Far away from the urban frenzy of large cities, safely tucked away in the bay of Kvarner, lies the town of Opatija. Sure, the Croatian coast has a reputation when it comes to small-town tourist paradises. But I must say that Opatija was the first! Tourist facilities in town were established in the late 19th century!
Nowadays, it's a place of refreshing climate, preserved nature and a little bit of everything. There are centuries old monuments and buildings, brand new night clubs, the green parks and public gardens, the nearby Istrian hills and dozens of events and entertainment options. It really is the place-to-be when visiting Croatia.
What to do in Opatija?
The town's Riviera, known as the Lungomare, is a twelve kilometer long coastal promenade along which most of the tourist life plays out. It's dotted with bars, cafes and hotels in some parts, while in others there are no manmade objects and you can enjoy a quiet, relaxing stroll by the sea.
Those who want to experience the town's nightlife should be more than satisfied, as there are many places to visit. Some of the most popular destinations are the bars Mimoza and Leonardo in the town center. Nightclubs Galija, Hemingway and Tantara are located next to the harbor. If you want to try your luck, you can even check out the Admiral and the Adriatic casinos.
Bike routes are also numerous along the Riviera with many villages and places you can go exploring on a bike, such as the nearby Kastav. The village of Kastav has many museums depicting the traditional lifestyle of the region. Even if you are not interested in studying history, the route will amaze you as it provides a look on many natural beauties of the area.
Opatija and the surrounding area are known for their winemaking tradition. The red merlot and cabernet sauvignon, and white wine such as Chardonnay, Pinot blanc and Pinot gris enjoy great reputation in Croatia and abroad alike. In addition to wine, the town cuisine has a number of delicacies. Spring is the time of wild asparagus, low in calories but rich in minerals. It protects the blood vessels and serves against cholesterol. It is used to prepare 'fritaja' (an omlette with dried pork) and various types of pasta. It can also be served with beefsteak and Kvarner scampi, claimed to be the best scampi in the Adriatic. They are prepared in many ways – grilled, in a risotto, or 'a la buzar', which is a thick soup with a touch of olive oil and wine.
But perhaps the most unique delicacy found in restaurants of Opatija is the truffle. It's served with various meat, pasta and fish dishes and is considered a highlight of Istrian gastronomy.
How to get there?
The airport near to Opatija is on the island of Krk. The island is connected to the mainland via bridge and it's a 45 minute ride to reach Opatija. You can also reach it by train and bus lines from all major Croatian cities. Moving through the town is best by foot. If you want more actice vacation, there is a possibility of renting a bike. Perhaps the best opportunity to explore the whole Riviera and the entire surroundings is to rent a car.
Overall, Opatija has much to offer and we’ve only a described a tiny portion of what the town has in store for all who visit. More than a century of tourist tradition has created one of the most elegant summer resorts in the Mediterranean where everyone will find their dream holidy.
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