Tuesday, 6 September 2022

Opatija Tourism Figures at 92% of Pre-Pandemic 2019

September the 6th, 2022 - Opatija tourism figures are looking more than promising so far, having achieved an impressive 92 percent of the overnight stays realised back during the record, pre-pandemic year of 2019.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, during the first eight months of this year, 863,000 overnight stays were realised in the gorgeous Kvarner town of Opatija, which is 46 percent more than the same period last year and 92 percent of the turnover realised back during the record year od 2019, the Tourist Board of the City of Opatija reported on Monday.

The director of the Opatija Tourist Board, Suzi Petricic, pointed out that the most requested and filled were high-class accommodation facilities, hotels or private accommodation units such as villas with swimming pools in the Opatija hinterland.

''After an excellent pre season and good results in the height of the summer season, we're now turning to the challenging post season,'' said the director of the Opatija Tourist Board, announcing the upcoming Chocolate Festival and Advent in Opatija.

63 percent of the overnight stays making up these Opatija tourism figures were realised in hotels, 34 percent in private accommodation, while 3 percent of overnight stays were in non-commercial accommodation. Over the course of eight months, the most numerous guests were from other parts of the Republic of Croatia, and the most overnight stays were realised by guests visiting from Germany (21 percent) and nearby Austria (19 percent).

In August 2022, 243,000 overnight stays were recorded, which is 93 percent of the Opatija tourism figures realised back during August 2019.

About 53 percent of overnight stays realised during the month of August in Opatija were in hotels, 44 percent in private accommodation, and the remaining 3 percent of overnight stays refer to non-commercial accommodation facilities.

The most numerous guests were from Germany, who accounted for 31 percent of all of the town's registered overnight stays, followed by Austrians with 15 percent.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated travel section.

Sunday, 4 September 2022

Retired General Ivan Cermak Purchases Russian Villa in Opatija

September the 4th, 2022 - Retired Croatian General Ivan Cermak has purchased a villa in Opatija which was owned by Russians. He made the purchase this summer, and it totalled 12.5 million euros.

As Morski writes, Ivan Cermak has bought one of the most beautiful villas on the entire Opatija Riviera, Villa Lenac, from its formerly Russian owners. In an interview with Index Investigation, he confirmed the purchase, but showed little willingness to discuss any numbers or prices. However, Index investigations (istrage) then came into possession of the sales contract, which shows the price of almost 94 million kuna for the villa located at the entrance to Volosko.

It is believed that Ivan Cermak probably paid for the now ex-Russian villa in cash

The previous Russian owners bought the villa way back in 2009 for 5.5 million euros and then renovated it, it spans about 500 square metres, but the complex itself covers 4420 square metres. Part of it is located within a dense pine forest, and it is located on the cape itself, with its own access to the sea and beach. The villa was most likely paid for in cash by Ivan Cermak because there is no loan agreement to speak of.

Villa Lenac was the former residence of JNA general Mirko Lenac, and up until 2009, the Lenac and Cosic families both used that villa, before selling the building to Russian investors. Back at theattime, it was written that the buyer was a Russian national named Ljudmila Rovenska, who purchased the villa through the company Keldan d.o.o. As such, Keldan d.o.o. bought the building and paid an additional two million kuna to the City of Opatija in order to get their hands on a garden plot as well. All together, along with the renovation of the villa, the entire thing cost a little more than 10 million euros.

"It's true, I bought it, but I wouldn't want to sit here and talk about the price"

''I wouldn't want to sit here now and discuss the price, because the price isn't being discussed publicly anyway,'' retired general Ivan Cermak told Index, adding that he is extremely satisfied with the purchase of such a property, which is about only around an hour and a half's drive from the City of Zagreb. ''I'll certainly use it more often,'' Ivan Cermak said at the end.

Although he didn't want to talk about the price, Index managed to get its hands on the villa's sales contract in which the price of 12.5 million euros was indicated, including the movables that are also on the property. It can be concluded from the purchase agreement that Ivan Cermak didn't use any sort of loan, it is also clear that he had to pay the amount within one month of signing the purchase agreement. The sales contract was signed on June the 23rd of this year, and Ivan Cermak's wife Mirjana is also the co-owner of the villa.

