Friday, 25 February 2022

Opatija in 1932: Vintage Beachwear and Summer Parades [VIDEO]

February 25th, 2022 - The black and white footage shows tourists lounging around on Opatija’s beaches in the 30s

Today in our ‘old footage of the Adriatic’ section, we bring you a short video filmed in Opatija… in 1932!

Second only to Hvar, the Northern Adriatic town is one of the pioneers of organised tourism in Croatia. And while it would certainly be incredible to see what Opatija looked like in the late 19th century when it saw its first guests, footage from the 30s doesn’t come around every day either.

The video is titled 'Abbazia (Opatija): The Istrian riviera takes on its summer look'. At the time of filming, Opatija was part of Italy. 

Watch the holidaymakers splash around on Opatija’s beaches, followed by a special treat: footage of the summer carnival, featuring elaborate allegorical floats and creative costumes.

Video by Istituto Luce Cinecittà.

Sunday, 20 February 2022

Balinjerada: Small-Scale Costumed Race Held in Opatija, Main Event Pushed to Summer

February 20th, 2022 - Despite the official Balinjerada race getting postponed, an informal version of the popular racing event was held in Opatija

Balinjerada, the iconic costumed soapbox race held each year in Opatija during the carnival festivities, had a preview of its 2022 edition on Sunday.

This year’s event was toned down significantly in comparison with its usual scale, only featuring a handful of costumed racers who took their handmade builds for a spin down the main street in Opatija.

Just as the International Carnival Parade in Rijeka was rescheduled for the summer because of epidemiological measures, so has the regular edition of the popular race in Opatija. Balinjerada will be back in its full glory later this year, as reported by Novi list.

And yet, one cannot ignore tradition. There’s a local saying that warns it’s ‘better to bring down the village than forsake old customs’, and so a few fervent carnival lovers donned colourful attire and brought a smile to all faces in town when they showed up with their makeshift vehicles in Opatija earlier today:

Video: Novi list / Marko Gracin

It was a ‘light’ Balinjerada, an informal version of the popular racing event, to carry us over until June 11th when the real thing is supposed to take place.

Balinjerada is a costumed race featuring homemade vehicles that run on ball bearings alone; they’re called balinjera in the local dialect, hence the name of the event.

It’s a manifestation rooted in creativity and enthusiasm, with the hilarious fleet proving year after year that imagination really knows no bounds. From simple scooters and tricycles to shaky carts of elaborate design that fit a dozen people, the vehicles are known to elicit roaring laughs from the delighted crowd of spectators lining the street.

Naturally, it’s much more entertaining in its traditional format, one that features ambitious builds and numerous racing teams in themed costumes. Watch the video below, filmed at the 2016 edition of Balinjerada, to get a better idea of what happens in Opatija during the carnival season. If nothing else, it has to be admired that most of these didn’t crash at the first turn:

Friday, 21 January 2022

Opatija Again Named One of Most Romantic Destinations for Valentine's Day Getaways

January 21st, 2022 - With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, the tranquil coastal town in Croatia is getting featured in international media as a perfect destination for a romantic getaway

When it comes to romantic getaway destinations for Valentine’s Day, Opatija sure seems to be on everyone's minds. This time last year, Forbes magazine included the beautiful town in the Northern Adriatic in their list of the most romantic destinations in Europe.

With this year’s romantic holiday approaching, Opatija gets a nod from the travel magazine Trips to Discover, making it onto their list of 15 romantic travel ideas for a Valentine’s Day escape.

The feature presents Opatija as one of the best places to visit in Croatia and one of the most romantic destinations in all of Europe, with its contrast of turquoise Adriatic waters against the green mountainous backdrop. Among other highlights, Opatija’s grand historic villas and the picturesque waterfront promenade known as Lungomare, as well as the town’s famous chocolatiers - altogether a perfect setting for a holiday centered around romance.

The tourist town is ready to celebrate love this Valentine’s Day, setting the stage for romantic moments with ambiental music, lighting and decor in its pristine parks and along the promenade.

