Dubrovnik is one of the most sought after destinations in Europe. Its famous Old Town with red-bricked roofs and a maze of streets surrounded by the shimmering Adriatic sea and the rocky cliffs of the Dalmatian coast really is beautiful and impressive. So it’s no wonder over a million tourists visit Croatia’s most popular hotspot. But even though Dubrovnik Old Town is small in size, how on earth do so many people manage to co-exist in such close quarters? Well, heading out of season before the summer months is a good idea. But can you really have an enjoyable family holiday in Croatia despite the crowds? Yes – and no – is my honest answer. We really enjoyed exploring Dubrovnik with kids, but it isn’t the most toddler-friendly city. What ancient town is?
Our Dubrovnik Holiday
However, that doesn’t mean we didn’t have a wonderful holiday in Croatia – but if you’re after a truly relaxing break away from hustle and bustle you won’t get it in Dubrovnik Old Town.
We spent a week in Dubrovnik with kids but made sure we travelled as far and wide as possible to try to get away from the scores of day-trippers.
Basing ourselves in an apartment close to Pile Gate in the Old Town meant that so many of Dubrovnik’s attractions were within walking distance, so we could visit earlier and later when the crowds were thinner. And although we didn’t go to other Croatia destinations such as Split and Hvar (the journey times being too far to do within a day), we really got a good mix of relaxing and exploring Dubrovnik of which there is much to see and do. So if you’re thinking of heading to Dubrovnik with kids, then here is our guide to the most fantastic things to do in Dubrovnik.
Dubrovnik With Kids – What To See and Do
Head to the beach
For such a small radius, Dubrovnik has a decent number of beaches. We discovered quite a few during our time in Dubrovnik and all of them have the option of hiring sun loungers and places to get food and drink. Some of our favourites include Copacabana Beach – which has great facilities for families including two cafes/restaurant bars, as well as clean toilets (always a bonus!). With views across the Franja Tuđmana Bridge, and shallow waters – perfect for paddling – we had long fun-filled beach day soaking up the sunshine.
Meanwhile, Banje Beach, is the closest to the Old Town and has great views of across Dubrovnik harbour and walls. And is also home to many watersport options such as banana boats and parasailing. We also loved Sveti Jakob. This Dubrovnik beach felt very much a hidden gem, so much so that it was hard to find – even the Uber drivers had trouble locating it. The steep stairs make this beach hard to access particularly with a pram, but it was worth it to see the stunning views across Dubrovnik Old Town across the Adriatic Sea.
Top tip: The majority of Dubrovnik beaches are pebbly and shingly. So make sure you have beach shoes for little feet. It can be painful getting in and out of the sea.
Dubrovnik With Kids – Eat Tons of Ice Cream!
What family trip would be complete without tons of ice-cream thrown into the mix. There are so many wonderful places to eat and drink in Dubrovnik to suit all budgets. But the one thing that is hard to ignore is the number of gelato stores that offer up delicious creamy treats. It was a great bargaining tool for us and we made sure to make an event of it. The only problem is deciding what flavour. So go like Peanut and have two… There are also two sweet shops, Captain Candy, which have tons of bright, colourful confectionary to entice kids. So be warned, you may have to give in to the incessant badgering as we did. Dubrovnik with kids wouldn’t be complete without several treats!
Walk The City Walls
For amazing views of the Dubrovnik, a walk on the Dubrovnik medieval City Walls is a must. Play at being Cersei Lannister and survey a beguiling kingdom below that spans out to sea. The kids can even pretend to be soldiers, with strategically placed cannons along the way. This was one of the highlights of our Dubrovnik holiday and I am glad we decided to leave it until later in the day to walk it. Choose to go early in the morning before the cruise shippers descend or go in the late afternoon/early evening. Not only is it less busy, but it’s cooler, too.
Tickets cost 200 HRK for an adult (approx £24) and 50 HRK for kids (approx £6). There is no need to book in advance, you can just rock up to the main entrance at Pile Gate or find various points around the circumference of the walls, as you also don’t have to walk the whole route, which takes around 45 minutes. There are also plenty of refreshment stops along the way that offer cool drinks, food and some shade.
Top Tip: After reading a few Tripadvisor comments that it is possible to take a pushchair around the City Walls, I would have to disagree. It is not. It is much easier to carry little ones in a sling, or like we did in our arms and keep a tight hold. There are many sections where toddlers can walk without aid – but be warned, there are some steep drops.
