Opatija is one of the most popular resorts in Croatia and has the longest tradition of catering to tourists on the eastern coast of the Adriatic Sea. The town, a popular summer and climatic resort, is located at the foot of Mt Ucka, situated at the eastern coast of Istria in the Rijeka Bay. Mt Ucka protects the coastal region of Opatija, which is primarily made of limestone, from the north and northwest. The mountain holds the moist air and clouds driven by the westerly winds. This means that Opatija has lower rainfall and more hours of sunshine than Rijeka. Because of its location and climatic conditions, Opatija is called the Nice of the Adriatic.
In fact, Opatija was the first in the Adriatic region to introduce tourist statistics in 1884 and the first hotel on the Adriatic, Kvarner, was built here by the Society of the Southern Railways in 1884.
The town's fame and popularity started spreading from 1844 when a local merchant Higinio von Scarpa constructed Villa Angiolina, with beautiful green and a lavish park around it.
Distinguished guests like Croatian Viceroy Josip Jelacic and Austrian empress Maria Anna visited the park and soon Opatija became a popular excursion destination for the inhabitants of Rijeka, then comprising of Italians and Austrians. Around the same time the road to Rijeka was completed. In the mid-1880s several large hotels, boarding houses, villas, summer mansions, sanatoriums, pavilions, public beaches, promenades and parks were built.
The hotels Kvarner (1884), Imperial, Opatija, the park "1st May", the coastal promenade and the sanatorium path to Veprinac, all were built in 1885.
At the end of the 19th century Opatija was provided with municipal services; electric lights were introduced in 1896, waterworks in 1897, tram in 1908. In 1892 a zoning plan was adopted, according to which buildings were built mainly along the coast, with their fronts facing the sea, ringed by the green. The architecture of hotels, boarding houses and villas all are built in neo-style with occasional examples of Art Nouveau while the fronts of these structures has Mediterranean touch.
In 1889, Opatija was declared the first climatic seaside resort on the Adriatic. Favourable climate, well-maintained landscape, pristine beaches and lively entertainment throughout the year make this place one of the most elite summer resorts in Croatia today.
Climatic conditions are favorable, with relatively mild winters; the mean air temperature in January attains 4.7°C, and in July 23.3°C; 2, 230 hours of sunshine a year. The whole narrow coastal strip is covered with evergreen vegetation; there are no loose soils or water springs.
Also visit the nature park at Ucka (pronounced ' uchka'). The highest peak on Ucka is Vojak that is 1400 m high. Rainfall in high in this area and therefore is abundant vegetation and animal life. While the coastal slopes of Ucka are covered in Mediterranean vegetation, other parts have oak and chestnut forests. Ucka's summit is worth to climb for the panoramic view of the Gulf of Kvarner bay. On the western side you can see the whole of Istra peninsula and if you are lucky Alps can be seen from the northern side.
Also worth visiting are the villages Vela and Mala Ucka. They are located at about 900 m. The main activities of the villagers are agriculture and cattle rearing as well as some tourism too.
The Optija harbour consists of a pier and a protected basin. The inner part of it is protected from all winds except from those blowing from the first quadrant; the bora is moderate, blowing from the east; the sirocco and the easterly winds are rather strong and heave the sea. The outer part of the port is designed for larger vessels, and smaller vessels can land at the inner part.