Visit Croatia's grandest coastal town
Friday, 01 Sep 2006 17:34
Opatija is one of northern Croatia's grandest coastal towns and is an ideal place to see beautiful buildings, take in sea views and wander around colourful gardens.
Located in the Bay of Kvarner at the foot of Mount Ucka at the point where the Mediterranean reaches most deeply into the European continent, Opatija is within easy reach of nearby cities and towns Rijeka and Pula, and around 200 kilometres from Zagreb.
It is also well-located for access from Italy, particularly from Venice, which is just over 200 kilometres away, as well as Slovenia's capital Ljubljana.
One of the most famous hotels, and visitor attractions, in the city is The Bristol, which recently celebrated its hundredth birthday.
The hotel was a popular retreat during the time of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, designed for the upper nobility and the rich.
Now in full working order after a recent restoration, the four-star Bristol has nearly 80 rooms, an old Viennese-style café and grand ballroom with a breath-takingly large crystal chandelier.
Another sight not to be missed in Opatija is the Villa and surrounding park Angiolina, built in 1844 by a merchant from Rijeka who named it after his late spouse.
The park features bright and colourful floral displays and is another typically grand element of Opatija's 19th century legacy.
If you have time to explore the coast then head along the Lungomare, a 12 kilometre traffic-free long promenade that joins up the main points along the Opatija Riviera.
The relaxing walk also has monuments of the famous people who used to stay in Opatija, including local writers, doctors and generals.
If you are more serious about your walking, then Ucka Nature Park has hiking trails going all the way to the highest peak of the Ucka mountain, Vojak, which stands at 1,401 meters.
If you are lucky, then on the way up you might be able to spot rare flowers and birds of prey such as a griffon vulture or golden eagle.
Once at the summit you will find a medieval tower that has views in of the Istrian peninsula, the islands of the northern Adriatic, the mountains of Gorski kotar, and in the far distance, Venice and the Italian Alps.
Flights with British Airways from London Gatwick to Split cost around £92 return.
Flights with Easyjet to Rijeka cost around £46 per person from Luton or Bristol airports www.easyjet.com
More information on Opatijia, including accommodation, can be found via croatia.hr and www.opatija-tourism.hr