Is Croatia a Good Family Holiday Destination? Ultimate Guide

is croatia a good family destination

Located at the crossroads of central and southeastern Europe, Croatia has a bit of something for everyone. Backpackers, honeymooners, and party-seekers alike love it. Beach buffs can bask in the year-round sun. Foodies come for the local Balkan cuisine. Adventure seekers have sailing, waterfalls, and more. But is Croatia a good family holiday destination?

The answer: Yes! Croatia is an incredible option for a family holiday. There are stacks of reasons for that, which we’ll delve into throughout this guide. For now, suffice to say that the country fuses millennia of history, boasts jaw-dropping castle towns, glimmering beaches, some of the best snorkeling this side of the Maldives, and a fantastic array of family hotels. What’s not to love?

Our guide looks at seven specific reasons why, including everything from the ease of the travel to the glorious seasons, the varied accommodation to the heart-thumping adrenaline activities. It will show why Croatia shines as one of Europe’s finest family vacay destinations and answer key questions that you might have. Let’s begin…

Is Croatia a good family holiday destination? The short answer

croatia as a family destination
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Croatia is one of the best family holiday destinations in Europe. In fact, it’s one of the best family holidaying destinations in the world. 

There are loads of reasons why we can say that with such confidence, but it mainly comes down to two things: The combo of historical, cultural, and relaxation pursuits in the country, and the weather. Let’s touch on each quickly before going into a bit more detail later on…

Basically, it’s hard to imagine a country quite as well suited to multi-age groups of travelers as Croatia. It’s a nation that can cater to bookworm teens looking to see the filming locations of Game of Thrones just as well as it can to older adults wanting chilled beach time. It’s a place that can offer hardcore hikes up steep mountains, but also well-protected beaches and clean sands.

So, Croatia stands out for families when it comes to things to do. Then there’s the weather. Summer holidays here are usually a case of sun, sun and a bit more sun. The whole Balkan Peninsula gets bathed in warmth from around May onwards, which is perfect for families who will be holidaying throughout the traditional European summer school break (typically June to September).

The top 7 reasons Croatia is a fantastic family holiday destination

croatia birdseye view
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The two reasons we touch on above – the weather and the range of activities for all ages – are just a taster of why Croatia is so darn fantastic for family visitors. We’ll talk about each of them in more depth below, along with a whole range of other reasons why the country shines for family trips…

It’s easy to get to

Parents know that traveling with the whole clan can be a hassle. That’s why the best family holiday hotspots are relatively easy to reach. And so it is with Croatia, which is now among the best-connected destinations in southeastern Europe. 

Most notably, getting to Croatia by plane is easier than it has ever been. Croatia has five main international airports: Zagreb, Pula, Zadar, Split, and Dubrovnik. These entry ports handle stacks of incoming flights from Europe (and even some from North America). Many are run by low-cost airlines like Jet2, Ryanair, and easyJet, meaning you shouldn’t have to fork out loads for tickets for your group.

It’s common for flights into Croatia to be seasonal, meaning they only run between May and October. That’s largely not an issue for families, who mainly travel during school break times anyhow. Just try to book as early as you can, since the price of airfare can skyrocket in the 90 days prior to departure.

Croatia also borders Hungary, Slovenia, and Montenegro, and is just one hour by car from northeastern Italy across the Slovenian portion of the Istrian Peninsula. The upshot? You can include Croatia in a European road trip, or quite easily catch a train if you are coming in from Central Europe.

The outdoorsy side of things

Croatia is largely famed around the globe for its fantastic shoreline. We’ll get to that a little later, but let’s stray further inland first. There, things get seriously exciting for family visitors who have a penchant for adventure. Waterfalls, canyons, mountain treks – there’s oodles on the menu.

Basically, the eastern end of the iconic Alps stretches all the way from the north to south of Croatia. The range is known as the Dinaric Alps and it’s a wild, wonderful place. Not all that many travelers go there, but it’s easy to plan your trip. Simply rent a car and drive east from the Croatian coast for under an hour. Soon, you’ll be surrounded by craggy summits and atmospheric mountain towns.

What’s great for families is that the mountains can fill whole weeks (there are long-distance treks) or (probably the better option) just half- or full-day trips. We especially love the hikes that exist in the Biokovo Mountain area, which lurches up above the sparkling Dalmatian Riviera. You can also hike to lookouts on Srd Mountain above Dubrovnik in less than an hour (and then take the cable car back down if you’re feeling it in the legs).

Plus, it’s not all hikes, hikes, and more hikes. Adventure-loving fams can also hit the Krk Waterfalls to witness gorgeous cataracts in the woods, go to Plitvice to see the shimmering turquoise lakes of the Croatian highlands, or cycle the backcountry of isles like Mljet and Hvar to see lavender farms and pine forests. And that’s just scratching the surface.

