Just outside the Istrian Peninsula, to the west of Rijeka, there is one of the classiest resort towns in Croatia – Opatija. Seeing this glitzy strip of real estate today it’s hard to imagine its humble beginnings. The first important person who discovered the magic of Opatija was Iginio Scarpa, a merchant from Rijeka who built his holiday home here in 1844 and named it the Villa Angiolina after his late wife. This is how Opatija’s tourism started.
In the late 19th century, during the golden age of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Opatija became the most chic seaside resort in Eastern Europe. While the French and British aristocracy was sun tanning on the French Riviera, the Habsburg and Russian elite was having fun in Opatija, the Pearl of the Adriatic. Opatija is not your typical Croatian beach town. Its spectacular coastline, grand spa hotels and excellent restaurants draws a more mature crowd. The town is flanked by two little villages – Volosko and Lovran – connected by a 12-kilometer seafront promenade, Lungomare. The path is built near and sometimes even over the very sea.
Strolling Lungomare from Opatija to Volosko is the best way to take in the beauty of the Istrian Peninsula. Lined up with elegant villas on one side and a beautiful coastline on the other, the curved path won’t allow you to see what’s around the corner, so you are constantly surprised by the varied landscape.
You’ll pass by grand hotels with glitzy terraces and swimming pools, yacht ports, quaint cafés and restaurants, and small pebble beaches where you can stop for a swim. Here and there you’ll find a romantic bench hidden in an alcove with trees. It is almost impossible not to relax and enjoy the sound of the waves, the beauty of the surroundings, and the fresh air of the Adriatic. If 12-kilometers seem too long for one walk, the path can be divided into different parts and explored – one stretch a time – on different days.
The northern part of Lungomare ends at Volosko, a small fishermen village with winding narrow streets, art galleries and seafront restaurants. Volosko is quiet and calm, with a very genuine Croatian non touristic atmosphere. You can see locals playing cards in the nearby restaurant, or watch the fisherman pulling up their boats in the harbor.
If you want to catch beautiful pictures, the best time to visit Volosko is at sunset or even a little after, when you have the blue light. There are several bars and restaurants where you can sit and enjoy the sunset and view of small fishing boats.
One of the best seafood restaurants in Croatia, Plavi Podrum, is located in the little harbor. This is one of those rare places where everything is perfect, from the friendly and professional staff, warm atmosphere, location, to the amazing wine list and perfect food. And if after such a rich dinner you have no steam to walk back on Lungomare, you can pick up a water taxi or take the bus to your hotel in Opatija.
This is a post for The Weekly Postcard Blog Link-up