Who is Ivan Cermak? From an air conditioner repairman to one of the richest Croatian nationals.

Ivan Cermak was born in 1949 in the City of Zagreb, where he completed his primary and vocational education, and in the early seventies he was engaged in servicing air conditioners. In addition to servicing air conditioners, he later started doing other kinds of jobs, and he even opened a boutique and became a co-owner of The Best disco in the Jarun area of the city.

He got into doing big business back in the 90s, when he entered politics and oil trading. He joined HDZ in 1990, allegedly at the invitation of Franjo Tudjman himself, and helped them organise party rallies and similar tasks. He soon became the vice-president of the HDZ Executive Committee and Tudjman's very own advisor in Pantovcak. He was also assistant to the Minister of Defense from 1991 to 1993 under Gojko Susek, after which he moved to the position of Minister of Trade, Shipbuilding and Energy, but he didn't stay in that position for even one year.

After the Operation Storm (Oluja) was successful, and immediately after the liberation of Knin, Tudjman appointed Ivan Cermak commander of the Knin military district, where his task was to establish normal life after the end of the war operations there. However, serving that function later led him to the docks of the Hague Court. After a multi-year trial, in April 2011, Cermak was finally acquitted, according to Index investigations.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated business section.

Monday, 18 July 2022

Trogir and Opatija Named Most Underrated European Cities

July 18, 2022 - Trogir and Opatija have been listed as two of the most underrated European cities to visit this year. Would you agree? 

Luxury and lifestyle travel magazine Conde Nast Traveler has published a list of the 22 most underrated European cities, created by travel experts and writers living in Europe, as a way to sway travelers away from the already busy and uber-popular Paris and Rome. The list thus shines light on 'surprising destinations that will far exceed your expectations' instead. 

The list includes small towns in Sweden, lesser-known places in the Baltic states, and, not so surprisingly -  two cities from Croatia and one from Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Namely, Trogir and Opatija have been named two of the most underrated cities in Europe. 

"Located on a tiny island, Trogir’s Old Town is bursting with charm. Its narrow, ancient streets form a labyrinth lined with medieval town houses. The lively seafront promenade, lined with cafes and restaurants, is abuzz with activity on a summer day. The town also boasts many beautiful and well-preserved buildings from its age of glory between the 13th and 15th centuries. In 1997, its profuse collection of Romanesque and Renaissance buildings earned it UNESCO World Heritage status.

Browse the market, stroll along the Riva, or explore a Venetian fortress—Trogir packs a lot into a small package! Located only about 30 minutes from Split, it is also a perfect alternative for travelers that want to see and enjoy Split but prefer not to stay in a big city. The historic seaside town of Sibenik, Krka National Park, and the ancient ruins of Solin are also located within easy reach," writes Wanda S. Radetti, President of VisitCroatia.com – Tasteful Croatian Journeys.

Radetti continued about Opatija:

"Although today it is often overlooked in favor of cities like Dubrovnik or Split, it is Opatija in the north that is the cradle of tourism in Croatia. Nicknamed “Vienna by the sea” due to its handsome Belle Époque architecture, the Opatija Riviera, a 30-kilometer stretch of land nestled between the wooded slopes of Mount Ucka and the rocky coastline of the Kvarner Gulf, was once the most visited seaside resort of the Austro-Hungarian elite. The area was hailed as a health and wellness retreat, its unique micro-climate offering the ideal ingredients for therapeutic and restorative travel. Still today, Opatija continues its tradition as a center for wellness, attracting visitors seeking to relax and rejuvenate at its numerous spas, enjoying unique treatments and therapies.

Even aside from being a health retreat, Opatija offers much to travelers. The city boasts a number of grand cafes, well-maintained public gardens, tidy beaches, fine hotels, and excellent restaurants. Opatija’s privileged position at the eastern corner of the Istrian Peninsula also makes it the ideal jumping off point from which to explore other areas of Croatia. Within an one-hour drive, you will find yourself in the truffle rich forests of Istria, the green mountains of Risnjak National Park, or the pebble beaches of the Island of Krk." 

The list also includes Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ohrid in North Macedonia, Tirana in Albania, and places in France, Sweden, Portugal, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Georgia, Latvia, Lithuania, Austria, Italy, Poland, Ireland, Greece, England, Norway, and Spain.

