8 Family-Friendly Things to do in Dubrovnik, Croatia
We had such a wonderful time in Croatia recently; and visiting Dubrovnik was the highlight of our holiday. If it wasn’t the glorious (albeit hot!) weather, it was the incredible food and beautiful views surrounding the city. We knew there would be a huge variety of things to do with the boy in Croatia, but with large crowds and tourists, and 30+ degree heat we worried how “family friendly” it was or much he would enjoy our visit.
Although we don’t see much of a difference between activities for adults and children, there are obviously things that are going to be better received by children than others.
We needn’t worry though, because as soon as we arrived we had already found activities that were 7 year old approved!
One of the best ways to see Dubrovnik is from above, and what better way to do that (and minus the climb!) than via the city’s Cable Car.
For around £20 per adult you can take a ride up the hills of Mount Srd and enjoy panoramic views of Dubrovnik Old Town, and the surrounding area. On a clear day you can see over 30 miles of glorious ocean! To make the most out of your trip, enjoy a meal at the restaurant located at the top or take a Safari-style Buggy Ride.
For more adventurous folk, take a hike from Fort Imperial to Fort Strinčjera; starting from the Cable Car port.
Although quite small, Dubrovnik Aquarium was a great place for respite – and not just from the sun. Being situated in St. John’s Fortress, Dubrovnik Aquarium offered tons of space for T to run around in and explore. There was also lots of new and exciting marine life to look at that we’d never seen before.
Staying within the nautical theme, nearby is also Dubrovnik Maritime Museum which is also great for children to explore thanks to a built-in play area and two floors of Maritime History.
Whilst they’re not your typical sandy beaches, Dubrovnik has several small pebble beaches dotted around the coast. Depending on what you’re looking for will determine what beach you’ll want to visit.
For example, Šulić is a cute little beach hidden away just on the outskirts of Old Town. Perfect for a little paddle to cool off. Plaža Danče, however, has a lot more opportunity to swim but not much – if any – beach space. It’s primarily rocks and concrete.
As with most of the beaches around Dubrovnik and Cavtat, bring beach shoes. This is to protect you not only against the rougher terrain but also the sea urchins!
An absolute highlight for us when we visited Croatia were the Dubrovnik City Walls. As well as taking in the incredible views of the city streets below, T enjoyed looking through the various battlements dotted around the wall. As soon as he was given the opportunity, he also thoroughly enjoyed climbing the various walkways and raised paths. Starting at Ploče Gate OR near to the Church of Saint Dominic gets the steeper part of the walls out of the way!
At hotter points during our visit, we made the most out of the bars and cafes situated on the wall. These really are hidden gems. Plus, if you need to leave half way round there are a number of exit points.
The more unexpected finds during our visit were the number of parks dotted around the city. Although often aimed for younger children; the look on T’s face when he saw a swing was something else.
The Parks is also where you’ll find the majority of the city’s cats! As a Cat lover, T was in his element everytime we saw a cat snoozing on stairs or in plant pots.
Our Top Tips!
Choose travel times wisely.
We visited in July and it wasn’t as busy as we’d expected for the Summer Holidays, but from speaking to others and reading other travel blogs August is their busiest time of year.
In terms of day trips, the boy is a real mixed bag when it came to sleeping in. On some days he wanted to sleep in and other days he was up at what felt like the crack of dawn. Either way, we would recommend trying to get out as early as you can and then rest in the afternoon (especially if you plan to then head back out in the evening!). Not only will this mean you’re out before the sun really warms the city, but you avoid the crowds.
Schedule (several) breaks!
Although you’re naturally going to want to explore until you’re heart’s content, you can easily overwhelm yourself if you don’t take take your time on your first few days. With this, make sure that whilst you explore you schedule in plenty of time to relax too – making sure you over compensate for the heat and humidity. For example, when we visited the City Walls, when we felt like we were ready to go we gave it another 10 minutes on top of that to make sure.
Other tips include knowing where your “newsagent” style shops are located for water stops (and air con!), planning around meal times – making sure you grab a table just before 1pm (we found restaurants were busier after 1pm until 3pm and then after 7pm until 9pm), and making sure you have small change for the toilet. There are a number of public toilets dotted around the city, and they cost in the region of 5-7 Kuna. They are well worth the spend, though, as they’re cleaned regularly by on-site staff.
Moving onto our favourite recommendation of our trip; Ice Cream!
Dubrovnik probably has some of the tastiest Ice Cream and Gelato I think I have ever tasted, and it was well worth putting some extra cash aside every day for Ice Cream breaks. Not only did they punctuate the day for T but it gave him a little sugar boost when he wasn’t quite feeling a main meal due to the heat.
Peppinos boasts themselves as the best in town and they’re not wrong. Their premium flavours are well worth the spend and they’ve really taken their time to perfect their flavours; some of which I’ve never heard of or even tasted.
T’s favourites were Lemon Pie and Bueno, and pretty much all of the Sorbets, Sharon’s go-to was Mint Chocolate and mine was between Pistachio and Strudel.
Probably one of the biggest regrets we had when we visited Dubrovnik was not visiting Lokrum Island. As well walking opportunities as far as your feet will take you, the island is famous for its nature reserve and botanical garden. Known also as “Peacock Island” Lokrum boasts lots of interesting birds and other wildlife, as well as a park and Monastery.
From 10am, you can grab a 15 minute boat ride that takes you straight from Dubrovnik Old Town to Lokrum.
Known in Game of Thrones as “The Red Keep” and to others as “Dubrovnik’s Gibraltar”, Fort Lovrijenac is a fortress and theater located outside the western wall of the city. You can grab great views of Fort Lovrijenac from the city walls, however inside is where you really see the fort in all its glory. Although small, it offers great views of Old Town.
Despite there being plenty of ocean, there aren’t that many large-scale beaches similar to what you would find in the UK. The closer you get to Dubrovnik Old Town, these come few and far between. You’ll certainly find little coves and places to paddle as mentioned above, but not many “beaches”… apart from one!
Plaža Banje is one of the larger beaches in the city and offers great space to relax, run or swim. Plus, it offers great views of Dubrovnik Old Town. Just down the road, if this is your thing, is also Betina Cave beach!
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