Opatija is a picturesque coastal on the Adriatic Sea. It has been a fashionable resort since the 19th century and is still popular with holidaymakers. Opatija boasts miles of stunning coastline, and the Lungomare promenade allows visitors to take in breathtaking views.
The town also features an array of attractions, from the 1800s Villa Angiolina, which houses the Croatian Museum of Tourism, to St. Jacob’s Church, which dates back to the 16th century.
A Glittering History
Once the playground of European aristocrats and wealthy visitors, this fashionable resort gained popularity in the 19th century. It was then that wealthy Austrians flocked to the town for its mild climate, picturesque views, and seaside charm. Today, Opatija is a thriving tourist destination that still boasts a touch of glamour from its heyday.
The town has a long history dating back to the Roman era, but its nautical roots helped shape its identity as a seaside resort. The natural harbor of Opatija made it an important hub for trading ships, which brought goods and people to the town from all over the Mediterranean. It was also an important port for fishing and shipbuilding.
In the late 1800s, the first hotels and villas were built in Opatija to cater to wealthy travelers seeking relaxation and recreation by the sea. The rest, as they say, is history.
Opatija has undergone many changes since its early days but retains charm and allure. The town has managed to preserve its cultural heritage while adapting to the needs of modern tourists. Today, visitors can enjoy a mix of historic landmarks, modern amenities, and stunning scenery.
What to See First
The ACI Marina is the perfect place to dock when you arrive in Opatija by yacht. With a stunning bay view and modern amenities, it’s a great central location for your home away from home.
Once you’ve settled in, the Lungomare promenade is a must-see attraction. This 12-kilometer-long coastal walkway is a true gem and offers stunning views of the Adriatic Sea. It stretches all the way from Opatija to Lovran and is perfect for an afternoon stroll or jog.
Another attraction not to be missed is the 1800s Villa Angiolina. This elegant mansion is set in a lush garden filled with exotic plants and houses the Croatian Museum of Tourism. It was once a favorite destination of the Austrian aristocracy and is a true gem of Opatija’s history.
If you’re interested in history, the parts of St. Jacob’s Church that date back to the 16th century are definitely worth a visit. This historic landmark has been an important part of Opatija’s community for centuries and is a beautiful example of local architecture.
Dining in Opatija
Regarding dining and nightlife, Opatija offers an exciting range of options that suit all tastes and preferences. You won’t be disappointed if you want to indulge in delicious seafood, sample Croatian wines, or dance the night away. Here are some of the best restaurants and nightclubs in Opatija:
- Villa Ariston – This elegant restaurant in a beautifully restored 19th-century villa offers exquisite Mediterranean cuisine and stunning sea views. Their menu includes seafood delicacies such as oysters and lobster, delicious meat, and vegetarian dishes.
- Plavi Podrum – One of the oldest restaurants in Opatija, Plavi Podrum is renowned for its fresh fish and seafood, prepared in the traditional Croatian style. The restaurant is housed in a charming stone building overlooking the marina, and its terrace is the perfect spot for a romantic dinner.
- Roko – If you’re looking for a more casual dining experience, Roko is the place to go. This family-run restaurant serves homemade pasta, grilled meat, and seafood dishes made with fresh, locally sourced ingredients. The atmosphere is friendly and relaxed, and the prices are reasonable.
- Bevanda – This Michelin-starred restaurant is a true culinary gem, offering innovative dishes that blend Croatian and Mediterranean flavors. The elegant dining room has white tablecloths and crystal chandeliers and is the perfect setting for a special occasion.
Nightlife in Opatija
Other popular nightclubs in Opatija include Slatki Grad, a trendy bar with a retro vibe, and the Garden Club, a popular spot for electronic music and live DJs.
Here are a few notable ones:
- Caffe Bar Hemingway: This club has a lively atmosphere, with music ranging from pop and dance to R&B and hip-hop.
- Ruzmarin Bar: In the heart of Opatija, Ruzmarin Bar offers a cozy and inviting atmosphere. It’s known for its friendly service, creative cocktails, and occasional live music performances.
- Tiffany’s Bar: Situated along the lively Opatija promenade, Tiffany’s Bar is a trendy and elegant venue. It offers a wide selection of drinks in a chic setting, including cocktails and local wines.
- Yacht Club Opatija: Overlooking the marina, Yacht Club Opatija provides a sophisticated setting for enjoying drinks with a view. It offers a refined ambiance, a selection of premium spirits, and a terrace for outdoor seating.
- Bar Palma: Located near the popular Lungomare promenade, Bar Palma is a relaxed and casual bar where visitors can enjoy refreshing drinks, coffee, and light snacks. It’s a great spot to unwind and soak in the Opatija atmosphere.
Shopping and Culture
As for shopping, Opatija boasts a wide array of stylish boutiques and souvenir shops, especially in the central part of town. You can find anything from handmade ceramics to locally produced olive oil and honey. For a unique shopping experience, head to the outdoor market located at Trznica, where you can pick up fresh fruits and vegetables, flowers, and local delicacies.
Finally, it’s worth mentioning that Opatija hosts numerous cultural events throughout the year, including concerts, exhibitions, and performances. Some highlights include the Opatija Film Festival in June, the Opatija Music Nights in July and August, and the Festival of Opatija’s Camellias in March. Be sure to check the local event calendar before you plan your trip.
Health and Wellness
In addition to its stunning natural beauty and rich cultural offerings, Opatija is a popular destination for health and wellness. With its clean air, mild climate, and mineral-rich waters, this seaside town has long been renowned for its therapeutic properties.
One of the most popular ways to unwind in Opatija is to indulge in spa treatments. Several top-notch spa facilities in town offer everything from hydrotherapy and aromatherapy to traditional massages and beauty treatments. Among the most luxurious is the Wellness Centre Thalasso Wellness Opatija, which offers a range of sea-based treatments to rejuvenate the body and mind.
In Opatija, you’ll find a variety of outdoor activities to enjoy. With the clear waters of the Adriatic Sea just a few steps away, watersports are always popular. Go for a swim, paddleboard, kayak, or scuba diving lesson. For those looking to relax on the beach, there are plenty of options, from sandy to pebbly.
If you prefer to stay on land, there are hiking and cycling trails to explore throughout the surrounding mountains and forests. One popular option is Ucka Nature Park, which has over 150 kilometers of trails. Take a stroll, or challenge yourself with a more strenuous hike. And for a truly unique experience, book a guided tour on horseback.
If golf is your game, Opatija has a course that boasts stunning views of the Adriatic Sea and the surrounding countryside. Or, if you’re looking for a more relaxing activity, try a game of mini-golf with friends or family.