sea-view balconies, luxurious beds and polished concrete walls hung with modern art, while the restaurant is astoundingly good. Double rooms there cost from €152, including breakfast.

Photo Taken In Croatia, Rijeka. Getty Images

A 15-minute walk along the waterfront from the centre of town will lead you to the old-style Hotel Jadran, which offers rooms with sea views and balconies. Double rooms cost from €97, including breakfast.

Find your feet

To explore Rijeka, start at the City Clock Tower, or Gradski ­Toranj, which was built on the site of one of the old city gates, on the Korzo, a long, pedestrianised high street. The old town (of which nothing remains, apart from a lone Roman arch) originally lay to the north. Walk along the Korzo, where you can see sculptures by one of Croatia's most famous artists Ivan Kozaric, and pop up a side street to look at the small, ­unusually shaped St Vitus Cath­edral – the design of which is based on the Santa Maria della Salute in Venice.

Beautiful City tower of Rijeka (Croatia) at night in the middle of "Korzo", the main street of Rijeka. Getty Images

The Maritime and ­History Museum of the Croatian Coast, which showcases the city's long seafaring tradition, a