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Day trips in Southern Croatia with 3 kids

I'm a single mother taking my 3 children (ages 7, 10 and 12) to Southern Croatia the first week of April. We arrive in Split, and I'm planning a 7-night/8-day itinerary -- likely with two base cities (Split and Dubrovnik)?

We are accustomed to travel but relaxed in our energy level. We like strolling charming towns, taking photos at lookout points, playing (anywhere) and easy nature walks/hikes. (Oh, and beaches -- but alas, it's off season for that.)


1) Which 2 base cities do you recommend for our 7-night stay? Our arrival flight is to Split and departure flight will likely be from Dubrovnik, so I was thinking those two.

2) What are the must-see day trips?

We are Catholic and will likely take a day trip to Medugorje while in Dubrovnik... and perhaps to Trogir and Krka Park from Split.

3) Do you recommend a day tour to Hvar (or similar), even though it's not beach season? Hvar is expected to be the most alive of the islands in early April.

4) I do not plan to rent a car due to the stress of finding/purchasing parking. If needed, I am willing to pay for private transfer in and between cities if buses are not comfortable or convenient. Is this a reasonable plan? Thoughts on transportation?

Appreciate any tips. I've researched a lot already, and there are many differing viewpoints (particularly regarding Split), so I thought I'd lay out my specific situation for feedback.

Thank you!

Posted by
6113 posts

Split and Dubrovnik are ideal bases for your timeframe. You don’t need a car. It takes half a day to transfer between the two by boat or bus. At that time of year, as I am not a good sailor, I would take the bus. You don’t need a private transfer.

Much of Hvar will not have reopened in early April, so I wouldn’t go there this trip. I would stick to the mainland rather than the islands in April.

Trogir is an excellent half day plus excursion from Split. Krka and Plitvice National Parks are easier with a car from Split.

Posted by
6107 posts

Are you open to renting a car for the day? You will not have any parking worries if you do so, and it will let you do a day trip to Krka NP more easily. Plitvice is a bit too far from Split to my liking, with slow access roads.

Posted by
711 posts

You've got yourself set up perfectly for a week long excursion, starting in Split and ending in Dubrovnik. Going carless is a good plan, as there is plenty of transportation options and parking is a nightmare. Personally, I like Split. The kids would certainly enjoy Diocletian's Palace and wandering around the tiny streets of what was the ancient city. If they haven't seen open air markets, there is a fish market in Split that would be a trip for them. In town and easy to reach on foot. From Split, especially since you won't have time to get to Plitvice, Krka National Park would be an excellent choice for some nature. There are plenty of bus trips and organized tours from Split. Personally, in the off-season, Hvar probably wouldn't be worth the trouble, but I know that there are people here who think otherwise. It's tiny and with no beach, so perhaps boring for kids? From Split to Dubrovnik, there are busses, but you might enjoy the ferry/catamaran. There are a number of posts on the forum about this But, in April, the schedule will be scant (if they run at all); I didn't check. The the transit time is about the same as the bus, but the ferry would be fun, if a bit chilly, for kids. There are two major companies -- Krilo and Jadrolinja. Check for more info. From Dubrovnik, a day trip to Medugorje would be a long one, as it is about a 2.5 hour drive each way. However, the visit time when you are actually there is it certainly reasonable for a one-day trip. Your kids are young and energetic, and with kids that age, I assume you are too, so you shouldn't have any problem with Medugorje, but the path up to the site is uneven and rocky. It's also very crowded. It's difficult for older people to manage. You can find pre-organized bus tours from Dubrovnik, but in this case, you might want to hire a driver for the day. That way, you could stop along the way, at Arboretum Trsteno if you want an easy hike and a little history (the Yugoslav army launched attacks from here). I'm sure they'd know another stop or two, possibly Mostar. It depends how deeply you want to get into it with kids in tow.

