As everybody gears up to book family holidays to Croatia, those who’ve never visited this wonderful country may have some apprehensions as to the reality of its 'child friendliness'. Rest assured it is, in my experience, one of the most family friendly destinations you could choose in terms of its safety, accommodation and many accessible attractions. |
Of course, any destination becomes a little less daunting if you have some insider knowledge, so I'd like to share a handful of helpful tips that I have offered clients over the years to make their family holidays to Croatia run smoothly.
1. Language: If English is your first and only language, you're in luck! Tourism is one of the major drivers of the economy, so English is widely spoken and understood. You should not encounter any difficulties communicating while you are holidaying in Croatia, except possible in some of the very rural areas – in which case the universal sign language should work a treat! The fact that most people you encounter will speak a little English will also help younger children feel at ease in their unfamiliar surrounds. (But take note of my last tip coming up as well.) 2. Accommodation: Being such a family friendly destination, many of the best hotels and resorts cater specifically to youngsters, with aspects like connecting rooms, children's clubs and onsite babysitting services. With so many historical attractions to explore, there may be times you'll want to take advantage of the latter for some adult downtime.
3. The people: Despite a fairly rocky recent history you'll find the locals very friendly, if perhaps a little reserved at first. As a rule they're extremely amenable, very helpful to tourists, and every Croatian I've ever met adores children.
4. Baby supplies: If you're travelling with a toddler or baby, the DM market (just outside the walls in Dubrovnik) is an excellent go-to source of baby products, but, generally, you can find anything you need in local pharmacies. Fresh milk is readily available at local markets or supermarkets.
5. But be prepared: Having said that, for those holidays to Croatia situated in some of the more rural (or the smaller islands), make sure you stock up on supplies like nappies, formula and baby wipes before you head off.
6. Food: All holidays to Croatia should include many opportunities for trying the more unusual foods (I especially recommend you sample some of the unique seafood even if you can't convince the children to do so!), there's no need to be nervous of the local cuisine – even for children. Familiar foods are readily available and much of what you'll find on the menu has a very Mediterranean bent to it – like pastas, pizzas, rice dishes, vegetables and grilled fish.
7. Driving: Hiring a car for a road trip along the stunning coastline of Croatia is an absolute joy, and one that should not be missed. But if you're on a tight time schedule you'll need to factor in the element of traffic, as the roads can get very busy in the peak season. This should be considered if your children are inclined to get restive in slow moving traffic. Remember to drive on the right hand side of the road and that most of the usual British rules apply: like compulsory seatbelts and using your mobile phone only when the vehicle is stationary.
8. Playing pedestrian: On the other side of the coin, it's prudent to keep your wits about you and a firm grasp on your child’s hand as a pedestrian as well. Croatians are not so much sticklers for the rules as the Brits, so never assume that just because you're about to step on to a pedestrian crossing, motorists will necessarily stop. Check and double check.
9. Taxi! Getting around by taxi can be a convenient mode of transport for short distances and to get you to and from the airport, but if you're travelling with younger children, be aware they do not come equipped with car seats. You'll also be charged for carrying luggage, and it's important to ensure that the driver actually turns on the meter before you set off.
10. A few useful words: Finally, while English is widely spoken, knowing a few words of the language (and at least having a go) will certainly endear you to the locals, and most children usually find it great fun as well. Some are easier than others…
• hello – zdravo • please – zadovoljavati • thank you - hvala • emergency – kriticno • taxi - taksi • doctor – doktor • bathroom – kupaonica
In my many years of visiting Croatia I've found it to be a warm, wonderful and entirely fascinating country and, no matter how many times I return, every trip brings it just a little closer to my heart. I've no doubt your family will find it to be the same.
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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