In my article, Visit Croatia, Opatija, I wrote about the awesomeness of Croatia and how easy (and inexpensive) it is to enjoy your vacation in Europe. I am just back from my 5th Croatian vacation and Croatia keeps getting better. I read in Croatia Week online magazine, Croatia broke a record this year, with more tourists visiting the country than any previous year. The word is out!
I promised I would review the new beach in Opatija. Well…I didn’t actually go on the new beach but I did take some pictures so judge for yourself. It’s the Royal Beach, associated with Hotel Royal. The beach looked great for families with small children. As you can see, there’s a concrete walkway, that sort of blocks the sea, so parents can keep on eye on their kids. The cost of 2 lounge chairs and umbrella is 230 kuna (about $35) which is pretty fair.
The beach is fairly close to a marina so you can watch the boats arrive and sail away!
Love Lido Beach
We spent all of our time on our beloved Lido Beach. It would have been like cheating on Lido Beach had we gone to another beach in Opatija.
When you’re sitting on Lido Beach, you feel like you’re on a yacht sailing the open sea. It’s easy to fall asleep on the cushioned lounge chairs or read a good book with the beautiful Adriatic Sea beckoning you to swim in her therapeutic water.
Beware the old, mean German woman who will steal your lounge chair if you’re not on time. She’ll grumble at you as she walks away, “I know where you’re from”. I’m not sure what that means. My wife is Croatian!
We finally found delicious burek in Opatija! Way better than Konzum burek. My wife discovered Kroasana bakery, located close to the big Market, just off the main street and up a few steps.
The Market has some great shops.
Less time in the bank, more time on the beach
It’s now faster than ever to exchange currency at the bank in Croatia. In past years, the teller had to write down every single serial number from every bill you handed her. This process used to take what seemed like hours and you would need a coffee and tooth picks in your eyelids to stay awake during the ordeal. Now Croatia banks have a bill counting machine the teller uses to capture the serial numbers. Croatia keeps getting better! Your bills still need to be clean and crisp with no writing on them in order to exchange for kuna (Croatian currency).
You get the best exchange rate in a local Croatian bank, better than you’ll get at the money exchange kiosks at the airport. The US Dollar is pretty strong currently and you’ll get about 6.5 Kuna to 1 US Dollar. The best exchange rate is probably through your credit card but paying in cash is so much more fun.
Odds and ends
Looking to buy your vacation home? We recommend Ivera Real Estate. Their office is located on the main street and easy to find. They are experienced, hardworking and courteous.
The movie, Jason Bourne, was released just before the start of our Croatian Vacation. Lucky for me (I am a huge Jason Bourne fan) the Open Air Theatre in Opatija plays newly released first rate films. The Open Air Theatre has a bar and it’s awesome to be able to have a drink and sit outside to watch a great movie.
Opatija is filled with flowers and gardens.
Where we purchased our Croatian chocolate.
One of our favorite restaurants, Istranka, opened up a new space just across the street from the original. Istranka Grill has mostly simple meat dishes including, of course, cevapi.
Casa Tua has become our favorite pasta restaurant in Opatija. If you like your spaghetti spicy, this is the place for you.
Opatija is very nice to trees. Look close and you’ll see metal supports for the heavy tree branches. Very nice.
The view of the Lungomare (the seaside promenade) in front of Bevanda. The water was pretty rough that day.
Hotel Milenij is a great place to have a coffee, glass of wine or a sladoled (Croatian ice cream).
The Lady by the Sea
We just missed Robert Plant…damn it to hell!
Croatia has the most interesting shaped trees I’ve ever seen.
My wife got a fantastic haircut in this salon just up the hill a little way from the main street.
We did not have a good experience with the bus service, Autotrans. We purchased tickets online from Opatija to Zagreb. No bus showed up. We took a taxi to Rijeka, the nearest city with a bus station. In Rijeka, we were able to board a bus to Zagreb but not much leg room for a 2 and a half hour bus ride!