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Family guide to Croatia

With its vast Adriatic coastline, collection of islands and remnants of ancient civilisations all shrouded in lush greenery, Croatia is great fun to explore with the family and utterly picturesque. There are two areas that are particularly popular with families, namely the Makarska Riviera between Dubrovnik and Split, and Istria in northern Croatia.

As well as letting you know all about these areas and where to stay, our guide below details some natural attractions that your family will love to visit.

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 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.

Natural Croatia

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.

Where to stay

Try the Valamar Crystal Hotel in Porec for activities including a playground, bungee trampoline and kids' club. There's also bike hire, a dive centre and sail boats. Surrounded by pine forest, little ones are sure to love the mini train that takes you to Porec centre along the seafront promenade.

If it's a little privacy you're after, the Radisson Blu Sun Gardens Resort and Spa has its own private beach in Orasac, 15 kilometres from Dubrovnik's old town by scenic boat or bus ride. Set up like a mini village, it has shops, bars and restaurants as well as a kids' club for three to 11 year olds.

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