PHOTOS: Kvarner Christmas – Cool Coastal Towns & Spectacular Snowy Nature
December 14, 2021 – From the enchanting parks of Opatija and the incredible expanse of the town of Rijeka to the snow-capped mountains of UÄka and Risnjak and the fairy-tale and festive villages of Gorski Kotar, Kvarner Christmas is a classic experience and unforgettable.
When you live in Croatia, it’s too easy to take classic Christmas scenes for granted. Croatia loves Christmas. Every town, town, village and house vividly marks the occasion. Eye-catching decorations and lights are hung. Pristine snow covers epic mountains, quaint rural villages and fairytale castles. It is a joy to admire such views.
Christmas Kvarner: Decorations in Delnice 2021 Â© TuristiÄka zajednica Gorskog kotara
These are typical images of Europe in winter. But it doesn’t all look exactly like this at Christmas. And, not all places in Croatia contain every one of these charming elements. But, Kvarner does.
Kvarner, also known as Primorje-Gorski Kotar County, is unique in Croatia. It is the only county in the country that comes a long way from being a microcosm of Croatia.
Kvarner Christmas Â© TuristiÄka zajednica Gorskog kotara
In Kvarner Bay you will find beautiful islands Cres, Krk, Rab and LoÅ¡inj. On the shores, classic Mediterranean towns and villages. But, also, two famous Austro-Hungarian cities – Opatija and Rijeka. At Christmas, the famous two come to life under a sea of ââsparkling seasonal lights.
Not far from their beaches, the Dinaric Alps rise sharply. They extend far into the interior. Most of the interior of Kvarner is mountainous. It contains two protected areas – UÄka Nature Park, just west of Opatija, and Risnjak National Park, northeast of Rijeka, in the historic Gorski Kotar region.
JaplenÅ¡ki vrh forest park in Delnice Â© TuristiÄka zajednica Gorskog kotara
All of these spectacular and unique elements are just an hour’s drive from each other. Although, if you’re not a Croatian, you probably would never know. The fame of Rijeka Advent and Opatija Advent certainly extends beyond Croatia’s borders. But how many would be surprised to learn that they are only 20 short minutes apart? The extremely varied Kvarner Christmas offer is a combination that is just too good to be kept a secret any longer. So, let’s take a closer look.
Kvarner Christmas: Gorski Kotar and Platak
Christmas in Kvarner: the new toboggan run in the Kupjak mountain park Â© TuristiÄka zajednica Gorskog kotara
Of all the mountainous regions of Croatia, Gorski Kotar is the most densely populated. There, in towns like Delnice, Äabar and Vrbovsko and villages like Mrkopalj, Ravna Gora, Skrad, Brod na Kupi and FuÅ¾ine, a carpet of pristine snow has been creating epic winter landscapes since late November. Each of these picturesque and traditional places has its own Christmas manifestation.
Stara SuÅ¡ica Castle near Ravna Gora Â© Vlado FranoliÄ
In the Kupjak Mountain Park you will find an incredible, freshly landscaped toboggan run. Nearby, just a little east of Ravna Gora, you will find Stara SuÅ¡ica. It is one of the most unique castles in Croatia. And, covered in snow, it really looks like something out of a fairy tale.
JaplenÅ¡ki Vrh overlooking Delnice Â© TuristiÄka zajednica Gorskog kotara
Further west, the town of Delnice is incredibly pretty at Christmas. It has its own Advent lights in the center. But, maybe even better, this is what the city looks like from afar right now. Delnice is surrounded by wonderful walking areas, such as JaplenÅ¡ki Vrh and IzletiÅ¡te DelniÄki potok. It is also one of the best places to stay for exploring Risnjak National Park.
Delnice illuminated in winter Â© Davor Strenja Photography
In the far west of Gorski Kotar, to the very west of Risnjak National Park, you will find Platak. This small slope is Croatia’s most popular ski spot. You can ski, toboggan or snowboard here, and you have a view of the Adriatic as you descend the slope.
