If you are ever in Croatia, don’t miss the classy resort town of Opatija and its scenic coastal promenade – Lungomare. Located just outside the Istria Peninsula, Opatija is not your typical Croatian beach town. Its spectacular coastline, grand spa hotels and excellent restaurants draws a more mature crowd.
Seeing this glitzy town 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. Scarpa built his holiday home here in 1844 and named it the Villa Angiolina, after his late wife. And this is how Opatija’s tourism started.
A Brief History of Lungomare, Opatija’s Famous Promenade
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 were sun tanning on the French Riviera, the Habsburg and Russian elites were having fun in Opatija. The town soon became the Pearl of the Adriatic.
Opatija’s biggest attractions is Lungomare, a beautiful 12-km long seafront promenade. The footpath connects Opatija to the village of Volosko in the North and to Lovran in the south. According to the records, Emperor Frantz Joseph of Austria built the promenade for his wife, Sisi, who was suffering from lung disease.
The Lungomare promenade was built in stages. The northern part (from Opatija to Volosko) which is also the most spectacular one, was finished in 1889. The southern part (connecting Opatija to Lovran) was finished some 20 years later, in 1911.
Ever since its completion, the Lungomare stretch from Opatija to Volosko has been the town’s biggest attraction. The path goes near the sea and in some places even over it.
Strolling the Lungomare Promenade from Opatija to Volosko
Strolling the Lungomare from Opatija to Volosko is the best way to take in the beauty of the Istria Peninsula. Elegant villas, fancy restaurants and greens line up the promenade. Right after it leaves Opatija, the Lungomare passes by the Maiden with the Seagull. Standing among the rocks, the beautiful statue has become something of an icon of Opatija.
The path twists and turns constantly, keeping you guessing about what’s around the corner. The varied landscape and gorgeous views constantly surprise you. You’ll pass by grand hotels with glitzy terraces and swimming pools, yacht ports, quaint cafés and restaurants.
Every couple of kilometers you’ll come across a romantic bench, or a hidden alcove with trees and benches. You can stop to relax and enjoy the sound of the waves, or even take a swim in the warm, clear water.
The beauty of the surroundings and the fresh air of the Adriatic will mesmerize you. And if 12-kilometers seem too long for one walk, you can divide the walk into different parts and explore one stretch a time. Perhaps on different days.
Visiting Volosko Village
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 and 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.
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