Opatija’s hotels have prepared a range of romantic packages for couples looking to visit in the month of February, reports RiPrsten. A weekend getaway with a loved one is the perfect time to unwind in Opatija’s wellness centres and enjoy a romantic dinner in one of the renowned restaurants in town.

‘If all we need is love, as The Beatles sang, then Opatija offers all we need and more this February’, said Opatija Tourist Board director Suzi Petričić.

‘Our town has a long tradition of a popular romantic destination, and we’re glad that renowned media in tourism have recognised that for the second year in a row. All our visitors can look forward to a truly unique Valentine’s Day atmosphere, where the only thing they need to do is relax and enjoy Opatija’s charms and wonderful moments in the company of their favourite person’, said Petričić.

Apart from Opatija, Trips to Discover’s list of most romantic destinations includes Quebec City in Canada, Iceland, Bermuda, Cape Cod, Strasbourg in France, Lagoa in Portugal, Curaçao, Colorado’s Estes Park, Kauai in Hawaii, Key West in Florida, the Italian town of Lucca, Charleston in South Carolina, and two destinations in Mexico, Merida and Los Cabos.


Tuesday, 28 December 2021

Enjoy the Holiday Magic in Opatija With a 360° Virtual Walk

Take a virtual walk around Opatija in its holiday gear, from enchanting parks and iconic hotels to the famous seaside promenade lungomare

Although Christmas has passed, cities all over Croatia continue to don their holiday gear for another week or so. While most Advent programmes typically last through the first week of the year, come January 1st, they somehow just don’t feel the same anymore.

That being said, the next few days leading up to New Year’s Eve are a perfect opportunity to enjoy the festive atmosphere in town while the lights and decorations are still up. 

Don’t fancy mingling with crowds (or getting off the couch) these days? We get you - thankfully, there’s a way to stroll around town without having to leave the comfort of your own home. 


Screenshot of Opatija Advent page, photo © Rajko Mrvos

Today, we present to you a lovely virtual tour of Opatija, the historic town on the coast of Kvarner Bay. Created by Rajko Mrvos in collaboration with Opatija Tourist Board, the 360° tour is composed of 30 panoramic photos showcasing the town in all its glamorous holiday glory

Set to a festive musical backdrop, the tour will take you from Opatija’s enchanting parks and iconic hotels to the famous seaside promenade lungomare. You can toggle between daytime and nighttime panoramas, or take a walk with 360 VR video footage:

Head to the Opatija Advent page to enjoy the splendid landscapes, and check out Rajko Mrvos's ZooM Studio Youtube Channel for more virtual tours of Croatia. 


Want to learn more about Opatija? Look no further than our Total Croatia guide Opatija in a page

Saturday, 27 November 2021

Autumn Rhapsody of Camellias: Lavish Opatija Flowers Paint the Town Pink

November 27, 2021 - Autumn Rhapsody of Camellias is a new offseason event to celebrate the popular pink Opatija flowers.

The Association of Camellia Lovers from Opatija does not stop. They started the event "Autumn Rhapsody of Camellias" and organized a lecture by Dr. sc. Romana Lekić, Head of the Tourism Department of the Zagreb Bernays College of Communication Management. Opatija presented the topic: Parks as a dream come true - the magic of Angiolina Park and camellias, and the beautiful accordionist Dorian Rubeša played a beautiful melody.


Slobodan Kadic

"Opatija abounds in park architecture with preserved historical ambiance and historicist features. In addition to Angiolina Park and the magical power of the camellia plant, other historical gardens of our villas and parks stand out," said Lekić and introduced the project to interpret and reinterpret the park through the economy of experience and methods and techniques of animation and storytelling.


Slobodan Kadic

The association has launched an initiative to create the conditions for Angiolina Park to "develop" towards the Historical Park of Excellence. The goal is to involve those interested in "The European Network of Historic Gardens" (REJHIS), consisting of 28 historic gardens and parks.


