This town is alive through all year. I have been here in summer, autumn, winter and spring and I can say that this town is very much alive. This November for example I saw tourist, businessmen, locals and swimmers :).
The sea has about 15 degrees Celsius at this time of year and the bravest are still swimming. From December on you can also go ice skating, they have opened an ice rink and set up a whole fair. Unfortunately I couldn’t capture the Christmas feeling with my camera because I was there to early, but you can see how all together looks like.
Opatija in Croatian language means abbey. The town is named after Benedictine abbey of St. Jacob which was first mentioned in 1453. St. Jacob was proclaimed for protector of the town. Next to the monastery is standing a copy of statue Madonna del Mare (dedicated to Arthur Kesselstadt who died at sea). Madonna del Mare first location was on the position where now stands Maiden with Seagull (now known as one of the biggest symbols of Opatija).
If you come by car you can park on the street or on the dock pier in the port. You have to pay parking fee – I think it cost about 5 kuna per hour. I like to walk along the sea so a must for me when I am in Opatija is a walk on Lungomare. Lungomare is about 10 km long walking path (promenade) made in the end of 19th century. The promenade starts in Volosko and it ends in Lovran. The view along the promenade is spectacular – on one side you have beautiful Mediterranean sea and on the other you can see old villas from different times and styles.
If you read my articles than you know that I like to daydream. So every time I walk by hotel Kvarner (first open hotel in Opatija, 1884) I imagine how first tourists had their festivals, dances, diners, walks… all those nice dresses… with small umbrellas used to protect them from the sun (than they believed that the sun is bad for you) etc. If you have poor imagination you can actually see that scene in summer – on some days actors dress up and walk along Lungomare.
Opatija offers you many concerts in summer in Open air cinema which is located on the other side of park and villa Angiolina. Villa Angiolina was built in 1844, restored in 2000 and symbolizes the begining of tourism in Opatija. The Croatian tourism museum found its place in the villa as well.
Croatian people are very religious. So I am going to share with you another church. Church of the Annunciation of Mary is located above hotel Bellevue (you can see the church form Lungomare, it is not far but you have to walk uphill though ;)). The church has distinguished dome and is built in neoromantic style. The Austrians started with building in 1906 (by the order of Franz Joseph I) but the Italians finished it. I love analogue photography so this picture was taken with 40+ year old camera that I had confiscated from my father 🙂
The ironic of the world – on one side you have a Christian church and on the other a black cat searching for food in a dumpster. (And in between was I, I who was born on Halloween… bet I would burn in the middle ages 😉 )
When I am in Opatija my favorite thing to do is just to walk. To walk on Lungomare, on the “street of fame” where you can see stars of famous Croatians, to watch a total stranger while he is being portrayed by local artist,… I love the vibe – everyone are relaxed and there is no pressure at all. When people look at you they smile.
As a vegan unfortunately there is not much offer for me when there goes for food (or I haven’t searched hard enough), but they do have good coffee though and I can enjoy street food like baked corn :)For those who are on “the classic diet” there are some really nice restaurants and they say that you must try the local cake called “Kamelija”.
I would recommend Opatija to couples, romantic souls, health seekers (Opatija is known for its health tourism), etc. On the other hand the town can give you more posh filing sometimes (like Canes in France just smaller). After all Opatija could be a great starting point for other activities.
If you are planning to stay in Opatija I recommend to visit Brseč, a lovely medieval small town just 20 km south of Opatija (direction Pula). Learn more about Brseč.