Discover the Enchanting History and Vibrant Culture of Rijeka: The 2020 European Capital of Culture


Robert Eduard Antal » Urban Innovation » Smart City Initiatives

Contributions and Roles of Member Cities in the Eurocities Network: Rijeka, Croatia

Innovation and Sustainability

Rijeka, as a member of the Eurocities network, is deeply committed to sustainability and innovation. The city has set ambitious goals to reduce CO2 emissions and promote green technology. Rijeka’s initiatives include transitioning to renewable energy sources, improving energy efficiency in public buildings, and investing in sustainable transportation solutions. The city actively participates in various European programs aiming to foster an eco-friendly urban environment.

Smart City Initiatives

Rijeka leverages advanced technology to optimize urban life and enhance the quality of services provided to its residents. The city’s smart city initiatives are aimed at solving contemporary urban challenges and improving overall living conditions.

Examples of Smart City Projects

  • Implementing intelligent traffic management systems to reduce congestion and improve public transportation efficiency.
  • Developing smart waste management solutions to enhance recycling rates and reduce landfill usage.
  • Integrating IoT sensors in public spaces to monitor air quality and environmental conditions in real-time.
  • Rolling out e-health platforms to provide better healthcare services and improve patient access to medical records.

Cultural and Social Projects

Rijeka is actively engaged in cultural and social projects that aim to cultivate a rich cultural heritage and support vulnerable groups. These projects focus on preserving the city’s unique cultural identity, promoting community engagement, and ensuring social inclusivity.

Official City Website:

Examples of Cultural and Social Initiatives

  • The Rijeka 2020 European Capital of Culture project, which included diverse cultural events and initiatives to enhance the cultural scene and attract tourism.
  • Programs supporting the integration of migrants and minorities to ensure social cohesion and equal opportunities.
  • Community arts projects that involve local artists and residents in creating public art and cultural performances.
  • Social services projects aimed at supporting the elderly and disabled, providing them with necessary aids and activities to improve their quality of life.

Urban Planning and Development

Rijeka focuses on significant urban development projects to enhance livability and address climate change. The city’s urban planning efforts aim to create sustainable, environmentally-friendly urban spaces while preserving historical landmarks and meeting the modern needs of its residents.

Examples of Urban Development Projects

  • The revitalization of the port area to transform it into a vibrant mixed-use district with residential, commercial, and recreational spaces.
  • Developing green infrastructure projects, such as the creation of parks and green rooftops, to combat urban heat islands and improve urban biodiversity.
  • Investing in sustainable public transportation systems like electric buses and bike-sharing programs to reduce reliance on fossil fuels.
  • Renovating older residential areas to improve energy efficiency and make them more resilient to climate change impacts.

Youth and Education

Rijeka creates vibrant and supportive environments for students and young professionals by fostering educational and career opportunities. The city believes in nurturing young talent and providing platforms for youth engagement and innovation.

Examples of Youth and Education Initiatives

  • The Rijeka Youth Centre, which offers various educational programs and workshops for personal and professional development.
  • Partnerships with local universities and research institutes to promote scientific research and technology development.
  • Internship and apprenticeship programs with local businesses to provide hands-on experience and improve employability among young people.
  • Establishing startup incubators and innovation hubs to support young entrepreneurs and encourage new business ventures.

Benefits of Participation in Eurocities

Rijeka benefits significantly from participating in the Eurocities network. The city’s involvement provides numerous advantages, including access to a vast network of urban experts and best practices. Additionally, Rijeka enjoys opportunities for funding and financial support from European programs, which help implement innovative projects. Participation in the network also allows Rijeka to advocate for urban priorities at the European level, contributing to policy-making processes that support sustainable urban development.

City Description: Rijeka, Croatia


Rijeka is located in the northern part of Croatia, along the Kvarner Bay of the Adriatic Sea. The city lies at the foot of the Učka mountain and is the primary seaport of Croatia. It is situated in the Primorje-Gorski Kotar County and acts as a critical hub connecting the inland with the maritime routes.


As of the latest data, Rijeka has a population of approximately 128,624 people. The city is known for its ethnic diversity, with significant communities of Croats, Serbs, Italians, and others. The population is relatively balanced in terms of age distribution, though there is a slight trend towards an aging population.

