Kvarner is the tourist brand name for the County of Primorje-Gorski Kotar, which encompasses the coastal areas of Opatija, Rijeka, Crikvenica and Novi Vinodolski, the islands of Krk, Rab, Cres and Lošinj, and the mountainous hinterland of Gorski kotar.
Mediterranean yet Central European, steeped in history as well as being modern, familiar and known but also mysterious and full of surprises - the Kvarner region presents a variety of interesting sights, attractions and offers which encourage today's holidaymakers to return to this destination to discover something new on every visit.
This attractive tourist destination with a long tradition of health tourism is known for its Mediterranean climate, superb cuisine, excellent wine, and natural and cultural heritage. It's an ideal holiday destination for visitors of all ages. In addition, Kvarner Bay boasts a particularly beneficial climate – simply breathing the sea air, and the fragrances of aromatic plants and green forests will essentially invigorate the body and the mind.
Diversity is beautiful – this motto stands for fascinating holiday opportunities in the region where Croatian tourism started as early as the 19th century. The coast, the islands and the mountains provide for a stunning variety and a great experience of nature – from swimming in the sea, sailing or diving, walking, hiking and cycling, to enjoyable daytrips, historical sightseeing tours and cultural events.
Did you know ?
- LONGEST LUNGOMARE IN CROATIA
- GOURMET KVARNER
- ISLANDS – SIZE MATTERS
- A ROYAL WRONG TURN
- RIJEKA 2020
- UNESCO’s List of Intangible Cultural Heritage
- THE GREEK CONNECTION ON MALI LOSINJ
- SINGING THE BLUES
- BEAR WATCHING
- MISLETOE BRANDY
- DOGS WELCOME!
- SPORTING HAVEN
- SEA CHAMPAGNE
Many places in Croatia have a lungomare (seaside promenade) and the one in Kvarner region is the longest. It is 12 kilometres from Volosko in the east to Lovran in the west, passing though Opatija, Ičići and Ika. Hugging the coast, passing pretty coves and stunning fin-de-siecle villas. Built in stages and started in 1889, completed in 1911. A fabulous walk. Not to be missed.
It surprises many people that the Kvarner Region has some of the most acclaimed and award winning restaurants in Croatia (look out for Kvarner Gourmet or Kvarner Food plaques). Among the top fine dining restaurants are Kukuriku, Navis, Bevanda, Draga di Lovrana, Laurus, Plavi Podrum, Johnson, Štanger, Rivica on island of Krk, Villa Barbat on island of Rab, Alfred Keller on island of Mali Lošinj.
Of Croatia’s 1185 islands, the largest two are in the Kvarner Gulf: Krk and Cres and so is one of the smallest inhabited ones – Ilovik with around just 100 inhabitants with a circumference of around 15 kilometres and a surface area under 6 square kilometres.
During a stay in Opatija at famous Villa Amalia, The Romanian King Carol once became lost during his daily horse ride in the woods somewhere beneath Veprinac (probably in 1896, on his first stay in Opatija). He was furious and so, next morning he went to the district principal, Baron Arthur von Schmidt-Zabierow, and asked why the paths were not better maintained and marked.
Zabierow confidentially (and cleverly) explained that there just wasn’t money. Carol then gallantly produced a lot of money. It was well spent, the construction of the path was completed in 1901 and named “Carmen Sylva”, the pseudonym his wife, Romanian Queen Elisabeth used when writing poetry. Visitors still walk it today.
The City of Rijeka has been pronounced the European Capital of Culture 2020. Rijeka thus became the first Croatian city to hold this prestigious title. Rijeka won this prestigious title with the programme Port of Diversity, which aims to create a city of culture and creativity for Europe and the future.
UNESCO’s List of Intangible Cultural Heritage includes Kvarner Region’s famous, traditional sounds of an old shepherd’s musical instrument, as well as the loudest group in the processions during carnival season – The Halubian Bell Ringers, keepers of folklore tradition.
In 1999, a bronze statue of Greek athlete Apoxiomen was found on the seabed by a diver near Mali Lošinj. Completely restored, he returned “home” (after appearing in several exhibitions across Europe) to take pride of place in the new Apoxiomen museum which opened in Mali Lošinj in 2016. Housed in a historic maritime building on the waterfront, the story of the island’s rich seafaring and marine history is also told alongside the famous Greek now resident in Kvarner.
The most famous Blues festival in Croatia takes place during the first weekend of August in Kastav, up on the hill behind and between Opatija and Rijeka. Created in memory of “Philadelphia” Jerry Ricks, an American guru of traditional Country Blues, he chose Kastav as his final resting place. Opatija Riviera Blues Festival has blues bands from Croatia and from UK, Italy, Austria, Hungary, Czech Republic and USA.
Rijeka and the island of Krk also have cool Blues scenes. Fabulous locations all outdoors in the main square or on the waterfront in Ika, Lovran, Brseč, Mošćenićka Draga and Mošćenice and in the stunning open air theatre in Opatija between the sea and Angiolina Park.
There are few remaining places in Europe where this is possible. Up in the foothills of the majestic Gorski Kotar mountains, within the Risnjak National Park, visitors can watch for European brown bears which usually appear from early June (with cubs in tow). You need to be able to sit quietly for hours in a proper observation hut... and wait. A stay at the lodge at the National Park’s base also provides numerous opportunities for walks and hikes among untouched Nature.
A great dinner party conversation stopper! In the hills of Kvarner region, many places make “biska” a distinct brandy or “grappa” made from mistletoe leaves (it is the berries that will kill you).
Kvarner has many dog beaches which welcome dogs where they can enjoy swimming time with their owners or other dogs. Usually with fresh water supplies and showers for dogs, in 2016, Croatia’s first doggy beach bar opened in Crikvenica. “Monty’s Beach Bar” offers special canine relaxation areas, a doggy “beer” made of chicken and vegetables and “ice cream” made of soya milk and banana.
From hiking, biking and horse riding in the hillside to diving, fishing, water sports, tennis, football, boat hire, there are activities and sports to suit everyone.
This is made on the island of Krk from the crisp white Žlahtina from vast vineyards near Vrbnik. Local producers started making “champagne” from the sea in 2006 by lowering filled champagne bottles to a depth of 30 metres in steel chests. The semi-darkness, the peace and quiet and the higher resulted in a superb sparkling wine named “Valomet”. An added bonus is the beautiful coral and shell encrusted bottles as a result of months under the sea. For very special occasions!
The Kvarner Region is often called “Croatia’s best kept secret”. Now you know of some of the secrets within the secret! So, did you know?