In September 2021, we had the opportunity to travel with both sets of our babies grandparents to Croatia. This trip was absolutely wonderful, but required quite a bit of planning and strategy, as necessary when planning a group trip for diverse age ranges/physical abilities. We visited Dubrovnik, Hvar, and Split for 10 days. We took day trips from Dubrovnik and Split to the other sites we wanted to visit. Below are my city-specific thoughts related to visiting with our little ones (and our parents).
Where: I recommend staying in Old Town Dubrovnik or a few minutes walk away from there. This area is lively and has beautiful spots to enjoy! If you have young kids, you will want as short of a walk as possible. When I booked our villa in Dubrovnik, I figured the families would prefer to stay in one villa rather than separate hotel rooms, so that our parents would have direct access to our kids. In retrospect, our 15 minute walk to the main restaurants is a bit lengthy with the young kids. Although our villa was beautiful, and we thoroughly enjoyed the luxurious pool and beautiful views, next time I would opt to stay within a 5 minute walk (if possible) from the city center. I would also double check the stairs situation, because there were 160 steps that we had to walk up to every time we got to our villa. Because our parents are fit and were able to help us with the stroller and our kids, we made it work. But had someone not been in great shape or we had been alone with the kids, it would have been difficult.
Old Town Dubrovnik: Walk around the streets and eat food/gelato, walk the Old Walls, spend time at the Panoramic City View Restaurant, take a professional photoshoot in Old Town, and visit the iconic sites where Game of Thrones scenes were filmed
Day trip to Korkula Island: Korkula was beautiful, and is apparently where Marco Polo was rumored to have been born. This island was a bit of a drive from Dubrovnik, but it was pretty and interesting to see. Our private driver had arranged for carseats for our kids, otherwise I would not have been comfortable taking them on a bus or car without carseats. If I went again, I would have opted to do Montenegro instead, which we were unable to do because of COVID restrictions at the time.
Kayaking in the Adriatic Sea: Kayaking was beautiful, but keep in mind, this was not baby/toddler friendly, so make sure you have someone to watch the kids while you kayak.
Day trip to Bosnia and Kravice Falls: Our trip to Bosnia was a short day-trip from Dubrovnik, so naturally we saw the sights closer to that side of the country. COVID has also taken a toll on many of the locals who relied on tourism. Yet, the culture and fascinating history is still prevalent – and I feel that it was a worthwhile trip. Visit my Bosnia with Tots blog more on this!
Transportation: Because of the size of our group, after I conducted some research, I found that booking a private driver for our day trips was actually the same price, if not cheaper, than arranging group trips. This made us feel more comfortable, due to COVID concerns, that it would be just us on our trips. Check the standard prices and compare with private tours – it was worth the cost savings for us! It also made it easier to arrange for car seats for airport transfers and the day trips. We loved the driver we used in Dubrovnik, and was cheaper per person than if we had used a taxi or group tour. To contact our driver, visit his Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/dubrovnik.transfers.simoni/
Food: There are dozens of great restaurant options in Old Town Dubrovnik! We really enjoyed the following:
- Azur Dubrovnik: We were able to sit comfortably at an outdoor table; although they did not have any high chairs available. The food was tasty!
- Taj Mahal Dubrovnik: Delicious Bosnian food and great customer service! Our kids were a bit of a wreck
- Aroma Gelato Dubrovnik: We had gelato every night, and this one was our favorite!
Where: When in Hvar, we wanted a resort style hotel and to be walking to the new town. Staying at the Amfora Resort was a family friendly way to enjoy our experience. There aren’t a large number of resorts in the town, such a close proximity to the New Town. I’m also not usually a big ‘sit by the pool’ person, but I LOVED seeing my kids enjoy the pool at this resort. I loved it so much, that I wish we had stayed one more night here. The water at the tip of the pool was shallow enough for my toddler to walk in and my baby girl to splash her feet. There was a playground 3 minutes away, which my two-year-old thoroughly enjoyed. The New Town was a pleasant 10-minute-walk away from the resort. The breakfast was just okay, but thankfully the town was so close that we had other nearby food options.
