Opatija has for years been a synonym for luxury and good time, often the city is referred to as „The Croatian Monte Carlo“. Its potential was discovered by the Austro-Hungarian aristocracy in 19th century, when they started building large villas for enjoying the mild Mediterranean clime.
Even today, after 160 years later, Opatija still successfully characterized the noble Austro-Hungarian spirit, the majority of the old villas and hotels have been carefully renovated into fashionable and luxuriant hotels, the city council takes much effort in maintaining the appearance of the whole town, especially the parks and promenades.
Opatija is placed under mountain Ucka, inside of Kvarner bay. The perfect spot between the mountains and sea gave Opatija fundament in becoming one of the leading tourist towns in Croatia. During summer it is very hard to find an empty accommodation unit, in the shoulder season the city organizes a variety of congresses, seminars, festivals, concerts, exhibitions and many other events.
The Famous 11km long promenade named Lungomare is one of main symbols of Opatija and Opatijan Riviera.
History of Opatija:
At first, Opatija was a small monastery, built in the beginning of 12th century. In documents from town Kastav it was mentioned very often, because, at that time, Opatija was part of the Kastav region.
Prosperity of Opatija in tourist and healing/spa centre started to grow, as mentioned, in the 19th century, by the finishing of the road toward Rijeka and the building of villa Angiolina. That moment is also considered as start of tourism in Opatija. Many rich people assisted at that time by donating money, even Rumanian Royal couple donated money for built of boulevard at mountain Ucka, above Opatija. With its new 16km of Forest Boulevard and 7km of sea promenade, Opatija was and still is a unique experience in past and present tourism.
Since that time, Opatija has been visited by many famous and less famous people: Austrian monarch Franz Joseph, German royal couple, Greek king George, Bulgarian queen and many other known and unknown wanted to experience this place where relaxing green mountain Ucka dives in crystal clear Adriatic Sea.
The wealth and luxury of the town are visible on every corner, on facades of numerous hotels, pensions and villas. Many monuments reminds of the rich and fertile cultural history, which the city has. Most famous are:
St. Jacob’s church – from which Opatija started to grow. It was built on two times, in year 1506. and 1793. – Witness to that is inscription above the entrance. St Jacob is also Opatija’s protector.
Villa Angiolina – placed by the sea and surrounded by luxuriant greenery, villa Angiolina was first “real” tourist accommodation in Opatija. It was built by Iginio Sccarpa, tradesman and patrician in year 1844. Villa was named after Iginio’s wife.
Madonina – sculpture built on cape in memory of two young people who lost their lives in sea storm. Afterwards she was replaced with statue of a woman holding sea-gull; today it is one of most known symbols of Opatija.
What to see in Opatija:
Opatija is one of most beautiful Croatian towns, and leader in luxury tourism. Practically whole town is beautiful, besides the monuments motioned above, here are few other things which is worth wile seeing.
Maiden with the Seagull – placed near sea – one of Opatija’s symbols
Art pavilion "Juraj Matija Sporer"
The Open Air Summer Theater
Church of the Annunciation
Lungomare (The Seaside Promenade)
The Angiolina park - Villa Angiolina
Whole Opatija’s Riviera is really beautiful and worth to seen. Small towns are like Ika and Lovran, are connected with Lungomare – promenade by the sea.
Rijeka is not far away, and in the hinterland is Gorski Kotar, the best saved green part of Croatia. The tower of Istra, mount Učka, is a nature park with hiking paths and a beautiful view over the Kvarner bay.
Accommodation in Opatija:
Main part of accommodation in Opatija can be found in Hotels, but on the hills sides cascading down from Mountain Učka, there is also lots of villas offering private accommodation. The prices for accommodation in Opatija, is among the highest in Opatija, but once you see the city you will see that the price level is justified by the beauty of the city.
Beaches in Opatija:
Beaches in Opatija are mainly concrete spots connected with promenade “Lungomare”. Most of them are luxury equipped for tourists. If you would like to be alone and far from crowd, there are many hidden bays with peace and clean sea.
The nicest beaches in whole Opatija’s Riviera are in Moscenicka Draga, most of them are very wide and sandy.
Restaurants in Opatija:
Opatija restaurants are following town’s reputation; with top-service and high quality meals. Of course, mostly offered are fish dishes, and in some restaurants you can try food made by recipes from the 19th century.
Restaurant Dopolavoro – placed on top of mountain Učka, only 15km from Opatija, offers large choice of wild game under bell. If you need a place to cool your self from summer heats or to enjoy snow in winter, this is exactly the place to go. Getting to the restaurant requires a quite a nice walk of about and hour, so when you arrive you will for sure have appetite.
Restaurant Bevanda – one of most known Opatija’s restaurants, placed on peninsula. It is surrounded by sea and park.
Restaurant Villa Ariston – restaurant is part of hotel, placed beside promenade Lungomare. It is known by traditionally prepared food.
Restaurant Villa Kapetanovic – this is restaurant with very good meat dishes offer.
Entertainment and nightlife:
There are really many ways to have fun in Opatija. It is possible to choose between interesting exhibitions, different types of concerts or to see a movie at the outdoor summer stage. Opatija is known for its full year entertainment and event program. After the season they events, take place inside hotels and churches.
Many hotels has a dancing terrace where live music are offered in the evening, for those who wants to party in late night hours, there is a few discotheques in the town. The “Night bars” and the casinos are other options.
Central event in Opatija through the summer are Fisherman’s nights, traditional fiesta with dancing until dawn. Outside the season main event is well known carnival.
Shopping in Opatija:
In the centre of the town there is a Shopping mall “Operetta”, probably the nicest mall in Croatia. On two beautiful floors, decorated with sculptures and ornaments, you can find most of the world best brands.
The promenade Lungomare is a really good place to buy souvenirs, here you can also find older ladies selling their knitted handmade works.
Phone number, which could be useful when making holiday in Opatija.
Doctor (051) 271 227
Dentist (051) 701 260
Police 112 / (051) 710 111
Post (051) 271 733
Taxi (051) 711 366
Bus station (051) 271 617
Tourist board (051) 271 710
How to get to Opatija:
By Car: As Opatija is situated only a few km outside of Rijeka it is very well connected to the motorway network in Croatia, no matter from where you enter Croatia, just follow driving direction to Rijeka, once you get there, you will have no trouble finding Opatija.
By train: Nearest train station is in Rijeka, from here you can take one of the frequent buses to Opatija.
By bus: First go to Rijeka, and then take local bus from here to Opatija
By plane: Nearest airport is on island Krk, but as only a few planes lands here, I might be easier to fly to Pula or even Zagreb Airport.