Tourist Board
of the town Opatija

History of Opatija

Opatija, often called the pearl of the Adriatic, is one of Croatia's most famous destinations, boasting a tradition of welcoming visitors dating back more than 170 years.
Located at the edge of the Mediterranean, on the slopes of Mount Učka gently descending towards the coast of Kvarner Bay, Opatija with its local climate, beautiful architecture, quality hotels and luxurious, well-tended parks and promenades, offers plenty of possibilities for a pleasant stay throughout the year. The notable person who first 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 event marked the beginning of tourism in Opatija.

After that, Opatija started intensely developing under the supervision of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Director of the Austrian Southern Railway Company Friedrich Schüler and its shareholders wanted to improve passenger traffic to the south. After choosing Opatija as the region's most promising destination, they started building the first hotel in this new bathing and climatic health resort, advertising it widely as the "Austrian Nice".
Several important facilities were built alongside the first hotel: a pavilion with indoor pool for warm sea baths, a bathing place with separate areas for ladies and gentlemen, and the 12-kilometre-long coastal promenade from Volosko to Opatija and further to Lovran.

The hotel was opened on the 27th March 1884. Its original name was Hotel Quarnero, and it offered its visitors 60 rooms.

The second hotel that was built in Opatija after the Quarnero was the Hotel Kronprinzessin Stephanie.

In 1885, the Austrian Southern Railway Company organised the first congress of balneologists in Opatija, during which the decision was made to declare Opatija a climatic health resort, which was officially done in 1889. Some of the Monarchy's most eminent physicians opened their sanatoriums in Opatija; numerous promenades and bathing places were being built.

This all turned Opatija into one of Europe's most important health resorts of the 19th and the first half of the 20th century, alongside Nice, Karlovy Vary, Cannes and Biarritz.

Kings and emperors, writers, philosophers, poets and composers used to stay here – let us mention some of them: the emperors Franz Joseph and William II, the queen of Romania Elisabeth who used to publish poems under the pseudonym of Carmen Sylva, then the empress Sissi, the writers A. P. Chekhov and James Joyce, the ballet dancer Isadora Duncan, and the composers Gustav Mahler and Giacomo Puccini. To see and be seen – this was the motto for those who came to Opatija.


After World War Two, Opatija's tourism became more orientated to the summer season and the hosting of conventions. Throughout that whole period, Opatija retained its importance as a destination with something special to offer.

Opatija has numerous advantages that will surely entice you – superb convention facilities, quality accommodation, modern wellness centres for relaxation, and last but not least, friendly and professional staff that will do their best to meet all your requirements. Not to forget the area's great gastronomy, offering unique combinations of traditional recipes, modern cuisine and first-class wines.

Get to know Opatija, and let Opatija get to know you!