Economic Overview

Rijeka’s economy is primarily driven by its port, which is one of the largest in the region. Key industries include shipping, shipbuilding, logistics, and maritime services. Additionally, tourism plays a significant role, thanks to the city’s coastal location and historical attractions. Rijeka has a GDP of roughly $4 billion, which is bolstered by its commercial port activities and industrial sector.

Historical Significance

Rijeka has a rich and varied history, dating back to Roman times when it was known as Tarsatica. The city was significantly influenced by various rulers, including the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Republic of Venice, and the Kingdom of Hungary. It was also a point of contention during World War II. Notable historical events include its declaration as an open city during the war and its annexation to Yugoslavia after the conflict ended. Rijeka became part of independent Croatia in 1991.

Cultural Attractions

  • Korzo: The main pedestrian street, bustling with shops, cafes, and historic buildings.
  • Trsat Castle: A historic castle offering panoramic views of the city and the sea.
  • Rijeka Carnival: One of the largest and oldest carnivals in Europe, celebrated annually with vibrant parades and events.
  • Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art: Hosts a diverse collection of modern artworks.
  • St. Vitus Cathedral: A baroque cathedral shaped uniquely as a rotunda.

Education System

Primary and Secondary Education

The city has a well-established education system, with numerous primary schools and secondary high schools. The curriculum is standardized across Croatia, focusing on a broad range of subjects from sciences to humanities.

Higher Education

Rijeka is home to the University of Rijeka, one of the oldest and largest universities in Croatia. The university offers a wide array of undergraduate and postgraduate programs, particularly strong in maritime studies, engineering, and humanities.

Transportation Infrastructure

Rijeka boasts a comprehensive transportation network:

  • Public Transit: The city has an extensive bus network operated by Autotrolej, providing efficient and affordable public transport.
  • Railway: Rijeka is connected to other parts of Croatia and neighboring countries by a regional and international rail service.
  • Airport: Rijeka Airport, located on the island of Krk, serves domestic and international flights.
  • Port: Rijeka’s seaport is a vital link for cargo and passenger ships, connecting to various Mediterranean and international destinations.

Urban Development Projects

Significant urban development projects in Rijeka include:

  • Rijeka Gateway Project: Aimed at modernizing the city’s port facilities and enhancing its position as a key maritime hub.
  • Infrastructure Upgrades: Ongoing projects to improve road networks, public transportation, and utilities.
  • Smart City Initiatives: Utilization of technology to improve urban living, such as smart traffic management and energy-efficient buildings.

Environmental Initiatives

Rijeka is committed to environmental sustainability:

  • Waste Management: Comprehensive recycling programs and waste reduction initiatives.
  • Green Spaces: Development and maintenance of parks and green areas around the city.
  • Energy Efficiency: Projects focused on renewable energy sources and reducing carbon emissions.

Quality of Living

Rijeka offers a high quality of living, characterized by:

  • Healthcare: Modern healthcare facilities and services, including several hospitals and specialized clinics.
  • Safety: Low crime rates and a strong sense of community make Rijeka a safe place to live.
  • Amenities: Abundance of amenities, including shopping centers, recreational facilities, and cultural venues.

Quality of Life Indexes

  • Livability Rankings: Rijeka often ranks high on livability indexes within Croatia, attributed to its robust infrastructure and vibrant cultural scene.
  • Health Indexes: The city has a high health index, thanks to its quality healthcare services and clean environment.
  • Environmental Quality Scores: Rijeka scores well on environmental indexes due to its green initiatives and low pollution levels.

Profile: Mayor Marko Filipović

Current Position

Mayor of Rijeka, Croatia

Political Affiliation

Social Democratic Party (SDP) of Croatia


  • Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering, University of Rijeka
  • Master’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering, University of Rijeka

Professional Background

Before becoming the Mayor of Rijeka, Marko Filipović held several key positions in both the public and private sectors:

  • Deputy Mayor of Rijeka (2017-2021)
  • City Councilor of Rijeka, focusing on urban planning and sustainability initiatives
  • Mechanical Engineer at Brodoplan, a leading maritime engineering firm

Achievements as Mayor

  • Implemented the “Rijeka 2030” urban revitalization project, aimed at modernizing infrastructure and public spaces.
  • Launched the “Sustainable Rijeka” initiative, focusing on reducing the city’s carbon footprint through renewable energy projects and waste reduction programs.
  • Advanced Rijeka’s digital infrastructure by introducing smart city technologies, including city-wide Wi-Fi, intelligent traffic management systems, and public service apps.

