Safe, accessible, family friendly and with an absolutely beautiful landscape to boot, holidays to Croatia have always been among my top recommendations for anyone travelling with children. The lovely city of Split, on the Dalmatian Coast, is ideal for family holidays to Croatia – with just the right blend of beaches, fun activities and relatable historical attractions. |
Below are a few ideas to get you started on a foolproof child friendly itinerary that also promises to be fun for the parents as well.
Non-Stop Beach Fun
One of the primary attractions of most holidays to Croatia is the fact that you'll be able to enjoy some of the safest, best-facilitated beaches in the world. While there are certainly a lot from which to choose, two stand out for me in terms of accessibility and child friendliness.
Bacvice Beach: This is the city's main beach and, with a coveted Blue Flag status, it's very popular with both locals and tourists. The leisure park has a range of fun trampolines, slides and an inflatable castle, and there are plenty of cafes and restaurants. My insider tip is to make sure you don’t miss seeing a round of the traditional beach ball game of 'picigin', which was invented in Split. Your children might even like to get involved themselves and it's great fun – if very energetic!
Znjan beach: While it's a little further away, half the fun is getting the short 5km bus ride to Znjan Beach. The newest beach to be developed in Split, it is purpose made for family fun. There's a play area for very young children, along with paddleboat slides, electric scooter rides, a bouncy castle and trampolines. There's also an indoor arcade if young ones need some fun out of the sun for a change. (Take bus number 15 from the city centre to Znjan Beach.)
A Submarine Tour
Yes, it actually is as much fun as it sounds, and this ingenious attraction – the Marijeta – offers a fascinating glimpse into the marine life around Split. The beauty of the Marijeta is that it's actually semi-submersible, so you can either be up on deck admiring the fantastic views of Diocletian's Palace, or down in the hull in the observatory, where the children will be right in the midst of the exciting underwater life. (Tours run day and night and leave from the Riva promenade, on the waterfront.)
If that underwater adventure proves popular, a visit to the Split Aquarium should also be on the cards. Newly opened in 2014, I've found this to be a really impressive aquarium. Encompassing 800 square metres and 22 separate aquariums, children can get up close and personal to sting rays, eels, lobsters, sharks and a host of other interesting creatures that make the Adriatic Sea their home. (The Split Aquarium is at Obala Pomoraca, 21211, Vranjic and is open 10am-10pm every day.)
If you can coax them away from the beach, a day trip to Klis Fortress will bring out your children's inner prince or princess. At just 5km from the centre of Split, it's really easy to get to by car or bus (numbers 10, 35 or 36), and this impressive medieval military structure will have you in as much awe as your offspring. Built right into the side of the rocky landscape, it's been an important stronghold as well as the seat of royalty throughout history. The onsite museum is full of armour and interesting artefacts and you'll also get fantastic views over Split and out to the Dalmatian Islands. (The fortress is open from 10am-4pm, closed Mondays.)
Marjan Hill Park
If you need to wear the young ones out a little, a walk up Marjan Hill will do the trick and they won't even cotton on to your cunning plan! As the backdrop of the city, the views from here are, of course, exceptional, but there are also plenty of rewards for making the picturesque walk. There are lots of nature paths, where you'll encounter local flora and birds, plenty of places to stop for a snack (you'll have to pack your own though), and several playgrounds to distract when walking loses its appeal. There are a few different pathways you can take up the hill, and in summer there's even a mini-train, which children love.
In the unlikely event of bad weather, or if the children just fancy some indoor entertainment, I can recommend the Carobni Grad, which is a massive indoor playroom. Over two levels of heaven for small people, each playroom has its own theme – so whether you've got mini pirates, chefs, builders, sportspeople or climbers, they'll find hours of fun to amuse them. (Carobni Grad is located at the Poljud Stadium – so there's scope for a little grown-up sightseeing as well.)
Split is absolutely ideal as a base for family holidays to Croatia. Along with some excellent accommodation that really takes young visitors into account, it has a host of attractions perfectly suited to enquiring minds and all that youthful energy.
John Dixon is an experienced world traveller and the Managing Director of Prestige Holidays. For over 30 years, he has been providing luxury holidays to Croatia, Bermuda, Sicily and many other destinations around the globe. John tries to visit each of the destinations regularly in order to ensure the quality of his properties, and stay up-to-date about the latest local news and events. He has a taste for the finer things in life and has an interest in arts, history and culture.
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