Go beyond the typical European hotspots and take your family on an unforgettable nine-day adventure to Croatia. Kayak around the sun-kissed Dalmatian Coast, walk amid ancient Roman palaces in Split, and marvel at the medieval fortress walls in Dubrovnik. Along the way, you'll hop aboard private boats for island excursions to some of the most beautiful beaches in the Adriatic Sea for snorkeling and sunbathing.

Highlights

  • Stroll the marble streets of Split and see Diocletian's Palace
  • Visit Golden Horn Beach, one of the highlights of the Adriatic
  • Go kayaking on the turquoise waters around the Pakleni Islands
  • Tour the ancient fortresses and Renaissance buildings of Dubrovnik 

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Split Split
Day 2 Free Day in Split Split
Day 3 Private Boat Tour & Transfer to Hvar Hvar
Day 4 Free Day in Hvar Hvar
Day 5 Kayak Tour of the Pakleni Islands Hvar
Day 6 Hvar to Dubrovnik & Free Afternoon Dubrovnik
Day 7 Private Boat Trip to the Elaphiti Islands Dubrovnik
Day 8 Free Day in Dubrovnik Dubrovnik
Day 9 Depart Dubrovnik  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Split

There's much to see and do in Split
Welcome to Croatia's stunning Dalmatian Coast! Upon arrival at the airport, your driver will be waiting to transfer you to Split's historic Old Town, the city's cultural heart. After checking into your hotel, you'll have the remainder of the day free to head out and explore on your own. There are plenty of historic landmarks and enticing city sights right at your doorstep.

Perhaps start at the 15th-century Pjaca Square and stroll the gleaming white marble tiles to the Iron Gate. This ancient archway dates to Roman times and is the western entrance to Diocletian's Palace, built for the emperor of the same name in the 4th-century. This UNESCO World Heritage Site represents the heart of Old Town, and nearby you'll find the 6th-century Church of Our Lady of the Bell Tower with its Romanesque clock tower and remains of a medieval sundial. Also, here is the 15th-century Town Hall.
 
Then you can enjoy lunch in the historic center. All around are trattorias, steakhouses, seafood restaurants, and cafés serving incredible Croatian and Mediterranean fare—plus pizzerias to satisfy the kids. After refueling, you could head to Voćni trg (Fruit Square) to marvel at Venetian towers and Baroque palaces dating to the 15th century. If you want to browse designer goods, go to Marmont Street for some shopping, although you'll want to take a break to make it to the waterfront in time for sunset.

In the evening, stroll along the Riva (Split's seafront promenade) to admire the views over the Adriatic Sea. When dinnertime rolls around, head to the Bronze Gate (the smaller of the four Roman gates leading into Split's Old Town) to scout some off-the-beaten-path restaurants. You can even find eateries with terraces built right into the walls of Diocletian's Palace.

Day 2: Free Day in Split

Diocletian's Palace, in Split's Old Town
Take a day to rest and soak up more of Croatia's culture. In the morning, enjoy your coffee like a local at one of the cafés on the Riva. Then wrangle the kids and go back into Split's Old Town for more exploring. The little ones will undoubtedly love heading down into the Cellars of Diocletian's Palace and wandering the corridors that once supported the emperor's private apartments.
 
Alternately, you can climb to the top of the bell tower or walk up to the first viewpoint of nearby Marijan Hill for stunning views of the Adriatic. Then head down the southwest side of the hill and spend time splashing around in the tranquil waters of Kasjuni Beach. There's plenty to see and do wandering around this ancient city.

Day 3: Private Boat Tour & Transfer to Hvar

Stunning aerial shot of Zlatni Rat beach
Aerial view of the one-of-a-kind Golden Horn Beach
You'll head to Split's waterfront in the morning and hop on a private boat for a relaxing day at sea. On this eight-hour tour around the Dalmatian Coast, you'll explore beautiful islands and spend time on unspoiled beaches. The first stop is the popular Golden Horn Beach on the island of Brač. The name says it all, as the 1,640 feet (500 m) of Golden Horn's pebble beach wrap around a sharp peninsula surrounded by turquoise waters. Laze on the beach, soak up the sun, and enjoy lunch at a restaurant on the water.
 
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Afterward, you can travel around the island, stopping to snorkel with the kids in secluded inlets and go shopping in beach towns. There will even be time to grab some ice cream. Then head over to the Pakleni Islands, a group of rocky islets known for their pretty coves and secluded beaches. Enjoy more time snorkeling and swimming before finally heading off to the island of Hvar, which is about 23 miles (38 km) south of Split. Here you'll say goodbye to your skipper and check in to your hotel.