Island in Croatia
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The coast (AKA – the beaches!)

This Balkan nation counts over 6,000 kilometers of coastline, including 78 islands strewn through the gorgeously balmy Adriatic Sea (our personal favorite corner of the Mediterranean). To put it another way: There’s never going to be a shortage of beaches and sands in these parts!

There are probably two regions that stand out from the crowd when it comes to beaches in Croatia: The Makarska Riviera and the Dalmatian Islands. Both have all the right ingredients for a beach-filled family trip…

The Makarska Riviera – Croatia’s glitziest run of coast – stretches south from the port of Split for around 60 kilometers under. The great Dinaric mountains swerve really close to the coast here, adding an element of real drama to it all – not to mention the opportunity to do hiking and whatnot. Below, there are countless coves and runs of sand to get stuck into, most notably the uber-peaceful horseshoe of sand at Baska Voda and cliff-topped Nugal Beach, which the little ones will love since it can only be reached by hiking the pine forests or going on a boat trip.

The islands are a bit of a different prospect. Hvar is a great choice to visit with kids, but you’ll probably want to avoid the pumping party mecca that is Hvar Town. Choose the old port at Stari Grad instead, where you can branch out to amazing snorkeling coves in the rental car or by bike in under 10 minutes. Better yet, choose the island of Brac. That’s the king of Croatian beaches, largely thanks to the southern coast’s postcard-worthy Golden Horn beach – the best in the country. 

More generally speaking, Croatian beaches benefit from loads of protection and shelter. They’re largely tucked into nooks and crannies deep in the Adriatic Sea. There’s not really much swell or riptide action in these parts, especially in the summer. The upshot? Good visibility for snorkeling, but also safer waters than, say, Portugal or western France.

It’s safe 

Ready for it? Croatia is safer than the United Kingdom. Croatia is safer than the USA. Simple. That’s not anecdotal stuff – the stats show that this Balkan nation reigns as the 17th safest country in the whole world, and crime is dropping year on year to boot, down nearly 17% in 2021 from 2020!

The murder rate in these parts is less than 1 per 100k head of population, making Croatia a less homicidal nation than the likes of Sweden, Belgium, and France – places we’re guessing you wouldn’t hesitate to visit with the family. Oh, and Croatia doesn’t even rank among the top 15 countries for car theft on the continent. Nice. 

Croatia also tends to be rather resistant to natural disasters like flooding and big storms. Yes, there can be Mediterranean weather systems (known as medicanes) but that’s usually in winter, when families aren’t likely to be holidaying. Yes, there are summer wildfires, but the issue hasn’t been as acute in Croatia as it has in Greece or Italy in recent years. 

We’ve already mentioned how the beaches in Croatia are among the safer ones in Europe because of how well protected they are from the open ocean. There’s a caveat there: What delineates a beach can be somewhat blurry in Croatia, with steep drop-offs and rock indentations being characteristic of some regions – great for teenagers, but not so much for toddlers. However, Croatia’s open bays are synonymous with clear and warm shallow waters. Some of the best (and safer) ones are…

Paradise Beach near Lopar Village on Rab Island boasts white sands, perfect for digging and building sandcastles, and crystal clear shallow waters lap at the shore. Baska and Krk Island also have sandy coastlines, with beachside, family-friendly camping spots for different kinds of holidays. Zlatni Rat beach in Brac is also a must-see. The cone-shaped cape is paradisiacal, and depending on which side you choose, the sands can be protected from strong wind and waves. 

It’s easy to get around

No one will blame you if you choose one town and stay put. That way of doing things promises loads of relaxation and chill time. However, Croatia’s geography – long, thin, studded with transport hubs from top to bottom, and linked by oodles of ferries – make it a fantastic option for families who like to tick off several destinations in one fell swoop.

One of the best things about visiting cities like Split and Dubrovnik is the convenient proximity to some of Croatia’s smaller islands. Korcula is a three-hour ferry from Split, and one hour from Hvar. The ferry to Brac Island from Hvar takes just 50 minutes, and Dubrovnik is 20 minutes by boat from some of Croatia’s most picturesque islets, including Kolocep of the Elafiti Islands, with their sun-drenched olive groves and swathes of pine forests. 

What we’re saying is that it should be a cinch to plan a vacation that’s got bags of history and city explorations in the first few days followed by hard-earned beach time at the end, even with those nagging little ones in tow! Often, it’s just a case of hopping on the ferry and hopping off an hour later.