You can read the full list on Conde Nast Traveler.

For more on travel in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.


Monday, 6 June 2022

Works by Salvador Dali Exhibited in Opatija

ZAGREB, 6 June 2022 - An exhibition of about 100 works by Salvador Dali was on Monday staged in Opatija's Juraj Šporer Art Pavilion and will run through 20 September.

The exhibition includes drawings, etchings, and lithographs owned by a private collector from Bonn who does not want his identity to be known.

Most of these artworks have not been put on display until this occasion.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Sunday, 15 May 2022

Works by Salvador Dalí to be Exhibited in Opatija This Summer

ZAGREB, 15 May 2022 - After last year's exhibition of works by Pablo Picasso and Joan Miró, this summer the Juraj Šporer Gallery in the northern Adriatic town of Opatija will display works by Salvador Dalí.

The exhibition will be staged in collaboration with the Opatija Festival and the OPL Art company and will be open from 6 June to 20 September. Admission will be HRK 100 (€13).

On display will be about a hundred lithographs, copperplate engravings and other graphic works from a private collection of a collector from Bonn, IPL Art director Iva Piglić announced earlier this week, adding that she could not reveal the collector's name because they wanted to remain anonymous.

Opatija Festival director Ernie Gigante Dešković said that these exhibits, being from a private collection, were rarely displayed and that this would be a rare opportunity to see them.

He said that the exhibition of works by Picasso and Miró was among the most visited exhibitions in Croatia last year and that they hoped to surpass that result with the Dalí exhibition.

For more, make sure to check out our lifestyle section.

Friday, 22 April 2022

First Opatija Camellia Festival Paints the Town (PHOTOS)

April 22, 2022 - The traditional Camellia exhibition has now turned into the Opatija Camellia Festival, celebrating these colorful flowers in April each year. 

Again, these fragrant flowers in the first days of April beautified the already fabulous Opatija. The Association of Camellia Lovers organized the traditional 14th exhibition, which has grown into the Camellia Festival this year.


The J. Šporer Art Pavilion in the heart of Opatija was the scene of this unique event that is being talked about throughout the region. In addition to choosing the most beautiful camellia, a carousel of various events dazzled the city. According to Mira Shalabi, president of the Association, they have been thinking about the festival for the past years, but the coronavirus atmosphere prevented them from doing so.


"Many helped, from the City of Opatija to the Opatija Tourist Board and Kvarner and others. Angiolina Park also looks magnificent, and altogether it has completed the tourist offer," says Shalabi, emphasizing that they currently have about a hundred valuable members. 


Katica Dražić, a camellia expert at Opatija Kindergarten, presented a camellia bush and flower to the children. A workshop on camellia cultivation was held in the Angiolina Park nursery and the topics were agrotechnical measures, transplanting from cuttings, marcotting, protection, and care. Lectures were given by Jan Bernd-Urban, founder of the Association of Camellia Lovers and an expert in the history of camellias and Opatija, and Romana Lekić, advisor to the Dean for Tourism at Edward Bernays Zagreb in Villa Antonio, presented the symbol of love camellia and magic of Angiolina Park.




The musical performances at the opening featured Olga Šober, national champion of opera and maestro Nada Matošević Orešković with the aria "E strano" from the opera La Traviata, guitarist Natko Štiglić, the choir of the elementary school R.K. Jeret and young accordionist Dorian Rubesha.


"On Saturday, a guided walk through Angiolina Park was organized, a visit to the exhibitions in the Sporer pavilion, voting for the most beautiful camellia flower, and a presentation and tasting of green tea "Camellia sinensis" in the nearby town of Veprinac. The Zora ensemble delighted the audience with their dances, and Vivien Galletta, Goranka, and Marin Tuhtan from HNK Rijeka sang several popular arias," added Shalabi, thanking many members of FIJET, the Association of Tourist Journalists and writers in tourism on arrival.


The most beautiful camellias were awarded to Boško Lukić, Nada Grizilo, and Vesna Komadina.