Slobodan Kadic

"They have eight million visitors a year, which is solid proof that they contribute to developing tourism of special interest, and the local population can enjoy them," explained Mira Shalabi, president of the Association of Camellia Lovers from Opatija.

After the lecture, all those present gathered with blooming camellias in the Park where the "Little Camellias" of the Opatija Elementary School Rikard Katalinić Jeretov performed. The plan was to listen to a choir that prepared two commemorative songs and a recitation, after which ten little painters were to draw and paint the blooming camellias. While the rain stopped them from drawing, the choir left everyone breathless.


Slobodan Kadic

"It is at this time of year that blooming camellias with their supernatural colors disperse the gray of late autumn and paint them pink, so then the whole world is pink for us. We hope that our manifestation Autumn Rhapsody of Camellias will continue next year and become an interesting and new tourist product," concluded Shalabi.

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

Wednesday, 17 November 2021

Opatija Celebrates Advent Again This Year With a Fully Decorated City

November 16, 2021 - Many cities on the Croatian coast seek to position themselves as attractive winter destinations, and the jewel of Kvarner Bay is not far behind, as Opatija celebrates Advent again this year with hundreds of thousands of special decorations in every corner of the city.

Winter will once again dress Opatija in lavish Advent attire, reports Turističke Priče. The most romantic and solemn part of the year is the best opportunity to get to know this famous European destination in a unique atmosphere. It is a time when holiday magic is felt in every corner of the city and makes every experience unforgettable.

Opatija celebrates Advent with hundreds of thousands of lamps and decorations, turning it into a winter fairy tale, which is why the staff of the landscaped city toured the world last year. In addition to the virtual walk, which aroused great interest last year, this year's Advent will offer a real touch with the city and the opportunity to enjoy a rich gastronomic and entertainment offer.

From November 26 to January 9, the Christmas atmosphere will expand to already known locations such as the Juraj Šporer Art Pavilion and Sv. Jakov, then, Angiolina Park, the Summer Stage and the city gloom (market), but also some new spaces - along the promenades in the area from the Savoy Hotel to Villa Madonna, on the terraces of the Continental, Milenij and Imperial hotels, in the Strauss cafe, all with a special offer food and drink.

''Opatija celebrates Advent by constantly raising the bar of quality and we always make new efforts to not only meet but also exceed the expectations of our guests. After our Advent fairytale shone like never before last year and conquered the whole world with its staff, we want to further enhance this holiday atmosphere and lavish landscaping of the city this winter in order to provide everyone with unforgettable memories. We are glad that the Most Beautiful Advent by the Sea, as one of the largest winter events in Croatia, has reunited many tourist entities in our city, which will be presented with a special arrangement and special program'', said the director of the Opatija Tourist Board Suzi Petričić.

An additional atmosphere during a walk through the city will be provided by the traditionally decorated shop windows along the main road as well as the smells of hot chocolate and various desserts from the famous Opatija cafes and pastry shops. This year, as in the past six years, the Tourist Board of the City of Opatija will award cash prizes to the most beautifully decorated shop windows, inviting business owners to get involved in arranging their shop windows and be part of the Advent atmosphere in the city.

To learn more about one of Kvarner's most impressive jewels, be sure to read our complete Total Croatia guide, Opatija in a page. Now in your language!

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

Monday, 8 November 2021

18th Opatija Winter Swimming Season Officially Opens (VIDEO)

November 8, 2021 - The 28th Opatija winter swimming season opened on Sunday, presenting a new type of tourist offer, and the only one of its kind in the Mediterranean.

Kukali opened the 18th Opatija winter swimming season in new bathing suits. At their standard position at Slatina beach, across from the Girl with the Seagull statue, the members of this Opatija collective once again pointed out a different side to the Opatija tourist offer and a tradition of the region, reports Novi List.

"Today's winter swimming also presents a new type of tourist offer, the only one of its kind in the Mediterranean. In cooperation with LRH, we decided to present a winter bathing project that will be offered to Opatija guests with expert guidance, locals," said Mario Sušanj, a member of Opatija's Kukali. As a medical worker, he revealed the main message of this event, which is promoting health, especially needed during the pandemic.


