Genteel Opatija, 13km west of Rijeka, was the most chic seaside resort for the Austro-Hungarian elite during the days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire – as evidenced by the many handsome belle-époque villas that the period bequeathed the town. Although it lost a lot of its sheen during the Yugoslav period, Opatija has spruced itself up in the last decade and once again attracts a mainly mature crowd, drawn to its grand spa hotels, spectacular location and agreeable year-round climate. Some excellent restaurants have sprung up to cater to them, with a particularly good cluster in pretty Volosko, just up the road.
The town sprawls along the coast between forested hills and the sparkling Adriatic, and the whole waterfront is connected by a promenade. Don’t expect great beaches (there aren’t any), but there’s still excellent swimming in the sheltered bays.