For those who prefer to explore the mainland, it’s worth knowing that the bus network in Croatia is extensive and fairly reliable. However, navigating local buses with kids and lots of luggage is not ideal. The better option is a car hire, which tend to be cheap in these parts. For the most part, Croatian roads are of very high quality and the driving here is not too demanding.

Croatia at night
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It’s cheap

I remember very well my first trip to Croatia back in 2011. How much for a beer? How much for a whole omelet and chips in a sea-view restaurant? How much for a night in a hostel? These were common exclamations as I got to grips with just how cheap the country was. A lot has changed since then (not least of all Croatia’s accession to the EU!) and this land is nowhere near the bargain destination it once was. But it’s still pretty darn cheap.

The general rule is this: Croatia is pricy by Balkan and Eastern European standards but cheap by Western European standards. Expect to spend less on a family trip here than on the same trip to France or Spain, but probably more than if you were to travel to North Macedonia or Romania. 

Here’s a look at some general estimations for costs for families heading Croatia way:

  • $40-80/night – A 4-star midrange hotel in Dubrovnik city center in the shoulder season.
  • $15-20/head – A meal out in a good local restaurant with a glass or wine or a beer. 
  • $40-50/person – A ticket on one of the popular summer ferry routes from Split to Hvar.
  • $15/day – The average cost of car hire in Croatia in the summer months, so long as you book early.

Villa rentals, which are a fav of family vacationers, also tend to be more affordable here than in Western Europe (particularly Italy). You can spend $1,200/week in the peak of the summer for a great pad with its own pool in Istria, and perhaps just a touch more in the southern parts of the country. That’s great value!

The weather and climate

Last but most certainly not least comes the Croatian weather. Hot, warm, and dry kinda’ sums it up for those summer months. But we’d add that it’s not TOO hot, warm, or dry – or at least, it’s rarely that way. Basically, Croatia gets the same lovely southern Med heat that Italy and Greece experience, but with the tempering influence of the coast along its western shore.

For the peak vacation time for families between June and September, you’re looking at temperatures of between 25-35 C (77-95). Combine that with an average chance of rainfall that ebbs to just 25% per day in the peak period and you can see why it’s such an attractive spot to holiday. 

There is one exception here. If you head further inland up into the Croatian mountains and highlands, the weather gets more unpredictable and – generally speaking – wetter. That’s also true of the northern Istrian Peninsula. (We have one memory of a two-week storm passing over there in the middle of July).

The best destinations in Croatia for family travel

Hvar in Croatia
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There’s SOOO much to get through in Croatia that we thought it might be a good idea to distill the stand-out family destinations into a quick list, offering a little info about the reasons why each is so darn fantastic for your getaway this year. Here goes…

  • Dubrovnik – Probably attraction numero uno for families in Croatia would be Dubrovnik. This is where Game of Thrones was filmed and there are castles and enchanting streets and sights in all directions. But there’s more, because the town is the gateway to the southern isles, where you can escape for beach lazing and snorkeling once the history is done and dusted.
  • Split Split is the largest coastal city and one of the most historic. It bursts with Venetian, Austrian, French, and Yugoslavian influences. The old town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and some great landmarks include the Diocletian Palace and Grgur Ninski Statue. The Green Market with its craft stalls and souvenirs is great fun with kids, but Split is also surrounded by Blue Flag beaches that shouldn’t be missed.
  • Hvar –  The main town here is a labyrinth of cobbled alleyways that will keep the family entertained for hours, although it’s quite lively with partiers in the summer. Overlooked by a hilltop fortress and encircled by 13th-century walls, Hvar is a medieval playground and its historical attractions are well suited to family days out. Hike to Milna Beach and enjoy a day of snorkeling and swimming and finish the day with an ice cream on Hvar’s oceanfront promenade. 
  • Istria – Head north to the Istria region and you’ll find two more of Croatia’s top-rated family-friendly destinations: Pula and Rovinj. They are brimming with character, beaches, landmarks, and evening entertainments. Rovinj is Croatia’s second-most visited town, and for good reason. It boasts its own archipelago, with 14 picturesque islands located just off the mainland shores that can be reached in a matter of minutes for idyllic snorkel trips.
  • Brac – An island for beach lovers, Brac is home to the legendary Golden Horn beach but also umpteen hidden coves. It’s also got chilled port towns and a wild inland for walkers. The best part? It’s smack dab in the heart of the islands, so families can easily plan some rock hopping to see loads in just a few days.

