History of luxury tourism in Opatija
It all started in the 19th century with the development of the railways in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Opatija became easily reachable and due to its mild Mediterranean climate, it became the favorite health destination for the Austro-Hungarian aristocracy.
Opatija Riviera from the air, pixabay.com
There are many tourist sights in Opatija. Here are our recommendations:
Lungomare is a long promenade by the sea where you will see historic villas and gardens from the 19th century and enjoy the scent of the Mediterranean plants. It streaches from Volosko to Lovran. Most of the top attractions are situated on the Lungomare or nearby.
Lungomare promenade in Opatija, pixabay.com
Maiden with a seagull
Thus, Maiden with a seagull is a statue situated on the Lungomare. Originally there was a statue of Madonna there. It was placed as a memory to Count Kesselstadt who died at the sea nearby. Over the years it became the most famous statue and the symbol of Opatija.
St. Jacob's park
Nearby we also have St. Jacob's park with the fountain in the center. The fountain is called Helios and Selene and it depicts God of the Sun and Goddess of the Moon. We believe it is a great place to take a romantic selfie with your loved one.
Art Pavilion Juraj Sporer
Here you will also find the Art Pavilion Juraj Sporer. Today it serves for exhibitions but once upon a time it was a pastry shop where fresh cakes were shipped to every day by train from Budapest and Vienna. The pastry shop was Gerbaud's which is a brand even today.
American Gardens in Opatija, by Cborna, from commons.wikimedia.org
American Gardens is another park is situated in the middle of the town and it includes a stunning view. The American gardens also have an interesting history. Originally they were built by the rich Hungarian „King of Szegedi Paprika“ Michael Paulus Kuczor and his wife Hilda von Hortenau who was a florist and an extramarital child of the nephew of the Emperor Franz Joseph von Habsburg, and the Viennese prima ballerina Maria Schleinzer. They are called the American Gardens in reference to Kuczor's past as a spice merchant in America.
Hotel Kvarner is known as the first hotel on the Croatian Adriatic. Originally it was built as a sanatory for lung diseases for the Austrian aristocracy. Its Kristalna Dvorana hall serves for events even today.
Hotel Kvarner in Opatija, by Silverije from commons.wikimedia.org
Villa and Park Angiolina
Villa and Park Angiolina are also situated near the Lungomare. Villa was visited by the aristocracy in the past and the park serves as a summer stage for concerts. You will find the camellia flower there which is the symbol flower of Opatija. Swiss house is also there with the Museum of tourism. Visit it if you are interested in the history of tourism in Opatija and Croatia in general.
Villa and Park Angiolina in Opatija, by Nick Postorino, from flickr.com
Croatian Street of Fame
Opatija also has a Croatian Street of Fame like in Hollywood. Only here we pay tribute to the famous Croatian people from the movie industry, but also people successful in literature, sports, science, etc.
Croatian Street of Fame in Opatija,
by Berthold Werner,
Opatijski Portic is a small harbor located at the Lungomare. Originally it was a starting point for the excursion boats from Opatija and the boatsmen were called the Barkajoli. Today this is one of the places where you can take a taxi boat for a boat trip around Kvarner bay which is definitively our tip for the day trips from Opatija.
Opatija Day Trips
Due to its good geographical position, Opatija can offer you a variety of day trips. Let us start with boat trips.
Boat trips from Opatija
As we already mentioned you can take a taxi boat from Opatija or Volosko and explore the hidden bays and beaches of Kvarner Bay. See the Moscenicka Draga, Lovran, take a swim in Icici or take an excursion to the nearby islands like Krk or Cres.
Krk Boat Trips, pixabay.com
Krk island has plenty of historic sights (Bascanska Ploca for example) that are worth exploring, but also beaches and views, all accompanied with excellent gastro offer with wine. Cres, on the other hand, is interesting due to its hidden bays that are just waiting for you to explore.
Hidden bays of the island of Cres, pixabay.com
Trips to nature and National Parks
If you wish to spend a day in nature we can recommend you a visit to Nature park Učka.
Nature park Ucka
Ucka is our first choice for nature lovers as it is the mountain closest to Opatija. The view from there is divine as you can see Rijeka and the whole Kvarner bay. You can also try a variety of sports activities there from climbing and free climbing to mountain biking. Furthermore, there are numerous walking paths and bike routes in the park. While in Ucka make sure to visit Slap waterfall where the area is great for a picnic.