"This well-established story promotes health and our sea. A sea that is natural, healing, and free, when everything else costs. The health aspect is guaranteed, but you need to know how to approach winter swimming. Before entering the sea, you should warm up well, followed by a short swim, and then you should be ready to go. Alcohol must never be used before entering the sea, and chronic patients are not allowed to enter," explained Sušanj at the opening of the winter swimming season, in which Chakavian poets from Liburnia recited their poetry dedicated to the sea, accompanied with music by a new member, Aleksandar Pauletić from Frančić (Matulji). 

The Opatija winter swimming season began with new bathing suits donated by the City of Opatija. Sušanj stated that due to swimming and activities, the swimming costumes wear out quickly and it is necessary to change them once a year.

"It is very difficult to find a quality material and a quality tailor who knows how to sew them. So we are very pleased that we managed to get new swimsuits. The swimsuits are currently being made by our friends from Zagreb, Slovenia, and Italy who know us," concluded Sušanj.

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

Sunday, 31 October 2021

Chocolate Festival: a Paradise for Gourmets in Opatija

October 31, 2021 - From December 3 to 5, visitors to the "Chocolate Magic" fair will be able to taste the irresistible delicacies of twenty domestic and foreign producers, but also experience many more "sweet surprises" prepared by the organizers of the Chocolate Festival, to be held in Opatija.

Opatija and chocolate have been inextricably linked for years thanks to the Chocolate Festival event, the largest and oldest Croatian event dedicated to this irreplaceable food, which in 2021 celebrates its jubilee, reports Turističke Priče.

Sugar at the end of the year will bring Opatija a new edition of the Chocolate Festival. The fairy-tale atmosphere of the luxuriously decorated Advent city will be a great backdrop for top-quality desserts that will return to the Crystal Hall of the Kvarner Hotel exclusively for the 15th Chocolate Festival. The festive occasion also requires a festive ambience, so the jubilee of the sweetest Opatija event will be celebrated under the famous crystal chandeliers of the oldest Croatian hotel.


Photo: Visit Opatija Facebook Page

From December 3 to 5, visitors to the "Chocolate Magic" fair will be able to taste the irresistible delicacies of twenty domestic and foreign producers, but also experience many more "sweet surprises" prepared by the organizers. It will be a unique opportunity to enjoy the unique desserts that, except in the specialty stores of the present "craft" chocolatiers, can only be purchased at this fair.

Romantic winter evenings in Advent Opatija will be sweetened by the largest and longest-running Croatian event dedicated to chocolate, and hedonistic pleasure in divine flavors will be complemented by a special program at the Opatija chocolate factory Milenij Choco, as well as specially designed chocolate desserts in many hotels and restaurants. This sweet "lifestyle" will not only stay on the palate, but you will be able to enjoy chocolate with your whole body because this food will "interfere" with the treatments of Opatija's spa & wellness centers.

An opulent stretch of Austro-Hungarian finery on the beautiful Kvarner coast, Opatija was Croatia’s first-ever tourist destination. As popular now as it always was, it’s easy to see why. If you want to learn more about the location of the Chocolate Festival in December, be sure to check Total Croatia's Opatija in a Page guide by clicking HERE. Now in your language!

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

Friday, 15 October 2021

Zagreb, Dubrovnik in Top 10 New Europe Congress Destinations, Hvar & Split Feature

October 15, 2021 - From Venice and Baku and Mosocw and Istanbul, where are the best congress destinations in New Europe in 2021? Many are in Croatia, it seems. 

After the devastation of the pandemic on the congress industry in 2020, events are slowly getting back to a semblance of what they were pre-pandemic, although there is obviously a long way to go. 

But it seems that Croatia is more than ready to meet the demand. The 2021 Meeetings Experience Index (MTLG - MEETAOLOGUE) was published recently, a comprehensive analysis of 118 congress destinations in 'New Europe', nad there was a very strong showing by a number of Croaita's congress destinations.

