Take a yacht or catamaran cruise across Kvarner Bay, whilst weaving around islands keep your eyes peeled for schools of bottlenose dolphins diving through the water. Drop anchor for a refreshing dip in the ocean or sunbathe on the deck of your ship. The day will slip quickly by in a dreamlike haze of sun, sea and swimming.
There are plenty of islands to visit here, from tiny uninhabited paradises to the larger inhabited islands of Cres, Krk, Lošinj, and Rab. Each island has its own unique culture and geography – Krk has been known as the ‘golden isle’ since ancient times, due to its prized location and mild climate.
There’s so much to see and do on the islands of Kvarner Bay. Explore arid, sun-baked landscapes, hike through enchanting ancient forests and admire lush, fragrant gardens. Discover quiet hamlets of traditional stone houses and explore perfectly preserved medieval towns. There are stunning secluded beaches nestled into the rocky coastlines of these islands, too, so there’s no shortage of places to spread your towel.
Elegant coastal towns
In the opulent Austro-Hungarian era, Croatian nobles built stunning villas along the coast of Kvarner Bay. Coastal resorts such as Rijeka and Opatija are lined with these lavish, pastel-hued mansions, which have been converted into boutique hotels and spa resorts. You’ll marvel at their intricate balconies and columns, and the colourful flowers spilling from planters and trellises.
You’ll feel like a million dollars as you walk down marble, palm tree-lined boulevards, passing these beautiful buildings and marinas bobbing with glitzy yachts. Enjoy a romantic sunset stroll along the Lungomare, a seven-mile-long seafront promenade in Opatija, or through the manicured public parks. There’s even a Croatian Museum of Tourism you can visit, where old-fashioned postcards, vintage swimsuits and beach bric-a-brac reveal how people spent their summer holidays hundreds of years ago.
Ancient historical attractions
Kvarner Bay has a rich history, having been inhabited by nomadic tribes for thousands of years before being taken over by the Ancient Romans. The region abounds in myths of ancient buried treasure, guarded by mythical creatures known as vilas and maliks. While you might not be lucky enough to uncover these legendary riches, you will strike gold in the form of visiting the region’s stunning historical attractions.
Step back into the past as you explore Byzantine churches and crumbling monasteries. On the island of Krk you can marvel over The Baška Plaque, a huge stone panel carved with the ancient Glagolitic script, which is hundreds of years old. Krk’s old town is still surrounded by the walls of an ancient Roman settlement.
Sumptuous seafood and local wine
Kvarner Bay is a foodie’s paradise. Many of the islands have fertile soil, ripe for cultivating herbs, olives and vegetables, many of which make it into the local dishes. And of course, being surrounded by water, freshly-caught fish and seafood is a speciality here. The scampi is supposed to be the best in all of Croatia – rather than being breaded and fried, it’s simmered delicately in tomato sauce. Due to Croatia’s proximity to Italy, there are some excellent pizza and pasta dishes on offer.
Try koromac, a green, aniseed-tasting liqueur made from homegrown fennel. If that doesn’t float your boat, the wines produced in the region certainly will. Sample the delicious Žlahtina white, a fresh, easy-drinking style that pairs well with local oysters. Those with a sweet tooth will love rabska torta, a spiral-shaped pastry filled with a sweet almond mixture soaked in cherry liqueur, unique to the island of Rab.