Posted by
1490 posts

Take a ferry to provide a different perspective of travel for your family. Abundant, clean, safe and relatively inexpensive. Great views and an experience not often available for going from point to point. The water will be cold, but as clear as water you may ever see. Pack a couple of small tube inflatables and take the plunge just so the family can say they had the experience. Donate the floats so you don't have to continue to pack. them. Most of the island villages will be just starting to come out of hibernation, but are still worth the experience. Prior to covid the small ship cruise industry was pushing the villages to open earlier as part of offering more bookings for sailing. Have you any soccer players in your family? If so, check out the potential of attending a game while in Split where the stadium is an easy walk. Think of Diocletian's Palace as being the center of a watch and then head to the 11 o'clock position to Luka Ice Cream and Cakes (located outside the old town walls) which offers excellent fare, but also more a of a local experience for people watching, shopping and a taste of non-tourist Split. At the Nine o'clock position is Parc Suma Marjan, an excellent experience for all ages. At the five o'clock position is a walk to Plaza Bacvice, a beach setting where you can chill your bones while using the inflatables. At the three o'clock position, and just outside the old town walls, is the Green Market with lots of food experiences and some shopping. I don't want to over dwell on this issue, but please read how to be pick pocket wise. Compared to most tourist spots Croatia is a minor player in the pick pocket industry, but shepherding a family of three may make you a distracted target. There are a number of pastry shops within old town offering excellent breakfast treats. Desire to take a load off your feet? Then sit down at one of the restaurants offering outdoor seating and enjoy a lite meal. The KUNA is still an excellent value to the dollar and highly preferred by all vendors. Yes, credit cards are taken at the majority of places, but some still only accept KUNA. Tip according to European standards, not American. Villa Spiza is a local restaurant within the walls at the 12 o'clock position which we HIGHLY recommend (Tomato soup is wonderful), KUNA only, well worth the experience. PIZZA?! Nine o'clock outside the walls and a short with the BEST pizza in a family atmosphere.

I could go on and on, but best if you have specific questions. Feel free to PM me.

Paying to walk the walls of Dubrovnik for a family can be expensive. If tourist traffic is lite I highly recommend trying to negotiate a rate of one adult and one child. Croatians are wonderful folks and love kids.

You all will be walking up/down a lot of cobblestone paths so please pay careful attention to your shoes.

Posted by
3410 posts

Definitely take the catamaran from Split to Dubrovnik. is the only one that runs in April, once per day, late afternoon. Check It takes 4.30 hours. We went to Medjugorje overnight but it is possible as a day trip. I can recommend a driver/guide who actually proposed to his wife there. He is very religious and even climbed Apparation Hill with us. PM me if you are interested. If you can, in both Split and Dubrovnik stay within the walls of the city. It makes the experience so much better because both cities are like open air museums. Days trips from Split include Krka National Park which is just as lovely as Plitvice and much closer. Trogir is a fun day. You can take the bus or go by ferry. Same amount of time. I prefer the ferry. When in Dubrovnik take the local ferry to Lokrum island. It is a National park and a nice afternoon. They have peacocks roaming free. You can picnic there or eat at the only cafe. It’s a nice way to spend the morning. Any questions just ask.

Posted by
6 posts

Follow-up on my original post:

I appreciate everyone's thoughtful comments and recommendations so far. Very helpful!

The only thing set is our arrival into Split, so everything else we can customize.

Looking for your expert opinion as I refine our itinerary! Keep in mind we are traveling lightly and somewhat used to moving around a lot.

I have 7 nights/8 days and am considering setting up base in Split and Dubrovnik.


From Split:
-Krka Park

From Dubrovnik:
-Mostar, Medugorje (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
-Kotor (Montenegro)... I might scratch this if too much


1) What is the ideal itinerary in terms of the order of the trip and which city to stay in each of 7 nights? I can get a car transfer between countries if that's easiest. I love the idea kd

2) Should I reduce nights in Split and Dubrovnik and instead stay 1 night in Mostar? And 1 night Kotor?

3) Is Kotor too ambitious for this trip? I've just heard it's one of the best cities on earth.

Thanks again!

Posted by
3991 posts

If you can fly out of Dubrovnik, then you could do something like this:
Arrive Split, 3 nights
-one day Krka
-one day Trogir plus Split
bus to Mostar, 1 night
bus to Dubrovnik, 3 nights
-day trip Medjugorje
(Or, rent a car and stop at both en route to Dubrovnik)
I don't think you have time for Kotor.

Posted by
2922 posts

Also in Split there is a fine archeology museum. There are roman ruins just out of town. There's a fabulous sandy beach in Split, and no easy beach in Dubrovnik. There's an easy island trip from Split as well, as well as boats to Trogir.

Don't bother with Kotor. It's sort of a down-market Dubrovnik. Mostar is good. You could probably do a private driver, at what cost I do not know. If you go there, make sure to go also to the old city of Pocitelje. Looks like Mostar and Pocitelje could be on the same trip as Medugorje. Maybe a night in Mostar to do all 3.