Opatija: Pearl of the Adriatic
Croatia’s “Riviera” has a long tourism tradition and features phenomenal UNESCO World Heritage Sites like the old towns of Split and Dubrovnik.
Add Opatija to the list of notable Adriatic gems to visit in the country. Between the UÄka Mountain and the shores of the Adriatic Sea, Opatija is famous as one of the most handsome beach destinations in Europe. Amiable climate, warm waters and lush backdrops combine to make the town of 12,000 people a magnet for everyone from royalty to artists.
The seaside community’s history as a tourist destination dates back to the mid-19th, when a wealthy and entrepreneurial Italian merchant by the name of Iginio Scarpa built a gorgeous villa on the coast. Villa Angiolina is still the most conspicuous attraction in Opatija and the main reason behind Opatija’s notoriety as a coastal hot spot. A perpetual stream of high-profile guests have sought refuge and escape in Villa Angiolina for well over a century.
The Adriatic climate’s reputation as a cure-all for a host of afflictions was a boon for Opatija as well. The curative effects of the mild, temperate climate led many doctors to prescribe trips down to the Adriatic and Dalmatia coast for patients who could afford it. Opatija’s rail proximity to Vienna and a host of major capitals soon made it a veritable â€œNice of the Adriaticâ€. Emperor Franz Joseph and his wife Elizabeth, as well as many other members of the Hapsburg dynasty, were regular visitors.
Today, the inherent romance of the town’s nascent tourism era is kept vividly alive by several old hotels in Opatija that have undergone faithful restorations. Their stylish interior decor and lush gardens are sure to make anyone feel like royalty, if only just for a short while.
As one of the top summer destinations on the Adriatic, Opatija features a wide range of tourist attractions. From tours of the famous Villa Angiolina and gardens, to walks on the 12 km Lungo Mare promenade, Opatija has a lot of charm. A slew of picturesque towns and fishing villages, from Icici to Ika, are a stone’s throw away.
Opatija’s culinary culture features a wide variety of fish and seafood, with over 60 types of crab alone. Area restaurants keep it local and simple, so eat your way through the coastal region for remarkable and typical Adriatic cuisine.
Whether you want to relax in style or hide out in a humble seaside hotel, Opatija and the contiguous coast has it all. The small resort town is clearly a pearl of the Adriatic and indeed, of Croatia.