MTLG defines New Europe as:

The answer to this question is something of an unsolved conundrum. A clear definition of New Europe doesn’t exist, the most general definition being that these are the countries of Eastern Europe that were once behind the Iron Curtain. Technically, this means 24 countries of Eastern Europe, adding Greece and Turkey to them. In our Editorial, we include the fresh, energetic and lesser-known European destinations in New Europe.


There was a particularly good showing for Zagreb and Dubrovnik. Zagreb was named 5th best destination overall, as well as third in the category of large congress destinations, with Dubrovnik coming in 7th. 


It seems that Croatia's niche is perhaps in the medium sized category, where no less than 4 Croatian congress destinations featured. Dubrovnik topped the list, followed by Split in second, Opatija in 5th, Rovinj in 7th, and Sibenik in 8th. 


And there was good news for the island of Hvar as well, which came second in the category of small congress destination. 

This is what they had to say about Zagreb:

A great congress future awaits Zagreb. It is well established in the international congress market and in addition to Ljubljana and Belgrade, it represents the future backbone of the continental meetings industry of the region. All three cities are progressing steadily on the charts of developed meetings destinations; the final breakthrough of the entire region is intertwined and dependent on the marketing of major regional congress cities in the international market.

About Dubrovnik:

Dubrovnik is the flagship of regional tourism and is commonly the first association of meetings organizers we meet daily. It is the closest in the region to renowned Mediterranean convention destinations Cannes and Monte Carlo. The modern and well-equipped centres at hotels such as Dubrovnik Palace, Excelsior, Bellevue, Grand Villa Argentina, Importanne Resort, Dubrovnik President, Valamar Lacroma and Radisson Blue are all great for hosting a variety of events. Well-developed is the entire conference infrastructure including destination management and creative agency scene. The city is safe and one of the tourist icons of the Adriatic and justifiably the most painted tourist skyline with unprecedented experiential diversity for conference guests.

About Split:

Among the Adriatic congress destinations Split has become serious competition to Dubrovnik in the last years. The main disadvantages of the destination are bad cooperation between the service providers, lack of air traffic connections to key markets and not enough destination marketing. If Split gets a real convention centre in the future, it could become one of the leading congress destinations in the Mediterranean. New and excellent hotel capacities, good road connections to Europe and wonderful surroundings, with islands offering numerous incentive programme opportunities, all bolster this proposition. Split is still one of the most unexploited congress destinations in the Mediterranean.

About Hvar:

None of the more than 1,000 Croatian islands has such karma and recognition as Hvar. Definitely, a “must” Croatian destination, right behind Dubrovnik. Distance from the mainland gives it a touch of boutique smallness. On the beauty of the island, reminiscent of the Garden of Eden, there is no point in wasting words, since there is no shortage of various urban legends and superlatives. Among other things, it used to be called Austrian Madeira. In Hvar, the urban has been coexisting with the rural for centuries.

About Opatija:

Opatija is without a doubt the ultimate meetings destination. Why? Because few destinations provide such a rich assortment of luxury accommodation in such a small area, whilst Opatija provides 33 hotels offering over 2700 rooms and more than 50 meeting and conference halls along the 3 km of the coastline. At the beginning and the end of the Opatija Riviera, there are two boutique hotels that contribute to the exclusivity of Opatija.

About Rovinj:

If at the destination you have owners who have clear goals and who look at congress tourism strategically, then in a short time you can do a lot. It is possible to revitalize the old factory premises and build a superior conference hotel. Maistra in Rovinj has undoubtedly left its mark. Taking into consideration the geographical location of Rovinj as one of the closest Mediterranean congress destinations for Central and Western Europe, the future of this industry is guaranteed. Missing is only a convention bureau, which would know how to step out of corporate governance of the destination and would be able to serve as attorney of the meetings industry. Otherwise, forecasts of mayor Sponza that Rovinj will be more exclusive than Dubrovnik, can be realized.

