Family Vacations to Dubrovnik, Croatia

Family Overview: Dubrovnik, Croatia
DUBROVNIK: A city filled with natural beauty and well-preserved cultural and historical heritage (courtesy, Croatian National Tourist Board)

Dubrovnik Highlights

  • Walk atop 13th-century city walls for spectacular views.
  • Swim in the Adriatic Sea.
  • Take a boat to a less-visited island with a sandy beach.
  • Attend a concert during Dubrovnik's noted Summer Festival.
  • Taste some local sweets.

Limestone streets, the blue Adriatic Sea, red-tiled roofs, and medieval walls combine to make Dubrovnik radiate with character. Situated in southern Croatia, along the Dalmatian Coast, Dubrovnik long ago recovered from Serbia's sieges of the early 1990s to become a trendy vacation destination.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Dubrovnik's old town appeals to children as well as adults with its historic, fairytale ambiance. Surrounded by 13th-century walls, up to 20 feet thick and 80 feet high, and fortress towers, old town marks the spot where the prince would hold court. Take a walk atop the wall, more than a mile long, checking for marauders while admiring the spectacular sea and city views. Be sure to visit the rampart look-out in the early morning or late afternoon to avoid the blazing sun.

The best way to see the old city is by strolling the main plaza (the Placa or Stradun), where historic structures line the streets. Some of the more interesting sights for kids include the Dubrovnik Cathedral, rebuilt after a 1667 earthquake, and the Franciscan Monastery. Along with 15th- to 17th-century chalices fashioned from gold and silver, the cathedral features the skull, arm, and leg bones of Dubrovnik's hero, Saint Blaise, encased in gold filigree. Friars founded the pharmacy tucked inside the 14th-century Franciscan Monastery in 1317, which claims to be the oldest working pharmacy in Europe. The small but intriguing collection of apothecary equipment on view includes an iron still for the distillation of brandy and a metal and wooden press to squeeze the "juice" from shrubs.

Not only history draws vacationers to Dubrovnik, but also the sun and the sea. Take the kids to the Copacabana Beach, a shallow-water beach on Babin Kuk peninsula. Like most of Dubrovnik's beaches, pebbles cover the Copacabana shoreline. For better beaches, board a boat to one of the islands off Dubrovnik's coast—Lopud, about a 40-minute boat ride from Dubrovnik, contains the sandy beach Šunj, along with a hotel.

Back on Dubrovnik, stroll through old town. Sample some local sweets, such as torta od makarona (macaroni cake) or arancini (ornage grinds with sugar), at one of the cafes. In the early evening, street performers strum guitars near Onofrio's Fountains. From mid-July to the third week in August, the Dubrovnik Summer Festival takes place, featuring music, dance, and theater ( Listen to the Zagreb Philharmonic, the Leipzig Quartet, the Russian symphony Orchestra, and many other performers.

Tip: If you want to attend Dubrovnik's Summer Festival, book lodging well in advance.'s resident family expert Candyce Stapen has written the book on family travel, having authored some 1,400 travel articles and 27 books, 26 of them on family travel. She is the winner of the 2004 "Caribbean Travel Writer of the Year for North America" award and a three-time winner of the Society of American Travel Writers' Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism award. Her articles have appeared in publications including Nick Jr , FamilyFun , Parents , Better Homes & Gardens , Conde Nast Traveler , National Geographic Traveler , and the Family Travel Network , among others. Her book, the National Geographic Guide to Caribbean Family Vacations is available from

Published: 28 Aug 2007 | Last Updated: 23 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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