Opatija is a picturesque town situated in the Gulf of Kvarner, just 13 km from the city of Rijeka. Once you get to this special city, you may be tempted to spend all of your time indulging its beaches, sun and the sea, but try not to do it, as Opatija offers lots of other stuff to see and do as well. Being a city rich in history and tradition, at every corner, you can admire buildings of completely different styles: Renaissance, Secession, Baroque, Gothic etc. Opatija has it all.
It has been a popular touristic summer and winter destination since the 19th century when nobles and aristocrats used to enjoy its calmness and beauty and it preserved that reputation ‘till today.
The first hotel ever built along the Adriatic coast was Hotel Quarnero in Opatija, built in 1884. As we previously stated, Opatija is one of the few places in Croatia to attract tourists all year round. This is not only for its beauty but also for the popular and luxurious wellness offers. Many events are organized during the whole year which traditionally ends with “Winter in Opatija”, a rich program with many events such as the Chocolate Festival and the Ice magic.
What to visit
Speaking of the importance of tourism for this city, one of the first tourist resorts was Villa Angiolina, built in 1844 by Iginio Scarpa. Take a look at its richly decorated hall with painted ceiling or go to one of the numerous social events and concerts that are regularly being held there. There is also the Museum of Croatian Tourism inside the building which holds material and non-material tourist heritage which illustrate the rich history of tourism in Croatia.
Opatija’s parks are definitely one of the most beautiful in all of the country. Take a stroll through the Park of St Jakob and Park Angiolina and explore its vast collection of plants from all around the world. While wandering the city’s center, you can’t miss the Fountain of Helios and Selena and Fountain Slatina.
The Maiden with the Seagull is a symbol of Opatija. It is located on the bank of the sea along the Lungomare seafront promenade. Back 1891 count Arthur Kesselstadt tragically lost his life during a sea storm in front of Opatija. Devastated by the grief, he places the statue of “Madonna Del Mare” on the reef, but the following years the statue was severely damaged because of the weather conditions and its closeness to the sea, so it was restored and today it can be seen in the Croatian museum of tourism. In 1956, the statue “Maiden with the Seagull” was placed and it became a symbol not only of the town of Opatija but of all the region.
If you wondered what’s the meaning of the city’s name, “Opatija” is Croatian word for “abbey” and it got its name after the St Jacob’s Church, built in the early 15th century as a colony of the benedictine monks and it has been renovated and expanded during the following years. Another important church is the Church of the Annunciation of Mary, interesting for its neo-Romanesque triple nave structure.
Sport and Recreation
Opatija’s seafront promenade, Lungomare, is 12km long and therefore ideal for long walks or light jogging. Another interesting promenade where you can try out some nordic walking or mountain biking is the Carmen Sylva forest path. For the lovers of the water sports and especially diving fans – there are several amazing dive sites that will definitely satisfy all your adventure cravings or, if you are not up to going deep under the surface of its crystal clear sea, simply put your costume on and go for a swim.
Opatija is a popular gourmet destination and its menus are mainly based on fresh seafood and regional flavors like asparagus, cherries, and chestnuts. Don’t miss trying out some of the Croatia’s top-quality wines!
If you have some extra time on your hands, don’t hesitate to leave the city and explore its surroundings. Whether you’re into historical sights, untouched nature or simply curious about finding out more amazing places to experience the food and wine of the region – you can find it all very close! There are many boat tours that’ll take you to the island of Krk and Cres, where you can enjoy some of the most fabulous beaches and beautiful nature. The Plitvice Lakes National Park is also pretty close to Opatija and if you are up to some more culture in midst of an amazing natural surrounding visit the Brijuni National Park, which is a group of 14 small islands in the western Istria.
Talking about Istria… take one day and visit the Wine Roads where you can taste internationally recognized and awarded wines made by locals and enjoy freshly prepared local delicacy at one of the many agro-tourism restaurants.
Mini-packages of local produce are the perfect souvenir from this region! Choose among the high-quality olive oil, local wines and liqueurs, honey, homemade pasta, truffles and many more.