I spent 2 weeks during summer exploring Croatia with my family. There is enough to experience and explore in this not-so-hidden-gem for a month. Limited time off and other realities for most families demand a two-week Croatia family vacation itinerary. So if you are visiting Croatia with kids, dive right in!
The two-week Croatia & Slovenia Itinerary gave us an opportunity to visit UNESCO Heritage sites like Plitvice national park and Ston walls. Following this Croatia itinerary for families, we relaxed in beautiful islands of Hvar and Vis, and explored medieval cities of Split and Dubrovnik.
This 2 weeks Croatia and Slovenia itinerary is suitable if you are exploring Croatia with kids. It is also suited for travellers who desire to balance the city sightseeing with island relaxation and adventure activities. Croatia offers several adventure activities – cycling, kayaking, diving, and we grabbed them with both hands.
The 2 days in Slovenia was a last-minute addition to our Croatia itinerary with family. We had extra time in Zagreb and decided to use it to visit the lovely city of Ljubljana.
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Croatia Family Vacation Itinerary Overview –
Zagreb (1 night) – Lake Bled, Slovenia (1 night) – Zagreb (1 night) – Plitvice national park (1 night) – Split (2 nights) – Hvar (3 nights) – Vis (3 nights) – Dubrovnik (3 nights)
Best Time to visit Croatia
We went to Croatia in early June and it was perfect. In general, May-June and September-October are the best months to visit Croatia. It is not too hot on the islands, you can still get in the water. The mainland has warm temperatures.
July and August are the busiest months, so expect crowds especially in popular spots like Dubrovnik, Plitvice lakes, Split etc. Beach and island lovers would enjoy these hottest months but this is peak season. Most attractions and island activities are not open during winter so that’s not a good season to visit Croatia.
How to get to Croatia
Flight: We took a flight from Delhi to get to Zagreb and flew out of Dubrovnik. Croatia has other international airports as well – Split and Zadar. So you don’t have to retrace your steps back.
Ferry: If Croatia is part of your longer Mediterranean itinerary, you can take a ferry from several cities in Italy to reach here.
Bus: Croatia is well connected by bus to nearby European countries like Slovenia, Germany, Italy, Czech Republic etc. You can reach Zagreb or Dubrovnik by bus.
Train: Check train routes, Zagreb is connected to several European cities.
Car: Croatia is a part of EU, so it is easy to drive and cross the border from one of the EU countries by car.
Getting around Croatia
We chose to mix and match to travel around the country during our 2 weeks in Croatia. Initially, we rented a car in Zagreb to spend 2 days in Slovenia. And further to drive to Plitvice Lakes national park. Having a car gave us flexibility to explore Plitvice Lakes over 2 days in an easy way. We gave up the car upon reaching Split. A car is quite useless on medieval towns like Split and Dubrovnik.
A car is also not required on the islands. If you do rent a car for your overall Croatia itinerary and want it take it to the islands, you will need to catch specific ferries that allow a car. We rented a car again for a day from Split to reach Dubrovnik and explore Ston en route.
Croatia doesn’t have a great train network but does have a good bus network. This public transport mode is cheap and comfortable. So are the ferries to reach any of the islands. Jadrolinija is a state-owned and the biggest ferry operator in Croatia. It is also the only boat company in Croatia operating car ferries. You can also check out Kapetan Luka which is a smaller operator.
Day 1 of Croatia 2 week Itinerary with family: Zagreb
We landed in Zagreb via a connect through Frankfurt one late afternoon. By the time we checked into our hotel and settled in, it was already evening. Thankfully, Zagreb gets at least 15 hours of sunlight.
We started with the main square, Ban Josip Jelacic square and took in the drama. The views, the people thronging about, and the energy was palpable. My husband and daughter settled into having ice-cream at the swanky Millenium, while I visited the unusual-to-say-the-least Museum of Broken Relationships during the one day in Zagreb. For our Croatia family vacation itinerary in 2 weeks, we at times did activities together as a family. And at other times, split up, with one parent doing a more kid-friendly activity with our daughter.
