With 1800 km of coastline and over 1000 islands, diverse landscapes, and plenty of outdoor activities to choose from, Croatia is the ideal destination for families who love the sea, nature, and active holidays. This beautiful country on the edge of the Adriatic Sea is particularly child-friendly: family is important in Croatian culture, children are given lots of attention, and many hotels and service providers cater to families with amenities and fun activities geared towards kids. From toddlers to teenagers, there are plenty of activities and things to do that are bound to entertain all age groups.
For a family holiday to remember, here are 5 things to do in Croatia:
1. Explore the national parks
Croatia boasts eight scenic national parks, with the best known being Plitvice Lakes, one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The stunning natural scenery of waterfalls and crystal-clear turquoise lakes make it popular with visitors of all ages. At Krka National Park, there are walking trails, boat trips to the island of Visovac and its monastery, and the chance to swim in the pristine lake with waterfalls as a backdrop. Mljet National Park on the island of the same name is also popular with families. The best way to explore it is to rent bicycles at the ferry terminal. A boat trip to St. Mary’s island is a must-do: here lunch can be enjoyed at one of the restaurants before or after a visit to the church and monastery.
2. Hop over to the islands
Children will love riding the ferries connecting Croatia’s many islands to each other and the mainland. A sailing boat can also be easily chartered for a tour of some of the most scenic Adriatic islands, each with something unique to offer. Vis is off the tourist track and has great beaches perfect for families, and scenic seaside towns to explore. One of the biggest islands is Brač, famous for its magnificent white pebble beach called Zlatni Rat. Sailing through the Kornati Islands is an unforgettable experience: this is an archipelago of over 100 islands, most of them uninhabited and part of a national park.
3. Get active
The best way to peel your teens away from their tablets and smart phones is by enticing them with exciting and fun-filled outdoor activities like paragliding, windsurfing and rock-climbing. Kids love exploring underwater sea life: at beachside resorts there are lots of opportunities for snorkelling. Bicycles are also widely available for rent for cycle trips along the scenic seaside paths.
4. Check out the Summer festivals
During the summer there are many family-friendly festivals happening across Croatia. The International Children’s Festival in Šibenik, from June 21st to July 5th, 2015, is a week-long celebration of music, dance, craft workshops, film, theatre, puppets, and parades specially curated with children in mind. The Dubrovnik Summer Festival is held every year from July 10th to August 25th featuring a programme of classical music, theatre, opera and dance performances held outdoors with the city’s ancient city walls and buildings as a dramatic backdrop. Another popular festival with summer tourists is Špancirfest in the northern Croatian city of Varaždin from the end of August to the beginning of September: this is a 10-day street festival featuring street performers, musicians, outdoor concerts, and lots of opportunities for shopping and eating. Every year from August 16th to 19th, the city of Split hosts ‘Diocletian Days’. Residents dress up in Roman costumes and enact the time when the Roman emperor Diocletian ruled over the city in colourful processions to the sounds of drums and fanfare.
5. Hit the beach
Croatia has no shortage of beaches. Most are pebble beaches and sandy beaches are rare, but Croatia boasts a total of 95 beaches awarded a Blue Flag: this means they meet international standards for water quality, cleanliness and safety. Some of the best beaches for children include Lapad beach in Dubrovnik which has water slides, the Punta Rata in the Makarska Riviera has a beautiful stretch of beach lined with pine trees for shade, and Baška beach on Krk island is a beautiful 2-km long crescent-shaped beach.
Paola Fiocchi Van den Brande is Director of Passepartout Homes Ltd.