Firstly, here are some photos taken during our bus ride north from Zadar, a lovely coastal ride passing many picture book villages.
Opatija, according to one guide book at least, is often called the “Croatian Monte Carlo” and its easy to see why.
The small town stands sprawling along a rocky coastline with a backdrop of a pine covered mountains. It’s a beautiful green region and the town is very attractive with its lovely town centre set on the waterfront well set up for families.
I read that the town “lost its sheen” during the Yugoslav period but thats hard to imagine as this is now a very smart resort which seems to be a favourite of better off Croatian families and couples and from our experience, Italians.
The architecture of the town is lovely containing many buildings originally built as belle-epoque villas for the wealthy during the days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Some of these villas remain as grand residences but many became and are still up-market hotels. Some pictures ..
The coast is gorgeous but there are no beaches as such . The coastline is rocky throughout its length but there are plenty of little bays and places where the water can be accessed usually with the help of railings with ladders into the sea. In a few places, there is a wide expanse of concrete fronting the promenade with access to the sea and with sunbeds and umbrellas for hire and refreshments available.
There is an 11 kilometre long promenade known as the Lungomare which stretches in both directions from Opatija to neighbouring villages and this makes for a really nice walk with some nice villas to ogle at and several places to stop along the way to enjoy a drink or a meal.
Back in Opatija itself there are lots of places to sit around and people watch including some very nice manicured gardens. Otherwise there is some nice shopping (but not a great deal – this is a small town) and plenty of nice restaurants to suit every taste in the town. We stayed in an apartment forming part of a family home, superb accommodation with generous hosts. The only issue was that it was situated high above the town and without a car it was a hell of a climb up many many steps to get back to the house. We were told about the hill when we booked but saw the climb as a challenge rather than an problem and only once when we loaded with bags of shopping did we resort to using a taxi .
Its probably true to say that of all the places we have travelled so far, Opitija is the one place where we would consider buying a retirement home (OZ and N Z excepted) if it were not for the fact that buying property in Croatia is fraught with difficulty and potential nightmares – its just too difficult!
Here are some more photos of Opatija and the area…….
We might well be in a minority because Croatia is full of pretty towns with lots of history but Opatija was our favourite. Our only regret was that our digs were booked up and we were unable to extend our stay.
After four nights in Opatija, our next and penultimate stop in Croatia would be Rovinj.