An Introduction to the Opatija Riviera

The first in a series of brief overviews of the diverse tourist regions of Croatia. The Opatija Riviera.

(Photo: Die Nymphe von Opatija by Bernd Thaller, on Flickr)

Opatija, known only to me for the longest time as the place with the Maiden with the Seagull statue. To be honest, I only knew this because glorious photos of her constantly filled my Instagram feed. However, that has now changed, Opatija and I are now one step closer to being great friends after I recently enjoying the charm of the city which boasts 170 years of tourism.

The 12km coastal promenade promenade of the Opatija Riviera, known as the Lungomare begins in Lovran, weaving through Ika, Ičići, Opatija and ending in the picturesque fishing village of Volosko.
The lungomare was the one consistent suggestion everyone made as I planned our visit to Opatija, and so who was I to deny it? And, boy, am I glad I listened.

The Opatija Rivera has dozens of activities and attractions to keep you busy for days, although I suggest you begin your time in the area by strapping on your most comfortable shoes, throwing your day-pack (or cute purse) over your shoulder and set out to discover the promenade before you book any of the many day trips which start in Opatija.

We began our day after coffee at one of the many cafe's in Opatija and set out toward Volosko. With small footsteps (thanks to the toddling 2-year-old) we made our way along the lapping shores headed toward our first stop Angiolina Park.

(Photo: Park Angiolina by sEb #13, on Flickr)

Just before the park, history buffs should stop by and marvel at The Church of Sveti Jakov (St. Jacob) which is the oldest building in Opatija, built in 1420. Not us, we were running (literally after the Little Donkey) to Angiolina Park. The park is an integrated network of open spaces, gardens, and rest stops. No matter where you begin or plan to end your journey along the Lungomare, you simply can not miss Angolina Park. With formal gardens, pathways and 150 plant species from across the globe, it surely is the most beautiful park on the Adriatic.

After a few hours in the park, we headed back toward the cool sea breeze. Did I mention in your day bag that you'll need a towel? Well, you do. There are a number of beaches along the promenade that make a magnificent stop to cool off. If you don't want to get your hair wet, then, stick to the landscaped path system and simply take a break by sitting one of the benches, cafes, or for kids the fun playgrounds.

Continue on until you reach Volosko, you'll know you've arrived at the footpath stops and you'll be greeted by the bobbing fishing boats. Volosko was once a very important port of trade in the Opatija area, but today, Volosko is known for its exceptional gastronomy in the Kvarner region. As you come around the last bend on the Lungomare, there are a number of restaurants located in the quaint fishing port which are located at the waters edge. You definitely should plan to have eat a meal here.

(Photo: Volosko... by Tomislav Ćuto, on Flickr)

If you plan to be in Opatija this year (and if not, start planning now), these three festivals are not to be missed.

Liburnia Jazz Festival. Enjoy music both from world-famous and promising young jazz musicians and a a jazz concert performed in Opatija’s Open Air Theatre. Date: 3-5 July

Festival Kvarner: A combination of classical and contemporary composers will be featured in a series of musical concerts and operas celebrating the musical traditions of Opatija. Date: 24-29 September

Marunada: Listed among the food festivals not to be missed, this famous chestnut festival celebrates the unique species of chestnut grown in Lovran – the “maruni”. Sample delicious dishes and desserts prepared with these chestnuts along with other traditional specialties of the region such as wine and honey brandy. Date: October