Even if you give this museum a miss, strolling around Upper Town is recommended. It is a charming area full of interesting landmarks, museums and small cafes. You can take a guided walking city tour to know more about the rich history along with a fun funicular ride.
Another recommended area to explore is the pedestrian-only Tkalčićeva Street, a beautiful street lined with restaurants, cafes and small boutiques.
We stayed at Sheraton Zagreb Hotel using Bonvoy points, but you can pick any city centre hotel.
Day 2 of Croatia Slovenia Itinerary: Ljubljana
We had decided to limit our time in Zagreb for our two-week Croatia itinerary for families. And while a couple of days are hardly enough to explore neighbouring Slovenia, we did get a delightful whiff and hopefully, would be back someday.
The next morning, we picked up our rental car and drove down to Ljubljana. A beautiful city! I cannot recommend it enough. My favourite part was the pedestrian-only town center with its colourful buildings.
We did an entertaining food walk in Ljubljana, something that even my daughter enjoyed. After spending few hours in the city, we drove to our charming B & B in Lake Bled. Explore more stay options in Lake Bled area:
If you don’t want to drive to Ljubljana, there are tour options available to explore this charming place along with Lake Bled:
Day 3 of Croatia Slovenia Itinerary: Lake Bled / Vintgar Gorge
We hadn’t planned any activity around Lake Bled. I do recommend renting cycles and exploring the area, for couples with older kids (or without kids). We wanted to reach Zagreb by early evening and a visit to Postojna caves would have eaten up the whole day. This is a subterranean cave, one of the key tourist attractions that would be of interest to families, about 1.5-hour drive away) .
We decided on taking a hike in the Vintgar gorge which was just a 15-minute drive away. The walk turned out to be an easy and satisfying half-day trip from Bled. It is something we enjoyed together as a family.
Perhaps because it was a Friday, the drive back to Zagreb had a lot more traffic than what we got coming to Ljubljana. We stayed again at Sheraton Zagreb Hotel.
Day 4 – 5 of Croatia 2 week Itinerary: Plitvice National Park
Next for our Croatia itinerary for families, we drove to the most visited attraction in Croatia – Plitvice national park. We reached there by evening and parked opposite Entrance 2. We explored the Upper Lakes area before going to the conveniently located Plitvice Miric Inn. As luck would have it, we had this area mostly to ourselves in the evening.
Even if you do minimalist research on Croatia, you will be warned about the crazy crowds that visit the Plitvice park during summer. This park plays host to more than 1 million visitors each year. So you have to plan ahead for adding this park to the Croatia itinerary for families.
To beat the crowds, we woke up early the next day and I would recommend that for anyone visiting Croatia with kids. We had a big breakfast and went to Park entrance. We managed to reach Entrance 1 by 8 am and the Lower Lakes area was already crowded. Here is what we did to stay away from the crowds and get the best viewpoints in the park.
You can take a guided tour to explore the park including a boat ride.
After having lunch at a restaurant near Entrance 1, we drove down to Split. We then returned the rental car and checked into our hotel in the old town. The buzz in the old town during summer is marvellous. I loved our decision to stay in the old town.
If you decide to not drive to Plitvice Lakes, there arre plenty of day tours available to this popular spot:
Day 6 of Croatia with kids: Split
There was Dalmatian singing by a group that was performing nearby for tourists. We were staying at the Vestibul Palace, a great location in the middle of the square. If you prefer to stay at a beach property outside the old town, Le Merdien Lav Split is a good option for families.
We spent the day roaming around the old town in Split. We explored the underground caves, bought ferry tickets for next day, had long lazy meals. Climbing the bell tower and soaking in the atmosphere made for a perfect day in the old town.
We had time to visit and stay at 2 beautiful Croatian islands after Split. But you can also consider a sailing day trip to nearby islands from Split.
Day 7 – 9 of Croatia 2 week Itinerary: Hvar island
The Croatia itinerary we followed gave us ample time to relax on 2 different islands, something that our daughter loved. We took a morning Jadrolinjia ferry to Hvar.
The tag of “one of the 10 most beautiful islands in the world” sits well on Hvar. This being June, there is breathing space. We were transferred to our resort – Little Green Bay, a luxury property set within a secluded bay.
