It may not have the samba-fuelled antics of Rio de Janeiro or the giddy opulence of Venice, but Rijeka wins at carnivals when it comes to sheer stamina: with the Croatian port town staging an entire month of festivities through February. A recent revival of a medieval tradition, the highlight of the carnival is the 10,000-strong parade, with locals marching through the town’s grand Habsburg-era avenues, dressed variously as crabs, bananas, Vikings or simply wearing masks – a legacy of Venetian rule over the city.
From here it’s just over an hour’s drive to a more sedate corner of Croatia, the fishing town of Rovinj, whose graceful Old Town juts out into the sea. Pine-shaded beaches and quiet seaside promenades provide an ideal spot to recuperate from any post-carnival headaches.
MAKE IT HAPPEN
Rijeka’s Carnival runs from 17 January to 18 February – the grand parade takes place on 15 February.
The closest airport to Rijeka is actually the Italian city of Trieste – 1.1/2 hours’ drive away (plus you get to cross Slovenia on the way). Ryanair flies from London Stansted.
Car hire options are plentiful at Trieste Airport.
The Hotel Lone has high-design rooms in a striking modern building on the fringes of Rovinj.