Vision for the Future

Mayor Marko Filipović has a clear and ambitious vision for the future development of Rijeka:

  • Smart City Initiatives: Expand the city’s digital infrastructure by integrating IoT (Internet of Things) technologies to improve public services and enhance citizen engagement.
  • Environmental Sustainability: Further invest in green energy projects, aiming for Rijeka to become a zero-waste city by 2040. Promote urban greening projects to increase green spaces.
  • Community Engagement: Foster greater involvement of citizens in local governance through participative platforms and transparent decision-making processes.

Personal Life

Beyond his professional responsibilities, Mayor Marko Filipović leads an active personal life:

  • Hobbies: Enjoys sailing, hiking, and exploring Croatian coastal regions.
  • Interests: Passionate about technology and innovations in urban development.
  • Personal Commitments: Actively involved in local community services, including environmental clean-up drives and educational programs for underprivileged children.

Awards and Honors

  • Recipient of the “Green City Leader” award by the Croatian Environmental Agency in 2022
  • Named “Innovative Mayor of the Year” by the European Smart City Conference in 2023
  • Honored with the “Rijeka Public Service Award” for outstanding contributions to the community in 2021

Rijeka, Croatia: Quality of Life and Cost of Living

Quality of Life

Rijeka, the third-largest city in Croatia, is known for its high quality of life. Boasting various amenities and a welcoming environment, it is a city where residents can enjoy both modern comforts and the charm of the Adriatic coast.


Rijeka has a safety index of 69.03, indicating a relatively low crime rate. This suggests that Rijeka is a safe place to live and visit, providing peace of mind to its residents and attracting tourists looking for a secure destination.


With a healthcare index of 66.01, Rijeka offers robust health services to its residents. The city is home to the renowned University Hospital Rijeka, ensuring that high-quality medical care is available to the populace. The healthcare system is well-regarded, contributing to the overall high standard of living in Rijeka.


The city’s pollution index stands at 47.53, reflecting fairly low levels of pollution. This indicates that Rijeka maintains a clean and healthy environment, enhancing the quality of life for those who reside there. The city’s efforts in maintaining cleanliness are evident in its well-kept public spaces and air quality.


Rijeka has a transportation index of 36.03, indicative of a good public transport system. The city offers an efficient and accessible public transportation network, including buses and a ferry service for coastal travel. This allows residents and visitors to commute conveniently within and around the city.


Rijeka houses notable educational institutions, including the University of Rijeka, which ensures a high standard of education. The presence of such institutions adds to the intellectual and cultural vibrancy of the city, making it a hub for academic and research activities in the region.

Cost of Living


The cost of housing in Rijeka is relatively affordable compared to many European cities. The average monthly rent for a 1-bedroom apartment in the city center is around €400. This affordability makes Rijeka an attractive option for those looking for a comfortable and cost-effective living arrangement.

Groceries and Dining

  • Monthly grocery cost for a single person: approximately €200
  • Average cost of dining out: around €10 per meal

The cost of groceries and dining out in Rijeka is reasonable, allowing residents to enjoy a variety of food options without straining their budgets.


Monthly utility costs for an 85m2 apartment are about €192. These costs typically include electricity, heating, cooling, water, and garbage disposal services. The utility expenses in Rijeka are manageable, contributing to the overall affordability of living in the city.


The cost of a monthly public transport pass is around €30. The affordable transportation costs ensure that residents can travel across the city efficiently without significant financial burden. This accessibility further enhances the quality of life in Rijeka.


  • Median cost for fitness clubs: approximately €31 per month
  • Cinema tickets: generally priced at €5 each

Entertainment options in Rijeka are reasonably priced, making it easier for residents to enjoy leisure activities. The city’s affordable fitness clubs and cinemas ensure that people have access to recreational opportunities without high costs.

Rijeka’s Role within the Eurocities Network

As part of the Eurocities network, Rijeka plays a significant role in sharing best practices for enhancing urban life. The city actively participates in exchanges and collaborations aimed at improving various aspects of urban living, from sustainability and innovation to cultural development. Through this network, Rijeka contributes to and benefits from collective efforts to elevate the quality of life in European cities.

In summary, Rijeka’s combination of a high quality of life and relatively low cost of living make it an attractive place to reside. Its robust healthcare system, efficient public transportation, affordable housing, and active role in the Eurocities network further enhance its appeal as a vibrant and livable city.

Source: Data and figures sourced from Numbeo.

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