This week-long itinerary is perfect for adventurous families looking to explore the Dalmatian coastline through fun, sporty activities. Starting and ending in Split, you'll spend time exploring the historic city and paddling the Marjan Peninsula before taking the day to hike, climb, swim, and jump your way down the Cetina River. Next, you'll set sail to swim and snorkel around Brač Island as you make your way to Hvar Island, in time to paddle amid the Pakleni archipelago and join a cycling tour of the island's dynamic island terrain.

Highlights

  • Kayak around Split's Marjan Hill to snorkel secluded bays
  • Enjoy a day of zip-lining and canyoning down the Cetina River
  • Sail from Split to Brač to explore the island rich with historic Greek ruins
  • Discover the 14 wooded and rocky islets of the Pakleni archipelago on a kayak tour
  • Cycle through olive groves and vineyards and past coastal villages on Hvar

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Welcome to Split! Split
Day 2 Scenic Paddle around Marjan Peninsula Split
Day 3 Rafting, Zip-lining, & Canyoning on Cetina River Split
Day 4 Sail from Split to Hvar, Stopping at Brač Island Hvar Town
Day 5 Sea Kayaking around Pakleni Islands Hvar Town
Day 6 Cycling Tour around Ancient Pharos (Stari Grad) Hvar Town
Day 7 Ferry from Hvar to Split, Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Welcome to Split!

Split
Split

From the airport, it's a short (45-minute) drive to the center of Split. Depending on your arrival time, check into your hotel and settle into your accommodation before taking the rest of the afternoon to explore the ancient port city on your own.

Start at Pjaca Square for pretty views of white marble tiles, the Iron Gate (the western entrance to Diocletian's Palace), a Romanesque clock tower with the remains of a medieval sundial, and the 15th-century Town Hall. Stop for lunch at Trattoria Bajamont, just north of the Iron Gate. From there, visit the popular Voćni trg or Fruit Square—a square that got its name from centuries of selling fruit. Here you can enjoy renaissance architecture, influenced during Split's Venetian era. For a bit of shopping and a bite to eat head to Marmont Street, though you'll want to make your way to the waterfront to catch the sunset.

In the evening, take a stroll along Split's seafront Riva to admire the views over the Adriatic before finding the off-beat Konoba Dioklecijan restaurant, just to the left of the Bronze Gate for a bite to eat, its outdoor terrace built into the walls of famed Diocletian's Palace.

Day 2: Scenic Paddle around Marjan Peninsula

View of Split and its bay from atop Marjan Hill
View of Split and its bay from atop Marjan Hill

Today's agenda includes a fun half-day of kayaking from Split's busy city center to explore the scenic coast around the Marjan peninsula. Suitable for all skill-levels, you'll have a brief introduction to paddling technique and safety before setting out to cruise along the edge of the peninsula. As you paddle, you'll note the changing landscape, from remote bays shaded by pine forests to open pebbled beaches, of which there'll be time to take a refreshing dip—a perfect location to get in some snorkeling as well.

Day 3: Rafting, Zip-lining, & Canyoning on Cetina River

Zip your way across the Cetina River canyon
Zip your way across the Cetina River canyon

You'll get an early start this morning to drive south along the coast to Zadvarje for a day of rafting and canyoning the Cetina River, ending with the option to zip-line in Omiš. 

You'll begin with rafting in a protected area of the river canyon popular with tourists every summer. The quiet parts of the river, as well as the second and third-grade rapids, create the perfect combination of relaxation with high-adrenaline adventure over the course of three hours. Next, you'll meet your guide and change into your gear (wetsuit, life vest, and helmet) to hike, climb, slide, swim, and cliff jump (optional) your way down the river until you reach Omiš. Celebrate the fun with a break for lunch, before taking the early afternoon to zip-line over the Cetina.

After lunch, you'll experience a true adrenaline rush. You'll have the chance to zip your way across the magnificent Cetina River Canyon suspended by a harness and wire. There are eight wires in total running a length of 6,890 feet (2,100 m), the highest wire reaching 492 feet (150 m) above the river canyon. Enjoy incredible bird’s eye views of the surrounding scenery on this three-hour excursion.