The best family hotels in Croatia 

korcula town
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There’s certainly no shortage of fantastic family hotels in this land of sun-splashed beaches and wild pine woods. Of course, we don’t have room here to list the whole lot, but we can give a couple of insider recommendations for the best hotels in key family vacation hotspots like Hvar and Dubrovnik. And we can list some fine family-sized villas that promise an escape to the wild Croatian countryside…

  • Maistra Select Family Hotel Amarin ($$-$$$) – A cutting-edge family resort set between pine woods and sandy beaches just north of charming Rovinj town. This one has playgrounds for all ages, indoor and outdoor pools, a managed beach of its own, and a fantastic breakfast spread. 
  • Apartment Pero&Mika With Swimming Pool ($$) – You can fit up to six people into this lovely apartment in Dubrovnik. It’s got self-catering facilities and a pool with views over the sea. Nice.
  • Villa Santina near Poreč ($$$) – There’s room for up to two whole families at this gorgeous country villa in Istria. Private pool and sun-splashed eating terraces in attendance, of course!
  • Camera Hotel ($$) – A hotel with rooms to suit family travelers wedged into the enchanting heart of Split. 
  • Vila Božić Hvar ($$$) – Stay in style on Hvar with this villa for up to 10 people. It’s got a pool and is literally steps from the sea.

When to visit Croatia with kids?

exploring old fortress
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The high season in Croatia runs from June to August and the summer months are the hottest and sunniest time across the whole country. Croatia benefits from year-round sunny weather, but it gets cooler during winter and heavy rains are characteristic of the inland, mountainous regions.

With a Mediterranean climate on the coast, you can expect dry, hot weather in the peak season. Average highs hover in the mid-80s and the warm sea tempts swimmers until early autumn. The continental inland climate sees slightly lower averages, but you can still expect highs of 80 degrees Fahrenheit across the country.

Istria and Dalmatia see the occasional afternoon thunderstorm, but July and August are still the sunniest months along the coast, conveniently lining up with the school holidays. Although, don’t expect to be the only family with this idea. Croatia is crowded in summer and accommodation is more expensive – it’s just the reality.

Alternatively, if you can get away, the shoulder season is great for a Croatian getaway, particularly for hiking and sightseeing. May, June, and September are great times to visit. Average highs hover in the late 70s and you can expect plenty of sunshine and opportunities for getting out and about.

Alternatively, if you can get away, the shoulder season is great for a Croatian getaway, particularly for hiking and sightseeing. May, June, and September are great times to visit. Average highs hover in the late 70s and you can expect plenty of sunshine and opportunities for getting out and about. 

So, is Croatia a good family holiday destination in 2023/24?

We’ve said it before but we’ll say it again: Croatia offers something to suit every family, every traveler. Outdoorsy, adventurous types will revel in the national parks, dense forests, and water sports, history buffs in the ancient fortresses, UNESCO sites, and beloved arts and culture scene, and beach bums on the sparkling pebbles of the Dalmatian coast. 

It’s this ridiculous variety that steals the show first and foremost and really seals Croatia as a family vacation star. But then there’s also the weather. Way hotter than northern Europe but not quite as blistering as Greece or southern Italy, Croatia strikes a happy medium for travelers heading off during the peak of the summer months – when most families will be vacationing because of school holiday dates.

And, as if that’s still not enough, we’ve shown how easy it is to plan your travels to Croatia in the first place, what with flights heading to umpteen airports up and down the country. Plus, we’ve shown how safe it is, how easy it is to combo up beach and city destinations, and the sheer wealth of incredible family accommodation options. 

To sum up. Is Croatia a good family holiday destination? Yes, Croatia is a fantastic family holiday destination!

How long do you need in Croatia with kids?

We’d recommend a vacation of between one and two weeks for families traveling to Croatia with kids. You can spend the whole time relaxing if you like, but you can also split the trip between a city destination like Split or Dubrovnik and then make for the beaches or a villa to chill.

Which part of Croatia is best for families?

The Istria region, particularly Pula and Rovinj, which is rugged but Italianate, is perfect for families. The Dalmatian Coast also provides perfect beach getaways with fascinating heritage and picturesque islands for the whole family to enjoy. Don’t forget to venture further inland for the lakes, waterfalls, and mountains of the national parks, too, though!

Is Dubrovnik child friendly?

Dubrovnik is a very child-friendly destination, largely because it’s got history sites and even the filming locations used in Game of Thrones up its sleeve. You can fly into the international airport with little hassle, and won’t need a car if you’re staying in the walkable old city. What’s more, the beaches are only a short ferry ride or bus away.

Reece Toth

Reece is the creator and editor of Travel Snippet. He has visited more than 38 countries over a 10-year period. His travels have taken him through the majestic mountains of Italy, into the cities of central Europe, across the islands of Indonesia, and to the beaches of Thailand, where he is currently living. He is passionate about travel and shares his expertise by providing the best travel tips and tricks to help you plan your next adventure.

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