1. Old aristocratic soul
174 years ago at 1844. Villa Angiolina hosted famous historical including Emperor Franz Joseph I, Empress Maria Anna and the Croatian Ban Josip Jelačić. Owing to the line of renowned guests who stayed at the villa, the year is considered to mark the beginning of tourism in Opatija.
2. Seeing that Opatija was part of the Austrio-Hungarian Empire in the 19th century, it didn’t take long for the royal elite to discover the appeal of the Kvarner gem. In 1873, the Viennese company Austrian Southern Railway opened a line to Rijeka and made it considerably easier to reach Opatija; not long after, the first two hotels were built, and the town quickly developed into a holiday destination. The wealthy were flocking to Opatija like flies to honey before the 20th century rolled around, escaping the continental winters to enjoy the favourable Mediterranean climate. More and more hotels were popping up in town as years went by, transforming Opatija into a renowned resort destination with more than 30 hotels and countless villas, apartments and rooms at your disposal.
3. Maiden with the seagull Arguably the most iconic symbol of Opatija, the sculpture of a young girl with a seagull perched on her palm is located on the promenade in the town centre. Fun fact: the original version featured a fish in the seagull’s beak which vanished without a trace at one point in time.
4. Congress tourism
With such a large number of 4 and 5 star hotels packed in a relatively small town, it’s no wonder Opatija is known as a reputable destination for congress tourism. Multiple hotels dispose of state-of-the-art facilities for business events.
5. First sailing club in Croatia
How could a holiday town on the coast not have a long history of sailing to match? In 1877, an Austrian cartographer and writer named Heinrich von Littrow founded the first sailing club on the Adriatic coast in Opatija, naming it Union Yacht Club Quarnero. More than a century later – in 1990, to be more precise – ACI Marina Opatija was opened in the nearby town of Ičići as the 18th marina in the prestigious Croatian network.
One of Opatija’s most beloved features is the seaside promenade that spans from Volosko town all the way to Lovran, with Opatija standing as the centrepiece. Officially named the Franz Joseph I Promenade, the lovely trail is commonly referred to as Lungomare and measures around 10 kilometres in length. The northern part from Volosko to Opatija was built in 1889, while the second leg to Lovran was completed in 1911. On weekend mornings, you’ll find plenty of tourists and locals taking a relaxing walk in the fresh air, every now and then stopping to take a photo of the stunning scenery.
7. Famous guests
Literary giants and legendary composers Famous authors who visited Opatija include Sergei Yesenin, Vladimir Nabokov, Anton Pavlovich Chekhov and James Joyce. Take a walk along the Lungomare and you’ll hear mellow jazz and classical pieces setting the atmosphere on every hotel terrace in town. Opatija’s love affair with music dates back a hundred years; Italian composer Giacomo Puccini spent his summers there, and Gustav Mahler visited the town on three separate occasions: in 1900, 1901, and finally in 1904, when he brought his wife Alma Mahler-Schindler to experience his favourite
8. Head to Opatija to see the Croatian version of the renowned Walk of Fame. Not to be confused with the Wall of Fame, the project was devised by the Apriori Communication agency in 2005 to pay tribute to famous locals known for their achievements in sports, culture, science and other various fields. The star-studded promenade spans along the Slatina beach in the centre, featuring tributes to Nikola Tesla, Dražen Petrović, Janica Kostelić and other renowned names. See the full list here.
9. Ode to chocolate
Opatija sure knows how to attract visitors: every year, the town hosts its traditional Chocolate Festival. Numerous hotels, cafés, restaurants and bars join the extravaganza, presenting a broad range of edible creations that are so stunningly designed and decorated, it’s almost a shame to take a bite out. It doesn’t stop us, though.
10. Angiolina Park and Open Air Theatre
Angiolina Park is home to the magnificent Open Air Theatre which hosts the Opatija Festival in summer months. The main stage area has a seating capacity of 2500, representing a fantastic venue for various concerts, dance performances, and film screenings. The location was originally intended to house a much different type of venue, “a multipurpose health resort palace (Kurpalast), for which there was a public tender inviting for architectural bids in 1911. The architects Marcel Kammerer, Otto Schönthal and Emil Hoppe drafted a blueprint of a palace with ballrooms for balls and concerts, swimming pool with artificial waves, shops and cafés. Unfortunately, the onset of the World War I disrupted this splendid development of Opatija.