Today, visitors from all over the world stroll among Opatija’s ornate, colorful villas and lush botanic gardens. Opatija owes much of its architectural beauty to the Austro-Hungarians, who built homes, hotels, gardens, and walking trails to enjoy the healthy climate and surroundings. The first holiday home, Villa Angiolina, was built in 1844 and hosted a who’s who of European dignitaries.
In 1873 the Austrian Southern Railway built a direct rail link from Vienna, paving the way for tourism to Opatija, and in 1884, the railway director opened the first Adriatic hotel and health resort, Hotel Quarnero. Opatija was established as the playground of the Austro-Hungarian aristocracy and the birthplace of Croatian tourism. Villa Angiolina still stands proudly among the opulent buildings of times past, set amid the seaside botanic garden that bears her name; today the villa welcomes guests to Hrvatski Muzej Turizma, Croatia’s only museum dedicated to tourism.