About Sibenik:

Šibenik very rarely raises any association with the meeting industry. In the process of transition from an industrial city into a tourist destination, it has not yet asserted its image among competing cities. Despite this, it is a fact that it has excellent conditions and is somehow considered to be a hidden jewel of the Croatian congress offer. For ease of accessibility, it may be a suitable location for small association conferences as well as a variety of incentive programmes.

Regarding the methodology, Kongres Magazine explained the criteria assessed:

The Meeting Experience Index is one of the most complex destination evaluations that is not only based on the number of congress events but delves deeper analytically. The methodology addresses all key meetings industry segments and thus all key MICE products. 75 evaluation criteria are used to determine the final destination score. That is why the Meeting Experience Index has become the bedrock for selecting destinations for meeting planners.

All destinations are evaluated based on fieldwork and thorough research of individual criteria with the objective to come as close as possible to the real situation. Moreover, the editorial board of Kongres Magazine strives to present up-to-date information that is objective and transparent. Each year, the destination scores are revised and corrected with timely information.

You can see all the results on Kongres Magazine's website.

Saturday, 2 October 2021

CRO Race 5th Stage: Stephen Williams Wins from Rabac to Opatija

October 2, 2021 - Briton Stephen Williams, a member of the Bahrain Victorious team, won the CRO Race 5th stage (137.5-kilometers) from Rabac to Opatija and also took the lead in the overall standings.

Williams passed the finish line with a 10-second lead over 2nd-placed Norwegian Markus Hoelgaard (Uno-X) and 3rd-placed Dutchman Mick van Dijke (Jumbo-Visma), who led a group of 14 riders, reports HRT.

The best-placed Croatian cyclist was Fran Miholjević (Cycling Team Friuli) in 20th place, 4:24 minutes behind the winner. Josip Rumac (ANS Androni Giocatolli Sidermec) took 28th place, 4:31 minutes behind.

The shortest stage of this year's CRO Race saw Austrian Hermann Pernsteiner (Bahrain Victorious) and the Spaniard Oier Lazkano (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) take the lead from the start. As a result, the two separated from the leading group and were the first to reach the mountain finish in Gračišće, and the Austrian won the maximum number of points.

This was followed by a passing goal in Pazin, where again Pernsteiner was first and Lazkano second. The two of them had a 1:45 minute advantage over Spaniard Xabier Azparren (Euskaltel Euskadi) at the time, while the peloton was 3:30 minutes behind.

One of the biggest favorites for the overall victory, Simon Yates (Team Bikeexchange), accompanied by his compatriot Stephen Williams, joined the action on the most challenging ascent of the entire race and was the first to reach the top of Učka. Yates and Williams were the first on the mountain goal in Kastav, and they picked up bonus seconds on the passing goal in Viškovo.

On the way from Viškovo to Rijeka, Yates and Williams were led by Austrian Riccardo Zoidl (Felbermayr Simplon Wels), and the trio managed to create a half-minute advantage over a group of about 15 cyclists.

In both Viškovo and Rijeka, Williams was the first at the passing goals ahead of Yates and Zoidl, and the trio used their indecision in the second group on the way from Rijeka to Opatija and increased their advantage to almost a minute.

A group of 15 managed to reduce the gap to 30 seconds at the entrance to Opatija. Since the fatigue of Yates and Zoidl was more visible in the last 10 kilometers, the difference soon dropped to 20 seconds, so in the final round, Williams decided to go for a stage victory with a solo run, in which he succeeded. Yates and Zoidl, on the other hand, were caught a kilometer before the finish.

In the final stage, Yates will still wear a green T-shirt for the best sprinter, Dutchman Olav Kooij (Jumbo-Visma) will keep the blue T-shirt, and his compatriot and teammate Van Dijke will wear a white T-shirt for the best young cyclist.

Ahead of the final 6th stage from Samobor to Zagreb on Sunday (157.5-kilometers), Williams has an 11-second lead over 2nd-placed Van Dijke and 12 seconds ahead of 3rd-placed Hoelgaard.

To follow the latest sports news in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

To learn more about sport in Croatia, CLICK HERE.

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