Once an unassuming fishing village called Kvarner, Opatija began its transformation into a fashionable sea side resort in the late when local dignitary Iginio Ritter Von Scarpa built the Palladian Villa Angiolina in the mid 19th century. Guests, including the Austrian empress and Josip Jelačić – Ban of Croatia – spread the word of the village’s spectacular location and agreeable year-round climate, and soon the cream of the Austro-Hungarian aristocracy came to the Croatian coast to build their own grand villas or stay at the graceful Kvarner Hotel, completed in 1884.
Though popular until the twenties, Opatija declined with the fall of the Hapsburg Empire and was neglected during the Yugoslav period. Today the town has once again returned to favour amongst a cultured set, those seeking a little respite from the more crowded Adriatic resorts amongst the resorted elegantly decaying belle époque villas and rejuvenated hotels that dotted between the sparking sea and forested hills.
The waterfront is connected by a promenade that winds its way along the coast and, whilst lacking any notable beaches, there are some excellent swimming spots in sheltered bays along the way. 2km (1.2 miles) east from Opatija is the pretty fishing village of Volosko. Whilst definitely not a tourist resort, the scenic harbour homes a small collection of excellent restaurants.
When to go
The best months for a lovely weather in Opatija are between May and September, when the temperatures are higher and the area is buzzing. The coldest and rainiest months, and those suggested to avoid are February, September and December.