Dubrovnik, Croatia

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Dubrovnik, Croatia: The Ultimate Guide with Kids

We visited Dubrovnik in 2010 and had an amazing time. Check out our video:

The Old City and City Walls

DubrovnikBy far the biggest attraction in Dubrovnik is the old city, where you will undoubtedly be spending most of your time. The main street, Stradun (literally means: street), is lined with shops and cafes and tourists of all ages as Dubrovnik is clearly a popular choice for European and American families in the summer. No shortage of prams here, despite the cobblestone streets and narrow alleyways. We preferred to dine in the squares so Karam could play around on the fountains and steps with other kids but the side streets house treasures such as Jiardinia where you can pick up a Mediterranean coral bracelet for your baby and Aqua ( an exclusively HR brand with cute t-shirts and knick knacks for kids), and restaurants like Proto for an upscale seafood meal or Taj Mahal for authentic Bosnian cuisine.

Pizzas, sandwiches and pastas abound so food is not a big problem for the fussy eaters. Despite the crowds and small streets, the people and places are child-friendly with many of the larger restaurants providing high chairs and kids’ menus. Keep in mind though that the buildings are old and the bathrooms are small and not very well- equipped so a change table will be a tall order. That being said, this is Europe! Any old step or street corner will do, as long as you dispose of the waste properly!

Interspersed between ancient engravings and historic statues is international stores like Havaianas carrying a full range of kids’ flip flops, and Diesel!

If you are a history buff, I recommend taking one of the city walking tours- they are one hour long, interesting and relatively pram-friendly.

If you are traveling In the summer, try to make it out during the seven week Dubrovnik Summer Festival when concerts and street parties illuminate the old city. Well worth getting a babysitter for.
The city walls is another must-do but leave your stroller behind and baby bjorn your child. Approximately 2km long with 700 steps, the wall has two starting points so you can exit half way if you need to but if you take your time, it’s totally manageable and well worth the effort. Along the way, you will find a juice stand and cafes to replenish your depleting water and snack stocks Best to do it in the mornings or evenings (last entrance is 7:30pm in the summer). Costs 70 kuna/ head.

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Must-Do: Lokrum

Lokrum, the small leafy island visible from Dubrovnik is a great place to spend the afternoon, when the city is inundated by day trippers from cruise ships. A mere 15 minute boat ride from the old city harbour, Lokrum is a coastal forest reserve with shady pathways that lead all around the island. The coast is rocky and therefore not kid-friendly but there is a beautiful salt-water lake lake five minutes walk from the port that is shallow and suitable for little children. It is called the Dead Sea because the high salt content prevents anything from sinking, including your precious baby, or his/her crocs (which I would recommend wearing because the lake floor is still fairly rocky)!

Just around the lake is a bar with deck chairs and tables to settle into a mojito and juice after your swim.

There are a couple of restaurants on Lokrum that offer a mix of local and tourist favorites ( pasta, sandwiches) plus an old monastery for history lovers (great tavern in the monastery compound). All this while watching peacocks and peahens strut about within a foots distance.

An easy and worthwhile trip from Dubrovnik, I am actually surprised that it wasn’t more crowded. Not complaining though. We could have spent the whole day there

Note: not the easiest place with a pram, but worth the effort.

Peacocks abound at Lokrum

Take a dip!

Cocktail hour

Other Day Trips:

Not wanting to pack too much into our three week European vacation, in Dubrovnik,and we chose to stay put and do a couple of day trips The first was to Lokrum and the other to Lopud, the second of the three Elafiti islands. Lopud is a fifty minute boat ride from Dubrovnik’s new port, and has two sandy beaches fairly atypical of the Mediterranean.

The nicer one is called Sunj-bay, on the opposite side of the island (a hilly 30-minute walk which a member of the australian water polo team said he got exhausted doing) but you will find buggy transfers that take you there for 20 kunas/ person (babies free!). On this shallow beach, you can rent deck chairs and enjoy the calm waters.

Beach shacks offer sandwiches and pastas and burgers but beware: in the summer time the beaches can be scorching and you don’t get to return to Dubrovnik till 5:45 pm. Check out the Jadrolinja site for schedules.

In all honesty, it was not spectacular and if you are not the type that is constantly seeking novelty, you are better off skipping the schlep and staying on the Dubrovnik beach and city.

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Kid-Friendly Luxury at the Hilton Imperial

When you are traveling with a baby, location becomes even ore important and nothing beats the Hilton Imperial in Dubrovnik on that front. Sitting just at the edge of the old city, the Hilton has the old-world charm of a 19th century restoration with the facilities of a five-star resort.

We found the service impeccable : the staff was friendly and helpful, and laughed and played with Karam at every turn. The breakfast buffet was your typical spread with some Croatian specialties like cuttlefish ink bread (which I devoured) and chocolate pancakes (which Karam devoured).

The concierge and receptionists were accommodating and ready with information (and beach towels) at any time of the day. After our first night we asked for Karam’s cot to be changed as it seemed to have a bit of a ridge in a mattress and it was done promptly. They also offer babysitting services.

The duty manager checked in on our satisfaction, and even sent us a cake to celebrate our anniversary!

All in all a very pleasant experience if you are willing to spend about USD 300 for a basic room. But nothing beats a full day of tourism that doesn’t involve a major journey to get the baby to bed!

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Guess Who Vacations Here in the Summer…

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Croatia – General Travel Tips

1. Food and baby supplies are easy to find around the old city as it is so well equipped for tourists. Just outside the city walls is the DM market which carries one of the largest ranges of baby products, foods and toiletries I have seen outside the US. Fresh milk and other dairy can be bought at the Konzum markets around the city and and mini markets all over sell water and snacks.

2. English is spoken by most everyone as they are accustomed to tourists so getting around is actually much easier than it is in larger countries like Spain and Italy.

3. I was a bit concerned about food but it turned out to be a needless worry. Croatia offers much by way of Mediterranean cuisine which means rice and grilled fish and vegetables. Further many restaurants in Dubrovnik have kids’ menus with some combination of spaghetti or crumbed chicken/fish and fries.

4. As much as the bigger cities like Dubrovnik are equipped for tourists and you can buy everything you need there, the smaller islands and towns are not. So if you are traveling around, make sure to be fully stocked up with diapers, wipers and other baby essentials.

5. If you are planning to drive along the coast factor in delays due to traffic in the summer time when Croatia is packed with American and European tourists.

6. Don’t assume that cars will stop in a pedestrian crossing – look to make sure that the driver intends to give you right of way before you bring the pram onto the street.

7. There are no car seats in cabs and most will charge you extra for your baggage. Make sure that the driver turns the meters on before you start.

8. Local currency is kunas and its 7 kunas to a euro but many places will quote prices in euro.

9. A recently war-ravaged people, Croatians appear stern at first but are generally warm, friendly and kid-loving people.

10. Useful words in Croatian:

* doctor – doktor
* bathroom – kupaonica (or just bathroom)
* taxi – taksi
* emergency – kriti─Źno

See also:

The Best Kid-Friendly Destinations in Croatia