Take the family for a Croatian holiday at a budget-friendly price
With flights to Croatia from the UK coming in at around two and a half hours, the kids can take a nap and wake to a world of cultural and natural delights.
Summer temperatures reach about 25°C on average in July, so sunbathing and sightseeing are viable options during a fun-packed family holiday. A host of beach resorts promise lazy days, the historic town of Dubrovnik lends to educational excursions and inland beauty makes for plentiful hiking and walking. The Istrian Riviera is a good choice for active families, with the Plitvice National Park offering a delightful backdrop for exploration, nature walks and picnics.
A number of resorts on the Istrian Riviera appeal to families of all sizes. Rabac has a bustling promenade lined with seafood restaurants serving the freshest catch of the day, and boat trips from the harbour provide a fun day out with the possibility of dolphin spotting. Porec, dating back to prehistoric times, is now one of Croatia’s most popular family resorts, with Aquacolors Water Park jam-packed with thrilling flumes, a lazy river and toddler pools. The Venetian towers, Euphrasian Basilica and countless shops and cafes of Porec Town are a delight to explore, too.
Pula is a historic treasure trove for the kids to explore. The amphitheatre in the centre of town is high on the list of attractions, along with Pula’s Aquarium. Just a 50-minute drive from Pula is Rovinj, an iconic Croatian port town with candy-coloured buildings, pretty coves and old world charm. Boat trips, ganders around the old section of town and hikes through the nearby woodlands will create ample opportunity for leisurely picnics and memory making.
Best family friendly beaches
Pula’s Valkane beach is great for families with its Blue Flag status and sandy section. Travel a bit further afield to reach Ambrela Beach, which offers soft sands and good sea quality – it’s another Blue Flag option for those with small children. Rovinj has an array of beaches within its reach as well. Lone Bay is ideal for families, with its selection of loungers and umbrellas and a smooth shingle beach.
For something a little quieter, Borik Beach on the north side of the city is a good choice. The beach is partly gravel and pavement, with a lot of shade provided by the surrounded pine forest. Children can swing and tumble on the beach’s playground, while the rest of the clan competes in seaside mini-golf.
In Rabac, Girandella Beach offers a pebble beach set in a sheltered cove, ideal for little ones. It’s Blue Flag status promises high standards of cleanliness and safety, while a variety of shops and cafes on the promenade sell sustenance in the form of ice creams and snacks. Porec has a number of beach options – the City Beach, located in the centre, is popular with locals and tourists and offers a wide selection of restaurants and cafes.
Other family holiday destinations
If you’re not sure about Croatia for your family break, but know you want to go, check out these various destinations worldwide. For the ultimate adventure Florida‘s magical theme parks and natural beauty may appeal. For sunshine and beaches galore the Canary Islands offer modern resorts and fun-packed beach days. Or consider Cyprus, which boasts a mix of historic sites, day trips and sunbathing. But, if Croatia has captured your imagination check out our handy travel guide to find out more. Below are a few family-friendly hotels to start you off.
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Flroence, the centre of Italian Renaissance
Florence, the capital of the Tuscany region, is considered by many to be the most beautiful city in the world. It’s home to palaces, churches and museums that house some of the finest and most important art treasures ever produced.
It saw the development of the Renaissance movement, thanks to Filippo Brunelleschi, Giotto, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and Rafael. Nowadays many talented artists still flock to the area seeking inspiration, so if you’re in the market for some modern art head to Iguarnieri Art Gallery Studio, or Galleria360.
Experience the sweet life in Taormina, Sicily
Taormina perches on the side of Monte Tauro, with breathtaking views across the Bay of Naxos to Mount Etna. The town dates back to the 4th century BCE and saw a revival in the 18th century when northern Europeans discovered it on the Grand Tour – a rite of passage for the upper classes who sought further education in the cultural hubs of Europe.
This is Sicily’s most luxurious resort, with its glamorous heyday in the 50s and 60s. Elizabeth Taylor, Greta Garbo, Italian-born Sophia Loren, and film director of La Dolce Vita, Federico Fellini, all stayed here. D H Lawrence also lived here from 1920-1923, a time that inspired his most famous work, Lady Chatterley’s Lover.
At the heart of the area is the Greek Amphitheatre Teatro Antico di Taormina, where the annual film festival is held every June, still attracting some of the big names in showbiz such as Colin Firth and Tom Cruise. Many notable oldies have also been seen strutting up the red carpet including the wonderful Audrey Hepburn.
The glittering gem that is Lake Maggiore, Italian Lakes
Many people have heard of luxurious Lake Como, but a short distance from here sits Lake Maggiore, which some consider to be the most stunning and exclusive of all the Lakes.
In the active lakeside town of Stresa you’ll find luxury villas and Art Nouveau hotels lining the shoreline, while charming streets are filled with interesting local shops selling Murano glass. This fine glassware originates from the island of Murano in Venice and the designs, which can be pieces of art, beautiful figurines and light fittings, are highly sought after. Shopping here is a great opportunity to take a bit of luxury home with you.
