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Dubrovnik certainly lives up to the hype, but as one of Europe’s must-do destinations, its winding streets can bulge with sightseers in the summer months. It can make travelling with a family stressful, but there are ways around this. Heading to the Old Town early in the day, before the deluge of cruise-shippers arrive ensures a headache-free experience of Dubrovnik’s main sights, and there’s a bounty of outdoor destinations where you can keep the kids busy. Dubrovnik is well-stocked with family-friendly hotels and resorts, many with dedicated crèches and children’s entertainment areas. Read on to discover the best things to do with kids in Dubrovnik.
The medieval fortifications around Dubrovnik are a must-see, with incredible views of the Old Town and the startlingly blue Adriatic at every turn. But the walk is some two kilometres, and there’s virtually no shelter from the burning sun, which is something to bear in mind while travelling with a family. Try to arrive when the City Walls open, around 8am, and you’ll avoid the steaming midday heat, as well as the crush of daily sightseers.
There are few places in the world where you can paddle around UNESCO World Heritage sites, and Dubrovnik is one of them. Adventurous families will want to take advantage of local kayak rentals and tours. The family-friendly Adventure Dubrovnik lay on a full day of activities. Their kayak tour starts from Pile Beach, which is situated in a small park across the bay from Fort Lovrijenac. After circling the City Walls and Lokrum Island, the tour docks at a hidden cove for an extended beach break, complete with refreshments and snorkelling opportunities.
When it comes to beaches, Dubrovnik boasts plenty of accessible options for families. The main tourist beach Banje is just a short walk from the Old Town. The beach terrain is a mixture of sand and pebble and the sea is pretty shallow, making it perfect for young kids. There’s also plenty going on in the way of inflatables, jet-skis and touristy, family-friendly activities. Its main drawbacks are you’ll have to jostle for a space to put your towel down, and deck chair rentals and toilet trips are charged at a premium price. Sveti Jakob is a little harder to reach, but well worth the effort. A short walk from Banje, the route winds along Vlaha Bukovca, a pretty, tree-studded street with plenty of shade. Sveti Jakob has a more authentic feel; a combination of locals and tourists spend the day lazing on this shingle beach, and its epic views over Dubrovnik’s fortress makes it a perfect place to take in Dalmatia’s kaleidoscopic sunsets.
Lokrum is just a pebble’s throw away from Dubrovnik’s Old Town, making it a laid-back day out for families. A dazzling array of tropical vegetation, crumbling ruins and wild peacocks, Lokrum doesn’t feature on the cruise ship itineraries, so by all means, plan a break from the crowds here but remember that it’s still a popular attraction. Its biggest draws are a ruined Napoleonic fort and botanical gardens, the ‘Dead Sea’, a miniature salt lake, plus a few beaches on the island’s coast where you’ll find refreshments, toilets and showers. There are plenty of hidden rocky coves that are great for exploring with kids, and snorkelling is recommended.