Travelling with kids (and babies)
We have been dreaming of Croatia adventure holidays for many years before finally deciding on a destination in the endless array of incredible location choices. No easy task as there are over 1000 islands, islets and reefs, not to mention the options on the seaside itself. Although Croatia island hopping was a must, Joana D and her guys combined it with mountains and clear lakes inland for an even more exhilarating experience. The country has it all and delivers for all types of holidays, be it sports, adventure or relaxing on the beach. Many thanks to Joana D, our honorary contributor for sharing it with us – Croatia with kids looks dreamy!
Here are our highlights and recommendations for Croatia adventure holidays:
Croatia island Hopping: Rab
Arriving via the ten minute ferry crossing from the mainland, you might think you have arrived on the moon due to the rocky, barren terrain. Just a few minutes drive later, all is lush, green and sparkling coves. The island has one of the largest sand beaches in Croatia and that was a real gem for us and our children. Paradise Beach has soft fine sand and an impressive view of the rugged mountains on the coastline. Pebble and stone beaches are predominant in Croatia so finding a large sand beach was the icing on the cake.
The island has a total of 22 sandy beaches and bays, including 2 km of sand on the Lopar peninsula. Beach exploring is a must. We did, however we spent most of our time at Paradise and Pudarica Beaches, as our kids absolutely loved these two. Highly recommended.
Croatian food is a nice mix of Eastern European, Greek and Italian cuisine and it is just a perfect blend of flavors. Plenty of fresh fish and meat dishes served with vegetables and potatoes. We loved trying out various restaurants, our recommended ones are Gostionica Feral and Barbat for traditional Rab Island dishes. Kids couldn’t get enough of one local delicacy of plates full of small fried fish which are perfectly crisp cooked and sprinkled with fresh lemon. They’d go back for that alone.
Rab Town is a beautifully preserved medieval walled town of alleyways, galleries, mansions and restaurants where juniper and palms sprout from every corner and four spires define the skyline. There are 27 churches and 17 bell towers in the town. It is a charming huddle of medieval stone buildings, grouped on a fortified peninsula, where the children can run around and explore as it’s mostly pedestrian. There is a plethora of shops filled with art, clothing and everything in between. Artists paint and musicians play freely in the streets in the evenings. A real pleasure to walk around and immerse into it all.
Rab Town is the place to go out for the evening, with harbor bars and clubs that buzz from happy hour until way past midnight. Umbrella-shaded tables and juggling cocktail mixers fill Rab Town’s main square of Arba. We ate here on several nights and the atmosphere is lovely, one can pick and choose from the various stalls and the food is fresh and delicious. Most nights there are traditional musical shows which fill the air with happy tunes. Can not recommend enough for Croatia island hopping Rab and the town. We also dined at proper restaurants and absolutely loved these three, which in our opinion are the top restaurants: Santa Maria, Astoria and Hotel Arbiana. Amazing surroundings and incredible gourmet food. Fresh lobster and calamari abound on every menu here and the vegetables are incredibly tasty.
Driving along Croatia coast with kids is both scary and breathtaking, definitely not for the faint of heart. However, you will be rewarded in kind with amazing vistas.
Plitvice National Park:
A not to be missed destination when in Croatia with kids or without. The natural scenery of blue lakes and waterfalls everywhere is truly heavenly. We drove (approx 3 hours) from Rab Island to the park and chose to visit in the afternoon. Stayed overnight at one of the many log cabins in the area and found one night and two days not sufficient to truly enjoy all that the park has to offer. There are plenty of adventure trails and activities and the area can only be described as that of outstanding natural beauty. Your eyes and soul will never forget the colors and sounds found here.
Reviews talk about how crowded it can get in summer and most people rush to get to the parking area very early in the morning.
We went against conventional thinking and arrived right after lunchtime when most crowds were ahead of us or starting to come back from the half day hike. So at that time, crowds were not a problem at all.
Our Plitvice park adventures included hiking and walking for approximately 6 hours until around 8pm when the last boat took tourists back to parking area. The boys, 6 and 4 at the time were only too eager to explore and managed to walk everywhere although we took some necessary breaks so we could sit and enjoy the magical waterfalls and clear blue waters.
The boys were overjoyed watching the fish swimming in the see through lakes. They made us promise to go back for more Plitvice park adventures. We will.