Opatija is oldest Croatian sea resort, an Imperial city, a beacon of Croatian tourism, and heritage of Austro-Hungarian times on the Adriatic. It is only natural that Opatija has its own style of Christenkindlmarkt and it is indeed situated next to the old market place. Throughout the Advent, visitors may enjoy the “Advent na Mrkate” (Advent on the Market), all kinds of stalls, tastes, and aromas that describe both Christmas and local production.
The program is going to be held throughout December and is based on four weeks: Sweet Market (Slatki mrkat, December 2-11), Healthy Market (Zdravi mrkat, December 12-18), Christmas Market (Božićni mrkat, December 19-25), and Old Market (Stari mrkat, December 26-January 1). We have visited the Sweet Market, which was held also together with the Festival of Chocolate in Opatija.
Because of it, round the market people can be acquainted with the history of chocolate, by reading historical facts on chocolate. The market has also humanitarian aspect and many children choirs participate here. We were also interested in many producers of sweet products present at the market.
Common to all producers is accent on healthy and natural sweet products. Honey pops almost immediately in mind, and diversity of tastes and aromas that bees bring us. Thus, talking and finding out new things from Fajdetić Beekeepers is excellent way to learn more about Northern Adriatic honey. The family transfers beehives from Rijeka surroundings to the island of Cres, central Istria, and in the mountains, and thus has a rich variety of honey.
You can find on the market their praised honeydew honey (medun) which succeeded greatly this year in the mountains of Gorski kotar. Additionally, chestnut and acacia honey is very popular among Croats, but truly magnificent and aromatic honey on display is one from the island of Cres, where bees enjoy the aromatic Mediterranean herbs. In these cold winter days, one should consume more honey, and Fajdetić family recommends their Imunomed, honey for immunity, blend of honeydew, sage honey, propolis, and pollen.
Milice Jadranić 1, Rijeka
+385 51 644 108, +385 91 760 91 68
But what would be Advent without the famous Croatian poppy cake (makovnjača) or walnut cake (orahnjača)? It would be stripped of taste of Christmas, definitely an answer from the “Kao Kakao” confectionery situated in picturesque fishing village of Volosko, trademark of Kvarner cuisine. Kao Kakao is sweet addition to this tradition, as a combination of local desserts with Belgian, French, and Italian influences.
If you visit their place on market you will for sure be tempted for hot chocolate with rum, with walnut cake, or fruits in chocolate, as well as the caramelised apples, almonds, and other traditional Christmas delicacies that not only feel but smell like Christmas! For more elaborate achievements of this confectionery you should head to Volosko and try their Kaokakao cake or Volosko cake, signature sweets of this cosy place!
Andrije Štangera 44, Volosko
Sweet market in Opatija will also present you with natural jams from Lika, our mountainous and snowy region, where mythical Velebit Mountain is full of wooden berries transformed in jellies and jams. Such a sweet burden lays upon the shoulders of Family Farm Hećimović from Perušić in Central Lika.
Jams that taste like they come from out childhood is recognisably packed as “Tastes of Lika”, and vary from sweet-sour to ideal-for-pancakes sweet taste. Hećimović make extra jams from strawberries, rose hip, dogwood, and elderberries. Packed in various ways, it can be a great Christmas gift, remembered by sheer intensity of natural sweetness and excellent taste!
Kaniža 86, Perušić
+385 98 955 1582, +385 92 245 9671
We ended our tour of sweet market by visiting the stall of Towar distillery, for some serious liqueur and brandy tastings. Towar is in fact “Tovar”, Croatian word for donkey, and in local imagination, one can be drunk as donkey. If so, Towar at least gives a great opportunity to be drunk from high quality drinks. Very appealing design will for sure attract many passer-byes who will enjoy the product of distillery from Lučko near Zagreb.
We had a grand tour of rakija (brandy): we tried apricot, Williams, plum, and quince brandy, of which quince is perfect blend of aroma and taste, while brandy made from Williams pear is absolute heaven of taste. Next to brandies, the Towar makes also liqueurs from raspberry, lemon, orange, cherry, blueberry, honey, fig, and carob. Excellent gifts for Advent can be also found within various aromatised salts and oils.