Travel Guide to Opatija, Croatia: Nice of the Adriatic

Opatija Croatia presents the same what Nice means for French or Monte Carlo for Italians. This genteel coastal town perched on the sea’s edge with a string of charming nineteenth-century villas is the most elegant Croatia’s tourist Riviera.

Croatia is very proud of this Riviera sometimes called ‘Old Dame’ or ‘Nice of Adriatic ‘. Name Opatija (Abbey) derives from the old Benedictine abbey of St.James (Sveti Jakov).

In the past it was a summer and winter playground for Viennese high society (Austrian- Hungarian nobility) because of its mild Mediterranean climate and its luxury hotels.

The feel of nineteenth century in Opatija is visible everywhere particularly in a long stretch of grand hotels with elegant facades where many famous personality spent their holidays such as Emperor Franz Joseph.

This gem of Croatia’s Adriatic coast was chosen as their holiday destination by famous James Joyce who worked in nearby Pula as an English teacher or dancer Isadora Duncan and the composer Giacomo Puccini were also regular visitors.

Opatija Croatia Climate

Its popularity Opatija can thank first and foremost because of the mild Mediterranean climate. Summers aren’t too hot but Opatija boasts of pleasant weather in the winter period.

What are Opatija annual weather averages? July is the hottest month in Opatija with an average temperature of 77°F (25°C) and the coldest is January at 43°F (6°C). The wettest month is November with an average of 181mm of rain.

Because of its mild climate in the past many doctors used to prescribe a trip to Opatija as a cure for a variety of illnesses. Today the whole region has developed into a world-class wellness center.

The beneficial effects of the sea and the healing properties of the sea salt, a mild climate, a well-preserved environment, and a quiet atmosphere make the Opatija Riviera the perfect place for relaxation and wellness.

Opatija Croatia On The Map

If you take a look at the Istria peninsula map, you’ll notice that Opatija town from the geographical point it’s a part of the Istria peninsula. It’s situated on the border of the Istria peninsula but administratively belongs to Kvarner region.

The geographical map shows that Opatija is 18 km southwest from Rijeka, capital of Kvarner region, about 72 km from Trieste by car via E61 and 96 km from Pula by road. From Vienna it takes little more than 5 hours to reach Opatija.

Thanks to its position, Opatija remains a favorite destination of Austrians and in recent years with a significant increase of tourists from Italy.

Getting To Opatija Croatia

There are no ferry connections to Opatija but from Rijeka harbor you’ll find all Kvarner district ferry and catamaran connections. Traveling by bus remains the best and the most economic way to reach Opatija.

Besides local buses that connect Opatija to Rijeka, there are frequent bus connection from Trieste and many intercity buses to Pula, Rovinj and Porec where there are ferries to Italy.

For travelers arriving by plane, the nearest airport is Rijeka airport (on Krk island) which is only 40 km.

Things To See And Do


Opatija’s top local sight is a famous coastal promenade that stretches from Volosko to Lovran. Officially named the Franz Joseph I Promenade, but it’s still in use the common name Lungomare.

You can walk the whole way along the sea side. The walking path is paved, in whole its length and offers enjoyable moments of tranquility and romance. Undisturbed by traffic, this footpath along the sea front presents a wonderful opportunity to escape the stresses of everyday life.

Construction of the promenade began in 1885, at the same time when in Opatija Croatia were opened first two hotels (The Kvarner in 1884, The Imperial in 1885). The construction was completed in 1889 when Opatija was declared a climatic health resort. In 1911, during the period of greatest expansion of tourism along the Riviera, the promenade was connected to the neighboring city of Lovran.

A girl with a seagull

The statue of a girl with a seagull in her arm, was erected here in 1956 and today represents one of Opatija’s symbols.

This elegant statue of the girl standing on the reef beside Opatija promenade, intrigues all walkers with her interesting story and identity which was unknown for decades. In 1891 when count Arthur Kesselstadt tragically lost his life, his family raised the statue ‘Madonna Del Mare’.

This statue due to harsh sea and weather conditions was damaged and later restored. Its gilded replica can now be seen in St James´s Church. On its place in 1956 it was put up a new ‘Maiden with the Seagull’ made by sculptor Zvonko Car who did not want to reveal the identity of the girl.

For 55 years no one had the answer to this question, until Mrs. Jelena Jendrasic from Crikvenica revealed that it was her who served as the model for the statue.

The Villa Angiolina

The Villa Angiolina is one of the oldest buildings in Opatija, as well as the most beautiful residential villa built in the middle of the 19th century.

The Villa and the adjoining park are a symbol of Opatija. It was built by the Scarpa family from Rijeka (wealthy ship-owners and merchants).

This one hundred and sixty year old villa, houses The Croatian Museum of Tourism where visitor can follow the story about the history of tourism not only in Opatija Croatia but throughout Croatia.

Opatija Croatia Hotels

The most beautiful hotels in Opatija spread along its famous promenade with some of significant structures of Opatija’s history. Each hotel has its own history. The first hotels on the Adriatic coast were built just in this town.

There is no better way to get to know the local heritage than to visit the Opatija historical hotels. These are the oldest hotels on the Adriatic coast, and the first one was built back in 1884.

With its architecture in the style of secession and neoclassicism, the first hotels set the foundations for the flourishing of Opatija as a popular tourist destination. Decide to stay in one of the traditional hotels in Opatija Croatia and go back to the past, in times of elegance.

Opatija Croatia Beaches

If you think summer holidays are all about swimming and enjoying the sea, than Opatija isn’t a right place for your summer holidays.

Beaches are far from being beautiful. Most of them are just concrete platforms. In high season are too crowded. The only advantage (not for all) are many restaurants with a great selection of food and drinks with rather high prices in July and August.

There are two beaches both very close to city center. Slatina beach is the central beach. It’s a concrete beach more convenient for good swimmers as the sea is very deep from the point when one enters the sea.

If you are looking for more exclusive beach than Lido beach is a place for you. It’s just in the town center next to Angiolina Park. This beach offers the ultimate comfort with comfy loungers and a great restaurant with a swimming pool for quick refreshment.

If you are traveling with children the best choice is Tomasevac beach suited to every child. The beach is partly sandy, partly concrete located near the hotel Ambassador. Beach is full of entertainment options for both children and young people: slides, a trampoline, pedal boats and a playground.

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