Boat Tour: A must-do in Hvar is some kind of boat tour, whether part of a group or privately. We had enough people in our group to arrange for a private boat to equal out to the cost of a group tour. This worked out, because it turned out that the main sight many people visit, the Blue Grotto, was not a feasible destination to get to with young children. Thankfully, the driver found alternative beautiful spots, that required a shorter and smoother ride for the kids. We were grateful that the team was so accommodating to our needs, and we got to enjoy an ideal boat day! Visit here to see the exact tour we used.
New Town: The new town is within a 10 minute walk from the resort. There are several restaurants and shops. There are also a few pharmacies (which came in handy when our baby got an allergic reaction!). We enjoyed strolling around and grabbing gelato along the way. You can use your lightweight stroller, but anticipate that some areas might require a bit of extra work to life/carry over steps. Per usual, the baby carrier worked great for the baby. All in all, the new town was a cute area, and the old town (with more of the historical monuments) would have been a much longer walk or a car drive away. It was not as feasible to go past the new town with our young kids and limited amount of time. Overall, this town worked just fine for what we were looking for (relaxation by the pool and a nice boat day).
Transportation: The city itself is walking friendly. Getting to Hvar from Dubrovnik, we had a private driver coordinate our transportation which included the ferry. The tickets for the ferry from Hvar to Split can be purchased in the city center.
Food: We ate at a few ‘okay’ spots on our trip; but went back to Aroma Gelato Hvar several times in particular!
Where: In Split, we opted for a hotel near the city center called Hotel Luxe. The location was great, the rooms were nice, and the breakfast was tasty! I would recommend this hotel again for the convenient location. It was also walking distance from the ferry port.
Diocletian’s Palace and Split Center Center: Within steps of the city center full of shops and restaurants, there is the Diocletian’s Palace. It is an aesthetically pleasing area, which is definitely worth strolling around. It is especially lively in the evenings. Enjoy grabbing ice cream, coffee, and browsing the town.
Krka National Park: We arranged for a private driver to take us to Krka National Park from Split. The Park was lovely and beginner-level for the hiking. We had to strategize with carrying our light weight stroller, as there were many steps; therefore, it was only feasible because of the size of our group and extra hands.
Sunset Boat Ride: We rode a sunset boat tour by Split. It was lovely, although I wish I had verified the safety features of the boat before boarding. Make sure to ensure that the legs of the chairs are planted onto the boat. If the chairs are not safely planted in the boat, waves or other boats might cause the boat to waver – dangerous for everyone, especially with young kids.
Transportation: From Hvar, we took a ferry to Split. Once in Split, we walked everywhere. We took an Uber to the mall at one point and arranged for a cab service to take us to the airport. We asked the hotel to coordinate this and arrange for carseats for us.
- Maka Maka Split Healthy Food: Our toddler is a picky-eater, but Acai is always a win with our picky two-year-old! This restaurant had Acai for him, as well as Poke bowl and rice options we could share with our baby girl. All the items we got were DELICIOUS. Seating was a bit tight, so keep in mind if you take your stroller inside. There were also no high chairs available, so we needed to keep the baby in the baby-carrier and the opposite parent fed her.
- Totos: Totos had very tasty sandwiches, wraps, and fries! It was a win for the babies, parents, and grandparents. Similar to the first restaurant, there were no high chairs available, so we needed to feed the baby in the baby carrier there as well.
- Bakra: Bakra was a bit more formal than the other restaurants, but still not too fancy for kids! The restaurant had delicious pizza and steak. Another favorite amongst all three generations of eaters. Plus, this restaurant had not one, but TWO highchairs, so the proper seating for our little ones enhanced our dining experience.