Croatia

Visit Opatija, Croatia – the Charming Seaside Town

(Last Updated On: 17/01/2023)

Opatija, Croatia is one of the most pleasant towns you can find on the Adriatic coast. Even if there are no major things to do in Opatija, the location, the vibe, and the beautiful architecture definitely make up for that, making the town one of the best places to visit in Croatia.

Opatija, conveniently located just a few km away from Rijeka in the northern part of the country, can be easily visited on a day trip but if you are looking for a charming seaside destination, this is a place for you too! Since the town is sheltered by mountains from the mainland, it is one of the sunniest places on the Croatian coast (yet I happened to visit Opatija when it was cloudy and a bit gloomy…).

visit opatija croatia

I wanted to visit Opatija ever since I’ve seen some random pictures online. The place looked so unique – even if it is located right on the seaside, the architecture isn’t typical for the region. Instead, there are numerous grand mansions typical for the former Austria-Hungary, that could easily be placed in every city of the former Habsburg empire.

Since I’m a huge fan of the buildings from that time and area, I knew I have to go to Opatija. And even if I finally spent only a few hours there, I fell head over heels for this charming town and I definitely plan to visit Opatija soon again!

visit opatija croatia

A brief history of Opatija, Croatia

The area of Opatija was inhabited already in Roman times but the Croatians settled in this region around the 8th century. For years Opatija was just a sleepy settlement that developed mostly around the Benedictine abbey (hence the name, “opatija” means “abbey” in Croatian) but the real change came here in the mid-19th century. That’s when the wealthy merchant from Rijeka built his manor (Villa Angiolina) here and started inviting notable guests to spend some time in this pleasant area.

This single investment was a real push in the Opatija’s development and the town very quickly became the favorite seaside resort in the Austria-Hungary empire. Beautiful villas were built, important guests arrived in the town frequently and even the train company from Vienna opened a railway line to Rijeka that stopped near Opatija, giving easy access to the town.

Opatija was one of the favorite holiday destinations for many noble and royal families, some of the best-known visitors were emperor Franz Joseph and his wife Sisi as well as numerous other kings, queens, and princes from Europe.

After World War I, Opatija became part of Italy but was given to Yugoslavia in 1947 and since 1991 is in the independent Croatian state.

visit opatija croatia

Henryk Sienkiewicz, the Polish writer, and a Nobel prize winner, was among those who visited Opatija

How to get to Opatija

Opatija is located in the northern part of Croatia, 170 km away from Zagreb (the capital) and not far from the border with Slovenia. The town is easily reachable from nearby Rijeka, only 13 km away.

Bus no 32 connects these two places (some buses continue a trip a bit further beyond Opatija). They start in Jelačićev Trg in central Rijeka and on the way to Opatija they stop in Rijeka next to Korzo, the bus station, and the train station. The tickets are cheaper when bought from the kiosk (it’s possible to get them from the driver too), and the return should cost around 4-5€.

In Opatija, buses stop in numerous places along the main road so you can check on the map which stop is the best for you. The main bus stop is in the central part of the town, on the square next to the Slatina beach. You can find the schedule here.

visit opatija croatia

Rijeka seen from Opatija

Where to stay in Opatija

Since Opatija is a popular destination, there are plenty of accommodation options to choose from. To get the full Opatija experience I recommend staying in one of the old villas in the central part of the town, some of them are worth splurging on. Here are some of the best options:

visit opatija croatia

How to get around Opatija

The town is perfect for walking, especially along the seaside promenade, and that’s the best way to get around Opatija. If you need to get to the places a bit away from the center, you can use bus no 32.

visit opatija croatia

Things to do in Opatija

Even if there are not many Opatija attractions (especially compared to other popular destinations in Istria, such as Pula, Rijeka, or Rovinj), the town is pleasant enough to spend at least a few solid hours here, soaking up the atmosphere and enjoying the vibe of the place.

