Beach holidays on the Makarska Riviera, island hopping, city breaks or wild mountain adventure, what Croatia doesn’t do for family holidays isn’t worth mentioning.
With a gorgeous Adriatic coastline, some of Europe’s most fascinating historical sites and warm, sunny weather from early spring until well into autumn, the country really is an incredible all-rounder and works for kids of all ages. Younger children love the friendly, barefoot atmosphere in seaside villages. Teenagers are reliably thrilled by Split and Dubrovnik. And nobody is ever less than enchanted by islands which mix up deserted coves with bustling towns, great water sports and rugged outdoor action.
Direct flights from London to Split, Dubrovnik and Zagreb all year round.
Over 1000 islands and dozens are holidays in their own right or hop-able from the mainland for a day – or two.
The historic centre of Split is an Ancient Roman palace built for Emperor Diocletian in the 3rd
Dramatic Dubrovnik doubles as King’s Landing in HBO’s Game of Thrones.
Plitvice National Park is a World Heritage site with 16 interconnecting lakes, vast waterfalls and a wilderness of forest. It’s less than two hours from Zagreb with some of the country’s best family camping.
Dugi Rat on the Makarska Riviera is known as one of the loveliest beaches in the world.
One of Europe’s top eco-destinations, Croatia has over 500 family campsites on islands, across eight national parks, in protected nature reserves, on the coast and in the country.
The country’s most famous holiday coast stretches for 60km just south of Split. This is where to find quaint and pretty seaside towns, unspoiled little villages above tiny coves, delightful natural harbours and the ever present drama of Mount Biokovo as a backdrop.
Makarska is the main resort and has a range of family hotels and guesthouses. But self-catering on the gorgeous Riviera is an inexpensive option with kids and gives you anything from designer villas to cute forest camping to choose from.
It’s hard to decide what to love most about the ancient city of Split. Is it the Roman palace at its heart, acres of mysterious underground caverns, landscape of red-tiled roofs drifting down to the sea? Or is it the sea itself, trimmed with fantastic urban beaches, restaurants, cafés and, quite honestly, one of the most spectacular promenades you’ll ever have strolled along?
Choose 4-star in Split and you have your pick of the city’s hotels – many with pools and amazing views. Aparthotels and apartments are very popular and staying right in the historic centre is affordable compared to other European cities.
Dubrovnik is one of the most beautifully preserved medieval cities in Europe and a World Heritage site. Perched on cliffs overlooking the sea, its starring role in Game of Thrones is no surprise – if you have a fan in the family, there are some excellent location tours. What is a revelation is how much fun such an historic place can be – even if you’re just dropping in for the day.
From Hilton to Radisson, Dubrovnik has several five-star, luxury hotels close to the centre. But it’s all about the sea views in this city and best for families on the water are aparthotels and villas.
Hvar is an idyllic island less than two hours by ferry from Split. With lavender fields, vineyards, mountains and delightful beaches it’s a bit like Provence without the costs and crowds. Add in 2500 hours of sun a year, peaceful prettiness for young kids, outdoor activities for older ones and gorgeous Hvar Town to entertain teenagers and it’s easy to understand why this is where Croatian families head to for holidays.
For such an unspoiled and pretty island, Hvar has several good resort hotels. But if you want to get into the eco-spirit go camping or book a sweet bungalow in a shady pine forest.
What to do
Plitvice Lakes National Park
One of Croatia’s natural wonders and a home from home for Zagreb families during the summer.
Sea Organ, Zadar
The ancient city of Zadar is just under two hours drive from Split and part of the green and beautiful north Dalmatian coastline. The astounding experience of the sea organ is just one reason to visit.
Dubrovnik Cable Car
Soar up over the magnificent city and you can see for 60km on a clear day and there are plenty of those in Dubrovnik.
Biokovo Nature Park, Split
Biokovo and its foothills dominate the coastline south of Split and there are walks and hikes even the youngest kids can manage.
Diocletian Palace, Split
One of the few Ancient Roman palaces where you can admire the antiquity and have an ice cream in a cute, city centre café at the same time. Don’t miss the underground vaults.
Paddle the Marjan Peninsula, Split
Wonderful and easy enough for beginners to kayaking this is a fun way to see the amazing Split coast from another angle.
Game of Thrones’ Tour, Dubrovnik
This walking tour takes you to some of Dubrovnik’s most evocative locations, whether you’re a fan of the show or not.
Older kids will be impressed by the monumental works by Croatia’s most celebrated sculptor, younger ones will like the gardens and everyone loves the view.
The white stone on this amazing island was used to build Diocletian’s retirement palace in Split and for the White House in Washington. Apart from those claims to fame, Brač has one of the world’s oddest beaches, Zlatni Rat, and end to end outdoor wildness for kids. It’s two hours by ferry from Split and there’s enough going on to base an entire holiday here.
Kids can gaze at 100% Dark Skies above the Makarska Observatory just 50m from the seafront.
Educational value for kids
The mysterious and enchanting Adriatic Islands are just a few of the sights to map out from the impressive vantage point of Marjan Hill in Split. Get the app and go exploring
A 3rd century palace as a city centre is history made real, an entertaining and chatty walking tour is a fun learning experience for older kids.
Croatia’s history is long, dramatic and complex so it’s one country where audio apps are worth every penny.
There are eight Croatian National Parks and dozens of Natural Parks. Some you can camp in and almost all have friendly visitor centres packed with info on wildlife, birds, geography and local conservation.
Split’s city beaches are famously good for water sports or kids can learn the art of Picigin to impress back home – or anywhere with calm, shallow waters.
From Jure Grando – the world’s oldest vampire – to Babaroga-Under-the-Bed, Croatia’s the land of eerie, odd and cautionary tales for kids to learn from.
Croatia has over 50 national and international film festivals every year, take young cineastes to discover there’s more to the movies than Pixar.
Getting around with kids in Croatia
Croatian cities are compact to explore on foot and have good public transport outside the historic centres. There are regular daily ferry services to the main Adriatic islands from both Split and Dubrovnik. Makarska also has ferry for island day trips. Hiring a car is a plan for visiting the national parks and touring around the coast and into the countryside.