Take a boat trip
While we saw many glass-bottom boat trips and even a submarine, don’t waste your money – by all accounts, there really isn’t anything to see below the water. Above the surface, however, there is much to appreciate particularly seeing the city walls come into view from the sea. Apart from visiting the many islands (see below), a boat trip taking in the Elaphiti Islands is a popular choice – sailing to the small archipelago north of Dubrovnik. It’s a great way to unwind and get away from the crowds, as well as see many interesting stops along the way including Kolocep’s Blue Caves and several beautiful beaches.
Top Tip: You can find many of the boat trips in City Harbour at Dubrovnik Old Town. However, if you need to catch the ferry to the Elaphiti Islands you need to head to the Dubrovnik Ferry Port in the Kantafig area of Gruž Bay. You can find the timetable here.
Wander The Old Town
There is nothing better than getting lost in winding streets of a city, not knowing what you’ll come across around each corner, or what you will discover at the top of a steep climb and what feels like hundreds of steps. Getting lost in the Old Town is a rite of passage for all Dubrovnik visitors and we did it a lot! Even though the streets can get extremely busy (especially from the cruisers), it still retains a mystical charm. The Baroque architecture is simply stunning, from beautiful doorways and arches to stonework, and the cathedral there is much to admire.
And for any Game of Thrones fanatics, it’s also a great opportunity to find all the filming locations, of which there are many. We didn’t do a Game of Thrones Walking Tour but it isn’t hard to find one…
Monkey and I actually headed out super early to wander the Old Town one morning and it was fantastic to see it empty with just the locals setting up for the day. We browsed the food markets and investigated the many nooks at our own leisure.
Go To King’s Landing
For any Game of Thrones fans out there, no trip to Dubrovnik could be complete without visiting Lovrijenac Fortress – or The Red Keep as it’s known in the fantasy TV series. It’s pretty impressive and was built in 1013 as a defensive measure to protect the western part of the city. The Lovrijenac was named after St Lawrence, a revered saint at the time of the Dubrovnik Republic, and there was once a church dedicated to him within its walls. Unfortunately, a great deal of the interior was destroyed in Dubrovnik’s earthquake of 1667. But what I loved was the inscription over the door which says: ‘Freedom is not sold for all the gold in the world’. Again, there are lots of steps here so be mindful about taking a pushchair.
Top Tip: The best views of Lovrijenac are actually from the City Walls
Head up Mount Srd
No doubt, you’ll notice signs for a cable car up to Mount Srd, but as it currently stands, the cable car is not operating. Due to tax and financial wranglings between the city and the cable car company, the cable car has been grounded for the foreseeable future. But don’t worry, you can still head up Mount Srd to enjoy the most spectacular views of Dubrovnik and its neighbouring islands.
We took a taxi, which was much more fun going up the mountain on a single lane track and bracing ourselves for oncoming traffic, with a sheer drop to the side! Not only that, the price of a return taxi fare is much cheaper than the cable car (around £20 each way), and while the cable car arrives at the summit in a minute, the car journey is much more adventurous.
Once at the top, just take in all you can see below – and grab a bite to eat at Restaurant Panorama. We were lucky enough to have the best seats in the house next to the window. Eating some burgers and trying to spy our apartment was a great game for the kids!
Explore the islands
The nearest island to Dubrovnik is Lokrum Island – which was the location of the summer home of Maximilian I, the Emperor of Mexico in the 1860s. Just a short boat ride (around 20 minutes) and you can discover a pleasantly lush, green and peaceful getaway from the city. Lokrum is small in size and you can pretty much wander it in less than an hour. While the beaches aren’t really suitable for young kids, with quite rough seas, and rocky outcrops, there is plenty of space for them to enjoy – especially getting up close to the roaming rabbits and peacocks!
There is a play area with swings and climbing frames as well as a small lake called Mrtvo More (
Top tips: There are several restaurants, stalls and cafes on Lokrum, so there are places to grab a drink and bite to eat. There is also a nudist beach on the island, just in case you didn’t realise!
We took a ferry to Lopud – part of the Elaphiti Islands – and discovered a charming bay littered with quaint seaview restaurants and a gorgeous sandy beach. After jumping on a golf buggy we spent most of the morning relaxing at Šunj – and while the kids adored sinking their feet into powdery sand, we sipped a cold beer. Afterwards, we headed back into town and found a restaurant with attractive chequered-clothed tables right by the water’s edge. It was such a wonderful family day out and as far as my favourite destination in Dubrovnik with kids – this was it. We properly felt like we were on holiday…
Swing in the Park
What child doesn’t like to go to a playground? Purely by chance did we stumble upon a small play area beneath Minceta Fortress just outside Pile Gate. It may be tiny – but our kids just loved being able to clamber on the climbing frames and being pushed in the swings. We found it a great respite from the Old Town crowds and a chance for children to mingle with other kids, too.
Have you been to Dubrovnik with kids? Do you have any other activities to add?