We like to indulge in some adventure activities during our travel – sometimes individually and at times, together as a family where possible. Hvar offered some opportunities – a cycling tour on offbeat trails that my husband loved and my first time diving experience in the Adriatic sea.
Hvar has a reputation of being a party town. While that is true, this beautiful island also offers a lot to couples and families. So don’t rule it out on a trip to Croatia with kids. We rented a car in Hvar town to explore the island. You could drive through Stari Grad Plain, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and look at old olive tree plantations and lavender fields. And visit the towns of Jelsa and Vrboska on the island.
For the culturally inclined, a visit to the Fortica is a must. Even if you are uninterested in the history, the views looking down over Hvar town and Pakleni islands are stunning.
Check out these tour options from Hvar:
Day 10 – 11 of 2 week Croatia Itinerary: Vis island
We planned to spend the next 2 days in Vis, one of the furthest inhabited islands in Croatia. Direct ferry plies only once a week from Hvar to Vis, so a trip to this island needs some advance planning.
Instead of taking 2 ferries at different times – morning ferry from Hvar to Split, and the evening ferry from Split to Vis – we found a boat taxi. There are several you would find docked in Hvar town, and it is a matter of negotiating the price for a private transfer to Vis.
Cycling is popular in Vis, my husband did another off-road cycling trip with a local. And then the day went on an interesting Military tour. Tourists were not allowed on the island of Vis prior to 1989 and it was the military base for the Yugoslav National Army. This makes for some unique spots on this island.
The next morning, with increasing winds and choppy sea, our kayaking tour was cancelled. We rented cycles to explore the village of Kut and Vis town in an easy way. A great activity for my Croatia family vacation itinerary!
We stayed at the lovely Hotel San Giorgio in Vis town.
Day 13 of 2 weeks in Croatia Itinerary: Makraska Riviera
The morning started early with us on a Krilo ferry from Vis island to Split.
In Split, we cancelled our plan of taking a ferry to Dubrovnik and opted to drive instead. We rented a car just for the day (via Last minute rental) and drove towards Makarska. What a wonderful drive!
En route, we stopped at Mali Ston for lunch and climbed the Ston walls thereafter. Ston, in my opinion, is quite underrated. The afternoon we visited, there was hardly any visitor to be found.
The Walls of Ston are a series of defensive stone walls, originally more than 7 km long (today 5.5 km long wall links Ston to Mali Ston). They surrounded and protected the city of Ston, part of the erstwhile Republic of Ragusa. There are many other places to visit in the medieval town of Ston and Mali Ston.
And then we dropped off the car in Lapad, before taking a taxi to the old town of Dubrovnik.
Day 14 – 15 of Croatia 2 week Itinerary: Dubrovnik
Our Croatia family vacation itinerary ended in the touristy and yet charming Dubrovnik. We loved staying in the old town (apartment booked via Dubrovnik Rentals). The plan was to wake up early to walk the old town walls. The stunning views of the Adriatic Sea and the entire old town didn’t disappoint.
We had booked the sunset kayaking tour, and that turned out to be a good, albeit a tiring experience. There are at least 7 or 8 companies outside Pile Gate, that run kayaking tours around Dubrovnik, and we were very happy with our choice of Adventure Dalmatia.
The cable car ride to the top of Srd hill, just behind the walled city, was the highlight of the next day. A highly recommended activity if you are visiting Croatia with kids. The Imperial fortress on top of Srd hill, hosts the Museum of the Patriotic War, with an extensive collection. A visit to the Franciscan Monastery on Placa street was interesting.
For GoT fans, a trip to King’s Landing will be incomplete without a tour to explore the filming locations:
You have the option to stay in the old town or a beach property in Dubrovnik:
Day 16: Morning flight back home
We planned this family itinerary and used a combination of ferries, rental cars to get around Croatia, but you can opt for a Croatia Vacation Tour.
For additional information for planning your trip to Croatia, visit the Croatia Tourist Board.
Also, read other family-friendly itineraries in Europe –
[This post was originally published in 2017, and later updated in 2023.]
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If you’ve been to Croatia, what was the favourite part of your trip?
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