After the tour is complete, you'll transfer back to Split.

Driving time (Split to Zadvarje): 1 hour
Driving time (Omiš to Split): 45 minutes

Day 4: Sail from Split to Hvar, Stopping at Brač Island

The island of Brač
The island of Brač

This morning you'll take a private sailboat from Split to sail in and around the island of Brač. The largest of the central Dalmatian islands, Brač is bursting with historic sites dating back to Ancient Greece and the Middle Ages. You'll make your first stop at one of the island's hidden bays for swimming and snorkeling, and if there's time and interest, perhaps a short hike. Enjoy the morning sun as you relax and delight your senses with the sound of the waves and a chance sighting of dolphins (if luck is on your side).

In the afternoon, you'll then continue your sailing journey to Hvar, where you'll spend the night aboard the boat, anchored in the Hvar harbor.  Hvar is a popular destination with tourists due to its natural setting, mild climate, and its historic port town of the same name. Depending on timing, you might like to explore some of Hvar Town's highlights: the 13th-century walls, the 16th-century Španjola Fortress, and the main square anchored by the Renaissance-era Cathedral.

Day 5: Sea Kayaking around Pakleni Islands

One of the Pakleni islands
One of the Pakleni islands

In the morning, head out on a sea kayaking adventure to the Pakleni Islands, just off the coast of Hvar and explore their many hidden beaches and lagoons. The islands are the most beautiful part of the Hvar Riviera and are a favorite retreat for locals seeking to escape the summer heat. Altogether, there are 14 wooded and rocky islets.

You'll meet your guide at Krizna Luka beach, just a short walk from Hvar's city center, to choose your kayak (single or double) and grab your gear. Here you will listen to a short safety talk and be introduced to the sea kayaking basics. From Krizna Luka, you'll paddle southeast along the coast to a secluded beach before continuing on through the channel to the south side of the Islands. You will get to experience the open sea and unending views of the horizon, as well as admire views of Hvar Town from this vantage point.

If there are southerly winds, the alternative is to stick to the north side of the islands to be protected from the winds. This route takes you through narrow straits and around the islands to reveal small, pebbled beaches—beaches you will have all to yourself for swimming, snorkeling, and relaxing.

Day 6: Cycling Tour around Ancient Pharos (Stari Grad)

Croatia - Hvar - Cyclist explore plains around Stari Grad
Croatia - Hvar - Cyclist explore plains around Stari Grad

Start the morning with a self-guided walk along the Riva to Trg svetog Stjepana, the long, rectangular square that meets the sea. Here you can visit the Venetian arsenal and the town theater—one of the oldest Baroque playhouses in Europe. From the square, head into the Groda to explore the Hektorović Palace, Leporini Palace, and the Benedictine Convent.

In the afternoon, you'll be transferred from Old Town Hvar to Stari Grad to gear up and get ready for a cycling tour around the island—the best way to get to know all sides of Hvar. You'll bike through the center of well-preserved ancient Greek ruins on the Stari Grad Plain—an agricultural landscape set up by the ancient Greeks (and a UNESCO World Heritage Site)—and stop to explore small villages in the inner part of the island. 

Your guide will help you choose from a number of routes, ranging from 6 to 9 miles (10 -15 km). It'll be an easy ride on mostly flat roads through lavender fields, olive groves, and vineyards, palm trees and pine woods, and past coastal villages like Jelsa and Vrboska.

Day 7: Ferry from Hvar to Split, Depart

Wander Split and discover its ancient buildings
Wander Split and discover its ancient buildings

Catch a one-hour ferry back to Split in time to catch your onward journey from Croatia. Though if you have free time before departing, check out the Green Market (Pazar Market). A lively fruit and vegetable outdoor market just east of the Diocletian Palace, this is a great place to see how the locals shop and to pick up some fruit for your flight home. Farmers from the surrounding areas of Split come into town every day to sell their seasonal local produce from sunrise to 2 pm. 

Depending on traffic, it usually takes 45 minutes to travel from Old Town to the airport. Best to arrive at the airport at least two hours prior to your international departure (and with some extra time to drop off your rental car, if you have one).