View of Platak Â© Antonio199cro
Risnjak National Park
Snow-capped mountains in 2021 Â© Risnjak National Park
Although Risnjak National Park is protected, it was not in the past. It is a place of life and breathing. Like elsewhere in the Gorski Kotor mountains, people live here. In dwellings and traditional houses. During the summer, you can walk freely through mountain meadows filled with butterflies and through thick, ageless forests.
Mountain chalet in the mountains, 2021 Â© Risnjak National Park
In winter, the park itself only recommends its Leska educational trail. It is an easily accessible 4 km walk, mostly flat. If there is snow, they go on a snowmobile to prepare the trail for walking. Also, near the National Park guest house, a dedicated toboggan run for children. It’s not the only activity here. As these images show, more experienced local enthusiasts take on the peaks. They are rewarded with outstanding views
If you want to know more about Risnjak National Park you can watch here.
Christmas Kvarner: Advent of the city of Rijeka
One of the most important ports, docks and harbors of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Rijeka often looks more like Zagreb planted by the sea than a typical Mediterranean town. Today it is a wonderfully diverse city with highly developed artistic and cultural movements and a large university population.
Korzo at Rijeka Advent 2021 Â© www.visitRijeka.hr
Advent celebrations in Rijeka cross the entire cityscape. In the center, the focal point is Korzo, the main pedestrian thoroughfare.
New for Kvarner Christmas 2021: Beautiful new section of Advent in Rijeka in the park of the Croatian National Theater Ivan Zajc Rijeka, on the Riva Â© www.visitRijeka.hr
This historic walkway and its neighbors are wonderfully lit at Christmas. The coastal promenade, Riva, which runs parallel, will take you to the Croatian National Theater Ivan Zajc and the pretty theater park opposite. High above the city, Rijeka’s Trsat Castle is home to one of the most memorable light shows on the Croatian coast. It’s hard to choose between going at night, when the lights are most electrifying, or during the day, to enjoy the magnificent view.
Trst to Rijeka Advent 2021 Â© www.visitRijeka.hr
Advent in Rijeka runs until January 7. In order to encourage visitors, the city has made admission free to several of its museums and galleries during the Christmas period. If you want to know more about Rijeka you can watch here. And if you want to see all the amazing free things you can do in Rijeka during Advent, you can watch it here.
UÄka Nature Park
Vojak Â© Peter Kuerschner
The perfect place for exercise and recreation if you are visiting Opatija. UÄka Nature Park recommends two hiking trails for the winter. The first, Poklon – Vojak, starts at the Poklon pass (922m), the central point of the park. It takes approx. 1h30 climb to Vojak (1401m). Once there, climb up to the tower and let your eyes feast on the beauty that surrounds you. Istria, the Dolomites, the Alps, the Gorski Kotar, the Kvarner, the Velebit, the islands – everything is in front of you.
Land Art Trail Â© UÄka Nature Park
The second is the Land Art Trail StraÅ¾ica – Sapasica. An accessible winter walk and an art trail crossing the ÄiÄarija high plateau, here you will find works of art in a landscape you would least expect.
Christmas in Kvarner: Advent of the town of Opatija
Â© Visit Opatija
With walks both by the seafront and towering above the city, Opatija is a place that invites lounging and lounging. And the most unique place to do it is in the parks of Opatija. Nowhere else on the Croatian coast has such a dedication to municipal parks.
Â© Visit Opatija
Many are vestiges of Opatija’s past as the birthplace of Croatian tourism, a destination for the elites of the Habsburg Empire. Thus, these parks meander between grandiose Austro-Hungarian villas and hotels. The lawns are littered with statues and fountains. Exotic trees drape their branches romantically over well-traveled alleys.
Â© Visit Opatija
This exceptional stretch of downtown parks and trails takes on a brilliant new dimension during Advent with the addition of an award-winning theater of lights. Many Opatija stores are joining the fun, decorating their storefronts in friendly competition with their neighbors. With the scent of hot chocolate and spiced wine in the air, it all adds up to a rather magical atmosphere.
Â© Visit Opatija
Advent in Opatija runs until January 9. If you want to know more about Opatija you can watch here.