Nature Park Ucka, Ana-Marija V. B. commons.wikimedia.org
Gorski Kotar is our second choice for nature trips with the Devil's passage canyon as its main attraction and the National Park Risnjak.
National Park Risnjak by Highonsteep from commons.wikimedia.org
National Park Plitvice is our final choice for the day trips to nature from Opatija. It consists of 16 lakes and over 30 hidden caves. The most famous sites there are Kozjak lake and the Big Waterfall. We have a whole blog related to Plitvice. Feel free to check it if you are interested in this trip.
National Park Plitvice
Cultural sightseeing around Opatija
In the vicinity of Opatija, there are many historic towns which will be interesting to all those who like history. Here are our recommendations:
Veprinac is an ethno village situated at the slopes of the Ucka mountain with the view of the Kvarner bay and Rijeka.
Rijeka from Veprinac by Antonio199cro from commons.wikimedia.org
Actually, there is a mountain trail that leads from Opatija that is perfect for those who like trekking and hiking. Thus, we recommend you this trip if you plan to visit Ucka. The Old town of Veprinac is interesting as it includes the ethno collection that depicts the village life as it once was.
It is a fishermen's town next to Opatija with great gastronomy and restaurants. While in Volosko visit the Crnikovica beach. It is partly pebble beach, and part of it is concrete with sand inside and shallow area.
The town of Volosko, by Bernd Thaller from flickr.com
The town of Lovran has a long history in tourism. The Old town still preserved its historic medieval core, where the defense systems and bastions are still visible. Its streets are romantic and charming. There are also several villas in Lovran that date back to the 19th century. If you are interested in this charming town just follow the Lungomare from Opatija and you will reach it as it is situated at the beginning of the promenade.
Moscenicka Draga beach, by Babarogababarogic from commons.wikimedia.org
Moscenicka Draga is the place where the mountain Ucka meets the sea. Its beach Sipar is one of the most beautiful on Kvarner. There are also many paths and walks that lead to Ucka mountain. Here we will also mention the Trebišća-Perun Mythology and History Educational Trail that is set up as a real detective story – therefore slowly reveals clues along the path about the basics of the old Slavic beliefs and mythology.
Moscenice is fortifed old town near Moscenicka draga. The town is interesting because of not one but two unique world championships. The first is called Picanje of eggs and it takes place at Eastertime. The participants try to pierce the shell of an egg with a Euro coin from a distance of 2,8m. The other championship is dedicated to the throwing of paper plains from the city walls to the sea.
While there also check their Ethno collection which depicts the traditional way of life and olive oil manufacturing.
The town of Moscenice by Bernd Thaller from flickr.com
Rijeka – the capital of culture
Finally, there is Rijeka, the European capital of culture in 2020. Therefore, it is definitively worth a visit. You simply must walk the Korzo promenade and see its shops and cafes. Visit the Old town and Trsat Rijeka's historic castle. The view from there is splendid! While there you can also visit the nearby Kastav which is a Medieval heritage town.
Tour the Istra peninsula
Finally, we can recommend you to tour the Istrian peninsula as it is full of interesting sights.
First, visit the historic towns of Rovinj, Porec, and Pula that are situated near each other. Thus, you can visit them all.
Rovinj in Istria, pixabay.com
Furthermore, a boat trip from Pula to the Brijuni National Park is simply a must.
Finally, we can recommend you to visit the central Istria and towns of Hum and Motovun. Hum is known as the smallest town in the world. It is also a historic town with good brandy. Motovun is famous after the film festival, its vineyards and forest with tartufi.
Motovun in Central Istria, pixabay.com
Also, when in Istria we recommend you to go truffle hunting which is one of the most authentic experiences Istria has to offer.
In this blog, we presented you with ideas for sightseeing and day trips in and around Opatija and we hope we inspired you to take a luxury vacation in Opatija. In one of our future blogs, we plan to give you tips for fine dining, beaches, and villas in Opatija. So stay tuned. In case you need more information now, feel free to contact our VIP Concierge Team or our Villa Specialists.