Opatija is different than other seaside destinations in Croatia. You won’t find the typical Adriatic architecture here, instead, you can expect grand villas and hotels built in the style typical for the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries in the Austria-Hungary empire. There are numerous richly decorated houses, often in the art nouveau style, and some grand hotels from the golden period of Opatija. When looking at them it’s easy to understand why the town is often called the “Croatian Cannes”.

visit opatija croatia

visit opatija croatia

visit opatija croatia

visit opatija croatia

One of the best things to do in Opatija is walk the “Lungo mare” promenade. It stretches along the coast for 12 kilometers, from Opatija towards Lovran and along the way, you will pass some of the best Opatija attractions, such as “little Vienna” architecture, Maiden and the seagull sculpture (the symbol of the town) or Saint James’s Church (located on the site of the original Benedictine abbey that gave the name to the town). From the promenade, you can also admire beautiful views of the seaside, even as far as Rijeka.

visit opatija croatia

visit opatija croatia

visit opatija croatia

visit opatija croatia

visit opatija croatia

visit opatija croatia

Be sure to stop at the Villa Angiolina and the park surrounding it. The neo-renaissance mansion, built in 1844 by Iginio Scarpa and named after his wife, was the reason why Opatija became the main seaside resort in Austria-Hungary. Today the place is home to the museum of Croatian tourism.

The park around the mansion is one of the most pleasant places in Opatija.

You can find another lovely park not far from Villa Angiolina, near Saint James’s Church. That’s where you can also see the beautiful Fountain of Helios and Serena which dates back to the Austrian times too and is another example of the extraordinary architecture from that period.

visit opatija croatia

visit opatija croatia

visit opatija croatia

visit opatija croatia

visit opatija croatia

Once you are done with Opatija sightseeing (which is mostly just wandering around and admiring the beautiful architecture), there are numerous cafes and restaurants where you can sit down, relax a bit and spend some quality time trying local delicacies (I’m a huge fan of truffles from Istria, which you can get in Opatija too!).

visit opatija croatia

Opatija pictures

Since words can’t really describe what a beautiful and charming place this lovely town is, here are a few more Opatija pictures that will hopefully inspire you to visit Opatija too. Even in the gloomy weather, the place looked beautiful!

visit opatija croatia

visit opatija croatia

visit opatija croatia

visit opatija croatia

visit opatija croatia

visit opatija croatia

visit opatija croatia

visit opatija croatia

visit opatija croatia

visit opatija croatia

visit opatija croatia

visit opatija croatia

visit opatija croatia

visit opatija croatia

visit opatija croatia

visit opatija croatia

Travel Resources

Revolut bank card is the best way to save money when traveling. It’s a pre-paid service that offers very good exchange rates and no fees for ATM’s use. Click here to learn more and order your Revolut card.

You can find the best accommodation options at Booking. They have many discounts and excellent customer service. Click here to look for the place to stay in Opatija

Never travel without travel insurance, you never know what might happen and better safe than sorry. You can check the insurance policy for Croatia here.

I recommend joining organized tours to get to know the place better and to visit more places during your trip. You can find a great selection of tours at Get Your Guide – click here.

Make sure to have the offline map always installed on your phone, they can save you so many troubles. I always use the free app Maps.Me.


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visit opatija croatia


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6 Comments

  • Reply
    Valentin
    19/01/2023 at 23:02

    Nice pictures of beautiful city.
    If you are visiting Opatija, you should have something in mind: don’t expect it to be cheap. Opatija and Rovinj are 2 most expensive cities in Istria. Parking, cafes, restaurants, hotels, everything is pricey.
    I was in Opatija few times and enjoyed it much. I am not fan of sea swimming so I mostly walked around.
    For hike lovers, there is path from sea level to Veprinac that takes 30 minutes. Once you hike there, you will be rewarded with very nice view of city and sea.
    Enjoy your time in Opatija!

    • Reply
      kami
      27/01/2023 at 19:44

      That’s why I visited Opatija as a day trip from Rijeka, it seemed a better option and I still really enjoyed the town. But you are right, the prices were a bit higher there.

  • Reply
    Elisa
    30/01/2023 at 17:41

    Amazing pictures! I love the architecture. Wish to visit Croatia soon.

    • Reply
      kami
      06/02/2023 at 16:14

      Thank you! Fingers crossed you can make it there soon!

  • Reply
    Hans
    03/02/2023 at 12:36

    Nice post as usual, with great pictures. I have been there three times and every time the weather was bad, but it was always nice to visit. The first time we went was after the end of the war in Croatia. Each time the prices went up. To enter Opatija with a car is not easy. To rent a bicycle is very recommended.

    • Reply
      kami
      06/02/2023 at 16:19

      Thank you for your kind words. I really wish I could see Opatija in the sunshine, it must be even more beautiful!

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