We promised to tell you a little about the Kvarner region, oddly left out when defining Croatia’s main regions 0f Dalmatia, Istria, and Slavonia. We uncovered Central Croatia last month; let’s have a peek at Kvarner, boasting Croatia’s oldest tourism tradition.
The Kvarner region stretches down the coast from the isthmus of Istria by Opatija all the way down to half the island of Pag, also covering the islands of Cres, Krk, Rab, Lošinj, and the mountainous hinterland of Gorski Kotar.
The coastal city of Opatija was once a favorite holiday destination amongst the Austrian imperial family, situated at the foothills of the Učka Mountain in the Gulf of Kvarner. Here, The Museum of Croatian Tourism is housed in the decorative Villa Angiolina built in 1844, a lavish structure that celebrates Opatija as having the longest tradition of tourism in Croatia. This developed upscale resort town is dotted with well-trimmed gardens with ornate fountains and sculptures, a 12-kilometer seafront ‘Lungomare’ promenade, and a wealth of popular beaches.
Kvarner’s capital is Rijeka, Croatia’s third largest city. Although centered mostly around its maritime industry, Rijeka is famed for many cultural and entertainment events such at Rijeka Summer Nights and Rijeka Carnival, where the urban landscape transforms into a scene of fun. Just north of Rijeka is Risnjak National Park, a forested ridge considered to have the most diverse flora in the country with edelweiss and alpine roses making a lush garden for lynx, bears, boars, and woodpeckers.
Whilst on the topic of natural wonders, Kvarner has yet another two national parks; Northern Velebit and the Plitvice Lakes. Hike the mountain that shelters the Gulf of Kvarner and meander through a striking botanical garden, visit the meteorological station and descend into Luka’s 1,421m pit. Alternatively, explore a green haven and the jaw dropping cascading turquoise lakes of Plitvice, Croatia’s only UNESCO Nature Site.
Before hopping onto the magical islands of the Gulf, stay along the Crikvenica- Novi Vinodol Riviera, a paradise for active and health tourism, with a centuries’ old tourism history.
A visit to the gems floating in the Gulf of Kvarner a little taking a trip back in time, to serenity, unspoilt nature, turquoise waters, ancient little fishing villages with bobbing boats along the quayside. The main islands of Krk, Cres Rab, Lošinj and Pag each have their unique story to tell.
Drive onto Krk (yep, a name without a vowel…pronounced ‘Kirk’ with a rolling r), the biggest island of the Adriatic connected to the mainland by bridge, and visit the thousand year-old town of the same name protected by ancient city walls. Head out of town to explore charming cliff-side villages like Omisalj with a rich Roman history and Vrbnik, home of the Žlahtina white wine.
Continue by ferry to Cres, and take in the pristine landscape around Laka Vrana, Croatia’s deepest and largest freshwater lake, where the endangered Griffon vulture flies and ancient myths are in abundance. Before crossing the narrow strait to Lošinj (dug by Romans, creating two islands), take a stroll around Osor’s open sculpture museum, where creations by artists including Ivan Meštrović decorate the narrow lanes of the town. Lošinj is a paradise for active tourism, with over 250km of walking trails taking you to secluded bays and breath-taking viewpoints where you can see dolphins playing in the Adriatic with the sandy island of Susak in the distance.
Hop onto Rab and start climbing the ancient belfries that tower out of the charming town with the same name before cooling off in the azure waters on the 2km sandy stretch of Lobar Beach.
To party it up, hop onto the island of Pag, world renowned for its summer beach parties on Zrće Beach; think mojitos, sunshine and dance…all day long. Pag however, also has another side; their famed and distinct sheep’s milk cheese, and fine handicraft needle lace produced the women on the island.
Welcome to Kvarner! What will you be doing in Kvarner? Stroll along Opatija’s lungomare? Sip on Žlahtina in Vrbnik? Spy on vultures by Lake Vrana? Rave on Zrće? Or nibble on Pag cheese?…or simply laze in a hidden cove?
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