A ride on the Stresa to Mottarone cable car up Mottarone Mountain will offer some of the most stunning views in Italy. At the midway stop you can stroll around the Alpine gardens and view the three beautiful Borromean Islands, Isola Bella, Isola dei Pescatori and Isola Madre. Then at the summit you can experience 360-degree views to the Alps on one side and all seven glimmering lakes on the other.
The Makarska Riviera
Towards the south of Croatia’s nearly 2,000-kilometre-long coastline, just north of Dubrovnik and south of Split, the Makarska Riviera is home to some excellent beaches.
Many of them are extremely shallow so perfect for toddlers, but maybe not more proficient swimmers. The area also provides opportunities for boat trips to neighbouring islands like Brac and Hvar, each of which offer even further enticing strips of sand.
Places to visit with the children include Solaris AquaPark near Sibenik – part of the Solaris Beach Resort, it also offers a playground, mini-golf, sports and beach areas. In the centre of Split itself you can wander around the Diocletian’s Palace, which was built in the 4th century as a retirement home for a Roman Emperor. Nearby, the kids might like to rub the toe of the huge statue of Grgur Ninski for good luck.
Down at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Dubrovnik you can stroll around the car-free streets taking in the pretty 15th and 16th century buildings of the 1,940 metre-long walled old town as you go. To see it from above, hop in the cable car that travels 700 metres into the hillside and stop for lunch at the restaurant at the top.
Up in northern Istria the feeling is quite Italian due to its proximity to the neighbouring country, but Croatia’s distinctive greenery makes it unique. The towns of Porec and Rovinj make great bases for exploring caves, beaches and the dinosaur themed park Dinopark in Funtana. For older children, the multimedia interactive displays at Batana House in Rovinj teach them about the town’s fishing history.
You can tell stories of gladiators on chariots as you gaze up at the Pula Arena, which is one of the largest amphitheatres in the world – and the only Roman one with all of the surrounding walls still standing. As well as being able to access the beaches between Porec and Zelena further south, Istria also has its own waterpark, named Aquapark Istralandia.
Away from the shoreline you can head to Krka National Park, inland from Sibenik, to swim in the pool beneath the Skradinski Buk cascading waterfalls. Further north towards the Bosnian border, the UNESCO-awarded Plitvice Lakes National Park has more waterfalls as well as 16 lakes in shades of turquoise and green, each surrounded by beautiful pine forest.
If you’re travelling with older kids, they might relish the opportunity to go white-water rafting at the Cetina Gorge, located just inland from Split. Even if you don’t fancy getting wet, the 30-kilometre journey is worth it for the extraordinary scenery.
The TUI Family Life Bellevue Resort hosts delightful views and close proximity to three pebble beaches. The main pool incorporates a children's splash pool, as well as a sun terrace with sea views. A dedicated activity pool provides a great setting for aqua aerobics sessions while the relaxation pool is for just that – relaxing. Kids' clubs for ages three to 11 will keep the children busy while parents with small ones can attend the parent and toddler sessions, which include music, games and storytelling. The buffet restaurant has a range of child-friendly dishes that can be enjoyed with a sunset view and a range of family entertainment including dancing, singing and games.
Located on St Nikola Island in Porec, the family-friendly Valamar Isabella Island Resort boasts two outdoor pools surrounded by sunbeds and parasols. Its beach bar serves refreshments throughout the day while the main buffet restaurant provides a delicious selection for breakfast and dinner. A seafood restaurant as well as Bistro Vista, which serves international cuisine, will keep your whole crew satisfied. The hotel-run kids' club and teens' lounge will ensure younger members of the family are kept busy while the free boat to Porec can take families who want to explore and souvenir shop into the mainland every 30 minutes.
On a pebble beach in the little town of Medulin, the Park Plaza Belvedere is a great sightseeing base for a family holiday. With two outdoor pools, one of which is saltwater – and a heated indoor saltwater pool – there is somewhere to swim and relax, whatever the weather. Active types can head to the sports centre to play tennis, five-a-side football and volleyball. The main buffet restaurant is open for lunch and dinner, and between June and September, guests can check out the Lungomare beach a la carte restaurant and bar for lunchtime snacks. Meanwhile, the children's pool and hotel-run miniclub will ensure the young ones won't get bored.
Just steps from a pretty beach is the Istra Hotel, serving up a delightful range of cuisine in its buffet and a la carte restaurants and offering facilities aplenty. Head to the fitness room for a workout, or try out pedalos, tennis or diving for an additional charge. The two outdoor pools, one freshwater and one saltwater, provide room for relaxation while the kids' clubs for ages zero to 18 and a mini-disco promise to keep the whole family entertained. The evening programme includes live music, dance shows and themed events.