Located just twenty minutes west of Rijeka, Opatija is considered the gateway to the Istrian peninsula. With its rich history of aristocracy and stunningly beautiful Viennese villas, this little Croatian city will welcome you with its charming atmosphere. The pristine blue waters of the Adriatic Sea border the city to the south, while the mountains of the Učka nature preserve protect the northern side. Boutique shopping, incredible restaurants, swimming, and long walks on the Lungomare and around the city center are just some of the activities to choose from while staying in Opatija. Utilize the following as your ultimate guide to Opatija, and start planning your trip to this unique city.
Where to Stay
Opatija will surprise you with its massive list of accommodation options. My suggestion, though, is to stay in a villa. If you are traveling during the summer months, make sure to check that the villa has free designated parking for your unit. During the summer, parking in Opatija is extremely difficult and almost impossible to find on a first-come, first-served basis. There are many beautiful villas inside the city center where you can stay in a villa hotel room, or an entire villa. We found a three-bedroom villa via a special Booking.com offer, and some friends joined us for an awesome three-day weekend.
What to Do
You will definitely want to take a leisurely stroll down the iconic Lungomare seafront promenade. Constructed over one hundred years ago, this iconic path will take you on a long, relaxing journey through lush green parks and past beautiful seafront villas along the crisp, blue sea. If you have enough time, make sure to explore all of its twelve kilometers from Volosko to Lovran.
As you are walking along the seafront, keep your eyes open for the Maiden with the Seagull.The original statue was erected during the 19th century as a memorial to Count Arthur Kesselstadt, who lost his life in a storm at sea. In the 1960s, a new sculpture was placed on the same spot, which has now become one of the main landmarks and symbols of the city of Opatija.
Along the Lungomare, there are many fantastic places to take a dip in the clear blue sea. From popular beaches to hidden pebble bays, there is a long list of amazing beaches to choose from. Located along the Lungomare promenade, Slatian Beach is one of the most popular beaches in the city. This beach has been awarded a “blue flag”, which is a certification of environmental standards of excellence. You can be sure to be greeted by crystal-clear waters, which will tempt you to jump straight in for a refreshing swim. Be sure to bring or wear your swimsuit. Partially due to the large number of facilities nearby, this is one of the best family-friendly beaches in the area.
Despite being 14 km away from Opatija, another popular choice is the Sipar Beach in Mošćenička Draga. It takes just one glimpse of the calm, turquoise waters and the dreamy surrounding area dotted with beautiful houses and lush greenery in the distance to feel like you have found a little holiday paradise!
If you would like to find a bit more peace and quiet, you should definitely head towards Klancac Beach. Located 24 km away from Opatija, it’s a bit more of a destination, but once you get there you’ll be rewarded by a small pebble bay nestled beneath vertical cliffs which open up to the crystal-clear azure waters of the Adriatic.
It is not just the beaches of Opatija area that will calm your mind and body, though, as wellness and health is a staple industry in this beautiful area. The most famous is the Thalasso Wellness Center located on the Lungomare.
Famous among the boating community, Ičičiattracts visitors with not only its crystal-clear water and blue flag beaches, but also its marina, which is equipped with everything sailors need. Make sure to pay a visit toIčičiif you would like to go out on a yacht or boat day trip to the area. I always recommend seeing the land from the water when possible for a unique vantage point. A wide range of bars and restaurants can also be found along the beach and also in the harbor.
Another charming little town worth stopping by is Ika. It is a perfect place for visitors seeking peace and quiet, which you will find plenty of as you are strolling down the narrow cobblestone streets lined with lovely little houses. The village also hosts a fishing festival, during which local chefs prepare mouth-watering meals at the end of the day.
Another fantastic day trip takes you to the lovely historical town of Lovran. The oldest part of the Opatija Riviera, this town will welcome you with its quaint, charming stone oldtown. The Roman general Marcus Vispsanius Agrippa chose a residence here in the first century BC. The original inhabitants were known for ship building and sailing. As Opatija grew in popularity, the upper class of Europe started visiting and loving Lovran too. Villa Frappart and Villa Astra are some of the most notable examples of stunning Venetian architecture.
If you would like to learn more about the history of Opatija and its glorious times, you should definitely pay a visit to the Museum of Croatian Tourism. It’s not just the intriguing stories and legends you will discover, but also the beautiful villa with stunning architectural design which houses the museum that makes it more than worth the stop!
In the hills above the historic city is the Učka Nature Park is a must-visit spot for all nature lovers looking for recreational activities. Start by heading to Vojak peak, which, with its 1401 meters of elevation, is the highest summit on the Istrian Peninsula. One you reach the very top, you will find an observation tower, which offers stunning panoramic views of the entire area. Besides hiking, visitors can also try activities such as mountain biking, free climbing, and hang gliding In the Učka Nature Park.
If you prefer watersports activities, you can choose between kayaking, windsurfing, scuba diving, or sailing.
Last, but definitely not least, Opatija is home to several fantastic Croatian boutiques and a number of large brand shops, but there are no shopping malls because they are located in Rijeka.
Traditional Gastronomy has been maintained by the culture of Opatija. Visitors can find unique meals with a blend of flavors using ingredients such as wild asparagus, ramps (wild onions), and garlic scapes. There is a reason why Opatija is also a popular destination for foodies. The numerous fantastic restaurants with delicious fare are sure to please gourmets. Kvarner scampi and Opatija camellia cake are famous must-try recipes. The camellia cake is a fragrant cake with figs, almonds, carob, raisins, and oranges, topped with a layer of marzipan and decorated with more fruits and even some chocolate. In the autumn, the sweet chestnuts are a must-try as well, because this area of Croatia is known for its chestnuts.
The Boutique Restaurant is perfect for seafood and meat lovers. My partner and his friend shared the meat plate which was overflowing with selections. The ladies all had pasta which was more than satisfactory.
If you are craving some Japanese dishes, make sure to stop by Nami Sushi restaurant. The chef creates true food masterpieces by combining the art of sushi with local ingredients found in Opatija.
If you would like to be taken on a journey through Croatian cuisine, you definitely need to have dinner at Roko or Plavi Podrum. Regardless of which restaurant you choose, you will be treating your taste buds to a fine-dining experience unlike any other. Everything from the presentation to the explosion of flavors is so carefully chosen that you will want to keep going back for more!
Another restaurant that we really wanted to try was Ostaria Veranda. Unfortunately, we didn’t have reservations and they were booked solid, so keep this in mind if the restaurant is on your list as well. I have heard that the food is fantastic, plus they have an amazing terrace with a lovely view. In the summer months, you should make reservations before your trip, as most of the good restaurants will be booked.
One of my favorite things in Opatija was going to the market. It was a great way to immerse ourselves into the locals’ lives. I was also very surprised to find garlic scapes, as I do not see them in markets often. I was so thrilled at this discovery that I bought a kilo of them; I roasted half and froze the rest for summer bbq plans.
Would you love to visit the charming city of Opatija? Which of our suggestions have you already added to your ultimate guide to Opatija?
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