Opatija is a magnificent city of history past and present, of invigorating restaurants hidden away in nooks on a marvellous bit of coast. Looking for a reason to visit the home of Croatian seaside tourism? Culture Trip has 10 of them.
Once upon a time, Opatija sat at the pinnacle of the goldmine that is Croatian seaside tourism. Those days have long passed, but the Kvarner Gulf’s capital is still a magical getaway for a variety of reasons. These are the most compelling of those.
Opatija isn’t called the ‘Home of Croatian Tourism’ for no reason. It was here that the influx of tourism to the nation’s seaside began, specifically with the building of the Hotel Kvarner in 1884. Needless to say, things have progressed from there. Opatija is full of iconic hotels that are brimming with history, including the place where it all began. If you want to stay in a historic seaside spot, Opatija is the pinnacle.
There is an inherent romance to life in Opatija. Everything moves a little slower here as the local people take their time to enjoy life and all it throws at them. If you are looking for a romantic getaway in Croatia, then don’t overlook the Opatija Riviera, an area full of seaside promenades and specially laid-out pedestrian paths. The 12-kilometre (7.4-mile) stroll from Volosko to Lovran might be a little too much, but every inch is worth checking out.
Don’t really eat your weight in seafood. Opatija is home to some of the most magnificent restaurants in the entire region. Mediterranean fare is the dominant cuisine of choice, although you’ll find more than enough variation to satisfy even the pickiest of eaters. If you’re looking for good seafood, Opatija has it in spades.
It is unlikely that you will be able to add your name to the list (unless you happen to be a Croatian who achieves something genuinely spectacular, of course), but a walk down Opatija’s Walk of Fame reveals some incredible history. Croatia is a small nation in the grand scheme of things, but this thoroughfare of legends plainly spells out its contribution to humanity.
Tourism is Croatia’s major industry in the 21st century. It might even be the main reason why most people around the world are aware of this small Slavic republic, although Luka Modrić and co.’s exploits at the 2018 FIFA World Cup might have changed that. The story of tourism in Croatia is expertly laid out at Opatija’s Museum of Croatian Tourism, located in the glorious Villa Angiolina. Don’t miss it.
This is one for the energetic among you. Učka mountain looms large over Opatija, and those who are able to hike the 1,401 metres (4,596.4 feet) up to its peak are in for a most special treat. An incredible view awaits, a glorious vista of Croatia’s Kvarner Gulf and all it possesses. Croatia is the sort of place that offers life-affirming moments from time to time, and this is one such spot.
Tourism might be the number one money-maker in this part of the world, but towns like Opatija also still function as active ports. Opatija is home to two ports, namely a small bay in front of the Church of St. Jacob and a larger one that acts as the town’s main port. There are few more relaxing ways to while away a day than by watching the ships come and go in and out of the harbour. Feel free to start whistling while you are there, for added atmosphere.
Statues are not in short supply in Croatia, but few are as iconic as Opatija’s Maiden with the Seagull monument. This is one of the great tragic symbols of the coast, built following the death of Arthur Kesselstadt in 1891. His mourning family requested a statue be erected in his honour, hence this daintily elegant monument that we find staring out to sea today.
It won’t come as a huge surprise, but the Opatija Riviera is full of wellness centres waiting to reinvigorate the tired and the exhausted. The health spas are among the oldest in Croatia, guaranteeing no small amount of experience to go alongside invigorating saunas, relaxing Jacuzzis and intense massages. There is no better place to regenerate than Opatija and its surroundings.
There is something majestic about good theatre. National theatres across the country are always examples of the finest architecture, but there is something even more regal about an open-air theatre in a graceful location. Opatija is home to one such theatre, an atmospheric setting for high culture with the seas sloshing softly in the background. Just when you thought theatre couldn’t get any more elegant, Opatija turns up to surprise you once more.