All photos by Slobodan Kadic

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Saturday, 19 March 2022

Opatija and Velika Gorica Have Highest Easter Bonuses for Croatian Retirees

March the 19th, 2022 - Two Croatian towns, one on the coast in Kvarner and one inland close to the City of Zagreb, pay out the highest Easter bonuses for Croatian retirees in the entire country.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, while the amounts for Easter payouts for Croatian retirees are mostly symbolic and depend on a rather low pension income threshold as a basic condition, these two Croatian cities still loosened up their purse strings in order to make Easter a little better for Croatian retirees living there, as reported by Mirovina.hr/Pension.hr.

The City of Velika Gorica will pay up to 800 kuna to Croatian retirees who are drawing a monthly pension of up to 2,000 kuna over Easter. Those who are receiving a pension of up to 1,000 kuna will also be paid an Easter bonus in the amount of 800 kuna, and Croatian returees who receive a monthly pension of 1,000.01 kuna to 2,000 kuna will be paid an Easter bonus in the amount of 400 kuna. Croatian retirees from Velika Gorica are also paid out the exact same amount for the Christmas period.

The picturesque town of Opatija close to Rijeka in Kvarner isn't lagging very far behind Velika Gorica either. It does have a slightly lower final amount, but a much higher threshold. Thus, all Croatian retirees drawing a pension of up to 4,000 kuna per month will receive an Easter bonus, and the amounts range from 500 to 700 kuna.

Croatian retirees with pensions of up to 2,000 kuna per month are entitled to an Easter bonus of 700 kuna, while those drawing a monthly pension of 2,000 to 3,000 kuna will receive 600 kuna on their bank accounts for Easter. 500 kuna is paid out to Opatija's resident pensioners who are drawing monthly pensions ranging from 3,000 to 4,000 kuna.

For more on retirement in Croatia, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Wednesday, 16 March 2022

Green Opatija: Kvarner Town Wants to Become "Green Event" Destination

March the 16th, 2022 - Could a ''green Opatija'' be on the cards as this beautiful Kvarner town in the Northern Adriatic region hopes to position itself as a ''green'' business destination? It seems so.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes, the Tourist Board of the City of Opatija has launched the project Opatija - Green Meeting Destination, which aims to direct this city, dominated by picturesque Austro-Hungarian architecture, towards the status of becoming a recognised sustainable business destination. If it succeeds, the new ''green Opatija'' would join the ranks of European cities like Gothenburg, Copenhagen, Zurich, Glasgow, and if we're looking much further afield - Sydney.

The green Opatija project includes proper education on key subjects of the wider congress offer, in which Croatia as a whole is being more recognised, as well as the creation and implementation of recommendations with criteria for achieving sustainability in the organisation of congress events.

“An increasing number of organisers are paying more and more attention to reducing negative impacts on the environment and on society. By creating an environment in which such responsible behaviour is encouraged and promoted, Opatija once again stands out as a destination that is developing in line with the world's leading trends.

In the realisation of this project, which started back in January and has a duration of six months, the Opatija Tourist Board has established cooperation with the Eventful agency, the only one in all of the Republic of Croatia which specialises in organising and implementing sustainable events,'' they explained from the Opatija Tourist Board.

As part of the project, an educational workshop was held for representatives of hotel companies, agencies and congress spaces, individual meetings with tourism entities will be organised, and the final project will be a pilot business meeting organised in accordance with all of the current, modern sustainability criteria.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated travel section.

Friday, 11 March 2022

Racing on Opatija Riviera, From the Adriatic Grand Prix to the Women’s Auto Rally

March 11th, 2022 - Did you know that Rijeka once used to host an all-female car rally?

Rijeka and Opatija have a long tradition of motorsport racing, going back to the early 1930s when a race course named Opatija Circuit first started hosting auto races.

Also known as the Kvarner Circuit (Circuito del Carnaro), the race course was 6 kilometres long and had a starting point in Preluk bay between Rijeka and Opatija. The circuit used the streets of Opatija and its environs, offering splendid views of the Adriatic Sea.

The circuit’s claim to fame was the 1939 Adriatic Grand Prix, when the Italian team decided to compete in Opatija instead of the French Grand Prix in Rheims. Luigi Villoresi won the race driving a Maserati 4CL, essentially turning Opatija into a prestigious racing venue overnight.

It soon became apparent that the narrow roads along the coastline, complete with plenty of roadside obstacles, didn’t exactly make for safe driving conditions. On more than one occasion, races on the Opatija Circuit ended in tragic deaths of drivers; although the track remained popular for decades in spite of all issues, auto races were discontinued after the Formula 3 Gran Premio Adriatico in 1968.

