OPATIJA (Kvarner Bay)
Croatia’s original tourism hotspot continues to pull in the visitors and retains the same sense of allure that so appealed to the aristocrats of the Austro-Hungarian empire, in the early 19th century. They say locals live here slowly - to ensure that they can make the most of everything their city offers them - so don’t be afraid to slow the pace. Indulge in leisurely strolls along Opatija’s expansive seaside promenade - perfect for soaking up the splendour and breathing in deep lungfuls of sea air, as you wander beside waving yacht masts, and colourful vintage hotels and villas.
Sitting on the Istrian peninsula, Opatija faces the Kvarner Gulf and is protected by the embrace of the Učka mountain behind, where asparagus grows wild. This charmed location lends Opatija a great year-round climate, with hot summers and mild winters. Lungomare promenade weaves along the coast and begs to be explored at leisure. The seven miles of walkway will take you to Volosko - a dreamy fishing village next to Opatija. Look out for Opatija’s treasured Maiden with a Seagull monument as you stroll. There are plenty of opportunities to catch some shade along the way - duck into the blossoms and splashes of tumbling fountains in Angiolina Park, for example.
Or, settle back on a beach, to watch as locals splash in the shallow water, desperately attempting to keep their ball airborne. Slatina beach offers clear swimming waters in the town itself, or Volosko’s pebbled Črnikovica beach may be a little quieter. Fishing boats sway in the pretty harbour, and you can try thick tuna steaks, creamy Istrian truffle-flavoured dishes and seafood risottos served up in seafront restaurants.