Day 4: Free Day in Hvar

One of the many beaches surrounding Hvar
The pebble cove at the Franciscan Monastery is one of many lovely beaches in Hvar Town
Take the day to explore Hvar on your own. There are numerous beaches to suit every type of sun seeker, from the pine-fringed, rocky coves of the north to the many pebble beaches around Hvar Town. If you don't have the energy to manage the kids, you can always stay in Hvar Town and spend the day at the lovely Bonj Beach, mere steps from your hotel. 
 
For some of the best views, you can hike up from Hvar Town's historic center to the 16th-century Španjola Fortress. The vistas here look out over the town to the Pakleni Islands. If that's not enough exercise, join a hiking or cycling tour to see even more of the island's wonders. The routes will take you alongside lavender plantations, olive groves, vineyards, and dense pinewoods. For a less strenuous outing, you can always rent a scooter and zip around at a quicker pace.
 
After the day's adventures, treat your family to a meal at one of the restaurants around Hvar's ancient Pjaca (piazza) before checking out historical landmarks like the 17th-century St Stephen's Cathedral and the 13th-century Venetian Loggia. The latter is one of the finest examples of Renaissance architecture on the island.  

Day 5: Kayak Tour of the Pakleni Islands

Travel around the Pakleni Islands by kayak
In the morning, you'll embark on a memorable kayak adventure around the Pakleni—one of Croatia's most eclectic island destinations. This four-hour tour is perfect for the whole family (min. age is six), as it follows a safe route through the Ždrilca Channel, an area with calm seas ideal for boating. There are also double kayaks that parents can share with kids.
 
Another point on the route is Marinkovac, the second-largest island of the Pakleni, known for its turquoise waters. Here you can take a break from paddling and relax on the pebble beaches, swim, snorkel, or grab something to eat at one of the restaurants. Afterward, depending on the conditions, you'll either return the way you came or continue around Marinkovac and follow that route back to Hvar Town.

Day 6: Hvar to Dubrovnik & Explore Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik is one of the most impressive fortress cities in Europe
Today you'll hop on a ferry for the 3.5-hour trip from Hvar to the ancient city of Dubrovnik, in the far south of Croatia. This is one of the most well-preserved fortress cities in Europe, and your family will have the pleasure of exploring it on foot. After checking into your hotel, spend the rest of the day on a self-guided walking tour of the city.
 
See Dubrovnik's historic buildings as you and your family stroll Old Town's famous limestone streets. Perhaps visit the 11th-century Fortress Lovrijenac, which sits perched on a 121-foot (37-m) sheer rock, and then stop at Bokar Fortress, built in the 15th century to defend the city's western entrance. Your family will also want to ride the cable car up to Srđ Mountain to watch the sunset over Elafiti Islands.

After getting to know the city, the grownups can duck into one of Dubrovnik's many wine bars to relax as the sun goes down over Old Town. There are plenty of Italian restaurants offering great pizza and pasta to satisfy both adults and kids for dinner. 

Day 7: Private Boat Trip to the Elaphiti Islands

View of Lopud's waterfront
The main harbor in Lopud
Leave Dubrovnik on a full-day boat tour of the Elafiti Islands in the morning. This small archipelago to the north of Dubrovnik makes for the perfect escape from the bustling medieval city. It includes stops at the Elafiti's three main islands: Koločep, Lopud, and Šipan. These islands are little inhabited and mostly undeveloped, meaning you can enjoy the fresh air, pine forests, and azure waters in total peace. There will be other stops at hidden coves and inlets for snorkeling and sunbathing.
 
Your skipper will recommend the best local spots when lunchtime comes around according to your family's tastes. This break will be long enough to explore the small, charming island towns before returning to the boat and heading back to Dubrovnik in the early evening.

Day 8: Free Day in Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik
Banje Beach in Dubrovnik
This is another day on which your family is in control of your itinerary. Perhaps check out some of Old Town's historic buildings you may have missed the first time around, like the 16th-century Sponza Palace and the 14th-century Dominikanski samostan, a Dominican monastery. Another great idea is to take the kids on the 15-minute ferry ride to nearby Lokrum Island, where rabbits and peacocks roam freely. Or if you want to while away the hours sunbathing on Banje Beach, that's also an option.
 
Later, consider stopping in at one of the many incredible restaurants in Old Town to enjoy more delicious Croatian food. Afterward, grab some ice cream and stroll along the pier for one last stunning Croatian sunset.

Day 9: Depart Dubrovnik

Farewell, Croatia
Today your family adventure in Croatia comes to an end. No doubt you'll be leaving with plenty of lasting memories. A personal driver will pick your family up at the hotel and transfer you to the airport for the flight home in the morning. Safe travels!

Map

Map of Family Time on Croatia's Coast  - 9 Days
Map of Family Time on Croatia's Coast - 9 Days