Opatija is both a port city and a seaside resort located at the foot of the Učka mountain. The city can be found on the eastern coast of Istria, in the bay of Kvarner, 13 km south of Rijeka.
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Opatija, the cradle of Croatian tourism
Opatija is less touristy than Dubrovnik and Split, but it is still one of the most famous tourist destinations on the eastern Adriatic coast for two main reasons. First, the city has always attracted elites from all over Europe. This began in the 19th century, with the visits of the Croatian statesman Josip Jelačić and the Empress of Austria Maria Ana. The second reason is more mundane. In order to attract visitors, you need infrastructure, and the very first hotel on the Adriatic opened in Opatija over 100 years ago.
This destination is known for its mild climate, which has helped develop tourism. The Mediterranean climate gently warms the city with sunshine throughout the year (5 degrees in the winter and 27 degrees in the summer on average). The city’s parks and downtown area have been carefully maintained by gardeners and landscapers for decades. The city is full of evergreen trees and exotic plants that do not lose their foliage, ensuring a green landscape 365 days a year.
When beach tourism began, Opatija was the only destination with a hotel on the coast for hundreds of kilometers. The city quickly became a favorite among the world’s wealthy. The local economy quickly turned to tourism and Opatija now offers a full range of accommodation for its visitors. While there are more high-end rentals in Opatija compared to other places, there are still many guest houses and apartments for rent.
Tourists looking for luxury and comfort will not be disappointed in Opatija, as there are many large hotels and magnificent villas for rent. During their stay, visitors can enjoy a wide range of sports and entertainment facilities as well as a large selection of restaurants. The city also has a vibrant cultural calendar.
What can you see in Opatija?
The St. Jacob’s Park and the Church of St. James are must-sees when visiting Opatija and walking around the city.
The Maiden with the Seagull
The ” Maiden with a Seagull ” is a sculpture facing the sea. It has always been used as the city’s main landmark on posters and postcards. Over time, it has become the symbol of Opatija. The sculpture was erected in 1956 by the artist Zvonko Car.
Tourist destinations near Opatija
Ičići is another seaside resort in the Kvarner Bay located between Lovran and Opatija. It is also a historical tourist destination with more than 150 years of history. Ičići is easily accessible from Opatija. In a way, it’s its little sister. The city attracts visitors for its climate and beautiful scenery, as well as for the entertainment and quality accommodations found there. Ičići is a more intimate destination. The town will appeal to visitors who want to enjoy the benefits of Opatija while getting a little more peace and quiet.
Lovran is located in the northern part of the Kvarner Bay and is also part of this attractive riviera. The town is only 5 km away from Opatija and 15 km from Rijeka. For a long time, Lovran was the resort residence of the Austro-Hungarian elite. Lovran is a year-round tourist destination thanks to the sea nearby and excellent climatic conditions. Its dense and lush vegetation and 12 km long waterfront, known as “Lungomare”, provide room for many activities. Activities that can be practiced in Lovran include walking, climbing, biking, sailing, diving, canoeing, kayaking or simply swimming.
Mošćenička Draga is a port town on the Kvarner Bay on the same coast, but further south. It is located 10 km south of Lovran. Its economy is now based on tourism. The town has a 2 km long pebble beach and is surrounded by dense vegetation. It’s an attractive destination for family vacations.Accommodations includes hotels, rental rooms, apartments and a campsite. Visitors can practice different sports and leisure activities during their stay. Many mountaineers visit Mošćenička Draga because of its proximity to the Učka mountain. In the summer, yachts can anchor 100 meters from the coast.
The small town of Kastav is located inland between Rijeka and Opatija, 11 km and 7 km respectively from these destinations. The town is built on a hill 350 meters above sea level. It overlooks a large area of old paths which visitors can use to enjoy stimulating walks between the sea and the mountains.