The end of auto races kicked off a golden era of motorcycle racing, after the Adriatic Grand Prix became a round of the FIM Motorcycle World Championship.

The 1977 Grand Prix was held in spite of an order from the FIM to improve the safety of the track. No modifications were made prior to the event and the race ended up with 19 injured and 2 fatalities, prompting the FIM to ban all road races from the World Championship schedule. The Opatija Circuit fame came to its end, and a modern replacement circuit was created on the other side of Rijeka - the Automotodrom Grobnik.

A lesser known fact about racing on the Kvarner coast is that Rijeka also used to host an all-female car rally. Named Rijeka Women’s Auto Rally, the racing event was held every year from 1971 to 1999.

Back in 1971, as Auto Club Rijeka was celebrating its 25th anniversary, the club’s executive board decided to hold an all-female race in honour of International Women’s Day.

Held on March 7th 1971, the first rally drew a lot of interest, with 60 drivers registering to take part in the race. The 41 km circuit took the racers from the starting point in Preluk to Lovran, Jušići, Krnjevo, and back to Preluk.

preluk_02-1.jpgPreluk bay / visitrijeka.hr

They competed in three classes: 850 ccm, 1250 ccm, and 1250+ ccm, won in the first year by Inga Kren, Radmila Valković and Vesna Grgurina respectively.

The Rijeka Women’s Auto Rally soon became an attractive racing event which, together with the international Zagreb rally, formed the basis for the establishment of the national championship for women.

Women were flocking to Rijeka from other parts of Croatia to show off their racing skills. Some of the notable winners were Sonja Kezele and Mirjana Bučić from Opatija with ten victories each, Nađa Cenov from Rijeka who won the race eight times, and Olga Bebić from Split who won seven times.

After a while, 41 drivers who had won in some of the classes or in the overall standings earned the right to compete in a racing event called the Champions’ Cup.

In 1996, Auto Club Rijeka marked its 50th anniversary with a grand 25th edition of the women’s rally, held under the motto ‘50 hours of rallying’ and complete with an entertainment programme that featured something new with each passing hour.

All-female rallies were held in Croatia until 1999. The last, 28th women’s rally in Rijeka was won by Auto Club Rijeka, represented by racers Palmina Alijanović, Smiljka Pavić, Luisa Božićević, Dajana Aračić and Ljiljana Kamenar.

Wednesday, 9 March 2022

Opatija Tourism Breaking Records Set Back in Pre-Pandemic 2019!

March the 9th, 2022 - The beautiful town of Opatija which is situated along Kvarner's dramatic coastline is breaking records it set back in pre-pandemic 2019, offering a more than encouraging insight into Croatian tourism recovery as a whole. Opatija tourism figures certainly don't have much to complain about so far in 2022 as we move forward.

Opatija tourism numbers are looking excellent for the month of February 2022, and this beautiful town which boasts stunning Austro-Hungarian architecture, beautiful views and an ease of connectivity to many places across the rest of the country, including Rijeka and Zagreb, looks as if it has a promising tourist year ahead of it.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes, after a record January, Opatija tourism only continued to record excellent figures during the month of February according to data obtained by the Opatija Tourist Board.

In the spirit of Valentine's Day and as a town that is undoubtedly romantic, Opatija tourism did very well. Opatija, sometimes referred to as Abbazia in Italian, attracted an impressive 14,413 guests who realised an even better number of 34,108 overnight stays, thus surpassing the pre-pandemic 2019 result. In February 2022, there was an increase of 11 percent in the number of overnight stays in Opatija, while compared to last year, this growth is at a very encouraging 141 percent.

The most numerous guests making up these Opatija tourism numbers were guests from the rest of Croatia, followed by tourists from Slovenia, Austria, the United States of America, Italy and Germany.

Back in February, Opatija's guests most often chose hotels for their holidays, and 86 percent of the total number of overnight stays registered were spent in hotel accommodation, with 12 percent being recorded in private accommodation.

For the second month in a row, Opatija was the most visited destination in all of the gorgeous Northern Adriatic region of Kvarner and among the most visited in all of Croatia.

For more, check out our dedicated travel section.

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