Opatija, this elegant tourist destination, lies at the centre of the Riviera with the longest tradition of tourism in Croatia. Built mainly at the turn of the 20th century, Opatija has remained in complete harmony with nature right up until the present day. Well-maintained public gardens, the illuminated 12-km-long coastal promenade known as the “Lungomare”, well-kept beaches and fountains provide a stunning backdrop for the villas and hotels that cater comfortably for over 7,000 guests.
The magnificent villas and hotels are only part of Opatija’s attraction which, like the sirens’s chant, is hard to resist. Their classical beauty has easily weathered the ravages of time. The contrasts of sea and mountains, green parks and blue ocean, old buildings and modern comforts, noisy entertainment venues and quiet destinations for excursions all combine to make Opatija and its surroundings a very attractive tourist resort at any time of the year.
What to see and do in Opatija
A hint of the formality that shrouded Opatija in its heyday still survives; the narrow pines and grand buildings remind one of the Italian lakes. This means that many visitors from all over Europe continue to head to the Opatija Riviera in the summer.
The main street, ulica Maršala Tita, runs parallel to the coast for the length of town, and you can go from one end of town to the other on foot in about half an hour, passing numerous terrace cafés along the way. The best seafood restaurants are in the neighboring fishing village of Volosko, a 15-minute walk along the seafront. The mild climate year-round and resulting subtropical vegetation, frequently sunny skies, and shelter from cold north winds provided by Mt. Učka give Opatija pleasant weather for much of the year. In summer, fresh sea breezes tend to dispel any oppressive heat, making the city an ideal seaside resort.
Opatija is a thriving and vibrant town throughout the year and the list of cultural and entertainment events go on and on. After the New Year celebrations, a whole string of interesting events follow, of which we will mention just a few and each guest will supplement this list of events according to his interests. February is traditionally marked by the Carnival, which transforms Opatija along with the 12 km distant city of Rijeka, into a huge international carnival stage. In this famous tourist destination with a long tradition and a modern tourist offer, March is marked by Wellness. Namely, this month in Opatija’s calendar is marked as the “Month of Wellness” during which guests are introduced to the luxurious Wellness offer that provides relaxation, recreation, care of one’s appearance and, thanks to its professional team, also guarantees important health benefits.
From the end of May to the end of September, Summer in Opatija events take place, which include numerous film shows, concerts, operas and folklore… held in the beautiful surroundings of the Open-air theatre and Arts Pavilion. During the first half of July there is an event Opatija – Imperial city during which the streets, terraces and coffee houses are filled with period costumes, music and dancing recalling the times when Opatija was a fashionable venue for the aristocracy of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy.
The year traditionally ends with Winter in Opatija, a rich program with many events such as the Chocolate Festival, Ice magic with Christmas market where all visitors can enjoy ice skating near the sea and season holidays events.
Along with these traditional events, there are numerous other shows and festivals which attract guests during all seasons of the year.
The Angiolina park
The central Opatija park is a horticultural monument covering an area of 3.64 hectares. It is divided into 60 fields and about 159 plant species grow here. A great number of them originates from distant parts of the world and is not typical of this region. Among the numerous interesting plants growing in the park is the Japanese camelia (Camellia japonica) which in time has become the distinctive symbol of Opatija. In the park stands the oldest building in Opatija, the Church of St. Jakov, mentioned for the first time in historic documents in 1449. Today the park is divided into two separate units, one near the church – the Park of St.Jakov and the other near Villa “Angiolina” – Park “Angiolina”. Villa “Angiolina” is the building that certainly marked the beginning of the tourist epoch in the history of Opatija. Saint Jacob’s Church Pending its building in 1844. (actually a reconstruction of an older building owned by baron Haller von Hallerstein), Opatija was a relatively large settlement with about 120 houses, clustered mainly around plots further away from the sea coast and chiefly oriented towards fishing and seafaring.
Beaches in Opatija
Slatina beach is the biggest beach in Opatija and the place of all the major events in the town. It is located in the very centre of Opatija, along the sea promenade and the Croatian Walk of Fame. The beach is concrete and sandy which is particularly good for children; it is also adapted to the disabled. At the beach you can find showers, many bars, sport contents, it is possible to rent parasols, chairs and sports equipment.
Tomasevac beach is located near the promenade of Opatija, in the vicinity of the Ambasador Hotel. The beach is sandy with concrete parts; it is ideal for families with children and there you can rent parasols, chairs and sports equipment. At the beach you will find showers and bars.
Lido beach is one of the most beautiful beaches of Opatija. It is situated near the Angiolina park and right behind it is the summer open air cinema where during summer many concerts are held and movies screened. There is the Tantra lounge bar at the beach; it is possible to rent parasols, chairs and sports equipment.
Trips from Opatija
Opatija has a great position which means you can take one day trips wherever you want. First of all, you can take a tour of Istria and visit its seaside towns like Pula, Porec, Rovinj and more or its continental part with small medieval towns on hilltops like Hum and famous Istrian vineyards and olive groves.
An hour drive from Opatija, you can visit the Ucka Nature Park where you can enjoy the nature hiking or riding a bike along the trails. Also, not far from Opatija is the Risnjak National Park; other national parks that can be visited from Opatija is the National park Brijuni, Plitvice Lakes which is the most visited Croatian national park and the National Park of Northern Velebit.
Boat trips are also organized either to the Riviera of Opatija or the islands of Kvarner like Krk and Cres.
As Opatija is close to Slovenia, trips to the Postojna Caves are also popular.
How to get to Opatija
Opatija can be reached by all means of transport. If you travel by car from other parts of Croatia (Zagreb or Dalmatia) you can use the highway and exit in Rijeka, from Rijeka it takes 15 minutes to get to Opatija. Coming from Slovenia and Italy, take the Rupa and Pasjak border crossing, exit at Matulji and continue to Opatija.
Travelling by bus, you will find plenty of national and international connections with Opatija.
The nearest airport is on the island of Krk (Rijeka airport) which is connected with the mainland by a bridge, bus rides are organized from the airport to Opatija. Another option is to fly to the Pula airport and take a bus from Pula to Opatija, travelling time is approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes.